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Top Four Signs Your Business Needs Concrete Expansion Joint Repair

If you own a business with block concrete surfaces such as parking garages, concrete overpasses, and footbridges, you have expansion joints that need periodic attention. What’s an expansion joint? It’s material placed between the concrete slabs that contracts and expands as the temperature changes, acting as a shock absorber to absorb stress from the concrete slabs’ movement.

Over time, expansion joints can dry out and lose their ability to perform as intended. With the loss of the ability absorb pressure and tension caused by expansion and contraction, the concrete slabs can start to chip and crack. When this happens, it’s time to replace those expansion joints and make repairs.

Your best option is to get proactive and inspection your expansion joints before they fail so that you don’t end up with damaged concrete that also needs to be replaced. The trick is knowing what to look for.

Broken ConcreteHere are four signs that your concrete expansion joints are reaching the end of their operational life:

  • Your expansion joints have grass growing through them
  • Large bumps are appearing at an expansion joint
  • Corners have started to chip or crack
  • A little expansion joint is becoming a large gap

If your assessment reveals problems with your concrete expansion joints, they are relatively easy to replace:

  • Clean any loose dirt and debris out of the joint.
  • Dig out and remove all the old joint material and flush out any remaining debris with a hose.
  • Finish cleaning out the joints between the slabs thoroughly with a wet-dry vacuum.
  • Apply a bonding adhesive in the joints with a brush — this will help the new material to bond to the old concrete. Let the adhesive dry for about 10-15 minutes. Don’t go any longer than that because the adhesive should be sticky to touch and not completely dry.
  • Insert a foam backer rod. This will be your new shock absorber. Cut to length and push the strip completely into the joint with a putty knife.
  • Cover and seal the joint. Apply a liberal layer of self-leveling urethane sealant. It’s recommended to wear safety goggles and gloves when applying urethane sealant.
  • Block off the area until the sealant has dried.

Concrete expansion joints are a critical element in many different concrete structures, so make sure you inspect them regularly and take action when needed to ensure proper function and long life.

Questions? Contact Us! We can help!

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OSHA™’s Silica Ruling and How It Affects Masonry and Concrete

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has released comprehensive regulations affecting the exposure of individuals to crystalline silica found in concrete and masonry products. The rules fall into two major categories – construction and general industry. General industry regulations take effect in June 2018 and cover a wide range of industries and applications, including the production of masonry and concrete products.

As a manufacturer of these types of products, Concrete Solutions will be fully complying with the new OSHA rules, so we’d like our customers to know what it all means and how it will affect what we do and how we do it.

First of all, what is crystalline silica? Silica is a common mineral found in almost every type of rock and used extensively as a filler in masonry and concrete, including pre-cast concrete products. It exists in both crystalline and non-crystalline forms, crystalline being extremely hard and chemically inert, making it valuable for a variety of industrial uses. Respirable crystalline silica is the respirable dust fraction of crystalline silica which enters the body by inhalation and has been linked to various illnesses.

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Fixing Cracked and Spalling Concrete

Concrete is one of the most popular building materials by far because it’s inexpensive, durable, strong, and can be shaped, colored, and textured in almost unlimited ways. However, it does require proper installation and maintenance for maximum longevity and performance.

Two of the biggest potential problems with concrete are cracking and spalling. Cracking, of course, is exactly what it sounds like. Cracks can appear as the result of exposure to dramatic temperature swings, stress, and impact. Most cracks occur as a result of shrinkage of concrete. Shrinkage is simply a reduction in the volume of concrete as it hardens — if this reduction in volume were unrestricted, then a crack would not occur. However, in reality, ground friction and a number of other things, such as structural connections, prevent or hinder free shrinkage and cause cracks. Of course, not every crack threatens structural safety. In fact, many cracks are merely cosmetic in nature. These cracks are typically seen in flat work such as walkways and curbs.

