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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 decorative 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 decorative 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 decorative 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.

Will Using Green Cement End Global Warming?

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Geothermal / Radient Heat

Snow and ice covered driveways and walks have been plaguing man for many winters now. we have created tools and machines to assist us in our efforts of snow removal, but they still require bundling up and facing the cold. Would it not be wonderful to watch the snow melt away as it lands on your walk, no matter what the current weather conditions? I think I have formulated a solution to achieve this kind of winter wonderland.

To get started we will be discussing to types of heating systems; geothermal and in floor radiate heat. Then we will combine them as one and use them in a different way then normal, let us begin.

Geothermal Heat pump / Ground Source Heat

A ground source heat is an alternative energy heating and cooling system that uses the natural heat of the earth to heat and cool our homes. The concept is simple, below the frost line the ground maintains a constant 65 degrees F. Water or a water antifreeze mix is circulated in pipes that are buried below the frost line or deeper, they are connected to heat exchanging unit in the home where the heat from the earth that has been transferred to the water is used to warm the home. In some cases the water may be heated by other means ( lp, natural gas, electric)once in reaches the exchanging unit. This is actually an efficient way to heat your home, due to the fact that you are only heating the water from its already warm 65 degrees.

In Floor Radiant Heat

In Floor Radiant heating is a heating system which uses heat conduction to warm the floor then the heat rises and warms the room. Most commonly these systems consists heating and circulating warm water in a closed system of pipes. Similar to our previously discussed ground source heat, water is used as the medium for heat transfer. I believe that a combination of these system has been used before for in home heat, but we are talking about warming our walks to melt snow.

Now on to the system.

Snowless Sidewalk

Now to the topic at hand, there may be a system that does warm the walks and melt the snow as it falls but what I am purposing here is a system that uses little to no additional energy. Combining these to effcient heating systems to create a warm, snow resist, shovel free walkway is easy. Frist we aquire some tubing like that used in the ground source system and that used in the radient floor system and design a system of circulation. Then using the figure below as a guide we will need to bury some of it below the frost line and lay some in the poured concrete of our walks and ways. This will need to be done at the time the walk and driveways are poured or the exsisting will need to be destoyed and replaced, unless you can figure out a way to lay the tubing under your exsisting walkways without damaging it (if you do let us know). I will guess that a 4 to 1 ratio of tubing will be sufficent to accomplish our goal. This means we will bury 4 foot of tubing for every 1 foot in the walkway. We will also need a pump to circulate the water and a few valves for maintenance access and system bleed. I suggest laying the tubing in a zig zag pattern with about 8-10inch gap between lines, see figure for illustration. Now our goal is to keep the walk way surface above freezing which is 32 degrees F, so if the water from the earth is 65 degrees then there should be no need for additional heat. With that in mind the only energy require to run our system is a small amount of electrical for the circulating pump. Any small electrical pump will work just fine. For complete efficiency I suggest a small DC pump and small solar panel kit and battery to run it, this can provide circulation at no additional cost. Now you can sip your coffee while standing in the window watching your neighbors shoveling their walks in the freezeing cold.

This hub it not very detailed or specific and the contents are purely speculative and theoretical. This design has not been proven or tested in anyway. I in no way claim to be an expert in the areas I am about to discuss. I also take no responsibility of damages or expenses cause by the implementation of these ideas. I recommend researching the two heat systems mentioned before attempting to build a system like this. I also recommend professional asssistence in any DIY project.

With all that said I am greatly interested in comments and discussion from expert individuals who have or are willing to experiment with the following idea.

Thanks for reading, I look forward to your comments.

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.

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