Many people think of a decorative concrete contractor as just another professional that needs to be scheduled to perform a job. Usually people want to spend as little as possible when hiring a decorative concrete contractor. However, installing this type of artistic concrete should not be taken lightly, as it’s a delicate process, and this is why planning for the construction component is so important.
In the past, decorative concrete didn’t come in many finishes, but today there are many finishes available, and some of these include textured, stamped and integral. Other finishes that the concrete is available in include coatings, diamond polish, stampable overlays, acid etch and dust-on. Self-level overlays, stencil, form liners, exposed aggregate and sandblast are other options available, and let’s not forget to mentioned that finishes can be combined with other types of finishes.
Here are a few examples of artistic finishes we offer for decorative concrete projects:
The 5 Most Important Considerations for Decorative Concrete Projects
The creative possibilities are virtually endless, and is usually only limited to the contractor’s imagination, and creativity is one of the reasons why many people use decorative concrete. However, concrete is sensitive to many variables. This means the final outcome can be impacted in either a positive way or a negative way. So, for your next decorative concrete project focus on these 5 things for success.
1. Asses Client’s Expectations
The owner should provide a description of what the finished work should look like. This allows the contractor to figure out if it is possible and estimate the cost. A lot of people tend to have expectations that are not reasonable, and this is why it is best to discuss expectations as soon as possible.
Concrete that is decorative tends to not be structural, but sometimes people write specifications that make them look like it. A good example of this is if someone specifies that the concrete should be high compressive or flexural strengths. A contractor should focus on the decorative requirements primarily, because the structural requirements may be met, but the aesthetic requirements may not meet expectations.
2. Choose The Right Contractor
Some decorative concrete contractors are more creative than others, and if you want creative work, then you need to find someone who has good crafting skills and one that can perform at the level you want them to perform at. You will need to do a bit of research to narrow down your choices because contractors tend to focus on one aspect of decorative concrete. Also, you might want to consider hiring a concrete contractor that provides place-and-finish, because some contractors don’t place-and-finish concrete, as some don’t know how to do it.
3. Schedule The Work In A Way That Avoids Damage To The Concrete
What this means is that you want to carefully schedule the installation of concrete with other trades in mind, because you don’t want the concrete slabs to become damaged before the decorative work starts or even afterwards. Plumbers have been known to do things such as spill liquids that stain on slabs, as well as spill hot solder and glue on the slabs. Some carpenters have been known for placing their belongings on it or stacks of lumber, and many trader workers can leave footprints on the slabs of concrete.
The key is to avoid unnecessary conflict. The way to do this is to have the work done on the weekend or start it on Friday afternoon and work through the weekend. This will reduce the chances of the concrete slab from becoming damaged as a result of other trade workers’ actions.
4. The Finished Work Needs To Have The Right Protection
A lot of people think that concrete becomes stronger over a period of time, and then there is nothing left to do with it, but this isn’t the case at all. Concrete ages, and as it ages it becomes vulnerable due to chemistry changes, and water on the surface of the concrete can cause chemical changes and physical changes. It is extremely important that the finished work is protected, and this should be discussed before construction even begins.
Vapor from the concrete needs to be able to pass through, while not allowing products that stain to come in contact with the concrete’s surface, and this is exactly what covering material must allow. A concrete contractor is not going to wait around for the concrete to be cured, and this means the general contractor needs to protect the decorative work, but the subcontractor still has some responsibility. The subcontractor should be able to tell the general contractor what products they should use to protect the work, and they may be able to install them the first time.
5. Negotiate An Agreement
Before construction begins, building teams should discuss a maintenance plan with their clients. There are a number of ways to seal the decorative work, with one of them being with an epoxy or even an acrylic finish is a good choice. It’s important for the finishes to be renewed, and you can find out when it should be renewed by looking at the manufacturer’s recommendation. Aside from that, the standard is that the concrete should not be walked on, as this would damage and ruin the sealer.
The owner may be interested in going for a natural concrete look, and not want a glossy appearance. If that’s the case, then there are plenty of penetrating sealers you can use, and these sealers are great because they restrict pore openings. This means that the surface won’t be penetrated by dirt and other materials that can leave stains.
Additional maintenance issues can arise with diamond-polished floors, and usually people want these types of floors to have a very high glossy shine, but the gloss on the surface can become dull over time. This is because of fine dirt, as well as fine grit that can become abrasive due to foot traffic. Maintenance programs are available at many big name retailers, and these programs include removing dirt and grit on a regular basis. Also, when food spills on these floors, which is often the case when they are installed in grocery stores, then the spillage needs to be cleaned as soon as it happens.
Ready to start your decorative concrete project?
Are you planning a decorative concrete project? Checkout some of the decorative concrete projects that we have completed. Or give us a call at (512) 847-800 to talk with a concrete professional about your project. Or send us a little info on your project.