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How To Make a Concrete Patio More Attractive
March 24, 2022 | Concrete Patio

Your patio is the heart of your backyard, and if you’re tired of how it looks, it may be time for an upgrade. A concrete patio has a tendency to be pretty boring, unless you’re willing to go the extra step to make it more attractive. There are a variety of ways you can improve the look of your concrete, from easy DIYs to more complex projects that may require the help of the pros. Here are five ideas to consider if you’re ready to take on the challenge.

1. Staining

If you are happy with the current shape of your patio, but just want to add a little more pizazz, staining is a great option. This process gives you the ability to completely customize the look of your patio by applying stain that is meant for concrete. You can keep it traditional with a gray stain or you can get crazy and add a bold color that matches your unique personality. Think about the style and design of your backyard and choose a stain color that is complementary.

2. Creating a Border

You can use concrete paint, concrete stain or even add a small, new pour of decorative concrete around your existing patio to create a border. A border creates a definitive edge to your patio while adding color, pattern and interest. You can create a very complex border that combines multiple shapes and colors or you can keep it simple with a classic, lattice pattern that is perfect for backyard areas.

3. Stamping

If you are in the market for a demolition and complete re-pour of your patio, it may be time to add texture and interest by stamping the concrete. A variety of patterns and styles of stamps are available today, making it easy to create the exact look that you want. If you’re going for a more traditional style, choose a stamp that mimics bricks or cobblestone. You can even mix and match stamps to come up with a one-of-a-kind, decorative concrete patio that your friends and family will ooh and aah over!

4. Marbling

If you appreciate the durability of concrete, but you want the look of something more expensive, try marbling your patio. Some people use the process to make kitchen countertops that mimic the look of real marble, but it can be done on an exterior pour as well. It typically involves mixing different colors and even concrete powders to create a marbleized pattern in your new pour.

5. Polishing

If you want the marble look but don’t want to tear out your current concrete patio, you can have it polished. This process creates a high-luster finish that is smooth, beautiful and eye-catching. It looks a little more finished than plain concrete, but it doesn’t take a lot of work. You’ll likely have to rent a concrete polisher or work with a professional who can do the polishing for you.

Your backyard is your oasis and you should enjoy spending time out there. If you’re tired of your patio, give it a little facelift by either updating the concrete you already have or completing a new pour with decorative concrete elements. Either way, you’re sure to be happy with the finished product.

Whatever you decide, be sure to talk with one of our concrete experts at Intermountain Concrete Specialties. Contact us today—we’d love to help!

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Is It Better To Paint or Stain a Concrete Patio?

Is It Better To Paint or Stain a Concrete Patio?

A patio is the perfect location for outdoor entertaining and it can be used year-round in many places. Even in the coldest months of the year, a firepit or outdoor heater can transform a patio into an exterior living space. If you’re the type who spends a lot of time enjoying your backyard, a boring patio can be a downer. Adding plants, furniture and décor can make a difference, but you can also update your current cement patio by changing the color. There are two basic options to choose from, staining and painting, so deciding which is right for your needs and your budget is essential.

Staining a Concrete Patio

You can create instant impact by staining a concrete patio. It’s a process that involves several applications of chemicals, as well as a curing process, but it leaves a unique look that can be made to appear like wood or stone. It is possible to stain your patio yourself, but you will likely get better results with the help of an experienced professional.

One of the greatest pros of choosing staining over painting is that the stain penetrates into the concrete rather than just building up on the surface, as with paint. This results in a longer-lasting color that won’t fade as quickly as paint.

For some homeowners, the con of staining a concrete patio is that the colors can be a little unpredictable. The moisture content of the concrete as well as the aging and curing can lead to variations in the color choices, which are already more limited than paint colors.

Painting a Concrete Patio

The process of painting a patio is fairly straightforward and often just involves ensuring that the concrete is thoroughly cleaned beforehand, though etching is recommended. Once it’s clean, the patio can be painted whatever color you might prefer. Have a favorite shade that is already gracing the walls of your home? You can use it on your patio!

Many people who choose painting versus staining do so because it’s easy to do themselves. All you need is paint and a roller to complete the job. Because paint is opaque, it can also cover up discolorations and stains on your existing concrete pad.

The con of painting concrete is that it is not nearly as durable as staining. Over time, the paint can fade and chip away. It can get scratched when you move heavy furniture or can be damaged by bad weather.

Which Option Should You Choose?

Whether you decide to paint or stain a concrete patio depends on a few factors. First, you’ll want to consider whether you have the time and resources to hire a professional for the staining and curing process. You’ll also want to think about the level of durability required for the project. If you live in a mild climate, painting may not be an issue. However, if you use your patio a lot or deal with harsh winters, staining may be the better option.

No matter what you choose, you’ll end up with an updated, unique patio that you’ll enjoy using for years to come.

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Penetrating vs. Surface Concrete Sealers—Which is Best
January 12, 2022 | 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 the sinking and cracking of an unsealed concrete slab.

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 outdoor concrete sealer.

