It’s not uncommon to hear chat around the Intermountain Concrete Specialties water cooler about last nights’ dream of that perfect walkway or stamped patio. Alright, that may be an exaggeration, but we still live and breathe concrete. But what exactly is this building material that makes up so much of our modern infrastructure?
Concrete is a mixture of three ingredients: cement, water and aggregate. While concrete has rudimentary roots dating to ancient Egypt, modern iterations are more refined. But what are these three ingredients, and how do they work together to form a material that is both malleable in one form and incredibly strong in another?
Let’s clear up a common misconception straight away: cement isn’t concrete, and concrete isn’t cement.
The two terms are often used interchangeably. But, in fact, cement is an ingredient in concrete—it is the binding material. Think of cement as the caramel in the concrete chocolate shell of a Snickers. Good enough, but now what is cement?
While there are several different types, we will focus on Portland cement. And it’s worth knowing about. Portland cement is undoubtedly the most widely used building material in the world. In fact, more than 80 million tons of it are produced per year. Portland cement is a key ingredient in high-rise buildings, dams, roads and DIY projects.
Portland cement is a fine powder. It’s most commonly made from limestone and clay that has been superheated, then pulverized into a fine powder. Cement fills in the gaps between aggregate and holds everything together.
It’s clear you know about water. But do you know what an important role it plays in concrete? The water-cement ratio dictates the strength of the finished product. The major compounds of cement form chemical bonds with water molecules through the process of hydration. Too much water results in weak concrete, as it overhydrates the cement. Too little water renders the concrete unworkable.
The final ingredient in concrete? Rocks. However, calling aggregate rocks is too simple a definition for an ingredient this important. Aggregate adds mass and volume to concrete. Without aggregate, concrete would be prone to cracking, excess shrinking and would be outrageously expensive. Aggregate varies in size—ranging from sand to large rocks measuring six inches across, like those found in dams, according to the project. Concrete without aggregate would just be cement. Think of aggregate as the peanuts in a Snickers.
They say knowledge is power. Now that you know more about this powerful building material you can more confidently tackle those DIY projects on your to-do list. Stop by one of our seven locations—from Orem to Idaho Falls—to speak to one of our product experts and learn more.
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.
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.
Spring has sprung in Utah and the arrival of warm weather makes us want to head outdoors. It’s the perfect time to clear out the clutter and start fresh, but 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. If you notice cracks in concrete patios, follow the same steps we recommend below for sidewalks. Once your patio is clean and repaired, protect it from future stains and damage with a concrete sealer. Consider beautifying with decorative stamped concrete to enhance home value and appearance.
√ Concrete Sidewalks and Walkways
Concrete sidewalks can take a beating in winter. The first step to spring concrete maintenance is a good cleaning. Sweep away 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 the products, tools and tips you need to repair concrete cracks before damage progresses.
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, it’s time to call a professional.
Winter 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 and downspouts need to be clear of obstructions to properly manage rain water 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 caulk or epoxy to seal.
Check for loose siding panels and ensure the flashing is in place. Clean siding with a pressure washer to remove winter’s dirt and debris. Take care of any necessary exterior siding repairs or painting.
Routine maintenance on your central HVAC unit can improve airflow, which in turn can lower heating and cooling costs. If you have an outdoor unit, remove dust, leaves, grass clipping and any other debris that may be blocking airflow. Be sure to shut power to the unit before performing any maintenance. HVAC spring maintenance is definitely something you want to tackle before Utah’s summer heat kicks in.
√ General landscaping
This is a given when it comes to spring home maintenance. Clear dead leaves, branches and other debris; clean out garden and flower beds; prune and trim trees and shrubs; and reseed thin or damaged areas of the lawn.
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 Utah home is one of the biggest investments you will ever make. Take care of it with spring cleaning and home maintenance 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 the 10 concrete products you need to make them happen!
The arrival of winter in Utah has the potential to wreak havoc on your outdoor concrete projects. Even mildly cold temperatures can affect curing time. That’s why winter is a great time to focus on those projects you can do indoors. Learn how to use concrete for your indoor projects with these DIY products and tips.
