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How Much Concrete Do I Need?

Concrete truck pouring concrete

When you have a project that requires concrete, one of the most challenging aspects is figuring out how much you’re going to need. You do not have to be an engineer or mathematician to do the calculations, but it doesn’t hurt to have an idea of the basic math used to estimate the correct amount. However, Intermountain Concrete Specialists has a concrete calculator that can make it that much easier.

Before you start entering numbers in the calculator, however, you need to have some information about your project to help get the measurements right. Use the following guide to help estimate the correct amount of concrete so you won’t have to place an emergency order at the last minute.

Types of Concrete

There are multiples types of concrete that can be used for home projects. The type you’ll want to use depends on several factors, including the project size, your experience and the amount and type of use and traffic. The five most common types include:

  • Regular-set: This concrete sets in 24 to 28 hours and it’s most often used for larger-scale projects.
  • Quick-set: If you need the concrete to harden fast, in 20 to 40 minutes, this is a good option—especially if your project is small.
  • Crack-resistant: Sidewalks, driveways and paths should utilize crack-resistant concrete as it is durable and meant to withstand heavier traffic.
  • High-strength: If you’re pouring a foundation, high-strength concrete is essential. Your house needs a strong base that will stand the test of time.
  • Polymer: A project that will be exposed to extreme heat or weather may benefit from the use of polymer concrete.

If you aren’t sure which type will work best for your project, it may be best to speak with a professional to help you determine the ideal option.

Bagged or Ready Mix?

Once you know the best type of concrete for your project, decide whether your project can benefit from ready mix concrete or bagged. Large jobs, like a patio, driveway, foundation or parking lot, almost always require ready mix concrete brought in by a concrete company. It simply doesn’t make sense to purchase multiple bags that you’ll have to spend the time and energy mixing on your own.

A smaller project, such as a replacement slab for a sidewalk, pad or setting fence posts, can usually be completed with several bags of concrete that you can mix yourself in a wheelbarrow. However, you may want to consider renting a small mixer if you don’t want to deal with the shovel and wheelbarrow method.

How To Estimate

Now that you’ve decided on the type of concrete and whether you’ll need bagged or ready mix, you can estimate the amount you’ll need. Concrete is measured in volume, so first determine the volume of your project. For example, if you are pouring a rectangular patio slab, measure the length, width and depth to figure out the cubic feet of the area. Remember, if you’re multiplying feet and inches, simply multiply all the numbers together, then divide by 12.

This is where our concrete calculator comes in handy. Once you have your measurements, just enter them and let your computer do the work. If your project is not square, simply measure it as a rectangle and assume that you’ll have some concrete left over. This ensures you have enough to complete your project without having to order more.

Common Amounts

If going with bagged mix, generally an 80-pound bag of concrete will cover 2 square feet for a 4-inch-thick slab. So, you need about 41 80-pound bags to fill a cubic yard. If you have access to 60-pound bags, two of them will cover a 2-square-foot slab that is 6 inches thick.

If going with ready mix concrete, a typical truckload can hold up to 10 cubic yards. How many truckloads you’ll need depends on how much you calculate for your project. Generally, a concrete professional can help you determine the amount accurately.

Get Help Today

If all of these numbers are making your head swim, remember that you can use our concrete calculator or call us to ask for assistance. We’re happy to help!

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How Long Does It Take Concrete To Dry?
September 16, 2021 | Concrete Expertise

When planning a concrete project, you might be wondering how long to wait before the area is ready for use. Whether pouring a new patio, replacing a crumbling driveway or adding hardscapes to your yard, it’s important to understand how long it takes for concrete to dry. If not waiting long enough before use, you run the risk of ruining the pour and having to re-do your entire project. To avoid this issue, it is best to err on the side of caution.

In general, concrete begins drying just as the dry mix is combined with water. In other words, act quickly to get your concrete poured and finished before it hardens. But just because the concrete is hard doesn’t mean that it is ready for use. It often takes longer than you might expect. In order to plan for your project, read on to discover the many factors that can impact the drying time of concrete.

