Tuesday, December 31, 2013

What is efflorescence? A practical primer.

Ever seen white chalky residue on a brick wall? It can look like a salty deposit or a white'ish stain running down a vertical surface, a step or a wall..... 

This is certainly unattractive and undesirable, but is a common side-effect or phenomenon of masonry products. It can happen with concrete, bricks, cinder blocks, mortar, grout, etc...

It looks ugly, but is fairly easy to clean .. not to say it won't come back, but is fairly easy to clean.

Here are links to a few good articles on efflorescence including what it is and how to treat it. Enjoy.

Monday, December 23, 2013

When does concrete crack?

Here is a great article that represents a very realistic look at the concrete cracking phenomenon. Click the link below to read the article.

                  When does concrete crack?

If you are considering purchasing a concrete product, be it a walkway, porch, patio, driveway or other you should be realistic in your expectations regarding cracking.

At this point in the evolution of concrete, with 100s of years of history, experimentation, and modifications to the production and installation of concrete, the notion of cracking is very much understood and for all practical purposes, very much under control.

Our best advise is:
   Understand what to expect.
   Understand the installation techniques.
   Understand the difference between cracks you can see and cracks you can't see.
   Understand the "odds" of getting various types of cracks
   Understand the warranty with your contractor
   Understand what can be done if you were to get a crack.

Don't  *not"  get concrete because you are worried about cracks.
Enjoy it for what it is, but be realistic and have the right expectations before the project.

Ask you contractor for a detailed explanation on their approach and philosophy on cracking.

Salzano Custom Concrete
www.salzanoconcrete.com
703-929-9299


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Imperfections in Stamped Concrete

Common comments that we see online, hear from callers, or get asked in person:

   - Why do I hear people talking about imperfections in stamped concrete?
   - Why do many stamped concrete customers complain that stamped concrete is not perfect?
   - Why can't stamped concrete be perfect like anything else I buy?
   - You use molds to create the surface, why wouldn't the final product be as perfect as those molds?
   - Why is there discoloration sometimes?
   - Why is the color not exactly like what I see on the color chart?

These are great questions and a good topic for discussion.

                                                                             No visible imperfections in this stamped concrete

Most important to us that is that our new customers understand what to expect from a stamped concrete project. Some of the items and concerns listed above are actually true. The most important thing to remember if you are considering a stamped concrete patio (or other area) project is that stamped concrete is not built in a factory, but instead is hand crafted onsite.

What does that mean?  Sounds like an excuse for poor quality!!!!!

Not really. Stamped concrete is a great product, but like all other surface types, has its limitations and things you need to understand. It is in fact hand-crafted right on your property. Concrete starts out as a liquid product and is molded and crafted into the stamped concrete stone-like surface that you've seen.

There are imperfections to expect in the texture and the final coloring of stamped concrete. Some of these details are controlled by the installer, and some are not. Be sure and read the "fine print" in the contract of the installer you select to understand how their warranty works and which details are covered and which are not.

Regardless of whether these are excluded in our contract specifically or not, you certainly have our word that when the project is done, if there is anything you don't like, if it's something that can be fixed with a reasonable touch-up, we will always do that for our customers. We will advise on what touch-ups might be recommended and we also ask that you trust our judgement on whether a touch-up would work or not. Sometimes a touch-up might make the area worse, and we would recommend against it. We will always have this discuss with our customers and we ask that you trust our judgement.

As for specific imperfections, or things a customer might not like, final color tone is one that is typically not covered by warranty. Much like a painter, the stamped concrete installer will use the color that you have selected. The final color tone achieved can be somewhat out of their control. There is more tolerance for final colors in colored concrete than other products you might be used to buying. If you select, say "Sun Gray" for your stamped concrete, which is a medium neutral gray tone, the final gray tone can be a shade lighter or a shade darker and the installer may have done nothing wrong, its just the nature of how coloring concrete works. This is a great example of something you should be aware of before you jump into a stamped concrete project. If you are set on a particular color tone and want a 100% guarantee that the color will be "spot on" with the color chart ... stamped concrete might not be for you. Colors certainly do vary a shade or 2 from job to job with the same color used.

Another variation of color issues is that the color can vary between poured sections, truckloads of concrete, pour days, etc....  So if your stamped concrete project is going to be poured across different days or requires multiple truckloads of concrete, the color can vary between these section. You need to be aware of this and is something to discuss with your contractor.

In addition to color variations, other common imperfections that can occur:
   - Birdbaths
   - Stamp impression depth
   - Release color unevenness
   - Imperfect detail of texture near problem areas such as around deck posts,
            in crevices near steps, corners. etc...

Feel free to call anytime to discuss this or any other topic.
Salzano Custom Concret
www.salzanoconcrete.com
703-929-9299