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CUSTOM COMMERCIAL  &  RESIDENTIAL INSTALLATIONS

*  … we also offer maintenance and revitalization for all types of decorative concrete surfaces. *

 

Seven Reasons Why You Should Enhance Rather Than Cover Up Concrete Floors

Homeowners who have full or partial basement flooring that can be transformed into living space are essentially sitting on a gold mine. Realtor surveys show that finishing a basement ranks just behind kitchen and bathroom renovations in maximizing the return on the homeowner’s investment, with the payback sometimes exceeding the remodeling expenditure. What’s more, expanding the living space into the basement is often much more economical than adding another room or floor onto an existing home.

So when prospecting this subterranean gold mine, why do many homeowners bury one of its most valuable nuggets—the concrete floor? Why do they assume that hiding the concrete under carpeting or other floor coverings is the best way to strike it rich in terms of value and resale potential?

It’s time to straighten these homeowners out before the gold rush passes them by, and bust some of the common myths about the perceived disadvantages of concrete floors. In fact, assuming that the basement and floor are structurally sound, enhancing the concrete rather than covering it up is fast becoming the gold standard in basement floor treatments, with benefits that extend well beyond aesthetics.

Myth #1: Bare concrete floors are cold and damp

Myth #2: Cracks in concrete are inevitable and it’s better to cover them up than to live with them

Myth #3: Carpeting looks warmer and much more inviting than concrete

Myth #4: Covering up or sealing the concrete floor will help to reduce radon infiltration

Myth #5: Decorative concrete floors are slippery

Myth #6: Floor coverings are cheaper to install than decorative concrete

Myth #7: Carpet, vinyl tile, and wood laminate flooring offer more color and design options

 

Myth #1: Bare concrete floors are cold and damp

“This is rarely true in properly constructed newer homes because they are better insulated than older homes and today’s building codes typically require installation of a vapor barrier under the slab to block moisture migration.” We are seeing a growing trend in decorative concrete interior floors, particularly in upscale homes.

To keep concrete floors warmer underfoot in winter, homeowners can install in-floor radiant heat before the slab is poured or simply use some nice area rugs which look great on stained floors and can be easily cleaned. Basements are one of the most popular areas to install radiant heat systems, which circulate heated water through polyethylene tubing. Some systems can also be retrofit into existing basements by covering the tubing with a self-leveling overlay.

* Carpet is not recommended for basement floors

Thinking of installing carpeting over an uninsulated or unheated concrete slab? Don’t do it, says the Minnesota Department of Commerce Energy Information Center, because the carpet will be susceptible to mold and mildew. The basement floor is generally cooler than the basement air temperature, and installing carpet only lowers the temperature even more. If the basement humidity is high enough, the temperature of the floor under a carpet may, in certain areas, fall below the dew point of the air. Under this condition, a small amount of moisture will accumulate under the carpet, making conditions right for mold growth. The moisture formation may be so slight that you won’t see it from the top of the carpet. If the basement floor is already insulated or has under-floor heat, then carpeting or area rugs may work.

Some caveats: If you have a basement moisture problem, you need to resolve it before installing any floor treatment, especially carpeting. Newly placed concrete slabs should be allowed to cure for at least 30 days before decorative staining, coating, or stamping to permit moisture in the slab to evaporate. You can easily test for excess moisture by taping a piece of plastic sheeting to the concrete floor and sealing the edges with duct tape. Leave the plastic in place for 24 hours. If condensation accumulates beneath the plastic, then measures must be taken to alleviate the moisture problem. (Read more about excess moisture-vapor transmission in concrete slabs and remedies for prevention and treatment.)

 

Myth #2: Cracks in concrete are inevitable and it’s better to cover them up than to live with them

Unless the cracks are serious and due to structural issues, customers like the rustic, fractured look that can be achieved by staining the floor and leaving minor random cracks exposed.

 

Myth #3: Carpeting looks warmer and much more inviting than concrete

Concrete stained a rich, earthy tone instantly warms up a room and stands out as one of the basements most attractive features.

