Every year when winter rolls around the avid skiers are jumping for joy and the average joe is grumbling about snow and ice removal. To the average joe—we don’t blame you one bit! Getting that old shovel out usually means sore shoulders and an aching back. It is not uncommon to rely on ice melting granules to help bust through thick ice buildup. However, with so many chemical compounds available, you might be scratching your head as to which ice melt is best for your concrete. Calcium chloride, magnesium chloride, potassium chloride and calcium magnesium acetate (CMA)—what’s the difference and why does it matter? Stay tuned and we’ll melt it down for you!
Considerations Before the Winter Season
As with any concrete care, it is always best to plan ahead. Performing a detailed inspection of your concrete areas is advisable before you need to put down ice melting products during the frosty winter months. Locating and repairing any broken or crumbling areas is strongly encouraged due to the physical and chemical composition of commercial ice melting agents. The de-icing granules are hard and coarse—this can cause more damage to vulnerable areas of concrete when ground-in by foot traffic and vehicles. For more on fixing crumbling concrete see our latest blog. A small fix before winter is always preferable to a larger one after the fact. You’ll thank us later.
The Difference in Chlorides
There are a wide variety of ice-melting compounds on the market today, and they all have their place within the parameters of their intended use. One key element to consider is how low the temperature will drop. The availability of moisture on the top layer of ice is an imperative factor that determines the effectiveness of the product. The colder it is, the less moisture is available. “Hygroscopic” ice melting agents work by attracting moisture and absorbing it into the granules. This process is known as “exothermic” and it creates heat when the salt and moisture bond together—thus melting the ice. Take a look below at the most common de-icers on the market.
Calcium chloride and magnesium chloride appear to be the superior products when it comes to quickly melting ice. While there is potential corrosion risk with all chloride compounds, adhering to the application instructions and precautions will provide the best results for your concrete and surrounding areas. A high-grade and well-maintained concrete should withstand any corrosive properties produced by these agents. As mentioned above, removing any leftover granules once the ice has melted is a best practice tip to maintaining your concrete throughout the winter season.
Crumbling concrete can be such a frustration—especially when it is your own driveway! Not only is it unsightly but it also jeopardizes the longevity of the remaining concrete area. Many people will offer their advice on some quick, cheap fixes but when it comes to cement work it is important to be cautious and plan ahead. Having the proper tools and products will make or break your project experience and outcome.
What You Will Need
Each concrete repair is different depending on its location. Recommended products are based on whether the area is vertical or horizontal and what kind of repair is needed. Because driveways are typically horizontal, certain products excel for these types of flat surfaces. Our favorite repair mortars provide amazing results for driveway repair work:
* Lyons Patchcrete * WR Meadows Spectrum Rekote * Mapei Quickpatch
Primers or bonding agents are not necessary for every circumstance, but they are certainly recommended in order to successfully adhere the new repair mortar to the effected area. Our list of favorites include:
* Lyons P100 Primer * BASF A660 * Grace Daraweld C
An effective method to clean the crumbling area ahead of time is essential, so be sure to plan for that in advance. A nice power sprayer is a good recommendation, but not a deal-breaker.
Adequate preparation to the area is the essential first step when you begin any type of concrete repair. The products you use will only be as good as the conditions beneath them. Removing any crumbling debris is key, and while there is more than one way to do this, using a power sprayer can be a great help. Another important step is to eliminate anything that may hinder the adherence process of the mortar, such as grease, paint or oil that has previously been in contact with the area.
If you are using water to clean the area it is important to allow plenty of drying time before you apply the primer or bonding agent. If moisture is present, the primer cannot properly adhere to the surface. Be certain to follow the instructions for each chosen product, as they may vary slightly depending on brand.
To apply the primer or bonding agent, make sure to keep it well stirred. Preference in application techniques can range from brushes and brooms to rollers. The key factor is making sure you effectively work the product into the surface. Allow for the recommended drying time as provided in the product instructions; 2-3 hours is usually adequate but not all products are exactly the same so be diligent in reading and understanding the directions. It is worth noting that some products, such as Lyons P100 Primer, change opacity as the drying process is under way. Application often appears milky, but the end result will be a more clear-like coating.