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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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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

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Stamped Concrete: Increase Value Economically

In this unstable economy, people are losing their homes to huge mortgages that they can no longer afford. Those who have managed to hold on to their homes are trying to update them, improve them and in effect increase the value of their home. This will help to make the home more desirable and easier to sell for a higher asking price in an attempt to make money on their initial investment. With the state of the nation, a house will have to possess some distinctive features in order to grab the eye and interested of the current home shopper.

A wonderful way to increase the value of a home is to add some cosmetic touches to the outside property.  However, when thinking of cosmetic improvements originality can bring scores of bills and the worry that the initial investment will not pay off in the end can weigh heavily. There are alternatives to spending a great deal of money. Do-it-yourself projects are helpful in saving money, but for large, specialty jobs it is without a doubt better to enlist the services of professionals like Concrete Solutions to make sure the job is completed properly. Continue reading

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Do-It-Yourself: The Right Way

Do it yourself projects have not only become a popular practice with homeowners, but in an unforgiving economy, do-it-yourself has become a necessity. Repairing, rebuilding or starting a project from the ground up without the cost of outside labor can reduce the price tag by half. However, without some base knowledge on how to use the tools and materials involved in a do-it-yourself project, there is the risk of injury and improper construction. Mistakes can be expensive, and in the end could cost the homeowner more than it would have had he/she hired a mason in the first place. So it is important to make sure that do-it-yourself projects are well explained and mapped out.

Companies like Concrete Solutions not only offer the option of labor, but also of consultation and material. Therefore, when evolving into a do-it-yourselfer a company like this can help with ideas and materials, but that is not where it stops, they go one-step better. They offer free seminars to learn the proper way of constructing outdoor retaining walls, patio blocking and walkways. Continue reading

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The Benefits of Manufactured Stone

Everyone loves the look of natural stone, but some

times the cost and special considerations needed for increased structural support and construction can put it out of reach for many people.

Manufactured stone: the affordable alternative
The growing demand for the beauty and style of stone has led to the development of high quality natural stone alternatives. Manufactured stone is a concrete product molded and dyed with durable iron oxide pigments to look just like various types of natural stone. The result is a thin (only an inch or two thick) stone veneer that looks just like the real thing – at a fraction of the weight. So instead of stacking and cementing heavy, awkward stones on top of each other, manufactured stone veneers are simply installed on any structurally sound wall using a mortar made of Portland cement and other ingredients such as lime, sand, and latex modifiers. Once dry, the manufactured stone is permanently held in place and will easily last decades – perhaps even centuries – under most environmental conditions. Continue reading

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Hardscape Design Tips

Hardscape is a term generally used to define any element of landscaping that is created using materials such as paving stones, bricks, concrete blocks, and other manufactured or natural materials. Typical hardscapes include patios, walkways, driveways, walls, and other hard, manmade features.

Hardscapes today benefit from a dazzling array of manufactured materials that come in a variety of compositions, colors, textures, shapes, and sizes. This makes designing beautiful, creative, and long-lasting hardscapes easier and more cost-effective than ever.

Hardscape Patio Blocks

Manufactured blocks known as “pavers” are the foundation and creative element of most hardscapes, including patios, driveways, and walkways. In this article, we’ll offer tips for making the most out of pavers to create an attractive, creative, and functional hardscape. Continue reading

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Building a Retaining Wall

Retaining walls have rapidly gained popularity in the past few years as the variety and availability of building materials to build them has grown.  Retaining walls are the ideal solution for problematic areas that limit landscape usage, such as sloped backyards, uneven terrain, and unstable or unattractive hillsides. In many cases, retaining walls are the foundation and key to creating more complex projects, such as patios, walkways, and terraces.

Block systems are by far the most popular way to quickly and efficiently create a wide range of retaining walls for residential and commercial applications. Typically manufactured from concrete, retaining wall block systems come in a dazzling array of shapes, sizes, colors, and textures.

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