Installing a concrete floor is a common basement renovation, and an ideal project to take on during winter. Once the concrete has been prepped, poured and leveled, use a trowel to smooth any rough areas, then level the surface using a float. A self-leveling floor topping and underlayment like FLOOR-TOP STG can help smooth out uneven or rough floors, while curing to a hard surface suitable for foot traffic. A benefit to this underlayment/overlayment product is that it can be mixed with integral colors, stains, dyes and sealers. More on this below.
Concrete countertops are a durable, affordable and rewarding DIY projects for homeowners. Smooth surfaces, plain edges and simple cutouts are recommended for rookies. Don’t despair – when you factor in the endless possibilities of stains and dyes you’ll end up with a pretty spectacular decorative finish. Quikrete Countertop Mix is a great starting point, creating a durable, economical finish that can be created to suit almost any décor style.
When introducing concrete floors and countertops to home interiors, there’s a vast array of decorative stains, dyes and finishes that can turn concrete from a gray slab into a statement piece with a wow factor. Pattern and texture set the tone, and color enhances the overall design. Innotech stains and dyes are available in a variety of options including integral colors, chemical stains, acid or water-based stains, color hardeners, antique releases and more to create just about any decorative concrete finish you can imagine.
Taking it outside
Still determined to pour outdoors in winter? While cold temperatures, snow and ice can disrupt outdoor concrete pouring and curing, you can still get some concrete projects done with the right conditions and products.
Concrete blankets will be your saving grace in any cold weather concrete pour. Moisture and temperature are the top causes of curing and sealing problems. Concrete blankets help prevent freezing and cracking while providing optimal insulation for your outdoor concrete projects. The blanket helps block out moisture and cold to help the curing process. Concrete blankets like those from Midwest Canvas provide the thermal resistance (R-factor) and protection necessary to prevent newly poured concrete from freezing in winter. In cases of cracked concrete, Ultrabond 365CC Cold Weather Epoxy comes to the rescue, delivering a full cure in just 45 minutes.
Winter is a great time for interior concrete projects. Don’t put a hold on your renovation plans. Intermountain Concrete Specialties showrooms are a great place to find out about the latest and most reliable concrete products. Stop by any one of our six locations to speak with a product expert!
Utah may be known and loved for its Greatest Snow on Earth – but outdoor workers might feel a little differently. When you work concrete or construction jobs outdoors in winter, it’s important to dress in the best possible cold weather gear.
Hypothermia and frostbite are real threats to outdoor workers who aren’t dressed appropriately for Utah’s winters. Hypothermia occurs when the body’s core temperature drops below what’s required for normal metabolism. Small extremities such as fingers and toes are especially susceptible to frostbite. If you’re wondering what to wear for outdoor work in winter, we’ve rounded up some great cold weather gear for outdoor workers to help prevent cold injuries.
Layering is key to dressing appropriately for working outdoors in winter. Wearing several layers of clothing can help you stay warm – and having the ability to remove some layers can also prevent sweating, which can actually cool you down too much.
• Start with a wicking layer worn close to the skin. This can help transfer moisture from the skin and prevent you from cooling down too much.
• Next, add a light insulating layer, such as a sweatshirt or light fleece. Fleece is warm, quick-drying and versatile for temperature variances.
• For the final layer, a mid- to heavy-weight insulating layer can help trap body heat to keep you warm.
Hats and Hardhat Liners
Thirty to fifty percent of body heat is lost through the top of the head, making a winter hat as important as all your layers combined. Start from the top down with PIP hardhat winter liners to keep your head and ears toasty. We recommend:
• PIP 1-Layer Fleece Liner with Shell (364-SL1FB), a warm, fleece hardhat liner ideal for use in cold weather. The liner wraps around the front and offers shoulder-length coverage that can be tucked into a jacket and features a silver reflective strip for added safety.
• PIP Winter Liner (365-1620) This cotton twill/acrylic liner features a flame-retardant treatment on the outer shell, which can last up to 10 washes. The winter hardhat liner has a zip-off extended neck cover for extra warmth and protection.
For outdoor workers, thermal protection must extend all the way to the fingertips. Wearing insulated work gloves made for protection in cold weather is important. Another option is wearing glove liners inside your work gloves to keep bare skin protected when you need to remove gloves momentarily. A variety of thermal and insulated work gloves offer added protection and safety.
Socks and Boots
A double-layer sock system is recommended for outdoor work. Thin, moisture-wicking socks serve the same purpose as long johns – to move moisture away from the skin and keep feet warmer. A thicker sock, such as wool, should be layered, and boots should offer enough room to be able to wear both pairs with wiggle room.
