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Planning Your Decorative Concrete Project...
Before the Summer Sun Arrives

Press Release (April 21, 2005)


Planning Your Decorative Concrete Project...Before the Summer Sun Arrives
Thursday April 21, 9 am ET

KEYPORT, NJ--Spring--Having Now that the snow has melted -- exposing your aging and cracked pavement -- it's time to begin preparation for residential and commercial decorative concrete projects. Last year in the tri-state area (NY, NJ and PA) over 112,000 metric tons of concrete were dedicated to decorative concrete jobs - and there is no sign of decline. Decorative concrete includes colored, textured and imprinted concrete, an affordable investment for patios, driveways, pool decks and other exterior areas as well as interior applications including basement and garage floors.

"One of the biggest misconceptions by homeowners about decorative concrete projects is the time and attention needed in the planning stages," says Ira Goldberg, President of Beyond Concrete in Keyport, NJ and a permanent advisory board member of the Bomanite International Society. "Homeowners need to do more homework before they give the 'green light' on a decorative concrete project for their home. All contractors are not equal; a little research will pay big dividends."

Here are some suggestions homeowners should consider before they proceed with hiring a contractor for work this spring:

  • Rely on word of mouth. If a neighbor says a certain concrete contractor did a poor job, (and was unable to rectify the problem to his complete satisfaction) pick another contractor. You only need one bad reference on a concrete job. Determine whether the contractor is ACI-certified (by the American Concrete Institute) in your state. Ask to view their work. (If you live in New York City, make sure your contractor is licensed with the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs.)
  • Concrete cracks -- there is no getting around it. To install it properly is to include control joints, fiber reinforcement, reinforcing rods or wire mesh (or some combination thereof) and proper preparation of the subbase. With proper precautions, you can minimize and frequently eliminate concrete cracking.
  • You may have determined that price increases with an increase in strength of the concrete. On driveway projects, and generally speaking with decorative concrete, typically a PSI (pounds per square inch, an index of strength) of 3500-4000-design mix is used. The type of concrete and the way it is designed or formulated is an important aspect of successful installations.
  • Ask lots of questions. In a residential setting, a driveway should be installed at 5 1/2-6" thick and for pedestrian areas (patios, walks, pool decks, etc.) a 3 1/2" - 4" thickness is desired. If you have collected a number of quotes that appear to be 'all over the lot,' (no pun intended) research why one is so cheap and the other so expensive. What mix design is being used? How thick is the pour? What type(s) of reinforcement are being used? How long has the company been installing stamped concrete? Is this their main area of expertise? And so on.
  • Toppings require special attention to the existing surface. There are now cementitious polymer modified toppings -- 3/8" thick -- that can be applied to resurface existing concrete and achieve the same decorative look as a full-thickness slab. Extraordinary measures are required to prepare existing concrete for resurfacing.
  • Be a weatherperson. Concrete should not be poured when it is raining or on extremely hot or cold days. A quality contractor will not ignore these contraindications.
  • Be sure that your contractor is fully insured.
  • When comparing stamped concrete to pavers, it should be noted that concrete installations have no individual units that might shift or settle, thereby creating tripping hazards. Also, there are no spaces in which weeds and grass can grow or insects can live. Pavers are rarely sealed and often unable to be sealed. The sealer application on stamped concrete protects the surface from staining, enhances the color, and helps ensure a long and attractive product life.

There are engineers who have spent a lifetime studying concrete's principles. Most homeowners barely have time to research the basics. To ensure your decorative concrete project is a success, do a little homework, a lot of planning and take advantage of the resources available. For more information on decorative concrete visit or call (800) 972-0668.

Kramer Consulting
Mary Beth Kramer, (215) 431-3946

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