With decorative concrete, there’s also no risk of chemical emissions, like there are from new carpeting. These emissions can be especially hazardous in basement spaces that aren’t well ventilated. Carpets also are a breeding ground for dust mites and other allergens.

Hardwood flooring isn’t a practical covering for most basement slabs
because of the potential exposure to moisture and humidity.

 

Myth #4: Covering up or sealing the concrete floor will help to reduce radon infiltration

It won’t hurt, but radon, if present in the soil surrounding the basement, can still infiltrate into the home through cracks in the foundation, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. And sealing alone won’t lower radon levels significantly or consistently.

Basement slabs in newer homes may also require a vapor barrier, which can help to block radon infiltration. In existing homes, a radon test should be taken before starting a basement renovation project. Generally, it’s less expensive to install a radon-reduction system during renovations than afterwards. The EPA publication Home Buyers and Sellers Guide to Radon offers additional guidelines for radon testing and for lowering radon levels in the home.

 

Myth #5: Decorative concrete floors are slippery

In most cases, a decorative concrete floor is no more slippery than vinyl, ceramic tile or sealed hardwoods.

 

Myth #6: Floor coverings are cheaper to install than decorative concrete

The initial outlay for decorative concrete may exceed the cost of a low-to-mid priced floor covering, such as carpeting, vinyl tile, and wood laminates, but the life expectancy of a concrete floor will far surpass that of most floor covering materials. Decorative concrete can also endure water exposure from occasional seepage into the basement after heavy rains, unlike water-sensitive floor coverings that can peel up, warp, or mildew. That means in the long run homeowners save money because they never need to rip out and replace worn or water-damaged flooring.

When compared with high-end floor coverings, such as ceramic tile, slate, and marble, decorative concrete is often an economical alternative. Plus, skilled concrete artisans can duplicate the look of these pricier materials.

If time is money, then homeowners can also cash in on the low maintenance needs of decorative concrete. Typically just occasional sweeping and damp mopping will keep the floor looking like new for many years. When protected with a good sealer, concrete floors also resist staining, chemicals, and abrasion.

 

Myth #7: Carpet, vinyl tile, and wood laminate flooring offer more color and design options

This is possibly the biggest myth of all. No flooring material offers more decorative versatility than concrete. A few of the options particularly well-suited for basement floors include stampable and self-leveling overlays, chemical stains, epoxy coatings, paints, dyes, and stenciling. What’s more, these treatments can be combined to create one-of-a-kind decorative finishes to suit unique basement design schemes. Consider these possibilities…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CONCRETE STAINING

Acid Staining & Concrete Dyes – Exciting Treatments for PLAIN and DRAB Concrete Slabs, old or new, both Inside and Out!

pavillion

The Pavilions at the Angus Barn – Raleigh, NC

 

ACID STAINING

Chemical staining creates a one of a kind floor that can not be duplicated. The overall effect lends a warm, inviting feeling with exquisite drifts of translucent color shadings like that of natural stone. Each concrete surface will accept the stains differently based on chemical makeup, age, porosity, mix design, texture, ambient conditions and initial color of the substrate. The stains react chemically at the surface, penetrating and leaving unique permanent color effects. This is a stain, not a film build coating, it will never peel, crack or chip.

Depending on application techniques acid stains can produce a vibrant or muted, multi- hued mottled look satisfying a variety of tastes and styles. Preferably, an inconspicuous area for testing samples is a good idea. Volume of stain needed and color options can be considered at this point. Although, due to the nature of this process, the samples sometimes prove to be deceptive and final results can vary in color. Remember, this reaction is unique to each concrete surface, expect color tones to be consistently inconsistent. Once stained and sealed, a permanent, low maintenance work of art has been created to be admired by many! Be prepared to rejoice the outcome whatever it might be! There are several standard colors available which can be intermixed, layered or diluted to achieve different looks. Please see our color samples page. If a more consistent look is desired, there are other options and products that can be used, but nothing else will produce the character or alluring sensation of an acid stained floor.