Applying the repair mortar comes next and the goal is for a nice, smooth finish. It really is as simple as reading the product’s directions for correct water/mortar mixture ratio and using the recommended tools. Refer to our past blog 14 Concrete Tools and Products You Didn’t Know You Needed to learn which tools will work best for your individual repair project.
Why This Matters
Fixing a crumbling driveway is actually pretty simple with great products and a solid understanding of the process. Taking special care to prepare the area and using appropriate tools is the best advice anyone can offer for this type of cement work. In the end it really pays off to make these repairs in a timely manner after crumbling has started. Diligence in maintaining or replacing worn areas in concrete is crucial for overall strength and longevity of the overall cemented area.
That darn cold weather has crept up again and you still did not get your concrete poured this year—again. Summertime can be busy for many, and with fun activities and vacations, pouring concrete can get pushed to the back of the line. This may leave you pondering the possibilities of pouring your concrete in less than ideal weather conditions.
First of all, you have to know there are some unique challenges to pouring concrete in cold weather. It certainly can be done but it is not ideal. Cold weather can greatly alter several factors when pouring concrete. Knowing some best practices can go a long way in your chilly adventure. The hydration level, freezing risks and overall durability over time are just a few things to consider, so be prepared to baby your concrete until it’s cured.
Now that you know you may encounter some challenges, here’s the facts to help you prepare. First of all, the standard for pouring concrete in cold weather is not defined by your grandmother’s thermostat—it is three consecutive days of temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Concrete has many phases and each one is important. The phase in which concrete is moist is known as the plastic phase. During this phase it is crucial to control the temperature of the concrete. If outdoor temperatures fall below 25 degrees Fahrenheit the concrete will most likely freeze. A concrete popsicle is never a desirable outcome because it can compromise the overall durability and strength by up to 50%.
Protecting the concrete from freezing is the highest priority for at least two full days. Ideally, you want to maintain the concrete at a temperature of about 50 degrees Fahrenheit. If not, this phase may take longer to fully set.
You should also understand how lower temperatures can affect the hydration levels in your concrete. Moisture creates a chemical reaction when it is combined with the cement mixture. This reaction causes heat and with it an acceleration in the setting process. The lower temperatures can alter the hydration levels, thus causing less heat and slower setting times for your project. Because you may encounter these delays in setting times, some of the normal finish work and removal of forms will also be delayed.
But fear not, there are additive options designed specifically for cold weather concrete conquests that can help the concrete set faster or retain heat to prevent freezing.
Calcium chloride can be highly effective in pushing along the setting rate. However, this additive should be limited to no more than two percent of the cement mixture itself. Insulating your concrete is a critical step that can aid in heat retention. Plastic sheets and enclosures are also popular and an effective barriers against the elements. Additionally, concrete heat blankets can be quite helpful during the cold winter months. Not only can they be used to help thaw frozen ground but they add a substantial amount of protection for newly poured concrete. Typically, heat blankets are made from durable polyethylene fabrics and insulating foam that hold up nicely in harsh weather conditions.
Depending on the project circumstances, a heater may help retain heat and prevent freezing. If you use a heater, you must be vigilant and take adequate precautions. A fossil-fueled heater should always be placed in a well-ventilated area to avoid carbon monoxide dangers and to avoid the carbonation of a newly poured concrete area, which can cause an undesirable result called dusting. Additionally, heaters can create a surface temperature that differs greatly from the center of the concrete. If this variation becomes more than 35 degrees Fahrenheit, cracking may result. Another potential risk with heating concrete is prematurely drying out the surface which creates shrinkage cracks. Corners and outer edges can be particularly vulnerable to these problems.
Pouring concrete in cold weather may seem like a daunting task to undertake and it certainly comes with risks. Whatever options you choose to protect your project will require your time and attention to detail. However, being deliberate in your planning, reviewing and implementing these recommendations will put you on the pathway to a successful, albeit chilly, concrete adventure.
