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What Exactly is Decorative Concrete ?

 

Concrete is simple and durable. Made from crushed stone, water, sand, and cement, it’s used in 90 percent of homes and businesses. Most people think of a bland, gray, stone-like material, more functional than beautiful. However, recent developments in concrete use have produced something called decorative concrete and it’s changing the construction industry.

So what exactly is decorative concrete?

Decorative concrete is traditional concrete that is modified, using mechanical techniques and environmentally-friendly chemicals to transform the surface appearance and make concrete look like a variety of other materials, such as brick, marble, granite, tile, slate, and even wood. Best of all decorative concrete can be made waterproof and slip-resistance and repairs easily. Continue reading

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Sealing and waterproofing products for concrete and masonry – what’s the difference?

Many consumers – and even some professionals – use the terms “sealants” and “sealers” interchangeably, but there is a difference. Sealants are typically rubberized coatings or caulks and create an elastic layer on the surface. Sealers, on the other hand, such as acrylics, urethanes, and epoxies, are either film-forming or penetrating, sealing the substrate internally.

There are dozens of products on the market these days which can cause considerable confusion for consumers looking to preserve and protect their interior and exterior concrete or masonry features. To help clear up matters, let’s take a look at the various major categories of sealing and waterproofing products:

Penetrating sealers include silanes, silosanes, silicates, and siliconates and are used primarily on exterior concrete surfaces subject to corrosion and freeze-thaw damage where a natural, matte finish is desired. Most products provide excellent protection against outdoor exposure conditions and are also breathable, enabling moisture vapor to escape.

Acrylics form a thin protective film on the concrete surface and are available in both solvent- and water-based formulations in a wide range of sheen levels. Acrylics provide good protection against water and chloride intrusion, but usually wear faster than polyurethanes and epoxies. Solvent-based acrylics generally perform better and enhance color better than water-based products for outdoor use.

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Sealing and Resealing Concrete and Masonry

The terms “waterproofer” and “sealer” are often used interchangeably when it comes to concrete and masonry coatings, but they are not the same things. Knowing the difference between the two can help contractors and consumers avoid problems down the road.

Waterproofers are generally made from rubber, plastic or a sealing agent. They’re designed to keep moisture both in and out, penetrating the pores of the masonry and expanding as it dries to become a part of the masonry, creating a continuous film.

A water sealer, however, is a repellent designed to cause water to bead up on a surface while allowing moisture vapor to pass through. Sealers are typically applied in such a way as to permeate the substrate, which is usually very porous, ensuring that the substrate is sufficiently covered. Water sealers can be applied with a brush, roller or sprayer. Only one coat is recommended unless the surface is extremely porous.

The idea that water can wreak havoc on masonry or concrete may sound strange, but constant exposure to water — and especially winter freeze/thaw cycles — can damage or destroy masonry surfaces in a surprisingly short amount of time.

For above-grade brick or masonry surfaces exposed to wind-driven rain or other weather elements but not subjected to hydrostatic pressure (the weight of a body of liquid pressing down on a surface), a water sealer fits the bill nicely. A sealer will satisfactorily protect the surface and maintain its original beauty. Waterproofers, on the other hand, are usually pigmented products that tend to change surface appearance.

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Patio Blocks

cappucinoPatio blocks are useful and decorative landscaping products, typically made out of concrete. There are many styles to choose from, ranging from elegant to downright silly. Patio blocks can be used in a few different ways around the yard, perfect for walkways and garden décor, not just the obvious choice of patio.  Here at Concrete Solutions, we offer a selection of top quality, beautiful patio blocks to give your property the elegance you deserve. Continue reading

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Retaining Walls

Retaining WallFor many property owners, shaping the landscape can be a real challenge. Adding retaining walls in strategic locations can be a great solution for challenging landscaping puzzles. Retaining walls are used to hold back soil and shape the land, allowing you to control the slope of your land. Don’t let gravity and Mother Nature dictate where the hills will be on your property. Retaining wall designs must take erosion into account, identify and deal with water sources and use engineering principles for maximum structural integrity.

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Highlighted Product: Volcano Rod

THE ELECTRIC SAND PILE HEATER heats all day while you work. This happens in the following three ways:

  1. Heat from the ground below the sand pile moves up through the sand.
  2. Heat radiates from the water barrel in the center of the sand pile.
  3. Heat lost through the top forms a heated air shield between the whole top surface of the sand and the tarp.

KEEPS SAND PILES FROM FREEZING
Built specifically for wintertime masonry use, the heater constantly warms water and sand. The unit has an internal thermostat which will cycle on and off intermittently and will keep up to 5 tons of sand and 50 gallons of water hot when temperatures are as low as one degree below zero. The cost is estimated at only $2.94 per day maximum, based on 7.5? per kilowatt hour; actual cost per day may vary.

SAVES LABOR
The unit will pay for itself in less than TWO cold weeks of use! It saves on labor because employees do not spend an hour or two each winter day thawing the water and sand pile.

INCREASES TIME FOR PRODUCTION
Masons can immediately start working because the water and sand are hot when they arrive at work. Two hours saved on a cold morning in an 8 hour workday equals a 30% increase in available production time that day.

ONE PIECE, ALL STAINLESS STEEL CONSTRUCTION
Built for ruggedness, easy to transport, and economical to operate. The electric volcano rod will heat the sand pile, when the volcano rod is in a steel barrel filled with water and placed in the center of the sand pile. It is important to keep the bottom of the water barrel free of debris. If the volcono rod becomes covered with debris, it can cause the volcano rod to overheat and burn out.

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5 Surprisingly Fun and Romantic Ideas Using Concrete

Happy Valentine’s Day! Who knew concrete could be fun and romantic? Here are five surprising and inspirational ways to creatively express how you feel about your loved ones. Don’t forget, you can use these suggestions year round, not just for Valentine’s Day. For those of us in colder weather, it might be a little more practical to wait for the warmth!

Concrete Solutions - inscribed message concrete garden decoration.1. Set it in stone. Commission a concrete block, inscribed with your favorite poem, quote, or a simple “I love you” message.  The right design makes a great garden ornament or patio block, or you can also design pieces for the interior of your abode.

2. Give roses that never wilt. Did you know that concrete can be dyed to match almost any color? Let your artistic side shine and design a red rose floor for your garden patio.

Concrete Solutions - fun chess garden3. Build a giant board game in your backyard. Classic examples include life size chess and checkerboards, complete with lightweight game pieces. Invite your friends over for some live action gaming. You can always think outside the box for something more active, and build your own version of your favorite game. Who hasn’t dreamed of playing Chutes and Ladders in real life?

4. Adopt a fish pond. Concrete makes a great foundation for decorative ponds. You’ll need to test the waters with a pH test kit before you add any fish to make sure your water is safe for marine life. Some types of concrete can contaminate the water with toxic chemicals, and dead fish are never romantic.

5. Add functionality. Sundials are classy and useful additions to any garden, not to mention educational. Show your family and visitors how to tell time by the sun and become more in tune with nature.

Do you have any creative or romantic ideas using concrete? We’d love to hear your suggestions on our Facebook page! Have a more “concrete” plan? Contact us or request a quote to get started.

“Love, like truth and beauty, is concrete.” – Carter Heywood