The key to success with stained concrete is working with a subcontractor who has extensive practical experience with both the staining of concrete and working with general contractors. We understand your issues. We are professional artists by training and experience. We are also fully licensed and bonded professional subcontractors and have worked on a very wide variety of new and remodel construction jobs. We would be happy to refer you to some of the contractors with whom we have worked who can vouch for our professionalism and integrity.

If acid staining is in your plans for a project, we encourage you to involve us as early as possible to be sure the slab is properly specified. Job scheduling needs to account for stain-penetration time, post-stain cleaning and drying times, and clear seal and waxing times. Even a tiny 100 square-foot job will take four days, due to these factors. It is also important to know how to protect the floor when the other trades are on the site.

 

CONCRETE DYE

Concrete dyes are becoming more and more popular now that they have become mainstream. The dyes are much more predictable “color wise” than their Acid stain counterparts. They can also be layered and controlled.

How Concrete Dyes Work

Essentially, concrete dyes are translucent, penetrating color solutions. Unlike acid-based stains, they do not react chemically with concrete. Instead, they contain very fine coloring agents that penetrate into the concrete surface.
Most dyes are packaged in concentrated form, allowing flexibility in the end color. They can be used full strength to attain greater depth of color or diluted with water or solvents to produce paler shades or simply a light wash of color. You can also intermix different colors of dye to produce your own custom hues.

When to Use a Concrete Dye

Concrete dyes can further enhance your chemical staining projects and open up a whole new set of design options. The primary reason for using dyes is flexibility to obtain colors not possible with chemical stains. When concrete dyes are combined with chemical staining, there are no limitations from a predetermined color palette.
But dyes have a multitude of other applications as companions on chemical staining projects. Artisans have used them to:

 

  • Enhance stain colors in areas of a slab where the stain is not reacting with the concrete and the color needs to be intensified.
  • Add visual texture and depth to a concrete surface or cementitious topping.
  • Shift color from subtle earth tones to vibrant hues.
  • Build layers of color.
  • Soften areas where the chemical stain has produced an overly bright tone.

Concrete Dye Limitations

Dyes, like chemical stains, are intended to enhance rather than disguise the surface. They will not hide cracks, blemishes, or other flaws. Nor will they mask an underlying color. Dyes are transparent, so you really can’t do any color correction with them.

You should also expect variations and inconsistent color with dyes, even when applying them to the same surface. But most people find these variations desirable because they result in a more natural, mottled appearance.

 

Concrete Dyes – Surface Protection and Maintenance

Although dyes are formulated to penetrate into the concrete, it is still necessary to protect dyed and stained surfaces from wear and contaminants by applying a sealer.
We also apply several coats of floor finish, or wax, to protect the sealer from wear. The sacrificial wax coating acts as a shock absorber to scuffs, scratches, and grime. Plus, it is easy to buff out a coat of floor finish and then reapply more if necessary. As long as the owner is diligent about ongoing maintenance and doesn’t allow the floor finish to wear down to the sealer, dyed and stained concrete surfaces will last indefinitely.

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CONCRETE RESURFACING – INTERIOR AND EXTERIOR

 

100_1435Grove Park Inn & Resort – Asheville, NC

 

Want to permanently cover up surface imperfections in existing concrete? Or turn a plain-jane slab from drab to fab? With today’s decorative overlays, it’s easy to give almost any concrete surface, indoors or out, a complete face-lift and at a lower cost than removal and replacement.

Although cement-based overlays have been around for decades, many of today’s systems blend polymer resins with cement, sand, and other additives to improve performance, wear resistance, and aesthetic qualities. Polymer-modified overlays can be applied in layers as thin as a credit card or up to several inches thick without delamination or failure. They adhere well to existing concrete and resist damage from salt, chemicals, UV exposure, freeze-thaw conditions, and abrasion.