So, you’ve decided to be industrious and do your own concrete work. You’ve done some research on what tools to buy, how much concrete you need and even scheduled a day off from work to bust out this project. Your friends and neighbors have chimed in with a mountain of tips and even offered up some helping hands. You’re ready to get rolling so you can have that patio you’ve always wanted for barbeques and entertaining friends. But wait—when can you actually use it? How long does it need to dry? Does climate affect it? These questions do need to be addressed before starting any concrete work in order to avoid problems.
Curing vs. Drying
Individuals who do not typically work in the concrete industry believe that once concrete feels dry it is ready for general use. This common mistake happens all too often, and unfortunately ruins a surface and its durability. Concrete can feel dry to the touch within hours of being poured, depending on the climate and time of year. However, concrete needs to do far more than just dry. For all poured concrete, big or small, a curing period is necessary to ensure strength and durability that will last over time and through inclement weather conditions.
So how long do you need to wait to get those patio parties rolling? Here are several factors that play into that answer:
With these factors in mind, the minimum curing recommendation is seven days—provided that the temperature is over 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Compressive strengths of concrete mixtures can vary and each one requires a different curing period so a good rule of thumb is to wait between 7–14 days.
What is the Process?
Do additional steps need to be taken during the hardening period? Indeed they do! Maintaining moisture while curing is key to the overall concrete strength and durability. You can leave the forms used to shape and hold the concrete in place to aid in moisture retention. You should also pay close attention to when and how additional moisture should be applied. If you pour your own small concrete projects at a residential site, a misting nozzle or some type of light spraying can help retain moisture. However, enough hardening must also be present to avoid surface damage. It is also recommended that water temperature be no more than 20 degrees cooler than the concrete itself, to eliminate chances of cracking—those pesky cracks! Some use large sheets of plastic to cover the concrete to discourage moisture loss. When used these sheets must be consistently saturated with water and can only be applied after the hardening stage is settled enough to avoid surface damage.
Temperature and Climate
Temperature and climate recommendations can vary and may need to be altered, depending on climate conditions in your area. Each climate has moisture variations that range from extra dry to very moist. Colder conditions can affect your concrete plan and the rate in which the curing takes place. The colder the conditions, the slower the cure rate. Curing agents and insulated blankets can be used when pouring concrete in less than ideal conditions. However, keeping the temperature regulated can be a tricky job. On the flip side, pouring concrete in extreme heat comes with its own set of risks; certain precautions must be taken to avoid rapid moisture loss. Wetting or spraying down the area before pouring concrete is recommended because it will aid in the curing process and help keep moisture from absorbing into the ground area. Once the concrete has been placed, it must be kept wet so it won’t dry out too quickly. Evaporation retardants are available for these circumstances and can certainly be of benefit when needed.
A Trial Run
For a project to look professional and hold up over time, knowing the curing process before pouring your concrete is a must. It may be a good idea to do a trial run on a very small mock area just to get some practice. You can familiarize yourself with the tools and the curing process—and how your climate will play a role in moisture retention. It might be extra effort on your part but can certainly make or break the outcome of your concrete experience
As an experienced concrete contractor or home renovator, you probably know what tools you need to get the job done. But having the right tools and the best products is essential to getting the job done not just right but in the best way possible. Here are some of our favorite concrete products that you didn’t know you needed.
Safety first. Next time you are cutting or grinding, make sure to put on one of these Gerson silica and concrete masks. Reduces exposure to respirable crystalline silica dusts and provides at least 99.97 percent filtration efficiency against solid and liquid aerosols.
MBW’s ScreeDemon™solves four problems that other wet screeds have. It’s lower maintenance, highly functional, lower vibrating and easy to assemble. Patent-pending mount retention reduces hand/arm vibration 50 to 90 percent. It’s everything you want in a wet power screed.
When it comes to adaptors for your tools, there’s nothing better than the Pro Tilt™ from MagVibe. Designed to be easily attached to all of your floats, the Pro Tilt features a gear-driven pivot, sealed bearings and Superior Innovation’s QAS™ quick attach system. Stop by your local ICS concrete specialty store in Utah or Idaho to see the difference for yourself.
