Let’s hear it for hypertufa!
You can make these lightweight concrete containers and these answers will help first timers. Hypertufa is a strong, but lightweight concrete that’s easily shaped with molds into containers, troughs and or by hand into figures, even leaves. See if any of your questions are answered then give it a try!
“Hi Sue, I love your wonderful website with so many fabulous tutorials! I have been dying to get my hands into some hypertufa projects, but have lots of questions! I am unsure of which recipe to use? What is the extended curing process? Is the mixture thick enough to be sculpted by hand without a mold or base structure? I’ve also been wanting to make some step stones, should I use use Quik-crete instead of the hypertufa mix? Why use hypertufa rather than just concrete or cement?
Thanks so much for any help you can offer!
Oh, you’ll love doing either a concrete or hypertufa project. I found the hardest part was getting the materials home due to the weight and then actually diving in. That’s why I called a friend to give me a push. I don’t know why I waited so long! ~~ Sue
I am unsure of which recipe to use?
The proportions we used were simple, one third each, Portland cement, peat moss and perlite.
What is the extended curing process?
We unmolded our troughs the next day and kept them wrapped in the plastic for a day or two so they would dry slowly. At this point they are the most fragile but can also be scratched or textured, with say, a fork or stick.
Do the troughs need to be sprayed with water during this time?
No. You don’t have to spray them. After unmolding, wrap or cover them with the same plastic and let dry slowly for one or two more days.
How do you know when the finished project is ready to be used?
A couple days after umolding, we just planted them up,…simple! They do get lighter in the next few weeks and months.
How how water do you use?
We mixed it to the consistency of thick brownie batter…like mud pies! Remember? Whatever your container, you try to make all sides 1 1/2 inches thick. It’s challenging to gauge it, but it gets easier each time. My friend and I did all right even the first time at this, but I have to say, I was better at it than my friend! Shhh… After a while she scooped the mix in and I molded the sides. Teamwork!
Is the mixture thick enough to be sculpted by hand without a mold or base structure?
You can pat it into a shape by hand….we make small mushrooms with the extra we’re left with.
I want to make a hypertufa ‘hand’ container, using old gloves. How?
Fill an old glove with hypertufa mix and arrange the ‘fingers’ by placing the glove in a shallow bowl. Reader, Joey Arrowood, says “When doing the hands, I found that placing a small piece of cardboard between the fingers makes it easier to peel away the latex glove. I have broken several fingers and learned my lesson.”
If I wanted to add bits of glass or gems to the sides of planters or top of mushrooms, when would that be done?
We added those flat gems to the top rims and to the mushrooms right after molding them in the containers and before the drying process. Some popped out and I glued them in with GEII Silicone in clear.
I’ve also been wanting to make some step stones, should I use use Quik-crete instead of the hypertufa mix?
For stepping stones, I’d use Quik-crete, just for the sturdiness. . For stepping stones you need the strength rather than the lightweight, though I did use hypertufa for my stepping stone and it’s lasted three years wonderfully.
If I use a Styrofoam cooler as the interior of a container, how do you go about packing the mix onto the cooler?
You can upturn a cooler, or anything, onto a table and pack the mix on all sides,…make the rims, now at the bottom thick enough to grab when lifting off the cooler mold. You could do the whole thing at once. Try a small cooler first, I’d think.
Why use hypertufa rather than just concrete or cement?
Hypertufa’s main advantage is it’s lightweight when dry. And it’s easy to do! You can easily carry the planted hypertufa containers from spot to spot. Troughs and hypertufa figures continue drying and curing for another few days to weeks, becoming lighter and stronger
You may have already seen these posts, Emma, but more details are included in them.
Thanks again for all your help! Now I just need to find a place to get a giant bag of perlite! Cheers, Emma
Answering your questions will help improve the instructional posts we have so far,…and hopefully help others do this project. Good luck and let me know how you do. By the way, we found a big bag of perlite at Home Depot, a big hardware store… ~~Sue
Do you have a question about hypertufa? Ask in the comments!