Decorative Concrete FAQs
It’s concrete. Won’t it crack?
Absolutely, but with rare exceptions, only where we “tell” it to. Simply put, concrete is a mixture of sand, cement, and aggregate that is made workable by the addition of water. As the concrete cures and water hydrates from the concrete, it tends to build up considerable stress. This stress is relieved by cracking. We tell it where to crack by providing relatively discreet joints that are saw-cut to specified depths and other tolerances for joint placement as established by the American Concrete Institute (ACI). These joints create a weak plane in the concrete that readily relieves these natural stresses. The actual crack is located at the bottom of the joint and is not visible.
I’ve heard that the colors just fade out over time. Is this true?
Although you can lose some surface color in extreme wearing situations, all of the iron oxide pigments used in these processes are UV resistant and should not fade. Additionally, the color hardeners that are used to color the surface create a finished surface that is substantially harder than normal concrete and will not wear as quickly. Depending on the coloring techniques used, the concrete color may change slightly over the concrete curing period but, if maintained properly, those colors are there to stay. When the decorative project is complete, it has been treated with a sealer that protects the surface from staining and also brings out the richer colors of the surface. If you notice that the colors are fading, it’s just an indication that the sealer is wearing and the light is no longer reflecting the colors as it once did. A new seal coat, if desired, will bring back the original rich colors.
I was told that decorative concrete was much cheaper than real stone. Is that true?
On an average patio (600 square feet), the cost may be 40 to 60 percent less than mortared stone, brick, or pavers. Every project, however, has specific issues to consider when determining job costs – project size, location, accessibility, existing hardscapes, slop of the terrain, or other obstacles - and the installation cost can vary accordingly. In addition to material costs, there are other fixed costs that must be absorbed by each project based on the amount of time required to do the job. Considering the amount of travel, site preparation, pouring, stamping, cleaning, and sealing, the time required to complete a 700 square foot walkway is not substantially different than a project of only 400 square feet. Both have the same built-in fixed costs, but, on a unit price basis, the larger one distributes it in a much more palatable way. The result? The smaller project may not, in the short term, be the “cheapest.” When selecting your paving materials, short-term costs are not the only ones to consider.
So why should I use decorative concrete rather than natural stone or pavers on my project?
Durability. Properly installed concrete has a design life of 30 to 50 years. When you add the myriad products that are used in decorative concrete – fiber reinforcing, color hardeners, high-quality sealers, etc. – the surface is even less prone to wear and deterioration, and, in theory, should have a substantially extended life. In natural stone and mortared brick applications, the stones are secured with mortar. It looks great initially, but mortar can only withstand the torture of a horizontal exterior application in the range of 6 to 8 years before it needs re-pointing (cleaning out and installing new mortar). Re-pointing can cost up to half-again as much as the original patio. Paver applications are prone to heaving in freeze-thaw climates, which may require annual attention, and they hold on to enough dirt to sustain grass growth in the warmer months, which may need attention each time you mow grass. Finally, stamped concrete can easily be formed to contoured designs, which, unlike pavers, brick, and stone, costs nothing extra.
Does it really look like stone or brick?
There are many different processes and pattern styles used to replicate these natural materials. Some color and pattern combinations are more effective than others, but the point in using these materials is not so much to fool someone on an up-close inspection, but to provide a more durable surface that, in the long-term, is more cost effective and, most importantly, aesthetically pleasing.
There are several other companies advertising decorative concrete. Why should we use your company to do the work?
The decorative concrete business provides extreme challenges to the most capable concrete contractors - not only in regards to general concrete knowledge, but in the numerous additional steps of coloring, staining, finishing, texturing, cleaning, sealing, and, most importantly, troubleshooting the inevitable problem. The problems one can experience are virtually unlimited. Knowing how to avoid common mistakes and having the ability and patience to figure out and resolve problems requires experience and determination. There is no substitute for the aforementioned qualities in determining who should perform your work. To this equation, we bring all of the above. Call us today to schedule a free estimate!
What sort of warranty do you provide?
We provide a one-year warranty against defects in materials and workmanship.
Contact Specialty Concrete Services today or browse our website for more information about our custom concrete services.
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Specialty Concrete Services
Shreveport: (318) 621-0855
Natchitoches: (318) 356-7591
Fax: (318) 356-7600