When to Use a Polymer Overlay

Breaking out and replacing an existing concrete slab can be expensive, messy, disruptive, and time-consuming. With an overlay, you can give worn, lackluster concrete a decorative makeover or restore it to like-new condition in as little as a day and at a fraction of the cost (from about $2.50 to $4.50 per square foot, depending on the type of system installed).

Polymer-modified overlays are ideal for:

  • Adding pattern, texture, and color to exterior concrete slabs, including patios, pool decks, driveways, and sidewalks.
  • Resurfacing interior floors, including those previously covered with linoleum tile or carpeting (after removal of all residual mastic). With the use of stains or dyes, it’s possible to create colorful graphic designs, logos, or stenciled patterns.
  • Smoothing and leveling uneven or spalled concrete surfaces.
  • Restoring surfaces quickly with minimal downtime. Polymer overlays cure fast and some systems can support foot traffic within a few hours.

Not all existing concrete is a suitable candidate for an overlay. The concrete must be structurally sound, without gapping cracks, severe delamination, or an unstable sub base. Proper surface preparation of the concrete is also imperative to ensure good bonding of the overlay. Any non-structural cracks wider than hairline should also be repaired.

Types of Overlays

*Stampable overlays

A stamped overlay offers all the aesthetic benefits of conventional stamped concrete but is less time- and labor-intensive to install. The overlay mix is usually applied by a gauge rake (a tool with an adjustable depth gauge for achieving a uniform topping thickness) and then imprinted with stamping mats or texturing skins. These semi-flexible stamping tools are available in dozens of patterns, allowing overlay installers to duplicate the beauty and texture of natural stone, brick, slate, wood planking, and other materials. Overlay thicknesses range from 1/4 to 3/4 inch, depending on the depth of the imprint.

* Microtoppings and skim coats

These ultra-thin decorative toppings are applied by a trowel or squeegee in layers as thin as 20 mils, or a mere 0.02 inch. They can go on silky smooth and taken down to a featheredge. Or you can apply several coats to create a textured broomed or troweled finish. Some systems come pre tinted in a wide range of colors while others can be custom tinted by mixing in the desired amount of liquid coloring agent. Interesting color variations can be achieved by applying layers of different hues.

* Adding Color to Overlays

The color options for concrete overlays are limitless. You can buy mixes that are pre tinted like paint or you can add the pigment of your choice during mixing to produce custom hues. Once the overlay is applied, experienced installers can achieve more elaborate color effects, such as antiquing or marbleizing, by accenting the base color with layers of topically applied color. Some of the options include:

  • Dry-shake color hardeners
  • colored liquid or powdered release agents (typically used with stampable overlays)
  • Dyes
  • Chemical or acrylic-based stains
  • Tinted sealers

For more pizzazz, you can even seed overlays with decorative aggregates, color chips, or recycled glass.

Factors to Consider when Choosing a Resurfacing System…

Selecting the most appropriate resurfacing system often involves weighing performance attributes against aesthetic value. Here are some questions to ask to help you find a system that will strike the perfect balance for the job at hand.

What is the condition of the existing surface?

Does the concrete have a lot of cracks or gouges? Is the surface out of level? If so, choose a higher-build material, such as a self-leveling or stampable overlay that can be applied at a thickness of 1/4 inch or greater. Unless the surface imperfections are expertly patched or filled, they could telegraph through a thinner overlay, such as a microtopping or skim coat.

What conditions will the overlay be exposed to?

Be sure the topping or overlay system is tough enough to withstand all the conditions it will confront. Is the slab outdoors and subject to weather extremes and freezing and thawing? Is it a floor surface in a high-traffic area or subject to chemical, grease, and oil spills? Although most systems will stand up well to wear, chemical attack, and dirt penetration when properly installed and sealed, some are better suited than others for harsher exposure conditions. Often a higher-build material or a material containing aggregates will perform better in aggressive environments.

What is the installed cost?

