A patio is an important part of outdoor living. When the weather is warm, it can offer a striking outdoor area that effectively serves as an extra living and dining room. Unlike a lawn, a concrete patio delivers a flat and solid surface with fewer insects and mud. Because of its durability and various design structure, concrete makes a superb paving choice for patios. In fact, the numerous features make it the perfect area for outdoor entertainment without the stress of an indoor mess.
When compared to other decking and patio surfaces, concrete patio offers innumerable benefits such as:
In addition, concrete can cater to any style or design to match your exterior décor. For instance, concrete can be poured into any shape, it can also be stamped, decorative and stained.
If you are interested in concrete but desire luxurious look of brick, natural stone or appealing tiles then decorative concrete is the ideal solution. In truth, you can get the same look as high-end materials at a much cheaper price.
Decorative concrete features a wide variety of styles, textures and colors. In addition, its decorative beauty can still be utilized for the same practical uses like driveways, building walls and patios.
Stamped concrete is when the surface of your concrete is stamped to create textures that imitate brick, slate, tile, wood, stone and other various textures and patterns. It is typically used for patios, decks around the pool, driveways, sidewalks and interior flooring. Since it is a close replica to authentic materials, it makes an excellent alternative with a much cheaper price.
Stamped concrete is also referred to as imprinted or textured concrete.
Colored or stained concrete is the effect of either natural stains or acid stains. It complements a variety of structures such as concrete sidewalks, patios, driveways and interior flooring.
Acid Stains – this type of stain comes in a wide variety of colors including earth tones such as tans and browns, electrifying colors like turquoise and red oxide. Since acid stain can be toxic, tremendous care needs to be taken when applying or handling.
Natural Stains - this type of stain is a lot more Eco friendly. Natural stains are non-toxic and much safer to use than other types of stains. As well, natural stains are extremely diverse. For example, you can use coffee stains or iron sulfate (a rust color). Some of the benefits of using a natural stain include:
You can also combine several colors to create a certain design to fit your needs. The possibilities are endless.
Turn you dull concrete into a spectacular flooring statement. Since concrete is porous and is light-colored, it can easily be transformed into a custom concrete element of your choosing. However, a DIY project may be tempting, it is best to consult a professional. What is more, Plano Concrete Contractors years of experience and the expertise to turn your concrete into something stunning!
A patio can add some instant curb appeal and value to your home and surrounding landscape. Not to mention some additional space to entertain and relax with family and friends in the outdoors. Understanding the different design options such as color, shape and type of materials will greatly benefit any homeowner who is considering adding a new concrete patio or replacing an older patio. We recommend working with a professional concrete contractor or landscape company to work through the design process to ensure that you get the exact look, feel and size patio that fits your needs.
When it comes to patio building materials, homeowners basically have two options which are concrete pavers or stamped concrete. Both materials have pros and cons. The purpose of this article to inform homeowners about those pros and cons so that they can ensure they get the perfect patio that best suites their style, space and budget.
Option #1: Concrete Pavers
Using concrete pavers to create an outdoor patio space is a good option for those that want an easy to install, low-maintenance option. Another reason that many homeowners choose concrete pavers is that the design options are virtually unlimited. Almost any design pattern, shape or size can be accomplished with concrete pavers. Concrete paving stones can also be used to create walkways, pool decks, garden areas, floors and sidewalks.
The key to concrete pavers to create patios and more is properly installing them. It is important to complete each step of the process to ensure they pavers stay in place and create a level surface. Paver installation can become a bit tedious as each paver must be laid separately, however the effort involved will be worth it in the long run. Another benefit of using concrete pavers is that if a specific area of the patio or sidewalk needs repair it is much easier to place a small section, unlike a large concrete slab. Concrete pavers do not need additional ‘curing’ time so they can eb walked on immediately after installation.
If concrete pavers are installed properly there is no need to worry about them shifting over time. Best practice is to use a polymeric sand to create the base for the patio pavers. This type of sand helps to maintain the joint over time and helps prevent weeds growing up through the pavers.
