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Concrete Finishes and Textures

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The concrete industry has come a long way in the last twenty years! Before then, all that was offered was trawled or broom finish on gray concrete.  Today concrete products can be colored, with finishes and textures in unlimited varieties, and used in new and exciting ways!  Due to better manufacturing processes, additives, and delivery systems the new concrete is stronger, lighter, and has longer lifespan than any product used in the construction industry.

Color can be added in the concrete directly into the mixer or added later in a process called acid stain.  The mixed color has a more natural look, and endures much better from fading.  Acid stains can wear off in time, depending on the amount of traffic in the area.

When concrete is stamped, a release material is used on the surface of the concrete to keep the concrete from sticking on the surface of the stamps.  This is the same idea as flour on a rolling pin.  Color can be added to the release to give a variegated multi- colored look to accent the crevices and textures in the concrete. This will give a natural and realistic look.

The secret of successful stamping, is a consistent pouring from a mixer truck.  This is a monolithic pour that will result in even stamping  and color throughout the project.  Concrete that is mixed in a small mixer on the job site will not have the same set up time, and the stamping can be inconsistent.  One area will be nicely detailed, while other areas will barely have the imprint.  This can also cause the concrete to shatter from stamping the surface on concrete that has started to set up and is no longer plastic.  There has to be the proper amount of labor to work the surface of the concrete in the  critical window of time the concrete surface is workable.

Expansion joints are installed in the concrete to allow the natural movement of the concrete during cure time, and the effects of earthquakes.  Code requires a minimum of an eighty square foot area to have the expansion joints. Expansion joints are controlled cracks.  Concrete will crack; there is no getting around it!  We do all we can to minimize it, but it is the nature of the product.  If the deck is shattered as mentioned above, that is a large cluster of large cracks caused by stamping concrete that has started to set up.

This is unacceptable and should be removed and done again.  A stress fracture may occur outside of an expansion joint, and this cannot be helped.  As long as the slab does not separate or have an opening of up to a quarter of an inch, it is within standard building practices. Prime Builders uses 3,000 PSI rated concrete with wire mesh, which helps to minimize cracking, and if it does, the wire mesh will keep it from separating.

Expansion joints can be a trawled straight line in a grid pattern, or a random trawled joint to simulate stone slate. Concrete can also be sawed after pouring for a more precision look.

There are products that are designed to go over the top of badly cracked or discolored concrete.  It is of the opinion of Prime Builders that these products are a temporary fix and will shortly fail, and is best to replace the concrete.  If the concrete is sound, but badly discolored, we can bleach the slab, or apply an acid stain with successful results.

Be aware that some trees planted too close to a slab or driveway can cause cracking or uplifting.  Sometimes we can break out the old slab, remove the roots, install a footing with steel and avoid future damage.  With mature trees this may work, but unfortunately there are no guarantees.

Don’t hesitate to give us a call! Our friendly staff will be glad to answer your questions and give you detailed information on our finishes and texture services and products. Click on the link below to get started today!

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