Another awesome product from MBW, the 36-inch power trowel can edge right up against the wall. You heard that right. The built-in edger feature allows you to do what typically requires two machines to accomplish.
The Marshalltown magnesium Mag Float is a must-have for contract contractors. High-strength, lightweight magnesium construction delivers faster, smoother floating. Make sure you have one of these in your bucket.
Keep walls straight and plumb. Turnbuckle form aligners are an essential part of wall forming.
Reusable concrete stencils take decorative concrete to a whole new level. Designed to be floated into freshly placed concrete, the stencils can pulled up once concrete has hardened, leaving a crisp impression behind.
Decra-Seal Natural is low-VOC, water-based sealer that enhances the natural color and features of decorative concrete. The penetrating water repellent formula chemically bonds to the substrate for a durable, reliable finish.
There’s nothing worse than wet concrete when it shouldn’t be. Hydrophilic waterstop is a high-quality, cost-effective solution to ensure water doesn’t get in where you don’t want it.
Quit falling and stay on your feet. Next time you need to seal concrete to high-traffic areas, add Sure Step non-slip additive.
TYTAN Foam Bond 60’s innovative formula bonds architectural foam shapes, boards, trim and panels in just 60 seconds, becoming fully secure after five minutes. No solvents means no offensive odor. Bonding foam to concrete has never been easier.
W.R. Meadows Pourthane Non-Sag and Self-leveling Joint Sealant comes in 11 different colors and in convenient pouches. Ready-to-use without mixing, there’s no easier way to fill cracks and joints with a colored caulk.
Also from W.R. Meadows: HS-1 SL one-part, self-leveling, SMP-based sealant. Yes, this is colored self-leveling joint sealant in a bag.
Last but not least: power trowels. Designed for continuous use on large floors, these amazing machines offer precision handling for professional concrete finishers to apply an ultra-smooth finish to concrete slabs. Stop in and tell us your favorite brand – and we’ll tell you ours.
When quality and service count, contact one of Intermountain Concrete Specialties’ knowledgeable product and tool specialists.
For a building material that’s been around seemingly forever, concrete is constantly being improved, repurposed and reimagined. We dug up these emerging trends for contractors, interior designers, DIY homeowners and anyone looking to improve their space with an interior or exterior concrete update.
This concrete trend has been around for a while, but new developments in coloring and texturing agents keep decorative concrete constantly evolving. While concrete’s traditional gray hues suit current interior design trends like the farmhouse look, homeowners have endless possibilities when it comes to color, pattern and texture. Decorative concrete also enhances outdoor spaces, such as patios, walkways and decorative curbing made with reusable stencils.
Typically associated with outdoor utilitarian uses like patios, driveways and foundations, concrete has made its way indoors thanks in part to the popular industrial design trend. From concrete flooring to countertops and furniture to accessories, interior concrete can be customized to suit any décor style.
Tilt-up construction is soaring to new heights with a recent record lift of 100 feet. Thanks to new developments, products and processes, the tilt-up industry is shaking up conventional labor and production on these large-scale building projects.
The latest trend in concrete formwork, load-bearing walls utilize an innovative tunnel-form method that allows walls and slabs to be poured simultaneously. This means faster setting and removal of wall forms to allow for acceleration of construction projects.
Performed on the job site, post-tensioning reinforces concrete with extremely high-strength steel strands and bars. Post-tensioning with a combination of concrete and steel creates an incredibly strong component that allows for a final product that is stronger than ever.
Emerging trends in concrete are changing not only what we can build, but also how we build it. Here are two new concrete trends from cement.org.
This highly workable, durable, ultra-high strength concrete eliminates the need for coarse aggregates. With a potential compressive strength of 30,000 psi, reactive powder concrete’s tensile strength is on par with steel fibers.
Adding optical fibers to a concrete mix creates a “see-through” effect that challenges the opaque nature of traditional concrete. Thanks to the optical fibers, light is conducted through the stone from one end to the other.
