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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 small concrete contractors 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 small concrete contractors 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 small concrete contractors 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.

What Does a Concrete Contractor Do?

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Concrete Sealer

When buying a concrete sealer, it is always a good idea to do your research. However, the savvy consumer will immediately be struck by the sheer magnitude of information available online about concrete sealers. Some will advocate for sodium silicates, some will reference VOC contents, and still others will debate the efficacy of solvent- or water-based sealers for various projects.

The important thing to realize, as someone looking to seal their concrete, is that the type of sealer used will vary greatly given each particular project. Some projects, such as a basement, will require a penetrating sealer, like a sodium silicate. Others, like a driveway in the Northeast, will be better off with a lithium silicate. Still others, like pool decks in Arizona, will find an acrylic sealer most effective. The proper application will vary given the different project parameters.

At its most basic level, concrete sealers will either penetrate the material, or they will remain on the surface. Surface sealers, like acrylics and epoxies, are solutions that are made up of large particles of sealing material. These large particles will not fit through the tiny pores decorating the surface of concrete. Instead, they will remain on the surface, acting like a raincoat for the concrete to help resist water. Of course, like a raincoat they will not keep water out indefinitely; they are simply water resistant, not waterproof. In fact, there is no way for a company to guarantee its product to be fully waterproof, although many companies claim this about their products.

Penetrating sealers, on the other hand, are solutions whose particles of sealant are so small that they actually are propelled past the surface of the concrete, sinking into the material where the protection begins. Penetrating sealers are not at all like a raincoat. There is, instead, a chemical reaction between the particles (typically of silicate, siliconate, or a blend of the two) and the free lime and calcium already present within the concrete. This reaction leads to the production of CSH, or calcium silicate hydrate, which serves to repair cracks and fractures within the concrete, as well as filling in the tiny pores flecked throughout the material. The process makes the concrete stronger and more durable, helping prevent the passage of water and vapors through the concrete, all while allowing the concrete to breathe, which is crucial to its strength.

While acrylic sealers are better for decorative concrete, such as pool decks, patios, and driveways made up of concrete pavers, penetrating sealers are better for basements, garages, and driveways made of more traditional, tougher concrete. One of the biggest decisions you’ll have to make regarding any type of concrete sealer, whether acrylic or sodium silicate, surface or penetrating, is whether to use water- or solvent-based versions of each respective product.

Water-based products, whether surface or penetrating, are safer for the environment. Their volatile organic compound (VOC) contents are either zero or very low, making their environmental impact significantly less than that of their solvent peers. Water-based sealers are also a lot safer to apply. They are typically recommended for indoor projects, such as basements, because they do not emit as many (if any) dangerous fumes, and they do not tend to be at as high a risk of flammability as solvent-based products.

In contrast, solvent-based products tend to be more expensive. They are more harmful to the environment, yes, but they also tend to be more cost-effective, as they are often much stronger than their water-based counterparts. As technology continues to improve until we will live in a society of robots, flying cars, cities on Mars, and virtual immortality (thanks, Ray Kurzweil), water-based sealers are gradually becoming stronger and more competitive with solvents. Similarly, more and more states like California, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania are enacting environmental restrictions that prohibit the use of solvent-based sealers. At the present time, however, solvent-based sealers are still a viable concrete sealing option, as they last long and deliver a deeper, richer, glossier color to the concrete to which they are applied.

For a more in-depth look at which concrete sealers to choose, Concrete Sealer Reviews has one of the best articles describing the various concrete sealing options to the layperson – that’s the article you should read if you’re that aforementioned savvy consumer faced with too much information about concrete sealers. And, of course, GHOSTSHIELD product line (manufactured by KRETETEK) is one of the strongest available on the market today. It has a couple solvent-based options (and most of the solvent-based options are actually legal in those strict states), a lot of water-based offerings, and a wide variety of choices for penetrating and surface sealers, from sodium silicates, lithium silicates, silane/siloxanes, acrylics, epoxies, and polyaspartics, all of which are discussed in that article linked above.

What Does a Concrete Contractor Do?

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The most frequent phone call I receive out of the phone book usually goes something like this, "Hi, I have a back patio that I wanted to stain and I went up to __________(fill in the blank with one of your local chain home improvement stores) to pick up some "concrete stain" and now it's flaking off. Is there something I can do to stop the flaking?"

Some customers have even gone to the extent of contacting the company to complain about the product and most of the companies will send a "stripper" and more product to re apply. I am not here to trash those companies, but to explain the very important difference between an ACID stain and a concrete stain. An acid Stain is a chemical reaction. Any other generic stain (that I've seen) from your home improvement chains are coatings.

So, I'll usually take a drive out to the home of the disgruntled caller. I'll measure up the patio and give a quote on how much it will cost to grind the coating completely off and acid stain the new canvas. That's usually the last time I talk to them, because what started as a project that would have cost no more than a few hundred dollars and a weekend, turns into a labor intensive, relatively costly, fix. However; the result from staining a freshly ground surface, is beautiful. The aggregate in the concrete becomes slightly exposed, leaving a terrazzo like finish.

STAIN DID NOT REACT. Since Acid Staining is a chemical reaction, anything in the pores of the concrete or on the surface will either block the stain from reacting completely, or change the reaction. Often people pull up there carpet, do a little floor sanding, and stain. This is fine if you like the result, but some people hate it. Paint,carpet glue, chemical spills, and other things on the concrete, never completely go away unless you grind them down...or you can overlay, and that is another article at another time. I would give the same advice for finding an overlay as I would an acid stain. Stay away from generic resurface products.

If the stain did not take at all anywhere, there is probably a cure and seal product on the concrete. You'll have to strip it or grind it or overlay... If it is an outside slab, chances are it has just been suspect to the elements for too long. Often the pores are clogged with dirt and the cream has worn off the top leaving small aggregate and sand exposed. Sand will not stain. The result achieved through staining a slab in this condition would be the same result as if you hosed it down. Same advice here, grind down or, if it's not cracked and shifting, find a good over-lay. Then start over.

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