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How to Find a Good Patio Contractor

Have you decided you want a flagstone, limestone or concrete patio for your FLORIDA home. Wondering how to get it done and who you should use? Well, I’m going to tell you how. I’m going to give you a step by step process stating the 3 red flags that signal a bad or uneducated [tag] contractor. These 3 things will ensure you get it done the right way, by the right concrete contractors delaware contractor in FLORIDA .

Steps To Finding The Right Concrete Contractor in FLORIDA

First step, first things first. Every Stone Installation Needs A Concrete Footing which might also be called a concrete foundation . This is not opinion but fact. If you want it done right and want it to withstand the test of time, this is the way it’s done, no exceptions. A red flag should go up when any contractor is offering bypassing a concrete foundation as a cost saving option. Unfortunately 85% of the concrete contractors delaware contractors out there will tell you they can lay the stone right on top of compacted granite or base material. This type of contractor is exactly who you want to avoid. While what they are recommending to you gives the appearance of a patio, it won’t withstand the climate, erosion and soil movement beneath the patio in FLORIDA .


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You might get a few crackless years at best, until it begins to fall apart. This method is the most recommended scam or shortcut of trying to lower pricing and still get the job. Notice the price came down because the concrete footing was removed from the job cost. This option of ” no concrete necessary” is most often offered to those with strict financial limitations. The contractors offering this solution don’t care about your patio or home, they just want your money.With no concrete foundation you get a type of patio, but it’s really just a veneer laid on the ground.

How much concrete do i need?

A concrete patio or sidewalk slab or footing should be a minimum of 4 inches thick. This is sometimes reduced to around 3 1/2 inches due to preexisting structural limitations for concrete contractors delaware in FLORIDA . If you encounter space limitations, you really do need a good masonry contractor to resolve the issues with other options. this leads us to our next step.

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The 2nd step is hire a knowledgeable masonry contractor in FLORIDA . Do a little research before you start getting pricing. Most good masonry contractors will be able to talk concrete chemistry and technology with you. Yes, I said technology. In the last 10 years there have been some really cool advances in concrete additives and mixes. These advances have provided solutions for the problems and limitations of old. A true patio or masonry professional will be able to talk shop with you, it’s his livelihood. A contractor who can’t do this or doesn’t seem comfortable is more than likely a novice at best. This should be the other red flag that goes up. Basically, Concrete slabs and mortar are like a cake mix. Correctly mixing the ingredients and correctly letting the slab or masonry product cure, are the factors that determine a good solid installation. Again, Talk with your contractor and Make sure he’s knowledgeable about the chemistry, additives and curing process of concrete & masonry. If he is this will ensure the likelihood of a great patio. 3rd step and last but definitely not least, Check references, check reviews and ask to see work they’ve done. Really check this stuff out and try to look at at least 1 job they have done. Ask point blank if the previous client is related to the contractor. Any resistance or confusion in this process would be red flag number

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3.So, in order from 1 to 3. All masonry installations need a concrete footing. Make sure your patio contractor is knowledgeable about masonry chemistry, additives and enhancing solutions. Check references, reviews and stay away from the dirt cheap deals of a lifetime from any concrete contractor in FLORIDA .If you get even 1 red flag, get another contractor. There are enough guys out there that do know what they’re doing.

Concrete: Its Types and Uses

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Lay Your Own Natural Stone Flooring - For Almost Nothing!!

Finding the perfect flooring to enhance the natural features of a rustic home, or outdoor space, is not always an easy task and by no means is it cheap. Forget buying expensive floor tiles, laminate, carpet or wood. Try using natural river or beach stones for your floor.

Laying a natural stone floor is easier than you may think, and the results are truly impressive. But most important of all, you have created yourself a low-cost, practical, natural floor.

What do I need to lay my own Natural Stone Floor?

  • River Pebbles
  • Sand
  • Cement
  • Grout (professional and waterproof grade)
  • PVA/latex liquid

What tools do I need to do my own Natural Stone Floor?

  • Rubber grout float
  • Sponge
  • Stone liquid sealer
  • A level
  • 3 x 3' straight-edges
  • Bolts, screws, wall plugs
  • Cement mixer or equipment to hand mix the mortar mix


(1) Collect your river stones or beach pebbles.

It's best to collect more than you need in case some are unsuitable when you come to use them. You can always use the surplus for other projects in the future.

How many stones do I need?