The total cost of overlay installation will be higher if you are using stencils, stamping mats, or decorative engraving or saw cutting to pattern the surface. Using more than one coloring method (such as integral color combined with broadcast pigments and stains or dyes) will also boost the final cost.

How much maintenance is required?

A decorative overlay should always be coated with a compatible sealer to help protect it from water penetration, stains, dirt, and grease. Sealed surfaces will also be much easier to clean. Floors typically require only routine sweeping to remove any abrasive particles and occasional wet mopping with a mild detergent, depending on how much traffic they receive. Occasional pressure washing may be needed to clean exterior slabs. Exterior slabs should be resealed every 2-3 yaers for optimal protection. This is an easy process that anyone can do; simply power wash or scrub the surface with a mild detergent, allow to dry overnight and apply 1-2 coats of solvent based acrylic sealer by brush and roller.

Cleaning and sealing stamped and colored concrete should be done on a regular basis just like any other home maintenance. The frequency will depend on how high a traffic area to cars, foot traffic, water, and any chemicals the concrete is exposed to.

Concrete should be resealed every 2 or 3 years. If you wait longer, you may notice the color fade slightly. But just like waxing a car, reseal your stamped concrete and the color will be as vibrant as the day it was installed.

  1. Rinse dirt/debris off stamped concrete surface with a garden hose or pressure washer.
  2. Apply a small amount of liquid dish soap to surface and scrub with a push broom.
  3. Rinse well with a garden hose or pressure washer until there is no sign of soapsuds.
  4. Allow surface to dry at least 24 hours DO NOT APPLY SEALER TO A DAMP/WET SURFACE.
  5. Once the surface is completely dry, apply the sealer as follows:Stir in one jar of Anti-Skid material to a 5-gallon pail of sealer.APPLY SEALER USING A 1″ NAP ROLLER ONLY. ANTI SKID MATERIAL WILL NOT TRANSFER THROUGH A SPRAYER. Apply sealer in approximately 2′ x 4′ sections. This will ensure full coverage without missed spots. Keep stirring sealer while applying to keep the Anti-Skid suspended in the sealer.Sealer should be applied when air temperature is above 55 F. Best results will be obtained by applying sealer during cooler temperatures — fall and spring — or before 10 am and after 4 pm in summer months when surface temperatures should be under 90 F.
  6. A second coat can be applied after the first coat is tack free (not sticky to your touch).
  7. Your stamped concrete should be resealed every 2-3 years to protect your investment. One 5-gallon pail of sealer will cover approximately 1,000 sq.ft.

Is it worth fixing?

Cracked concrete should be replaced if due to the three conditions listed below:

  • Widespread, deep cracks, settlement has occurred
  • Sunken Concrete
  • Frost Heave

Any patching compound used to patch these types of cracks will only be a short term fix. You definitely would not want to patch these cracks and then spend money resurfacing the concrete or doing a decorative topping.

Widespread, deep cracks, settlement has occurred…

When concrete is cracked all the way through the surface due to the weight of large trucks, improper preparation of sub grade, erosion of sub grade, or any other reason:

Get the advice of a local soils engineer on sub grade preparation for your area and material needed to prepare sub grade (sometimes existing material is OK)

  • Remove the concrete
  • Remove the sub grade
  • Replace sub grade with compactable material (sometimes existing material is OK)
  • Compact the sub grade
  • Pour back concrete

Sunken Concrete…

Sunken concrete occurs when the sub grade was not prepared properly. Loose dirt may have been used for the sub grade. When this dirt settles-sometimes due to sprinkler or rain water going under the concrete- the concrete is unsupported and will be more susceptible to sinking.

It is possible that the sub grade was compacted and the concrete was subjected to extreme weight which caused the concrete to sink.

Get the advice of a local soils engineer on sub grade preparation for your area and material needed to prepare sub grade (sometimes existing material is OK)

  • Remove the concrete
  • Remove the sub grade
  • Replace sub grade with compactable material (sometimes existing material is OK)
  • Compact the sub grade
  • Pour back concrete

Frost Heave…

Frost heave is very common in cold climates. Moisture in the ground freezes and the concrete pushes upward.