How to Choose the Best Sealer for Your Outdoor Concrete

Outdoor concrete is well protected from water penetration, stains and corrosion with a high-quality surface sealer. In one way or another, these help to protect against ice, moisture, deicers, excess wear and more. When it comes to sealers, it’s always best to buy the best. High-quality sealer products, like those sold at Intermountain Concrete Specialties, hold up longer and won’t yellow. (Helpful hint: epoxy sealers will tend to yellow in the sun.)

Basically, there are two types of concrete sealers: surface (film-forming) sealers and penetrating (under the surface) sealers.

Surface concrete sealers create a protective, physical membrane on the concrete surface. These are usually acrylic and either a water base or solvent base. Solvent base sealers are generally used outdoors, while water base sealers are used indoors. Any form-filming membrane can get slippery when wet. So, if you are concerned with a slippery surface, we typically recommend a grit be added to the sealer—specifically, WR Meadows Sure Step.

We recommend and carry these concrete sealers:

  • Solvent base (generally outdoor use): WR Meadows – ICS 309, Decraseal, ICS High Gloss, Brickform – Polyseal
  • Water base (generally indoor use): WR Meadows – Vocomp 20, Vocomp 25, Decreaseal, Newlook – Smartseal.
  • Epoxy and Urethanes (indoor use): Clear Newlook NL60 (Helpful hint: Urethane is perfect over stained concrete or when a durable surface is preferred.)

Penetrating concrete sealers work underneath the surface. Generally, they either chemically react with free lime to increase concrete strength and density or clog the pours of concrete to prevent anything from penetrating.

Penetrating sealers are longer lasting as they do not “wear off,” as does a surface sealer. These also leave a natural look to the concrete and will not yellow, as they do not leave a membrane.

We recommend and carry these concrete sealers:

  • R. Meadows – Intraguard, Decraseal Natural, Pentreat 244, Convergent – Pentraseal 244+, Creto Worldwide – Creto, Newlook – Sharkseal, Master Builders – Masterprotect H400

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 sealers require 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 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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How To Choose the Best Outdoor Concrete Sealer
March 19, 2021 | Concrete Sealers

Outdoor concrete is subject to harsh conditions throughout the entire year. Water from rain, extreme heat, stain damage from organic debris and the freeze-thaw cycle can all wreak havoc on driveways, patios and sidewalks. When you utilize outdoor concrete sealer, you provide an added layer of protection that can keep your concrete looking good and lasting a long time, no matter how hard you, and the climate, are on it.

All sealers are not created equal, however, and you need to choose the right one for your particular application. With so many options available on the market today, it is easy to feel overwhelmed. Consider the following steps to help you determine which outdoor concrete sealer is right for your specific needs.

Location

Not only should you consider the location of the concrete you’d like to seal in relation to your home or business, but you should also think about your physical location. Different climates will require different sealer types. If you live somewhere that experiences extreme cold and hot temperatures throughout the year, you’ll want to pick a sealer that will offer protection from the freeze-thaw cycle. If your climate is extremely wet, you’ll want one that offers greater waterproofing.

When it comes to the exact location of the concrete, think about sun exposure versus shade and foot traffic versus vehicle traffic. You’ll want a more durable concrete sealer if it is in an area that is driven on regularly.

Purpose

When considering purpose, first determine the desired outcome. Concrete surfaces serve variety of needs—and there are a variety of sealers best suited for any given need. Generally speaking, it’s best to think of longevity. If you want to add years to the life of your concrete, choose an outdoor concrete sealer that has the best characteristics possible, and at the highest concentration. In other words, it’s best to choose a high-quality concrete sealer. This will improve longevity, reduce required reapplications and help avoid having to repour or refinish your concrete down the road.

Finish

Different concrete sealers will give you different finishes, so you’ll want to think about how you want the finished product to look before you make your decision. Some sealers provide a glossy, wet look, which can be attractive but often requires more maintenance and upkeep. On the other hand, there are sealers that offer a matte finish, which is often the choice for garages and other areas that are not decorative. You can also choose sealers that provide slight coloring, so if you want to make a change, you can accomplish that as well through tinting.

Budget

If you have a tight budget but still want to seal your outdoor concrete, don’t be tempted to choose the cheapest product available. You get what you pay for when it comes to sealers. If you go the less expensive route, you’ll save money now but may end up paying more over time to reapply. Instead, consider a more expensive sealer to be an investment. It will last longer and you’ll save time and money in the long run by avoiding the cost of reapplication and maintenance over the years.

Maintenance

No matter which outdoor concrete sealer you choose, you’ll have to perform at least some regular maintenance. Even the top-of-the-line, highest-quality sealers will require reapplication eventually, especially in high-traffic areas. Keeping all of your outdoor concrete surfaces looking great is completely possible if you commit to choosing a quality product and remember to reapply on a regular basis.

 

Intermountain Concrete Specialties has a wide selection of outdoor concrete sealers. Stop by one of our seven locations for help choosing the right option for your home or business.

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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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