Weather

The time of year and weather conditions during your pour concrete can either speed up or slow down the drying process. Dry, hot weather makes it dry much faster, while cold or humid weather can slow it down. Because of this, most professionals recommend pouring from early spring until fall, unless you live in a climate with temperate weather year-round.

When you want a faster drying time, it may seem beneficial to pour during hot weather; however, this can add another challenge. The hot temperatures will make the concrete dry faster and you will have less time to work with it. But there are a few things that will give you a little extra time to pour, spread and finish your concrete:

  • Store concrete bags in the coolest area possible, like in the shade or a garage
  • Use cold water to mix with the dry cement
  • Pour during early morning hours before the heat of the day
  • Wet the ground on which you’re pouring the concrete
  • Ask for extra helpers to make the prep go more quickly

In cold weather, covering your pour can keep the concrete at the right temperature and aid in the curing process. Insulated blankets keep the area from getting too cold with the help of the concrete itself, since it generates its own heat.

Moisture Content

The amount of water that you mix into concrete will affect the pour as well. The wetter the mix, the longer the dry time. That’s why it is important to get the right ratio of water to concrete mix. Most bags provide this information—so be sure to follow the directions to avoid a moisture content that is too high. However, if adding too much water, you can always add in more dry mix—just be sure that to do that before you start to pour.

Too much moisture can also impact the finish of your concrete. If you notice the top layer flaking off, you likely added too much water and may have to tear it out and start again (no fun).

Type of Concrete

The type of concrete mix that you’re using will also impact the dry time. There are some quick-drying options that allow walking on the concrete in only three hours, but these techniques may compromise the durability of the otherwise high-strength concrete. One such option is to add accelerant to the mix, but again, this can also lead to a finished product lacking in the durability and strength. It’s generally best to let the concrete cure fully before use.

Curing Time

While concrete may look dry and ready to use, it is important to factor in curing time, especially if your pour will have vehicle traffic. Curing allows for crystals to grow in the concrete through a chemical reaction with water known as hydration. If driving on a concrete slab before it is cured, you run the risk of cracking or crumbling and a shorter lifespan.

What Is a Typical Timeline?

In general, concrete is ready for foot traffic within 24 to 48 hours. It is considered partially cured after seven days, which allows for most vehicles, as long as they are not excessively large. However, it is not completely cured until after 28 days, which is when concrete achieves its full, effective strength—so be sure to avoid using heavy equipment and large vehicles on the slab until then.

Waiting for concrete to dry can feel like a chore, especially if it looks dry and ready to go. However, you’ll get better, longer-lasting results if avoiding the temptation to jump the gun before the concrete is completely cured. You’ll be glad that you waited when able to enjoy your concrete project for years to come.

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How To Paint Concrete Floors

Everyone knows that a fresh coat of paint can instantly update a space, but have you ever considered painting your concrete flooring? If not, you could be missing out on a cool update that can not only transform the floor but also add durability and longer-lasting protection. Here are a few tips if you want to try out this quick and easy DIY project.

Gather Your Supplies

Before beginning any home project, it’s important to have all of your supplies ready to go. This can significantly cut down on the time you’ll spend looking for what you need after every step. Here’s what you’ll need to paint concrete floors:

  • Paint rollers
  • Paint brushes
  • Painter’s tape
  • Concrete degreaser
  • Chisel or paint scraper
  • Push broom
  • Hose
  • Primer
  • Epoxy paint
  • Sealant

1. Prepare

painting a concrete floor
Photo by: Ksenia Chernaya on Pexels.com
While you can simply slap a coat of paint onto your concrete floors, the results will look better and last longer if you take time to prepare. Start by scraping up any dried-on gunk, such as paint spills, glue or chunks of concrete. Then clean the concrete thoroughly with a degreaser. Your paint will adhere to the floor better once it is clean and free of any residue. Lastly, fill in any cracks that have developed over the years using concrete filler and a caulk gun, making sure to sand off any overflow for the smoothest possible surface. Afterward, let the concrete dry thoroughly; otherwise, nothing will stick.