As previously mentioned, one of the pros for using concrete pavers is the low maintenance over time. Basically, to properly maintain your paver patio or walkway you only need to hose down and sweep occasionally. A light re-sanding may also be needed every 4-5 years. Pavers are densely packed when they are made which makes them very durable and less prone to cracking. If you find that a certain paver stone is cracked or damaged it is easy enough to replace that specific paver without disturbing the surrounding pavers. This is the reason we recommend purchasing some additional pavers to have on hand so that you don’t have to worry about trying to match the color and style in the future.
Concrete pavers are a popular material choice because they come in such a large variety of colors, shapes, textures and sizes. The design options are truly unlimited to create a unique patio, sidewalk or walkway.
Option #2: Stamped Concrete Patio
The second material option for patios, walkways, driveways and sidewalks is stamped concrete. To create a stamped concrete surface, the concrete is poured out over a leveled surface and stamps are used while the concrete is still wet to mimic the look of bricks, flagstone, etc. In order to achieve the look of bricks or flagstone rock, the concrete is colored a base color and then accent colors are added into the mixture to achieve the look. While many concrete stamps exist to create a variety of designs, there are some limitations based on the stamp forms that are available. Unlike concrete pavers, stamped concrete surfaces must be allowed to ‘cure’ for about 3-4 days and the surface can not be walked on during this time. A sealant is added to the stamped concrete surface during the curing phase to help protect against weather elements, harmful chemicals, cracking and chipping. The sealant process is very important to a long-lasting stamped concrete patio or other surface.
Stamped concrete surfaces tend to be installed quicker than interlocking concrete pavers since a large slab of concrete can be laid down all at once. There are also a large variety of patters, colors and textures to choose from allowing homeowners to create unique designs for their patios and walkways. Stamped concrete can also be textured so it is an ideal option for pool decks and other areas that get a lot of water.
Maintenance is probably the largest item on the stamped concrete con list. Large slabs of concrete tend to crack when the ground underneath shifts. Even small, spider cracks in a stamped concrete patio can cause trouble in a fairly short amount of time. If repair attempts don’t work the only other option is to replace the entire surface area as opposed to concrete pavers that can be replaced one at a time without causing damage to surrounding pavers.
Every situation, budget and landscape is different with unique needs! If you are considering a patio, footpath, concrete pool deck, sidewalk or driveway give our team of experts a call today so that we can start working on your project! Our team can walk you through the design phase and then expertly install a beautiful patio, on time and on budget!
While concrete is an extremely durable material, it is virtually impossible to pour a large concrete
slab or driveway and have no cracking or settling, over time. When the dirt beneath the driveway
begins to settle it often creates hariline cracks in the concrete surface. Nearby tree and bush roots
can often grow underneath the driveway which also may cause cracks in the concrete over time.
Heavy vehicles and large machinery can also contribute to cracks that form in a driveway or parking
Just like in a windshield, once a crack in the concrete occurs, no matter how tiny, it continues to
grow. In colder regions of the country where freeze/thaw cycles are common, water can seep into
even the smallest of cracks and freeze which causes the crack to expand over time. That is why it is
so important for home owners to repair concrete cracks as soon as possible to prevent the
freeze/thaw cycle from worsening the damage.
If the freeze/thaw cycle is not halted early on the cracks begin to grow larger and eventually small
amounts of dirt, sand and dust make their way into the cracks. Once the cracks reach that size it is
only a matter of time before plants and grasses begin to fill the cracks, further widening them and
damaging the concrete. If this process is allowed to carry on unchecked eventually larger plants and
grasses begin to grow inside the crack until the only option really is to remove and replace that
section of the concrete driveway or sidewalk.
Concrete Crack Filler
As we’ve described above, it is best to fill in small cracks in your concrete surface as part of a
routine maintenance plan in order to avoid more expensive concrete damage repairs. There are a
variety of concrete crack filler available and all have varying results. As with most things in life, the
less expensive filler products typically don’t’ work as well and produce inferior results. We
recommend using a higher quality filler in order to attain more long-lasting results.