It’s always important to be seen when working outdoors, but it’s even more important in winter when weather conditions can cause poor visibility. In the cold, sometimes a safety vest just doesn’t cut it. Bundle up and stay within ANSI regulations with class 2 and 3 garments from PIP. Available in high visibility yellow or orange.
• PIP Class 3 Lime Green Zip-Front Hooded Sweatshirt (323-1370B) made from fleece with a water-repellent shell and silver reflective tape. Black bottom and cuffs help hide dirt.
• PIP Class 3 Hi-Visibility Ripstop Jacket (333-1550) offers breathable, water-resistant, windproof protection from the elements.
• PIP Class 3 Hi-Visibility Bomber Jacket (333-1740) offers quilted insulation and a water-resistant shell.
From hooded sweatshirts and high-visibility jackets to overalls, to gloves and headgear, we can help dress your concrete construction crew in the best cold weather gear for outdoor workers so they can get the job done safely. We carry a full line of PIP safety gear plus other industry favorites. Stop by and check out our cold weather gear selection and stay warm and safe while working outdoors this winter.
Stamped concrete is a creative and affordable way to enhance any exterior or interior space. Also known as textured concrete, the process replicates the high-end look of stone, brick, tile, cobblestone, pavers and even wood, often at lower cost than the materials it mimics, making it especially popular with homeowners.
The wide variety of decorative concrete options knows no bounds when it comes to pattern and color. Stamped concrete is often used to beautify patios and pool decks, front porches and entryways, walkways and driveways, just to name a few. Many homeowners and businesses even use stamped concrete to make a dramatic statement on interior flooring and accent walls.
With so much potential for customization, stamped concrete has a high “wow” factor. Aesthetically, stamped concrete is hard to surpass when it comes to customization of pattern and color. Pattern sets the tone for the overall design so it’s important to choose one that achieves your design goals. When done well, stamped concrete can be indistinguishable from the real thing. Most stamping mats are molded from the actual materials they mimic, adding a realistic element. Click here for tips on choosing texture, color and pattern.
Prep and Maintenance
Preparation is always key to any concrete project. Maintenance is typically low, requiring only occasional reseals. A high-quality sealer can protect your investment against efflorescence, moisture and the elements, keeping it beautiful for years to come. Another benefit? No grouted joints for weeds to sprout through, which can require tedious maintenance when it comes to traditional stones and pavers.
Time and Cost
Decorative concrete can be less costly than high-end stones and pavers, depending on the complexity of the project. A single color and pattern can be more cost-efficient than multi-pattern and color designs. Simple stamped concrete can be poured in less time than it takes to place stones or pavers. While the process can be labor-intensive, it’s a different type of labor than the heavy and tedious placement of stones. Time is money, so even in cases where the materials break even, there’s often savings in labor.
Integral color is one of the most popular color enhancements for stamped concrete. The admixture infuses concrete with rich, long-lasting color. Layering colors, color hardeners, and chemical concrete stains can add natural variations to more realistically replicate natural surfaces.
Concrete Stamp Promo
Through the end of 2017, Intermountain Concrete Specialties is offering a great deal on stamped concrete. Get a free stamp rental when purchasing two of these three decorative concrete products: color, release and/or sealer.
We carry a complete line of high-quality stamping tools and seamless texture skins, borders and touch-up tools from trusted brands like Innotech and Brickform. For more information on the products, tools and equipment needed to achieve a high-end stamped concrete look, visit one our six showrooms in Utah and Idaho.
Fall is here and it’s a great time to take stock of your concrete tools and products to make sure you’re properly equipped for seasonal projects. In Utah, early fall typically brings stable temperatures ideal for pouring concrete, and it’s important to get the job done right before cold weather sets in. Here are nine concrete products you need!
1. Concrete Sealers
First things first – it’s sealer season! This is the time of year to seal your job well before cold weather sets in. Proper sealing concrete surfaces keeps them protected from moisture, dirt and excess wear, while enhancing the overall appearance. Click here to learn about our top selling sealers, and which one is right for your project.