2. Prime

Once the floors are completely dry, you’re ready to prime. Priming may seem like an unnecessary step, but it also helps the paint stick to the concrete and improves brightness and durability. Using a paintbrush, paint all of the edges along the walls and around any posts, pillars or stairs. Once you have the sides cut in, use the paint roller to lay down the primer over the entire floor. You’ll probably only need one coat of primer, but let it dry before determining whether or not a second coat is necessary.

3. Paint

painting concrete floor
Photo by: Ksenia Chernaya on Pexels.com
The best type of paint for concrete flooring is epoxy paint, especially if the project is your garage floor. It holds up to traffic much better than latex paint, and you’ll get better results. When your primer is dry, follow the same routine to put down the epoxy paint: do the edges first, then follow up with the rest of the floor. Aim for two coats of paint, just to make sure you don’t leave any areas too thin.

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The Best Penetrating Sealer for Outdoor Concrete
March 19, 2021 | Concrete Sealers

It’s a hard-knock life—for outdoor concrete. Just consider the year-round punishment outdoor concrete surfaces take in the Western states:

Spring – April showers might bring May flowers, but what do they do to concrete patios, walkways and driveways? They bring the water that can create holes and swell the ground material under a slab, ultimately leading to sinking and cracking of unsealed concrete structures.

Summer – Extreme heat can worsen concrete cracks. And the sun’s ultraviolet rays can weaken unsealed concrete from the inside out.

Fall – Who doesn’t love the changing leaves? Concrete. That’s who. Along with the water-related damage that can come from autumn showers, fallen leaves can stain unsealed concrete.

Winter – The doozy of all seasons. Unsealed concrete suffers a slow and painful demise during the winter months. Freeze-thaw cycles are mostly to blame. Water enters concrete pores, then expands as the temperature plunges to freezing—creating cracks.

So what’s the solution to these yearlong outdoor concrete challenges? A quality exterior concrete sealer.

Exterior sealers can help protect outdoor concrete from water penetration, stains and corrosion. However, the wrong sealer can make concrete slippery. And some sealers even yellow with exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays.

Sealed concrete keeps water out

How to Choose the Best Sealer for Your Outdoor Concrete 

Outdoor concrete is best protected with penetrating sealers. These, as the name implies, penetrate the pores of the concrete and form a chemical barrier that helps to protect it against ice, moisture, deicers, excess wear and more. Penetrating sealers won’t yellow or make the surface slippery. In fact, most won’t even change the surface appearance.

Film-forming sealers, on the other hand, create a protective barrier on the surface of the concrete. This is ideal for waterproofing and protecting concrete countertops, sinks and floors inside the home. However, this protective layer can be slippery when wet. Worse yet, epoxy, one type of film-forming sealer, can yellow in the sun.

So, for protecting exterior concrete, turn to penetrating sealers. There are two main categories of penetrating sealer, water- and solvent-based. Each comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Read the manufacturers’ recommendations or speak with an expert to choose the best exterior concrete sealer for your given application. But, whether it’s water- or solvent-based, selecting a quality product within either category will help ensure your hard work is protected for the long haul, given that the sealer is properly maintained (more on that below).

Solvent-Based Penetrating Sealers

Solvent-based penetrating concrete sealers can provide long-lasting protection. Like water-based sealers, they often come premixed and can be applied to both fresh and existing concrete. However, because of the typically higher levels of volatile organic compounds (VOC) in solvent-based products than water-based concrete sealers, they are slowly being replaced by more environmentally friendly versions.

Water-Based Penetrating Sealers

W.R. Meadows INTRAGUARDCreto DPS and MasterProtect H 400 are examples of easy-to-apply and maintain water-based penetrating sealers. They each use a blend of silane or calcium silicate crystals that form a hydrophobic barrier in concrete capillary pores. In simple terms, they form an environmentally-friendly, microscopic protective barrier to fend off water and harmful chemicals. Plus, unlike film-formers, penetrating sealers allow the concrete to breathe, which is vital in reducing substrate damage.

How to Maintain Outdoor Concrete Sealer

Applying concrete sealers to new or old concrete alike can help protect it from corrosion and premature wear. But, like most things, concrete sealer requires regular maintenance. Even light to moderate traffic areas should be resealed every three to five years. And frequent cleaning keeps outdoor concrete surfaces looking their best.