Concrete filler caulk is typically on the low-priced end of the spectrum and usually comes in either a
squeeze bottle or caulking tube. You can simply squeeze the caulk into the cracks on your concrete
surface. While caulk is simple to use for the DIYer but typically the repair does not last very long and
in some cases the cracks reemerge worse than ever. Caulk concrete crack filler is fine for a quick
and inexpensive short-term fix but it is not recommended as a long-term fix.
A better option for longer-term repair fixes are specialty cement mix that comes in small pails.
Containters range in size from a quart to up to a 2 gallon size. These mixes already contain the
necessary cement and bonding agents. Water just needs to be added before use. Fair warning –
very small cracks are often difficult to fill with this filler. You will need to work the filler into the crack
using a trowel or other small tool in order to get the filler into the crack. If completed properly this
filler results in a long lasting repair.
A third long-lasting repair option is to use non-shrink grout with added concrete glue. Grout is a
concrete product, however it needs the addition of sand or gravel to be strong and bond well with the
surrounding cement in order to fill the crack properly. Concrete glue can be found in hardware stores
and comes in quart size jars. Simply mix the concrete glue into the grout mix for added strength. The
glue also allows the grout to bond properly.
One of the top reasons that homeowners choose a decorative concrete driveway is because they are relatively low maintenance and require very little routine care over the lifetime of the driveway. But even with those incredible ‘credentials’ all concrete surfaces and driveway paving material will require at least some minimal up-keep to preserve its beauty and integrity over the course of its lifetime. Plus, with just a little routine maintenance a homeowner can protect their investment.
Driveway Sealer Maintenance
So what type of ‘routine maintenance’ are we talking about here? The two best things you can do for your driveway are to clean your concrete driveway with a pressure washer and reapply sealer. These two simple maintenance tasks can really extend the life and beauty of your driveway like no other. The frequency of cleaning and sealing your driveway will depend on a few factors like weather conditions where you live (frequent rains, hot, dry, etc.) as well as the amount of traffic the driveway is exposed to on a regular basis but in general terms these should be performed about every two years. It is important to use a high-quality commercial driveway sealant on your driveway for ultimate protection against the elements. Always apply driveway sealer according to the manufacturer’s instructions or better yet hire a local concrete contractor business to perform the cleaning and sealing for you!
A high-quality commercial sealer’s main job is to prevent stains from seeping into the concrete surface, however it is still a good idea to immediately remove spills like gasoline, oil and grease as soon as they happen to avoid unsightly stains on your driveway. In the event the stain stays on the surface for a long period of time and some discoloration occurs homeowners can try pressure washing or applying certain cleaning agents specifically designed to remove most concrete stains.
All About Deicing Chemicals
It is so tempting to use deicers on your driveway after a big snow storm! I know – I get it! You’re late to work or just don’t feel like shoveling and you just need something to quickly remove the snow and ice! But my best advice is to NOT use deicers as they can can cause severe concrete driveway damage in the form of scaling and spalling which is caused by forcing thawing and refreezing of moisture. Deicing products that contain ammonium nitrates and ammonium sulphates are especially destructive and harmful to concrete. Better options for deicers include rock salt and calcium chloride, however they both can cause damage to plants, trees and grass as well as corrode metal. Homeowners should also avoid using any type of deicer during the first winter after a driveway installation since new concrete is more susceptible during that time. A safer alternative to deicers is using sand to gain traction over the snow or ice.
Proper Concrete Care
Concrete is by far one of the most durable and thus widely used materials for driveways however a typical residential driveway is not engineered to support heavy machinery or vehicles on a regular basis. If you will be parking heavier vehicles like a moving van or semi-truck on your property you should consider installing a commercial grade driveway to support the additional weight. Some other helpful care and maintenance tips for your driveway include using care when using a snow plow or shoveling snow in the winter in order to avoid metal scratches or damages to the surface of your concrete driveway.