DECORATIVE CONCRETE APPLICATIONS AND ADVANTAGES
Decorative concrete and the various options available from decorative concrete contractors and decorative concrete construction services has some advantages over other types of building materials on the market today. One can use it in many applications, the most common of which include:
- Decorative Concrete Flooring
- Decorative Concrete Kitchen and Bathroom Vanity/Countertops
- Decorative Concrete Fireplace Hearth and Mantle
- Decorative Concrete Bathroom Tub/Shower Surroundings
- Decorative Concrete Basement Wall Design
- Decorative Concrete Indoor/Outdoor Elements
Decorative concrete can provide a wide range of color and style options to suit any design criteria in the above applications. There are many options, all of which can be explained and showcased by decorative concrete contractors or decorative concrete construction services. Design options include techniques like acid-staining, painting, overlays, and textures.
From a materials standpoint, the key advantages of using Decorative Concrete include:
- Cost – decorative concrete contractors and construction services often point out that while the price of decorative concrete elements may be slightly higher than other options initially, it tends to last much longer without the need for replacement and repair. It means the overall cost to own, or amortized cost over the useful life of the product ends up being significantly lower than most other materials on the market. The most common application of decorative concrete, flooring, is one of the best examples of this fact, according to most decorative concrete contractors and decorative concrete construction services. Even experts in other materials like carpet or linoleum will grudgingly admit that long-term, decorative concrete is a more cost-effective option.
- Maintenance – Most applications of decorative concrete are easy to clean and maintain. Decorative concrete contractors and construction services often make it clear to potential customers that the only maintenance their products need is the occasional dusting or cleaning with mild soapy water. No expensive rental cleaning machinery or other cleaning services required.
- Hypo-Allergenic – Compared to carpeting and tile, Decorative Concrete applications are hypo-allergenic, as they leave no place to trap pet dander, dust, or pollen.
- Colour Options – Nearly any color imaginable is possible with decorative concrete. Expert decorative concrete contractors and decorative concrete construction services generally will have a showroom or booklets with palettes of colors that are available for any project.
- Design Options – It’s not only color options that decorative concrete contractors and decorative concrete construction services can provide. They are also able to seamlessly blend decorative concrete design elements with existing décor or the existing design plan of a space. There are many exciting techniques that decorative concrete contractors and decorative concrete construction services can use to fulfill customer design needs, including the application of textures, micro toppings, saw cuts, and more.
ADVANTAGES OF A DECORATIVE CONCRETE CONTRACTOR, DECORATIVE CONCRETE CONSTRUCTION SERVICE
Unlike some projects that are very clearly in the “do it yourself” category, most of the applications of decorative concrete require skill, knowledge, and equipment that the average consumer does not have. Flooring, bathroom wall, and countertop installations can be particularly tricky. Master masons from decorative concrete contractors or decorative concrete construction services are best suited to provide consulting services, walk customers through their design and color options, explain the process and timeline for installation, and perform the actual work.
Another important reason to use a decorative concrete contractor or decorative concrete construction service stems from the fact that concrete needs time to dry and set. Concrete flooring, tile/wall treatments, and other decorative elements cannot be applied with adhesive or staples and be complete. The trade-off in drying and setting time, though, is increased durability and a longer life for the product. Decorative concrete contractors and decorative concrete construction services know how long a specific application or product needs to dry and set correctly and know how to plan and budget the project timeline accordingly.
CAPABILITIES OF DECORATIVE CONCRETE CONTRACTORS, DECORATIVE CONCRETE CONSTRUCTION SERVICES
With so many designs and application options available, as well as the semi-permanent nature of decorative concrete, it is essential to understand what these decorative concrete construction services companies do. While the specific expertise of a given decorative concrete contractor or decorative concrete construction service will vary, the best will have most or all the following capabilities:
- Decorative concrete contractors and decorative concrete construction services generally will have a showroom available that will highlight examples of materials, designs, color selections, abilities, and past work photos. While not all decorative concrete contractors necessarily have showrooms, it is more typical when it comes to more substantial decorative concrete construction services. These showrooms are typically open to the public/prospective customers and are where a lot of initial consulting takes place.