Get the advice of a local soils engineer on sub grade preparation for your area and material needed to prepare sub grade (sometimes existing material is OK)

  • Remove the concrete
  • Remove the sub grade
  • Replace sub grade with compactable material (sometimes existing material is OK)
  • Compact the sub grade
  • Pour back concrete

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Stamped Concrete

Pools, Patios & Driveways

 

stamped concrete raleigh durhamPrivate Residence – Raleigh, NC  8000 sq. ft.

 

Back yards, especially concrete patios, are being transformed into luxurious extensions of the house. They’re the new favorite room to relax, entertain, and cook. And the heart and soul of the backyard resort area is the concrete patio.

The Hearth, Patio, and Barbecue Association, which recently held its annual trade show and exposition, says the growth of the outdoor living phenomena is the result of North America’s interest in ‘cocooning,’ the trend toward a more casual lifestyle, an aging population and the popularity of porches, decks, and concrete patios in homes. Concrete patios, sometimes referred to as cement patios, provide the perfect sanctuary for outdoor living spaces because they are often connected to the house and blend the interior with the exterior living areas. For example, homeowners can match the stone facade of their house by installing decorative concrete to create a stone patio without the expense of installing traditional individual stones. With stamped concrete, homeowners can get the look of flagstone, brick and many other patterns when stamp patterns are pressed into freshly poured concrete.

The swimming pool industry sees that trend, too. In fact, pools are getting smaller and are playing a less dominant role in the back yard.

The Pool and Spa Institute says the pool is just one amenity – an increasing number of homeowners are going all out with outdoor kitchens, furnished seating areas, fireplaces, decorative concrete patios, pizza ovens, elaborate water features, and more.

Homeowners want to enjoy their homes, but they also see upgrading their back yards as an investment. Creating the look of an authentic stone patio, or slate patio, or cobblestone patio is more economical to install using decorative concrete, and adds value to the home.

Patios – The Heart of the Outdoor Oasis

When homeowners embark on building their outdoor oasis, they typically envision a range of features. Many want a total package–a backyard retreat in which they can escape and relax at the end of the day and on weekends.

More people are into renovating their homes, especially their back yards. People are spending more time outdoors.

But the first thing most people start with is the concrete patio. And rest assured, it’s not just the plain old gray anymore. Today’s backyard concrete patios are as unique as their owners. Modern stamping and texture and coloring techniques complement any landscape and provide a touch of individuality to your back yard.

Across the country, companies that specialize in concrete patios are seeing an enormous increase in elaborate outdoor living spaces–all kinds of hardscaping and landscaping projects and decorative concrete is quickly emerging as the new material of choice for today’s patio. It’s booming. Every year I think it can’t get any bigger and it does. You don’t have to settle for the old gray stuff anymore.

Concrete Patios – The Benefits Abound

Why are concrete patios so versatile? Concrete can be shaped into any pattern. It can be lightly smoothed or heavily brushed; surfaced with attractive pebbles; swirled or scored; tinted or painted; patterned; or molded to resemble another material.

While many concrete patios are designed to complement the outdoor landscape and native greenery, some homeowners choose a style of concrete patio based on their interior living space.

Durability

In addition to concrete’s versatility, concrete is durable and can stand up to a range of weather conditions found across the country. In fact, many companies in colder climates take special measures to ensure the durability of the concrete patios they produce.

Whereas traditional pavers and cobblestone settle unevenly during the freeze/thaw cycle of winter, stamped concrete is reinforced with 3/8-inch steel reinforcing rods or fibers that gives the concrete the necessary tensile strength to resist the constant heaving produced by the freezing and thawing of the ground.