Choosing the right sealer for your application will help keep your concrete in the best condition possible, so you can enjoy it for years to come. Visit your local Intermountain Concrete Specialties location for any concrete help you need. With seven locations, from St. George to Idaho Falls, help is never far away.

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How to Clean Concrete Floors

Once marginalized as an unsightly but necessary building material, concealed by flooring, drywall, or any other façade as quickly as possible, concrete has finally found its day in the sun with designers and homebuilders. It’s not uncommon to see exposed concrete floors and walls in modern homes and offices alike. In fact, some interior designers have moved to using concrete as the focal point in their designs.

Decorative Interior Design Concrete

And it’s hard to blame them. Concrete is a functional, practical, durable and beautiful product (in that postmodern, brutalism sense). It makes for a hard-to-beat surface for floors throughout a home.

But what’s the best way to clean interior concrete floors?

First, it’s important to know whether you’re dealing with sealed or unsealed concrete floors—as the cleaning method varies between these two surfaces. Interior concrete surfaces should be sealed with a film-forming sealer, rather than the penetrating sealers used on exterior surfaces. Not sure if your floors are sealed? It’s easy to test for sealer. Simply pour a small amount of water on the surface. If the water beads up and doesn’t soak into the concrete after a couple of minutes, you know it’s sealed.

How to Clean Sealed Concrete Floors

Sealers create a protective, nonporous surface on top of the concrete. So, cleaning sealed concrete is straightforward and easy—much like the other floors in your home.

Simply sweep or vacuum up dust and loose debris off the floor. Then, mix one gallon of water with 1/8 cup of mild liquid dish soap and mop the floor with the solution. Proceed with caution, as the floor will likely be slippery. Rinse out the bucket and mop, then refill the bucket with plain warm water and mop again to rinse off any leftover residue. Let the floor air dry. Steer clear of harsh cleaners, which can break down the sealer over time.

Make sure to reapply sealer per the manufacturer’s recommendations to ensure your floors stay looking great for the long haul. This timeframe can differ drastically from product to product, but a general rule of thumb is that you should start looking into reapplying interior film-forming sealers after about five years. It may be helpful to talk with an experienced concrete professional to help you determine when it may be time to recoat.

Example of Sealed Concrete Floor

How to Clean Unsealed Concrete Floors

Unsealed concrete is porous, which makes it susceptible to stains and wear. Therefore, it’s important to act quickly if anything is spilled onto the floor. Clean accidents up with a wet rag as soon as possible to avoid staining.

For day-to-day cleaning, go about it much the same way as described in the process for sealed concrete floors. Sweep or vacuum up dirt, dust and debris first. Mop a mixture of mild dish soap (1/8 cup) and warm water (one gallon) across the floor. Then, rinse with clean water and let the floor thoroughly air dry.

Attacking stains and stubborn messes takes a more concerted effort. Most stains won’t simply scrub away—although you can always try removing the stain with a mixture of dish soap and hot (or boiling) water and a stiff-bristled, nylon brush before going on to more aggressive approaches. If the dish soap and water mixture fails, you’ll need to “pull” the stain out of the concrete. Mix trisodium phosphate (TSP) with water and an absorbent material, such as kitty litter or sawdust, to create a smooth paste. Apply the mixture to the stain and wait until the paste dries. Then, sweep or vacuum it away. One application may not get rid of the entire stain, so patience and repeating the process may be necessary.

Be careful when working with TSP. Wear gloves and a long-sleeve shirt. Safety glasses and a respiratory mask are also recommended. When working indoors with TSP, make sure there’s adequate ventilation. Also, know that TSP can damage metal, ceramic tile, grout and glass, so proceed with caution when working around those surfaces. Some local regulations may have limited the use of TSP, so make sure to look into your local guidelines.

Premixed concrete stain removers may also be used. Just make sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations carefully. Even still, it may be best to test these products on a small, inconspicuous area of the floor before going after any stains in more visible areas.