- Many of the best decorative concrete contractors or decorative concrete construction services will also offer an in-home, on-site design consultation, where they can take measurements and review specifics about the job. In some cases, they can also develop renderings to show consumers what space would look like with the proposed decorative concrete design elements fully installed.
- One of the most important things a decorative concrete contractor or decorative concrete construction service will provide consumers is an understanding of the process or timeline specific to their project. The more expertise a company has and the more experience they’ve had with similar jobs, the more accurate an estimated time frame for the work they can provide.
- Any decorative concrete contractors or decorative concrete construction services will also have the capability to carry out the proposed work. They should have all the equipment, materials, and workforce capabilities necessary to complete the decorative concrete construction job, given the budget and timeline established by the consumer.
- Lastly, the best decorative concrete contractors and decorative concrete construction services will generally offer some warranty or guarantee on their installed work. It is most typical in the case of flooring and wall treatments, though may be available for more separate decorative elements, countertops, and similar as well.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT DECORATIVE CONCRETE CONTRACTORS, DECORATIVE CONCRETE CONSTRUCTION SERVICES
There are some factors to consider (aside from capabilities) when selecting a decorative concrete contractor or decorative concrete construction service company to work on a job. In brief, the most common things to consider include:
- Experience – A good indicator of potential job quality is often the experience of a person or service. Most experienced decorative concrete contractors and decorative concrete construction services will be able to quickly tell you about the tens of jobs they have completed satisfactorily. They also generally will have been in the decorative concrete construction services business for at least a few years. If neither of these conditions is true, it is probably a red flag to find another quality decorative concrete contractor or concrete construction service.
- Professionalism – As with any business, reputable decorative concrete contractors/decorative concrete construction services should have reliable customer service. They should be available to answer customer questions promptly and courteously and generally, treat the customer with respect.
- Equipment – As discussed briefly in the capabilities section, a worthy decorative concrete contractor or decorative concrete construction service should have all the equipment necessary to complete a job. They should also have significant training and experience using that equipment.
- Ratings/Reviews – Ratings and reviews, as well as word of mouth, photos are often some of the indicators of the quality of a given home improvement company. Decorative concrete contractors and decorative concrete construction services are no exception. Additionally, some jurisdictions have agencies, licensing/bonding requirements, and other professional organizations that the company should be affiliated with and have clean, valid records and licenses on file.
- Safety – With any construction job, safety is paramount. Decorative concrete contractors/decorative concrete construction services should demonstrate attention to safety and care in the worksite, as well as in using their equipment.
- Time and Money – Typically the most concerning factors for consumers, the time and money involved in a decorative concrete construction job often play a significant role in choosing a decorative concrete construction services company to do the work. Decorative concrete contractors and decorative concrete construction services who quote a much lower price or faster timeline than their competitors should be a red flag – it likely means they are going to cut corners and take shortcuts. Decorative concrete contractors and decorative concrete construction services that seem very expensive or much longer in the timeline than other competitors should also be a warning. If it can be reasonably justified, then that is fine, but if not, it’s likely a sign that they are taking advantage of an unknowing consumer, and bilking them for more than the decorative concrete construction job should cost.
CONCLUSIONS ABOUT DECORATIVE CONCRETE CONSTRUCTION
In summary, decorative concrete contractors and decorative concrete construction services are well-trained experts in the application of decorative concrete design elements in the home. A wide variety of decorative concrete applications and designs are available on the market today. A thorough understanding of the specific capabilities of a decorative concrete contractor or decorative concrete construction service will help consumers choose the best company for their project. Lastly, an understanding of the various traits of decorative concrete contractors and decorative concrete construction services, and how those traits translate into success or failure for the customer’s project, should be a deciding factor in consumer’s choice.