New advancements in concrete and concrete products are completely changing design and construction. Stop by your local ICS showroom in Utah or Idaho and let us help you decide how to make the latest concrete trends work for you.
Concrete sealers provide more than just protection from the elements. They can also improve the appearance of your concrete. Knowing which product to choose for your particular project is essential for getting the finish you want and concrete that will last.
Choosing a concrete sealer isn’t a one-size-fits all solution. There are a wide variety of sealers to choose from. Some work well on exterior applications, while others are designed for indoor use. Sealers may be chemical-based or water-based. The final appearance, such as a natural or high-gloss finish, should be factored in. The type of concrete project also dictates whether a surface sealer or a penetrating sealer is the best option.
High-traffic commercial areas, for example, will require a different finish than a decorative patio or a concrete countertop. Indoor concrete flooring will have different requirements for durability and appearance than an industrial floor or a stamped concrete walkway.
Surface sealers can form a protective layer on the concrete surface or block the pores to prevent water absorption. Penetrating sealers, on the other hand, absorb into the concrete and are a great option for exterior surfaces that can be affected by the elements. Two of the most commonly requested sealers in Utah are W.R. Meadows for commercial and industrial application and ICS High Gloss Sealer for decorative concrete applications.
Once your concrete is prepped and dry, you’re ready to get started. Follow manufacturer’s instructions closely. Depending on the type of sealer, you may be applying it with a roller or pump sprayer. If required, apply a second coat.
Applying concrete sealer varies by type. A solvent-based sealer might be sprayed on an indoor microtopping or decorative concrete floor and requires good ventilation. Outdoor sealers may be rolled on and should be UV-stable and durable enough to stand the test of time.
Applying a concrete sealer to old or new concrete is always a good idea. When you create beautiful concrete, the last thing you want is the product to start degrading over time. Even light to moderate traffic areas should be resealed every three to five years. Frequent cleaning keeps outdoor concrete surfaces looking their best. Practicing basic maintenance, such as cleaning concrete surfaces immediately of spills and debris, can help minimize damage.
Do your homework and choose the appropriate sealer for that specific application. This 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 in Utah or Idaho so we can help you choose the best concrete sealer for your specific needs.
There’s been a lot of excitement buzzing around ICS lately, with the opening of our new Intermountain Concrete Specialties Draper, Utah location, and open house events at our Ogden and Orem locations.
We are excited to announce the opening of our brand new Draper location on June 11, 2018. The new store is located at 441 West 12300 South, Suite A600. We decided to open the Draper location to serve our loyal customers around the south end of Utah Valley. You asked for it, we listened, we built it!
Our annual ICS Ogden open house event is always a customer favorite, featuring representatives from favorite concrete product manufacturers, product demos, giveaways and, of course, lunch. This year’s open house event was held on May 30, 2018 and featured product demos from Husqvarna and W.R. Meadows.
The Orem, Utah store branch open house event was also a great success. Held on May 17, 2018, we celebrated with more visits and demos from our top manufacturers, plus prizes and lunch.
Intermountain Concrete Specialties would like to extend a huge thank you to all of the customers and vendors who attended our open house. It’s always an honor to host you, and we look forward to celebrating future successes with you.
Utah’s home market is hot right now. It’s a seller’s market for sure. But it doesn’t matter how high the market is – if your home lacks curb appeal or is in obvious need of repairs, potential buyers may not give it a second look.
Curb appeal can raise property value as much as 12 percent and increase resale value up to 14 percent. It also decreases the amount of time your home spends on the market. Sounds great, doesn’t it? Before you go crazy planting flowers to make things look pretty, let’s take a look at some ways to see actual return on investment.
Most buyers have a hard time seeing past messy landscaping, cracks in concrete patios and a cluttered home or yard. Savvy sellers know how to make their home appealing to buyers. This includes cleaning up landscaping, staging the interior, and making necessary repairs.
Concrete cracks raise a red flag for Utah homebuyers. If you notice cracks in concrete patios, sidewalks or walkways it’s important to repair them before they get worse. Also check for cracks in the foundation and remember, if the crack is wider than a nickel you’ll need to have it looked at by the pros.
