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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 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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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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Five Ways to Improve Your Yard with Concrete

Concrete made to look like natural stoneConcrete is a very versatile material and can be used in many different parts of your home. Even just your yard can be enhanced with concrete in a variety of ways. For example…

Driveway. Using concrete for your driveway results in a permanent and low-maintenance addition that will improve your home’s aesthetic appeal and provide children with a safe and flat space for outdoor play.  Did we mention it can also decrease erosion in your yard? You can choose between poured concrete slabs and concrete paving bricks. Bonus tip: after installation, we recommend waiting at least three days if not longer to use your driveway again. Continue reading

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Breaking It Down: What’s In Concrete?

Concrete WorkConcrete is a plastic liquid, made of aggregate, water and cement. This substance is used in nearly every structure today, but not everyone knows exactly what goes into the common mixture. Even thousands of years ago, the Romans were familiar with the process and used concrete often in their construction. Use of concrete was infrequent after the Roman Empire fell until it was rediscovered in the 18th century. Many people these days often confuse concrete with cement. The truth is that cement is one of the ingredients in concrete. There are many different recipes for concrete, but the basics do not change much. Continue reading