Concrete is the preferred material for supporting large amounts of weight. It can flow and fill forms to anchor buildings, creates flat spaces for parking cars and cooking out, and generally fits the bill for most industrial buildings. Concrete finishing is just the start. These services are provided by the people who make the construction durable and stable and are general contractors and concrete finishing experts motivated to create a structure that will not require concrete repair services for many years. Whether it is a basement supporting a home, a roadway, or a driveway intended to support automobiles, concrete is a durable and flexible material whose applications are only expanding every year. It isn’t impermeable and needs regular maintenance and an experienced professional to keep it serviced, reliable, and in good repair. Let’s start with the basics.
Concrete finishing is a generic term. Concrete is a mix of three or more materials. The Romans used it several hundred years before the common era, and current architects and city planners are still fine-tuning it to get the most out of this amazingly versatile material. The basic recipe is concrete, water, and an aggregate. The concrete is usually lime-based. Portland cement is the most common-used, nowadays. To create paste water is added, then finally, that’s where the aggregate comes in. It is usually pebbles, stone, or some other tough substance that forms a stable infrastructure within the concrete that hardens around it.
Most often, concrete finishing is simple because current concrete is poured around steel rebar that provides a rigid skeleton around which the concrete hardens. Often called “curing,” concrete takes time to harden and set. As it does so, it creates heat, and the relative humidity either speeds or slows the hardening. No concrete finishing is required. In fact, the rougher the concrete, the better it stabilizes and “grasps” the earth.
History and technicalities aside, most people and businesses care that the concrete they use is stable, looks smooth (concrete finishing), and can be repaired as it ages.
Concrete is usually poured out of a truck for large jobs or mixed by hand in a wheelbarrow for smaller jobs. The right concrete repair contractor will use the least expensive method to do a good job. Either way, once combined with water, it has a short shelf life. Depending on the temperature and humidity, concrete finishers usually have less than an hour to get it poured and finished before it hardens.
It’s not like most building materials that can be easily adjusted or amended after the original installation. It is more like a stone once hardened. Concrete finishing specialists know that they have a finite time to make it level and attractive before things get much more complicated.
That is why concrete finishers are careful about the forms they build to start. Think of it like jelly. It can be poured into any form, and in an hour or two, it will harden in that shape. The forms that hold the concrete and create the profile are usually made of softwoods like pine, both because they are cheap and easy to remove after hardening. The better the form, the less concrete finishing that will require at the end. Concrete structures for basements are simple, and no one must finish them. Pour the walls, and once hardened, lay the floor; the walls can be rough, the floor needs finishing.
Concrete finishing means doing several things:
- Leveling – If it’s a basement, road, or outside concrete installation, a level isn’t ideal. A slight angle to the concrete construction of about two degrees will shed the water and increase the life of the surface. Concrete will settle over time, and the most damaging thing is pools of water that don’t runoff. Angling a basement towards a sump pump, crowning a driveway or road to shedding water in both directions, and intelligent design in the concrete finishing will make the surface more useful and resilient.
- Fill the Form – There are a variety of tools that help people finish concrete. Most push the concrete into the form to fill out the space that is intended to fill. Unlike jelly, concrete isn’t very fluid and needs to be pushed into all corners of the form it is poured into; Concrete finishers must apply pressure to fill the mold completely. Sometimes that means putting on knee pads, other times, a trowel or “float” on a long stick will do the trick. The point is to fill all air gaps and make a solid form.
- Create a Surface - Concrete with a smooth surface can get slippery when wet. That is why concrete sidewalks often have grooves built-in. They help filter water off, they create traction, and are a regular feature of most concrete installations. Think of it as the bottom of a bathtub. It can be smooth, but isn’t a grooved surface better for safety? Concrete finishers make this surface right into the surface before it hardens.
CONCRETE REPAIR CONTRACTORS
Pouring and finishing concrete is one thing. Repairing it requires a wholly different skill set and focus. Concrete is heavy, and over time it sinks into the soft ground. It rarely sinks evenly and very often cracks as it settles into the ground. Road engineers usually prefer to use more flexible materials like asphalt that can flex and move with heat and erosion. Concrete is a hard material, but hard isn’t the best solution to some engineering challenges.