Stamped concrete is also better than pavers and cobblestone in spring and summer. Pavers and cobblestones are susceptible to joint deterioration if sand is not constantly brushed into all the joints. This joint deterioration results in ant hills, growth of unsightly grass and weeds and produces dangerous tripping hazards when the individual pavers settle unevenly.

Affordability

Contractors who create concrete patios and those who have concrete patios will quickly tell you concrete patios cost less than patios made of stone, brick or tile.
Many say that the lower price tag combined with the wide array of patterns and colors available is one of the main draws of choosing a concrete patio. Your concrete patio can be stamped to resemble brick, slate, flagstone, stone, tile, and even wood.
Decorative concrete has become more popular than stone, brick and tile for patios because it costs less, is better in quality and it has the unlimited ability to be created into whatever you want as far as color, texture, and pattern go.

Concrete Patio Colors – Endless Possibilities

One of the biggest draws of concrete patios is the expansive range of colors available. Because of ever-advancing technology and jaw-dropping chemical techniques, concrete can be colored in just about any hue you could ever imagine.

Colored concrete can be used in combination, abutting each other, or stamped with a variety of textures to simulate brick, flagstone, pavers, or tile. The same colored concrete can be made to look different, just by using different finishing techniques: For example, a broom finish creates one look. Brooming the concrete in opposite directions creates shadow effects. Swirl or fan patterns create a different type of look.

For even more dramatic effect, the colored concrete can be lightly sandblasted or heavily sandblasted, or a retarder can be used and then the aggregate exposed. Color to concrete can be integral to the mix, meaning it is added at the plant or added in bags at the job site, or dry-shake, where it is dusted on the surface at the job site. The availability of custom colors and penetrating stains has translated into concrete patios that are natural-looking and attractive.

Many homeowners tend to gravitate toward the more natural browns, tans, charcoals, and terracotta reds.

Concrete Patios Blend Fabulously With Surroundings

Another appealing benefit of a concrete patio is that because it can be created in so many textures, patterns, and colors, it is the perfect choice for blending into your backyard environment, whether you have a modest-sized patio and barbecue area, or you have a sprawling, luxurious outdoor retreat spilling over with amenities.

Combining concrete with other materials, like brick, tile, or flagstone, is also popular. And wood, steel, or copper dividers can be used as control joints to help prevent cracking.

Once the concrete patio is in place, it is the perfect complement to additional amenities like swimming pools, water features, outdoor kitchens, sinks, burners, warmers, refrigerators, even storage areas.

“Lighting is also big. Homeowners want lighting that reflects their mood for parties, romance, family, or just a great backdrop. They want a vacation spot they can go to every day.”

Many contractors view themselves as part contractor, part designer, part artisan. They’ll help you create whatever you are envisioning for your concrete patio and accompanying backyard retreat.

Concrete Patio Maintenance Is a Breeze

Cleaning and sealing stamped and colored concrete should be done on a regular basis just like any other home maintenance. The frequency will depend on how high a traffic area to cars, foot traffic, water, and any chemicals the concrete is exposed to.

Concrete should be resealed every 2 or 3 years. If you wait longer, you may notice the color fade slightly. But just like waxing a car, reseal your stamped concrete and the color will be as vibrant as the day it was installed.

  1. Rinse dirt/debris off stamped concrete surface with a garden hose or pressure washer.
  2. Apply a small amount of liquid dish soap to surface and scrub with a push broom.
  3. Rinse well with a garden hose or pressure washer until there is no sign of soapsuds.
  4. Allow surface to dry at least 24 hoursDO NOT APPLY SEALER TO A DAMP/WET SURFACE.
  5. Once the surface is completely dry, apply the sealer as follows:Stir in one jar of Anti-Skid material to a 5-gallon pail of sealer.APPLY SEALER USING A 1″ NAP ROLLER ONLY. ANTI SKID MATERIAL WILL NOT TRANSFER THROUGH A SPRAYER. Apply sealer in approximately 2′ x 4′ sections. This will ensure full coverage without missed spots. Keep stirring sealer while applying to keep the Anti-Skid suspended in the sealer.Sealer should be applied when air temperature is above 55 F. Best results will be obtained by applying sealer during cooler temperatures — fall and spring — or before 10 am and after 4 pm in summer months when surface temperatures should be under 90 F.
  6. A second coat can be applied after the first coat is tack free (not sticky to your touch).
  7. Your stamped concrete should be resealed every 2-3 years to protect your investment. One 5-gallon pail of sealer will cover approximately 1,000 sq.ft.

