Is it better to rent a mortar mixer or a concrete mixer? Our rental coordinators get asked about mixers quite often. During the work process, contractors know it is important to use the right tools. Despite the similarities between mortar and concrete, choosing the wrong mixer for the job can be disastrous.
Mortar vs. Concrete
Cement and mortar differ primarily in their consistency. When mixed, cement generally contains gravel or rock chips and has a thinner consistency. The material is stronger than mortar and is ideal for structural projects such as foundations, support beams, and walls. The integrity of cement structures is often enhanced with steel reinforcement bars during settling.
Cement is often used interchangeably with “concrete”, when it is actually a key ingredient, along with sand, gravel, and large stones, that go into concrete. Mortar contains many of the same ingredients as concrete, including sand and gravel. Mortar, however, contains a higher water content, giving it a thicker consistency. Brickwork or stone can be bonded with it, acting like a glue.
- Mortar Mixers: A mortar mixer consists of a stationary barrel and an internal paddle with a rubber strip. As the paddle rotates, it mixes the mortar while scraping the barrel’s sides to prevent the adhesive mortar from sticking. With their rugged construction, these mixers are durable enough for a variety of jobs including stucco, plaster, epoxy, terrazzo, drywall mud, paint and grout. Although they work well for mortar mixtures, they should not be used for cement/concrete mixtures. It is important to note that a much coarser mix like concrete can cause the rubber strips to wear and clog the paddle with rock or gravel.
- Cement / Concrete mixers: Concrete mixers have rotating drums or barrels without paddles. You have probably seen horizontal mixers on the back of cement trucks making their way to a job site. The constant rotation of the barrel ensures a smooth, consistent mix and prevents the cement/concrete mixture from settling until the mixture is ready to pour. This type of mixer can work well for mixes containing larger fragments, like cement or concrete, but can be less effective for smoother mixtures, like mortar.