Concrete repair contractors need to bring a great deal of experience to the effort. Concrete contractors are in general very common and the least expensive option. Concrete repair contractors usually start with new installations, and they learn through time that concrete repair contractors are a unique breed of experts. They often began as concrete finishers, who then get called in for repairs, and learn why concrete structures fail. Only the best become effective concrete repair contractors.
Concrete contractors have a great deal riding on their work. Usually, homes, cars, and people live supported by concrete. If not poured, mixed, or cured correctly; concrete repair contractors will be required. Unfortunately, concrete repair contractors are usually two to three times more expensive.
Concrete cracks and can shrink over time. However, cracks in concrete are usually the result of the ground underneath settling. Pour a slab of concrete in an open field, and over several years, movement be the weight settles differently based on the density of the geology underneath. If the concrete sits on unstable ground, it will crack. Then it is time for a concrete repair services professional.
CONCRETE REPAIR SERVICES
Job Number One: understand why the concrete has broken or cracked. There are a few possibilities. If it happened fast, the contractor hired probably messed up the mix. It’s like baking. It is in chemistry. If the ratio of lime to water to stone is off, people don’t get what they need. It’s equally important that the foundation of the concrete slab framed correctly and had a decent foundation. Most of the time, a substantial stone foundation of three to five inches of rock under the concrete foundation provides all that is needed.
Step one must talk to the concrete contractor who did the work. If they have pride in their work, they will provide repair services without further payment over the first few years of the concrete slabs life. More commonly, concrete repair services are required from year five to year fifteen. Generally, there are three types of concrete repair services: patch, support and tear out.
Concrete is heavy and usually spends its time supporting significant weights beyond its mass. Whether supporting cars in a driveway or a house in the foundation, there are substantial loads involved. Over time, it is almost sure that concrete will start to crack and small fissures will develop. These don’t initially threaten overall structural integrity. Instead, they allow water into the concrete, which will undoubtedly cause significant degradation relatively quickly. Concrete repair services, at their simplest level, require that these fissures be plugged and sealed as soon as possible. It is always important. It is vital in environments where water freezes seasonally. That expansion and contraction mechanism can lead to a quick death for any concrete structure.
There are two ways that concrete repair service contractors seal cracks and fissures. Tar or silicone-based adhesives are fast, cheap, and flexible. They fill voids and have the elasticity necessary to move with concrete as it settles and freezes. The drawback is that they aren’t usually pretty. When aesthetics are essential versus utility, a concrete repair can be done with more concrete. A spade, the right concrete repair contractor, and some patience provide what is needed to force concrete into the cracks literally. The color match will never be perfect but offers a much more visually attractive maintenance method.
Most of the concrete structures that fracture do so because the ground beneath them shifts, compresses, freezes, or expands. When the concrete is in a driveway, it’s usually simplest to patch or tear out and replace. However, when the concrete is the foundation of a house, people don’t have that option. It is when finding a reputable, experienced, and insured concrete repair contractor is a must. These types of concrete repair services are rarely inexpensive or straightforward. The earth surrounding the building’s foundation must be dug-away, patches applied, and consideration paid to prevent further settling. There are some options to accomplish this task, and the self-hardening foam is becoming the most common. It’s almost like the concrete service contractor is putting a life preserver on the building’s foundation. It increases the width of the concrete to spread the weight out, and it can be injected under the foundation to provide additional support and slow further settling.
Tear Out and replace
When possible, driveways, patios, and other exposed concrete installations eventually need to be torn out and replaced. It is usually a matter of human labor. The clean-up doesn’t have to be too extensive for a new slab is poured in the same location. In fact, the old plate is often ground down and compressed to create a stable bed for the new pad. Patching is cheap, but few concrete repair services work anything like a whole new pour.
CONCLUSION ABOUT CONCRETE REPAIR
Concrete contractors aren’t inexpensive, but the price is generally indicative of the quality. Concrete finishing requires a bit of artistry, brute force, and engineering. Concrete repair services, especially for foundations, are the most complicated, and getting a few estimates and references is a must. If a wood wall goes up wrong, it can be torn down and replaced within hours. When a foundation or driveway not done right, it’s easy to get into tens of thousands of dollars and a huge headache.