A kitchen can make or break a sale. Potential buyers look for updated floors and countertops, and an outdated kitchen can affect overall home value. But you don’t have to spend all of your potential profits updating a kitchen you won’t be using once you sell. A minor kitchen remodel can result in 114 percent of costs recouped.
Concrete countertops are an affordable and creative way to update a kitchen for a completely customized look. The average cost of a standard thickness concrete countertop is actually less costly than granite, engineered quartz and other high-end materials.
This is another space that’s important to potential home buyers, and improvement dollars can yield a strong ROI. Materials will affect the price of the patio but using higher grade materials won’t necessarily give you a higher ROI. Decorative concrete is an ideal option for getting a high-end look without using materials that take more money out of your pocket than they will put back in it.
Fluids such as oil, gas and transmission fluid can leave stains on garage floors, driveways and patios. Whether a stain is new or old, it can usually be removed or lightened, depending on the surface.
To remove oil from concrete, an enzymatic multi-surface cleaner like Grime Monster can help breakdown oil and grease without leaving a halo effect. New stains can be covered with cat litter or baking soda prior, to absorb excess oil. Other stains may require a different process and products. An ICS concrete specialist can help you determine the best method to remove your particular concrete stain.
There are plenty of options to choose from to improve the value of your home. A little research on the best investment for your neighborhood and budget could pay off in nicely when it’s time to put your home on the market.
Outdoor concrete is an investment – and one that is often at the mercy of the elements. Protecting this valuable investment is essential to preventing trouble down the road. With proper curing, sealing and maintenance, concrete is an asset that can last for years to come. We’re sharing 7 tips to help you maintain your outdoor concrete.
1. Know your environment
Here in Utah, we have extreme temperature variables throughout the year. Outdoor concrete surfaces can take a beating, especially in summer and winter. Snow run-off and spring rains can cause damage if it sits on the surface too long. Be sure to slope concrete away from the home to prevent water damage to the surface and the foundation. Rain, snow, ice and heat can affect concrete curing times.
2. Pouring and curing
The ideal temperature for pouring and curing concrete is between 50 and 90 degrees. Extremes in either direction may compromise the final product. Too cold and the freeze-thaw cycle can cause concrete to expand and contract, creating cracking and spalling. Too hot and the concrete will set faster but may compromise strength. In other words, concrete must be cured properly to achieve maximum durability.
3. Sealing concrete
Choosing the right sealer for your concrete project is an integral part of finishing the job right. This final layer of protection can enhance the appearance of decorative concrete; block against moisture, dirt, oil and stains; and protect against excess wear. The type of concrete sealer used will depend on the type of project. Two of our most commonly requested sealers are W.R. Meadows for commercial and industrial application, and ICS High Gloss Sealer for decorative concrete applications. Find the right sealer for your project here.
4. Keep it clean – basic maintenance
Practice basic maintenance by cleaning concrete surfaces immediately of spills and debris to minimize staining or other damage. This includes weeds and grass, oil, tire marks and more. Frequent cleaning keeps outdoor concrete surfaces looking their best. Once your patio is clean and repaired, protect it from future stains and damage with a concrete sealer.
5. Apply a fresh finish
A clean surface is key to properly staining or painting concrete. Before applying a top coat, stain or other decorative concrete, sweep and pressure wash the concrete surface. Recoat concrete every three to five years to protect the surface, especially in high-traffic areas like driveways, walkways and patios.
6. Check for cracks
Check concrete foundation walls, floors and slabs for cracking, heaving or deterioration as part of routine maintenance. Some cracks are minor and can be repaired. If the crack is the width of a nickel, it’s time to call a professional.
7. Consult an expert
Intermountain Concrete Specialties has locations in Utah and Idaho where our concrete experts can help you make the most of your investment by providing maintenance and protection solutions for your specific concrete needs.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Keep these 7 tips in mind when pouring, curing, cleaning and sealing concrete for a concrete investment that lasts.