Mixing cement mortar: instructions & drying time

Mixing cement mortar: instructions & drying time

Cement mortar is used for a variety of applications in the home and garden and can be mixed by yourself with little effort. Two points are particularly important for an effective cement mortar: the mixing ratio and the drying time. Only a few substances are required for mixing, which makes them even easier to use. This guide will tell you how to mix cement mortar correctly.

If you plan to use cement mortar for your work on your property, there are a few points to keep in mind. Due to its properties, cement mortar is suitable for a large number of places that are under high stress. For this reason, the mixing ratio must be right so that the mortar holds. When mixing, the required amount depends on which utensils are used. So you definitely don’t need a cement mixer for smaller quantities. However, it is not just the mixing itself that is decisive for the effectiveness of the mortar. You must adhere to the drying times before the mortar can be loaded. All of this information is made available to you here.

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Mix cement mortar

mixing ratio

So that you can mix cement mortar without any problems, the correct mixing ratio is of the utmost importance. The mixture can only meet the requirements of the area of ​​application if this is adhered to. To mix cement mortar, the following mixing ratio has proven itself:

  • 4 parts of sand (e.g. wall sand)
  • 1 part cement
Cement mortar

You will also need some water. In most cases, half a part of the water is enough for the entire mixture. Since the required amount of mortar cannot really be determined in advance, you should always have enough sand and cement available. It is also possible to use 6 parts of sand to mix the cement mortar. This mixing ratio is suitable if you have the feeling that 4 parts of sand do not provide the mortar with the necessary load-bearing capacity.

Tip: If you want to save yourself having to mix the mortar according to the mixing ratio mentioned, you can use dry mortar as an alternative. All you have to do is add water to this according to the manufacturer’s instructions to get a mortar for smaller projects.


In addition to the cement and sand, which you can easily order online at very affordable prices, you will need other utensils for mixing. The following list gives you an overview of the necessary utensils when you want to mix cement mortar:

  • Mixing tubs made of plastic or metal
  • Trowel
  • Mortar mixer
  • 2 x shovels

If you have to mix larger quantities, either the use of a tarpaulin or a concrete mixer is recommended. A tarpaulin makes it a little easier to mix larger quantities, while the cement mixer does all of the work for you. Two scoops are needed to avoid contaminating each of the ingredients. You use separate shovels for sand and cement. Once you have all the utensils on hand, it’s time to mix the cement mortar.

Tip: You can borrow concrete mixers and mortar stirrers from hardware stores or specialist companies. You pay around 20 euros per day for both devices.


1. The amount of cement mortar needed is important for the utensils used. Choose either a bucket for smaller quantities or a tarpaulin or the concrete mixer for larger quantities. The tarpaulin is simply placed on the floor and fixed at the corners with weights or stones. This makes it easy to mix the cement mortar.

2. Now it’s time to mix. Make sure that the bucket, tarpaulin, or concrete mixer are clean and do not contain any foreign substances. These can harm the properties of the mortar. Place the sand and cement so that you can easily pour it over. If you are using a bucket or cement mixer to mix, add the sand and cement to the container in the correct proportions. Mix well with the trowel. For the tarpaulin, pour the ingredients into the middle, mix and form a well for the water. Additives such as color pigments (max. 5 percent) must be added dry.

3. Now the water follows. Add a little water one at a time. You can fold it in a little with the trowel. In the variant with the tarpaulin, pour the water slowly into the formed hollow.

4. To mix the cement mortar with the water, use the mortar stirrer in the bucket. Put it in the bucket and turn on the device. As soon as a homogeneous mass has formed, the mortar can be used immediately. If you are using a concrete mixer, you do not need to use the mortar mixer.

5. You can also mix the mortar by hand, which is necessary for the tarpaulin. To do this, take a shovel or trowel and stir the mixture until it is usable. This method is also suitable for mixing in a bucket. Don’t let the mortar sit for so long or it will dry out.

Tip: Mix smaller amounts, because mortar binds quickly and cannot be liquefied afterward. For this reason, you should always use up a little mortar before adding any more.

Overview of drying time

The correct drying time ensures that the mortar binds well. Failure to do so will result in cracks and other problems that negatively affect the effectiveness of the mortar. An entire wall can become unstable if the drying time is not observed.

On average, you should expect around five hours of drying time for every inch of the mortar layer. Since cement mortar is usually applied in a thickness of ten to 15 millimeters, you should allow eight hours to dry. The cement mortar can then be processed further, but not yet fully loaded. It is not yet fully cured. The hardening time of cement mortar takes 24 to 48 hours, depending on the layer thickness. It can be significantly extended by the following effects:

  • Humidity over 60 percent
  • Outside temperature below 15 ° C or above 25 ° C
  • applied too thick

Make sure that you adhere to the curing time as well as the drying time. This is the only way to guarantee that the mortar will hold and not yield under load. Do not use a dryer or similar devices. If cement mortar dries out too quickly after mixing, it will tear and cannot be used.