Do NOT Use Vinegar on Unsealed Concrete

Don’t use vinegar or other acid-based cleaners for unsealed concrete floors. These can actually etch into the concrete, creating permanent or, at least, tough-to-reverse surface damage.

Intermountain Concrete Specialties

Cleaning concrete floors is similar to other types of hard flooring materials. Just make sure to use mild products for general cleaning to avoid damaging sealed floors. And when attacking stains in unsealed floors, take a graduated approach. Start with warm, soapy water and move to more aggressive methods with a mixture of TSP for those stubborn messes. Properly maintained, concrete floors will stay looking great for life. If you have any questions about maintaining concrete floors, contact Intermountain Concrete Specialties today. With seven locations from St. George, Utah, to Idaho Falls, Idaho, help is never far away.

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How to Choose Indoor Concrete Sealer

There was a time when interior concrete just meant the hard material buried under layers of basement carpet. Now, concrete is being celebrated as the durable, affordable, practical and, even, beautiful product it is. Indeed, concrete has made its way to the center stage of interior design. Just do a quick Internet search and you’ll find concrete floors, countertops, sinks, shelves and even furniture.

But here’s the thing: Concrete is porous. And that’s not necessarily a good trait for interior surfaces that are frequently exposed to stain-causing liquids and high traffic. Untreated concrete floors are prone to scuffs, stains and damage. And nasty bugs like Salmonella, Escherichia coli (E. coli) and other bacteria can find a comfy home in the minute holes in concrete countertops, sinks and other kitchen surfaces.

Sealing interior concrete is critical for a long-lasting and hygienic surface. It keeps liquid and dirt out and protects the surface from normal wear and tear. But what types of sealers are best for indoor applications?

Three basic types of concrete sealers are recommended for interior use: acrylics, polyurethanes and epoxies. Rather than penetrating sealers, which are commonly used on exterior surfaces that may be exposed to freeze-thaw cycles (the topic of a different blog), interior concrete benefits most from these products that form a thin protective coat on its surface. The three most common types of “film formers” are listed below.

A disclaimer: This is far from an exhaustive list of all the available indoor concrete sealers. Manufacturers offer a wide variety of products—some are even hybrids of the three most common types included here. This guide is meant to get you on the path to choosing the product that’s right for your individual needs and intended application.

Acrylics

Softer than polyurethanes and epoxies, acrylic sealers tend to wear down faster. However, their fast-drying nature means they may be best for those projects that need to be completed quickly. In fact, most acrylics will dry to the touch within an hour. And, even though they lack the durability of the harder sealers, they still provide adequate protection against liquid and dirt. Both water- and solvent-based acrylics are available, but note that solvent-based products will generally enhance color. Acrylics are commonly available in a variety of sheens. Pro tip: A “sacrificial” floor wax is recommended over acrylic sealers to prevent premature wear, scuffs and scratches.

Polyurethanes

These are nearly twice as thick as acrylics—making them much more durable. Polyurethanes provide a chemical- and abrasion-resistant finish. They’re common in high-traffic areas to help prevent scuffs and staining. But these film formers aren’t only used on floors; they’re commonly found protecting and enhancing the appearance of concrete countertops and sinks. Like acrylics, polyurethanes are available in a range of sheens and may “edit” the hues in colored concrete. Be sure to choose the sheen accordingly to achieve your intended finish.

Epoxies

If this list was in descending order of “soft” to “hard” sealers (which it is), we’ve arrived at the hardest of them all. Epoxies form a strong, durable, abrasion- and water-resistant finish. However, some of these products can yellow when exposed to UV light, so they may not be good for those areas bathed in afternoon sunlight shining through the windows. However, if you’re looking to “kill two birds with one stone,” many epoxies come tinted in an array of colors. (As an aside, there are additives available to color other types of sealers as well, but you’ll need to check the manufacturer’s specifications to ensure compatibility.) Epoxies are best used for those high-traffic areas or, most notably, garage floors. Some polyurethanes can also be used on garage floors, but epoxies are generally recommended for their superior durability, quality and stain-fighting powers. And again, just remember that epoxies don’t love the sunlight as much as the others and will have a tendency to yellow over time.