Decorative Concrete Driveways

It wasn’t long ago when deciding on a driveway material was easy: asphalt or concrete. Today, the concrete choice has expanded to include a multitude of decorative concrete options. Sometimes referred to as colored cement, or painted concrete, the effects that can be achieved with decorative applications can be astounding on a concrete driveway. While plain gray concrete is still the most often installed, listed below are some of the alternatives. Don’t feel left out if you already have a driveway. The concrete industry has rapidly developed many decorative products that can resurface existing plain gray driveways, as well.

Sub grade Preparation Essentials for Concrete Driveways

The sub grade should be compacted and have an even thickness. A standard driveway is 4″ thick—you want 4″ thick continuously, not a 3″ to 4″ varying thickness.

Many western states have expansive soils. In these conditions, from 2″ to 8″ of crushed rock should be used as sub grade material depending on the soils level of expansiveness. If you have doubts about the soil characteristics in your area, consult a soils engineer.

Concrete Driveways – The Correct Concrete Mix

A 3500-psi, .50 water-to-cement ratio is best for driveway construction. This provides better wear ability and a “denser” concrete than the typical 2500-psi mix. Concrete is permeable and “wicks” moisture from beneath the slab. With the moisture come salts from the soil which can leave efflorescence on the surface. The .50 w/c mix provides a geometric reduction in this “wicking” action.

Excess water should not be added at the project site, as this will dilute the water to cement ratio.
In cold climates, air entrainment should be added to the concrete at the batch plant. This entrained air allows any moisture which does enter the concrete to expand in the microscopic air pockets during a freeze/thaw cycle instead of putting internal pressure on the concrete

Placing Joints in Concrete Driveways—Choose Wisely

Joints should be at least 1/4 the concrete thickness so a 1″ deep joint should be used in a 4″ thick driveway. Joints should also be spaced 2-3 times in feet the thickness of the concrete: so a 4″ thick driveway should have joints no farther than 8′ – 12′.
If joints are spaced too far apart, cracks will often occur where the joints should have been.

Proper Drainage for Driveways

For best drainage, the concrete should slope 1/4″ per running foot away from the home. If proper drainage is prevented due to the area of concrete being locked between two structures, a drain may need to be installed which will collect the water at a low point in the concrete and feed it down the drain.

Concrete Driveway Reinforcement

Reinforcement can be with either wire mesh, fiber, or steel bars placed in a grid pattern. In either case blocks should be used to keep the reinforcement in the center of the concrete. Note that reinforcement does not eliminate cracks—it simply holds them together.

Concrete Driveways – Proper Finishing Techniques

After concrete is bull-floated, it should be left alone until all the bleed water on top of the concrete has evaporated. Starting the finishing operation too soon can trap surface water and create a weak surface.
Of course, there are many other important steps in building a concrete driveway.

Concrete Driveway Maintenance

Plain gray concrete benefits by being cleaned and sealed periodically. But if this basic maintenance isn’t done well, it still looks OK. Decorative concrete, however, needs to be maintained to continue to look good for years. And thus protect your investment.
Usually simply cleaning thoroughly once a year with a pressure washer, or floor polisher using a degreaser, then sealing the surface, will keep colors looking vibrant for years.

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LOGOS & OTHER SPECIAL REQUESTS

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The Durham Bulls – Fiber optic illuminated ruby eye with automated snorting smoke!

 

As you can see from our portfolio we take great pride in our custom logos and creative projects. We welcome your ideas or special requests and look forward to working with you soon!

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