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Bagged vs. From-Scratch Mixes: Pros and Cons

Pros

Clearly, convenience and ease of use are the most compelling reasons to use a bagged concrete countertop mix. All the necessary ingredients are preblended-all you do is mix in the specified amount of water and a pigment, if desired. (Some mixes may also require the addition of a polymer admixture, which is sold along with the dry ingredients.) You don't have to worry about obtaining and batching all the ingredients separately and storing the raw materials.

Consistency is another big plus of using a bagged mix. Most of the variables have been removed from the equation, as long as you follow the manufacturer's mixing and placing instructions. That means you don't need to be knowledgeable about mix design or worry about troubleshooting a mix that's not cooperating. With a bagged mix, your concrete will be identical from job to job.

Cons

If having complete control over your countertop mix is important, you are probably better off starting from scratch, says Jeff Girard of the Concrete Countertop Institute. He notes that when making your own mix, you can tinker with accelerators, superplasticizers, pozzolans, pigments and decorative aggregates to tweak the performance and appearance, allowing you to strike the best balance between aesthetics, workability and physical performance. This degree of flexibility isn't possible with a preblended product. Often you don't really know what's in the bag or the exact proportions, Girard adds, so you have to adhere to the manufacturer's instructions to get the best results.

You may be limited in terms of decorative versatility as well. Although nearly all bagged mixes can be integrally colored, you might be required to use the manufacturer's pigments, which could limit your color palette. Usually, you are also stuck with the aggregate blend used in the mix, limiting the possibility of using another type of aggregate.

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