Intermountain Concrete Specialties

Choosing the appropriate sealer for the specific application will help keep your concrete in tip-top shape for years to come. If you need help, Intermountain Concrete Specialties is here with seven locations from St. George to Idaho Falls. We have the expertise and knowledge to help with any concrete undertaking—large or small. Contact one of our helpful and friendly associates today.

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How to Stain Concrete

 

As the days of summer are now upon us, there is nothing as satisfying as walking with a pair of flip flops and pitcher of fresh beverages ready to serve a crew of eager friends as the tiki torches burn. That old concrete floor that you are walking across can kind of give off some dusty bookshelf vibes, so your entourage may have a better time walking over concrete that has a distinct dose of style!

stained concrete patio

Many real estate agents we have talked to claim that completing this fun task will add some of the best elements of curb appeal out there, and brings out the fine edge of a freshly mowed lawn. We’ll show you the correct approach to take when tackling a concrete staining project—and you’re going to love the difference you’ll notice every time you check out the balmy early evening air.

Things You Will Need:

Telescoping rod
Handle for paint pad
9” tear-resistant deck paint pad
Paint pan
4” paintbrush
Tarp
Broom and hose
Concrete stain (water-based)
Bucket of water
Rag for any spillage       

Select the Best Color for You:

The color charts provided by manufacturers are a great guide to choosing a color that is right for you. There are so many different options of coverage available, you’re sure to find one that fits your yard’s personality perfectly.

If more coverage is what you want, go with an opaque stain. Just complete a small test area on the concrete first to make sure that you are getting the results you want. Manufacturer’s instructions will offer up any special considerations to assure that every square inch looks just the way you envisioned.

Correct Prepping of the Concrete:

To begin the concrete prepping work, remove furniture and any other objects that are residing on the concrete. Next, a broom and water hose will safely remove most residue and loose particles from the concrete. If you can get your hands on a pressure washer, that’s even better. Anything else that has ended up on the concrete over the years can now be scraped off as well. Then, remove any stubborn stains with a premixed stain remover. After everything is clean, just sit back, relax and let it all dry for at least 24 hours.

Preparing to stain concrete

Apply the Stain:

After the concrete dries, begin to apply the stain. Just place the paint pan on the tarp and slowly pour the stain directly into the pan. With a paintbrush, apply the stain just at the perimeter’s edge and over the seams. Then, begin to apply the stain over the remaining concrete with a pad. To better manage drying time and ensure an even coat, the best technique is to use the seams as natural divisions to use as work boundaries.

When most of the stain is out of the pad, use the remainder to soften edges from your previous strokes before your next strokes.

Some areas of the new concrete will have different characteristics when absorbing the stain. This is all part of the fun. The stain will take on the characteristics of the concrete’s surface and result in a distinct and beautiful “marbling” effect. Cloudy days are much more practical for stain application, as the blends in your strokes will have more longevity than when completed in the blazing sun.

From giving off the feel and vibe of walking through a Japanese garden to the extremes of an Arizona-style desert landscape, you will love the way your concrete looks. Intermountain Concrete Specialties has long been the authority on a job well done, and we look forward to helping with your next project!

 

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Spring Cleaning and Home Maintenance Checklist

Spring has sprung! And the arrival of warm weather has us itching to head outdoors. It’s the perfect time to clear out the clutter and start fresh. Save the closet organizing for rainy days. Instead, tackle these outdoor spring cleaning and home maintenance projects to get your home ready for spring.

Decks, Patios and Porches
The first step to deck, patio and porch maintenance is a good spring cleaning. Sweep and power wash, clear weeds and debris and check for loose steps or railings. Once your patio is clean and repaired, consider protecting it from future stains and damage with a concrete sealer.

concrete patio sealer

Concrete Sidewalks and Walkways
Concrete sidewalks can take a beating during the freeze-thaw cycles of winter. The first step to spring concrete maintenance is a good cleaning. Sweep away or power wash any debris so you can get a good look at the current condition. Next, carefully inspect concrete, checking for cracked or crumbling areas. Visit one of Intermountain Concrete Specialties’ six locations in Utah and Idaho for the products, tools and tips you need to repair concrete cracks before damage progresses.