2. Chapin Dripless Shutoff
Tired of sealer drips? Dripless shutoff is what you need! Chapin dripless shut-offs seal at the nozzle tip, eliminating excess buildup in the extension wand that can cause unwanted drips when the shut-off is disengaged. When the trigger grip is released from spraying, the shut-off seals at the nozzle tip keeping the excess left in the wand from dripping. Excellent for applying sealers where precise control is needed!
3. ICS Construction and Precision Grouts
We have a variety of concrete grouts in stock and ready for use. Stop in and see us so we can help you pick the perfect one.
4. Halder Hammers
Get the right hammer for your job. Dead Blow Halder Hammers are vibration-reducing even with high impact, ergonomic, noise dampening, and wear-resistant. A great choice for concrete formwork and construction!
5. Dust protection
Filters and shrouds from Metabo and MK Diamond provide protection from concrete grinding dust. Helps control airborne particles for a cleaner working environment, while prolonging the life of tools by preventing abrasive dust from entering the motor.
6. True Temper Shovel
Having the right shovel is a must. This 6-inch wide shovel from True Temper Tools is great for pushing concrete in forms.
7. Grime Monster™
From NewLook International, Grime Monster is an effective water-based formula that attacks oil, grease and grime so it can be easily be sprayed or wiped away. The bio-degradable formula breaks down the molecular bond between the grime and the surface and is effective for removing grease and oil from all types of surfaces including concrete.
8. Keson Measuring Wheel
Sturdy, strong, reliable – Keson Industries leads the industry in precision, quality and safety.
9. VP Fuel & Sure Can
What’s better than VP fuel? Putting it in a Sure Can. This innovative gas can has patented spill-proof technology so you won’t tip or spill.
Some concrete products are seasonal, some you’ll need year-round. Find out what’s new in store at Intermountain Concrete Specialties.
1. Efflock by NewLook International
This is the time of year when efflorescence—that white powdery substance caused by vapor migrating to the surface of a slab—begins to appear on concrete. Think of it as dandruff on your concrete (nobody wants that!). Efflock is a fast-acting, water-based concrete and masonry cleaner that removes chemical impurities at a nano-molecular level, so you can get rid of the problem for good.
2. Jackson Wheelbarrows
The professional’s choice for superior quality and performance, the latest Jackson Wheelbarrow at ICS features steel handles, a flat-free tire, and a 6-cubic-foot steel drum that can carry huge loads. This thing is made to be tough!
3. Sikaflex Self-Leveling Concrete Sealant
It’s a great time of year to seal cracks and joints in concrete sidewalks, balconies, garages, terraces, pavements and more. With SikaFlex Self-Leveling Sealant, you get a high-performance, premium-grade polyurethane sealant with accelerated curing capacity. Stop by your local Intermountain Concrete Specialties and let us show you the best way to use it!
4. Keson Industries Measuring and Marking Tools
Just in from Keson Industries! Check out the variety of long and short tape measures, chalk, chalk boxes, string lines and measuring wheels. Make your mark with the best measuring and marking tools!
6. Topcon RL-H4C All-In-One Laser
For more measuring perfection, check out this cool laser. The Topcon RL-H4C all-in-one laser combines the functionalities of three lasers in one. Horizontal, slope and long range in one tough package—where distance and accuracy meet. Get it at any ICS location.
7. Norton 4×4 Max Cut Diamond Blade (14 inches)
Dependable performance and quality assurance is what every concrete contractor asks for—and Norton’s 4×4 MaxCut Diamond Blade delivers. The 4×4 Max Cut delivers true cutting performance, longer life, and anti-crack gullets that help resist core cracking under extreme conditions. Visit our Salt Lake City location for a great promotional deal on this blade now.
8. Re-Grip Yellow
Improve the grip on hammers, shovels, hatchets, pipe wrenches, trowels and more. Re-Grip adds durability and comfort to almost any handle.
9. Husqvarna Fuel (Quart)
Husqvarna pre-mixed fuel is ready-to-use, ethanol-free, 95 octane premium blend designed for optimal engine performance. 50:1 fuel to oil ratio stays fresh. Get it at ICS Salt Lake.
10. Briggs & Stratton 6-Gallon Air Compressor
Available at our Salt Lake City location, this Briggs & Stratton 6-gallon air compressor brings power to portability. Equipped with tough wheels to move across rugged job sites, an oil-free pump for less maintenance, and a removable handle for easy storage.