Measure out a square meter with a tape on the beach where you are collecting the stones and arrange some collected stones within this square. I like the stones to be touching but the spacing and resulting grout width is up to you. Bear in mind that the finished grout lines will vary in thickness due to the random shape of the stones. The number of stones in this square meter will give you a rough idea of how many stones you are going to need. Multiply this amount by the number of square meters of your floor and then add some extras just to be on the safe side.

Which are the best stones to pick?

When choosing stones it´s best to look for ones with a flat face. This may not be possible depending on the type of stone and where you´re collecting it from, but it makes the job easier and the result more pleasing to the eye.

(2) The Base

Make sure that you have a good, sound base upon which to lay the stone floor.  Ideally, you will be laying the pebble floor on top of a flat concrete base that has had sufficient time to cure to take the additional weight of the stone floor finish.

Prep the base. I usually use a watered down PVA/latex solution to prime or prepare the concrete so that the new floor will bond to it better. Check the manufacturer´s label for the solution concentration as this varies depending on the product. Paint it on with a brush or roller.

(3) Set up level datums

There are different ways of doing this. An easy, adjustable way is to drill holes into the concrete floor, put in a plastic wall plug and fix a screw in to the level that you want the finished floor to be, minus the thickness of the straight-edge. Drill a square matrix of holes 2' 10'' apart from each other over the area of your floor. Repeat the plug and screw fixing procedure, making sure the top of the screws are all level with each other. Be fussy as it makes the next steps easier.

Alternatively, you could lay a border of rustic tyles/bricks to finished floor level to act as your datum, then fill in the remaining space in-between with the river stones. It´s your floor so it´s up to you how you proceed!

(4) Wash the river stones to remove dirt and dust.

(5) Lay the mortar bed and set the level datums

Mix the sand and cement in a 4:1 ratio with water to the consistency of a stiffish porridge, but not too wet. You want the stones to move a little in the mortar but not excessively as they will sink in too much. You will see what consistency works best for you when you have tried steps (6) – (9).

(6) Bucket mortar onto the concrete slab to cover one of your 2' 10" 'squares', with a screw in each corner. Be careful not to cover the screw heads. You may need to add or take away mortar depending on the thickness of the stones.

(7) Place one straight-edge on top of two screws/bolts and then the other straight-edge on top of the two other screws/bolts so that the straight-edges are parallel to each other. The top of the straight-edges will be your finished floor level.

(8) Laying the stones

Place stones in the mortar, flat-face up, so that they are slightly above the finished floor level. Continue placing stones until the square is full. As I mentioned above, the spacing is up to you. I place the stones so that they are touching and this still gives a fairly wide grout line in places. Due to the random shape of the stones the grout line will vary, unless you manage to collect very uniform stones.

(9) Hold the level or third straight edge with a hand at each end. With a tapping motion, use the straight-edge to bring the stones to the level of the two parallel straight-edges. The bottom of the straight-edge in your hands should be touching the surface of the two parallel straight-edges and the surfaces of all the stones.

(10) Clean off the stones

Use a soft brush and water to carefully clean any of the stones that get dirty or they will be stained. Make sure that the level of the mortar is low enough so that you can add the grout to the correct thickness. Check the grout manufacturer's guidelines for the required thickness. Remove any excess mortar carefully so you do not disturb the stones or the level.

(11) Repeat steps (6) – (10) for the rest of the floor. Leave floor to rest for a few days.

(12) Seal the stones according to manufacturer’s guideline, after checking that they are clean and dust free. This is to prevent them staining when applying the grout.

(13) Grouting

Mix the grout according to manufacturer’s guidelines. Use a rubber grout trowel to apply grout into the joints between the stones. Clean off the residual grout with a sponge and leave it to cure for a couple of days.

If you prefer to save money at this stage, rather than using the waterproof pre-mixed grout, it is possible to use a standard 4:1 sand and cement mix for outdoor or general flooring.

(14) Clean off any residual dust. Re-seal the entire floor with liquid stone seal. Your beautiful natural stone floor is complete. Sit back and enjoy.

When you have mastered this technique you can try being more creative using patterns and combinations of other floor materials to create a more varied floor finish.

Concrete Products

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What can be done to combat climate change?