Foundation
Check concrete foundation walls, floors and slabs for cracking, heaving or deterioration. Some cracks are minor and can be repaired. If the crack is the width of a nickel, call a professional for assessment and repair.

Roof
Wintertime can take a toll on your roof, so perform a close inspection each spring. Check flashings and look for punctured, cracked, curled or missing shingles. Some are visible from the ground, but it’s a good idea to get a closer look to see if roof maintenance is required.

Gutters
Gutters and downspouts need to be clear of obstructions to properly manage rainwater and to prevent moisture damage to your home. Clear leaves and other winter debris from gutters, reattach loose ones and make sure water runoff is directed away from the house. If there are leaks, dry the area and use a flexible outdoor caulk to seal.

Siding
Check for loose siding panels and ensure the flashing is in place. Clean siding with a pressure washer to remove dirt and debris. Take care of any necessary exterior siding repairs or painting.

HVAC
Routine maintenance on your central HVAC unit can improve airflow, which in turn can lower cooling costs. If you have an outdoor unit, remove dust, leaves, grass clippings and any other debris that may be blocking airflow. Be sure to shut off the power to the unit before performing any maintenance.

General landscaping
This is a given when it comes to spring home maintenance. Clear dead leaves, branches and other debris; clean out garden and flowerbeds; prune and trim trees and shrubs; and reseed thin or damaged areas of the lawn.

Sprinklers
Check for leaky valves and broken or clogged sprinkler heads. Clean or replace poorly performing sprinklers, check operating pressure and adjust sprinkler heads as necessary. Open the main water valve slowly to allow pipes to fill gradually and avoid bursting a pipe.

Windows and doors
Check screens for punctures or holes, and inspect windowsills and doorways for cracks and potential leaks. To protect from spring rains, remove eroded caulk and fill cracks with fresh exterior caulking. Repaint and seal for a beautiful home enhancement.

Your home is one of the biggest investments you will ever make. Take care of it with a little home maintenance and spring cleaning so you can enjoy a safe and beautiful home for years to come. Don’t forget to check out our list of 7 Outdoor Concrete Projects for Spring and the10 concrete products you need to make them happen!

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Four Admixtures to Improve Concrete Strength

What are Concrete Admixtures?

Admixtures are defined as any material added to a batch of concrete other than the required three ingredients: cement, water and aggregate. Admixtures alter the concrete’s quality, manageability, acceleration or retardation of setting time and other properties. They can help ensure a successful pour in both hot and cold temperatures. And admixtures can even help decrease cost and increase productivity in certain conditions.

Outside Concrete in Winter

Types of Admixtures

While there are many different products available, concrete admixtures break down into two types:

Chemical Admixtures: Modify the properties of finished concrete—such as waterproofing it—and protect wet concrete during mixing, transportation, placing and curing.

Mineral Admixtures: Can reduce concrete’s permeability and increase its strength. They can be used with Portland cement or with blended cement individually, or in combinations, depending on the desired concrete properties.

Anti-Hydro®

Anti-Hydro International has helped harden concrete and masonry structures all over the world, from the Hearst Tower in New York to the Sears Tower in Chicago. Its Anti-Hydro® admixture is a combination of organic and inorganic chemicals that react with Portland cement to produce better hydration. And better hydration reduces water requirements, bleed water and shrinkage. The result is a denser cement paste that cures harder.

But Anti-Hydro® doesn’t only harden concrete. It waterproofs it, too. It can be used when pouring a concrete floor to make it totally waterproof. Plus, Anti-Hydro® is relatively affordable, making it a common-sense choice when considering certain concrete projects. Simply put, Anti-Hydro® can both strengthen and waterproof finished concrete, a bonus for, say, basement and garage floors.

Air-Entrainment

Concrete exposed to freeze-thaw cycles can benefit by adding air-entraining admixtures. Entrained air improves concrete’s resistance to damage caused by freezing and thawing, as well as to deicing chemicals. Grace Construction Products has a line of air-entrainment products that work well in the often-tumultuous weather patterns of the Intermountain West.

