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How to Choose Indoor Concrete Sealer

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

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

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

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

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

Acrylics

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

Polyurethanes

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

Epoxies

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

Intermountain Concrete Specialties

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

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How to Stain Concrete

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

stained concrete patio

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

Things You Will Need:

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

Select the Best Color for You:

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

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

Correct Prepping of the Concrete:

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

Preparing to stain concrete

Apply the Stain:

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

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

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

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

 

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Spring Cleaning and Home Maintenance Checklist

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

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

concrete patio sealer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Four Admixtures to Improve Concrete Strength

What are Concrete Admixtures?

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

Outside Concrete in Winter

Types of Admixtures

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

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

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

Anti-Hydro®

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

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

Air-Entrainment

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

Water Reducers

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

Accelerators

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Control Joints

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

Concrete control joint

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

Expansion Joints   

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

Concrete expansion joint

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

Conclusion

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

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

 

 

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How Long Does Stamped Concrete Last?

Stamped concrete is an easy and quick way to create beautiful, multi-dimensional walkways and patios that look similar to their more expensive counterparts, such as bricks, stones or pavers. But how long can you expect a stamped concrete surface to last?

The short answer? Provided it’s installed correctly and adequately maintained, stamped concrete will last just as long as non-stamped, or standard, concrete—about 25 years. That’s because the processes of installing stamped concrete and standard concrete are mostly the same.

The only additional step required for stamped concrete is . . . stamping the concrete. This is done when the concrete is slightly dried but malleable enough to create a texture on the surface with a preformed stamp. Coloring is commonly added to give the surface the desired appearance. From antiqued to modernized, there’s a concrete stain or dye out there for every application.

Lastly, a sealer should be applied to keep the elements at bay. As an aside, some will argue that stamped concrete actually lasts longer than standard concrete due to the use of a sealer. However, standard concrete can also benefit from the use of a sealer, so . . . let’s just call it a wash.

Now, we need to remind you that only three things are certain in life: death, taxes and, at some point, cracks in concrete. And stamped concrete is no exception.

The fact is that stamped concrete hasn’t always been as durable as standard concrete. When it first came on the scene, it was common to hear frustrated homeowners complain about cracks in their relatively new stamped concrete. Back then it was difficult to ensure uniform depth throughout the stamping process. The unevenness of those early stamped concrete surfaces resulted in a decreased lifespan. Fear not, modern concrete stamps have resolved this problem.

Even with this durability, stamped concrete isn’t meant to be used for any substantial weight-bearing surfaces, like an RV pad or driveway. Instead, it should be used as an inexpensive and easy way to enhance the aesthetics of landscapes and improve curb appeal.

Do you have a patio to pour? Great, look to stamped concrete. Have a walkway needed? Stamped concrete for the win! Do you need some garden curbing? Stamped concrete can really jazz those up. Just install it correctly (or hire a professional), avoid substantial on-surface weight, keep it properly maintained and you’ll have a beautiful, functional, finished product that will last longer than you thought possible.

Intermountain Concrete Specialties has all the products, expertise and equipment you need to tackle any DIY concrete undertaking. We even rent concrete stamps—because we know you probably don’t stamp concrete every day! Visit us at any of our seven locations from St. George to Idaho Falls and talk to one of our knowledgeable concrete experts for help with your next project.

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Which Ice-Melt is Best for Your Concrete?

shoveling snow off concrete

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: This is widely considered a very effective agent or product to melt ice. It has the lowest temperature ranking (-25° F) which makes it preferable to use in severely cold conditions. This hygroscopic agent uses an exothermic process to create heat and liquify solid ice. One word of caution: calcium chloride can be corrosive to non-protected metals and greenery such as plants and lawns. Being mindful of the application precautions for this product is recommended.

 

  • Magnesium Chloride: This agent also works well to melt ice, and its hygroscopic process is very similar to calcium chloride. However, due to its makeup of over 53% water, it is more dilute than other options. This means that more is needed to produce the same results as calcium chloride. Its lowest effective temperature rating is 0° F. While magnesium chloride is generally available in the United States, peak seasons demand import from various European and middle-eastern countries. This can cause prices to rise during the winter months. It has similar corrosive risks to calcium chloride and potassium chloride.

 

 

  • Potassium Chloride: Due to its much higher temperature rating (+25° F), this product is not considered an optimal choice for ice melting. It also melts slower, yielding less melt volume overall. Like the other chlorides, it does pose moderate corrosion risks to metals and may have a negative effect on plants, trees and grass.

 

  • Calcium Magnesium Acetate (CMA): Much like the potassium chloride, this agent has a higher temperature rating (+20° F) and a lower ice penetration measurement. This makes it a less than optimal choice when it comes to melting ice. However, it does have a higher environmental rating due to its organic content, but its toxicity levels can still pose a risk to aquatic life by elevating the demand for biological oxygen.

 

The Outcome

 

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.

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How to Fix a Crumbling Concrete Driveway
December 23, 2018 | Concrete project tips, Tips and Advice

crumbling concrete driveway

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.

concrete trowel

The Process

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.

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Residential and Commercial Concrete Trends That Are Changing the Way We Do Everything
August 30, 2018 | Concrete Expertise, Tips and Advice

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.

trendy concrete curb design

RESIDENTIAL

Decorative Concrete

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.

 

Interior Design

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 concrete trends 

INDUSTRIAL

Tilt-up

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.

 

Load-bearing walls

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.

 

Reinforcement

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.

concrete reinforcement

 

NEW TECHNOLOGIES

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.

 

Reactive powder

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.

 

Translucent concrete

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.

translucent concrete

Photo from cement.org

 

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.

 

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All About Concrete Sealer: Choosing, Applying, Maintaining

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 the right concrete sealer

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.

WR meadows concrete sealer demo

Application

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.

ICS concrete sealer for outdoor patio

Maintenance

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.

 

 

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