Most scientists believe that the earth’s climate is warming, because automobiles and various smokestack industries are pumping more carbon into the atmosphere than the planet’s ecosystem can absorb, potentially leading to the calamities of climate change about which folks have been hearing for many years. Most of the change appears to be in the Arctic and Antarctic, where ice is melting at an alarming rate. For those who don’t believe the earth’s climate is warming, look there!

Fortunately many people, countries and companies throughout the world are trying to reduce carbon emissions. One major way to accomplish this task is to produce “green” cement. Please read further and find out how using green cement could greatly reduce humankind’s “carbon footprint” and perhaps help save the planet in the process.

What Is Cement?

The Romans invented concrete and built their marvelous empire with it, using a mixture of lime, volcanic ash and chunks of stone to construct immense buildings such as the Pantheon and Colosseum. These days, the primary ingredient in concrete is cement, commonly known as Portland cement, which is produced by burning limestone, mostly calcium carbonate and loaded with CO2, to which clay is added, and then water, sand and aggregate to produce concrete, which is inexpensive, pourable and dries as hard as a rock. Concrete is essentially artificial stone.

According to the article “Green Cement” in the December 2011 issue of Smithsonian magazine, in 2010 the world produced about 3.6 billion tons of cement, and that amount could increase by a billion tons before 2050. Interestingly, the only substance the world uses more than concrete, in total volume, is water!

Why Is Cement Dirty?

As useful and cheap as cement is, it has environmental drawbacks. Fossil fuels are used to burn the limestone at 2,600 degrees Fahrenheit, and this process releases large amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere. Cement production accounts for five percent of the world’s human-produced carbon dioxide emissions; only automobiles and smokestack industries used to make electricity and steel release more greenhouse gases in the United States and China, the world’s largest producers of cement.

Per an article entitled “Cement from CO2: A Concrete Cure for Global Warming?” in the August 2008 issue of Scientific American, making a ton of cement results in the emission of roughly one ton of CO2.

What is Green Cement?

The Smithsonian story mentioned above stated that since 2004 companies throughout the world have been trying to make Portland cement more environmentally friendly. Producers have added steel byproducts, such as slag; coal residues, such as fly ash and other materials to try to bulk up concrete, thereby requiring less Portland cement in the mixture. They’ve also used mineral additives, trying to reduce the temperature needed to prepare the materials, thus reducing the CO2 spewed when heating the limestone. Unfortunately, compounding the problem, nobody understands exactly how Portland cement works!

A potential breakthrough came when researchers at a company named Novacem, located in the United Kingdom, began using magnesium oxide instead of limestone to produce the primary ingredient in cement. Magnesium oxide can be prepared for cement by heating it to 1,300 degrees Fahrenheit, half of what is required for limestone. But something else had to be added to the magnesium oxide to make the cement harden, so magnesium silicates have been put in. These carbon-free compounds are made from talc, serpentine, olivine and other minerals, all of which are quite plentiful and found throughout the world. Otherwise, Novacem’s process is kept a secret.

Of some importance, Novacem’s cement is pure white, rather than gray like Portland cement. White cement can be colored, enhancing its possibilities, particularly when used to make houses and office buildings.

Available on the Internet, the company overview for Novacem claims that for every ton of Portland cement replaced by Novacem’s, emissions will be reduced by 850 kilograms. But the jury is still out on whether Novacem’s cement will be as strong as Portland cement. If it isn’t, few construction companies will use it.

Recycling CO2 to Make Green Cement

Calera, a company in California, has an innovative procedure, perhaps the dream of recyclers. It uses CO2 emitted from a power plant and mixes it with seawater to create carbonates used to make cement. These carbonates can be added to Portland cement to replace some or all of the limestone. Using similar technology, the Chinese plan to build a cement plant next to a coal mine in Inner Mongolia, where they hope to use the carbon emissions to produce cement.

More Ideas

Researchers at Louisiana Tech University are doing away with limestone entirely, using instead a paste called geopolymer, which is made of fly ash, sodium hydroxide and potassium hydroxide.

Calix, an Australian company, makes cement by using superheated steam, which modifies the cement particles and make them purer and more chemically reactive. The process also makes it easier to separate the carbon dioxide and keep it from escaping into the atmosphere.


The stakes are high to produce green cement, for cement production is a $170 billion-dollar per year industry. Make it, and many construction companies will come. Naturally the stakes are also very high for the planet to significantly reduce its output of greenhouse gases. It appears the technology is emerging. It will simply take time to find the best “green” cement.

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