Water Reducers

Water-reducing admixtures do just what the name implies: reduce the amount of water needed to mix concrete. Using these admixtures increases concrete’s workability at the same water-cement ratio. And that makes for a product that’s easier to pour and stronger when cured. In fact, water reducers have been proven to increase compressive and flexural strengths in concrete. Using water reducers can also retard the set time of concrete, making it a smart choice in hot-weather pours.

Accelerators

Concrete poured in near-freezing conditions can benefit from an accelerator admixture. These speed the setting time and, thus, the curing time begins sooner. Using accelerators in conjunction with good curing procedures protects the concrete from freezing. And it’s been shown that concrete is actually stronger overall when accelerators have been used during a pour.

Conclusion

From adding accelerators to speed up the setting time in cold temperatures to adding water reducers to retard setting in hot weather, admixtures make concrete easier to work with and can increase its strength.

For all your concrete needs or questions, contact Intermountain Concrete Specialties. We have admixture products from Anti Hydro International, Grace Construction Products, Xypex and more. With more than 70 years of concrete expertise, you can count on us to give you the advice needed for a successful concrete project. And with seven locations from St. George to Idaho Falls, help is never far away.

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Why Use Concrete Joints?
December 20, 2019 | Concrete project tips, Tips and Advice

Only three things are certain in life: death, taxes and cracks in concrete. We can’t help you with the first two, but, fortunately, there are some steps you can take to postpone the inevitable cracks in concrete.

First, make sure to properly prepare the subgrade before pouring concrete. While it’s drying, concrete contracts and shrinks—which typically leads to its cracking. A smooth subgrade reduces the tension with the ground as the concrete dries, shrinks and hardens. Also, a subgrade of gravel or similar material allows for drainage, keeping those crack-causing, freeze-thaw cycles at bay.

Second, add steel reinforcement to your concrete. By its very nature, concrete has high compression strength, but low tensile strength. In order to offset its tensile-strength shortcomings, steel reinforcement should be added. Steel mesh or rebar (depending on the size of the slab) is the peanut butter to the concrete’s jelly—making a delicious, and strong, combination.

Third, and arguably the most effective way to reduce cracking in residential applications, is adding joints to concrete. Joints take the stress off of the slab, create a weakened area to help control where the concrete cracks and separates one cementitious surface from another—such as a home’s foundation from its patio. There are two types of concrete joints: control and expansion.

Control Joints

Since concrete is bound to crack, control joints are simply “planned” cracks. These cracks are added by tooling them into the still-wet concrete with a hand tool, or sawing them into the slab once it has cured enough to prevent chipping during the cutting process. These straight grooves create a place for the slab to crack during expansion and contraction. Sometimes these cracks occur on the underside of the concrete, completely out of sight.

Concrete control joint

Control joints should be cut into the concrete no less than two or three times (in feet) the thickness (in inches) of the slab. So, for a 4-inch slab (fairly standard for residential applications), control joints should be 8 to 12 feet apart. What about the depth? Well, they should be no less than one-quarter of the thickness of the slab. For that same 4-inch slab, control joints should be 1 inch deep.                       

Expansion Joints   

Expansion joints, which are usually a pliable material such as cork or plastic, are installed in an adjacent surface before the concrete is poured. These joints create a type of “shock absorber” next to the poured concrete, to allow for the concrete’s natural expansions and contractions as it dries. Expansion joints should be inserted wherever a new slab abuts a building or an existing slab.

Concrete expansion joint

The material used for expansion joints should extend the depth of the slab and stretch its full width. Also, it’s a good idea to seal any exterior expansion joints with high-quality, flexible urethane caulk to keep water out.

Conclusion

Not much in life is guaranteed—except for cracks in concrete. Taking the steps to properly prepare the subgrade, use steel reinforcement material and strategically place control and expansion joints will go a long way in delaying the inevitable.

What else is guaranteed? Intermountain Concrete Specialties is here to answer your concrete questions and help with any of your DIY project needs. We rent specialty equipment and tools. We have years of experience, expertise and know-how. And with seven locations from St. George to Idaho Falls—all with friendly and knowledgeable staff members—help is never far away.

 

 

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