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 foundation companies 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 foundation companies 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 .
BEWARE OF CONCRETE CONTRACTOR SCAMS
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 foundation companies 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.
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
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.
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
- Grout (professional and waterproof grade)
- PVA/latex liquid
What tools do I need to do my own Natural Stone Floor?
- Rubber grout float
- 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.
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.
Will Using Green Cement End Global Warming?
How to make Forms for Concrete Slabs is...
Step by step instructions Written for the do it yourselfer who wants to pour their own concrete slab... Maybe you want to pour a slab for a Patio,Jecuzzi or shed? This article will tell you how to make the forms needed.
For information on Screeding and Concrete work, see my other articles:
See also this excellent article from the Quickcrete Company on how to use premade paving forms and adding colors to the concrete for a look that never wears or washes away...
Understanding the work...
1. Understand the concept of a form and you will be in a better position to make what you need.
The form not only acts as a box to hold the concrete while it is setting up, But it also serves as a Level for the top of the concrete and a guide for when you screed the top.
2. Part of the forming process is the dirt work that is done before you make the actual Box of the Form. You will want a level area to work with. You will also want this area deep enough that the top of your concrete will be at the level you prefer. This is especially important if you are pouring a slab next to an existing structure.
Use you tape measure and determine how much digging you need to do.
Drive a few stakes in and run some string lines across the area tight and level.
You can buy string line levels at the local Home Improvement Center.
As you dig and level the area, measure from the strings down to the ground until you have the desired depth evenly across the entire slab.
If you need the slab to have a slope or grade to it, so that water runs off properly then position your string lines with this drop in mind and set your forms up to make this slope.
For a 4" slab, you can use 2x4's as your forms... If you want a 6" thick slab.. you can use 2x6's etc.
Lay the Form lumber in place where you want the form to be. Measure the distances from any existing structure to insure that your position is correct. Cut your Form boards to the proper length and overlap the ends. Use Wood screws (Star drive deck screws are preferred) to attach the Form Boards one to another and make the Box. Be sure that your top edge is even and without any nails or things that would obstruct the Screeding process. You will drive stakes next to the box to hold it where you want it. Be sure to drive the stakes deep enough to hold the form securely in place. The stakes will also prevent the sides of the box from bowing out with the pressure of the concrete. Be liberal with your stakes. Better to have too many than not enough. There is nothing quite like the feeling of watching your form fall apart when you need it to hold together.... Lost time, effort and concrete means lots of clean up and financial loss. Make sure the form is strongly built and well staked.
4. You will probably notice about this point that your lumber is not exactly the right width... ( a 2x4 is actually only 3 ½ inches wide) This is ok don't sweat the small stuff.
You are only worried about the position of the Top of the Form... not the bottom. (See Step 5 :you can always fill a hole at the base of the form with packed dirt.)
When you have your boards in place and have formed the box, Position some stakes next to the boards (on the Outside) and drive them in deep.
Use long stakes, drive them deep just leave enough sticking up out of the ground to attach your form Boards to.
Now measure and make sure that the top of the form is at your height required... If not... raise it up or lower it down until it is the right height. then Screw it into place.
Star Drive deck screws make this a much easier task.. you can back them up, move the lumber and make corrections easily this way... Much easier than with Nails.
If there is a little gap at the bottom of the form... No problem its normal at this point.
Now attach the form boards to the stakes with wood screws. (Again: I prefer star drive deck screws for this as you can remove and reuse them more easily)
Use your level frequently and get the top level correct. If it needs to be sloped.. do that with the forms at this time. make all corrections at this stage of the game... once you start mixing and pouring concrete its too late for last minute changes.
After you have the form in place where you want it and Have well secured it to the stakes...
You can go around the form with a saws-all or circle saw and cut off the tops of the stakes flush with the top of the form. (use a Cordless)
Again: There should be nothing that protrudes above the top edge of the form. If there are any nails, screws or stake tops, or any other thing in the way...Get Rid of them.
5. Remember those little Gaps at the bottom? Underneath the form? Now you can go around the edge of the form and add some dirt to any gaps you see under the bottom of the form.
Do this by digging from the inside of the form edge and adding it to the OUTSIDE of the form.... Remember that the edges of the slab needs to be thicker and not thinner than the desired slab depth. It is better for you to dig a sort of "Footing" around the edge on the inside than to have places were the concrete is not as thick as it should be...
6. If the area to be poured is larger than 8 or 10 feet wide you may also want to divide it and pour it in drifts. This will help when you are trying to screed the concrete and also when you float it. To do this just stake down another form board through the middle and do the pouring in a couple of sections... when one section is dry enough you can remove the partition board and then screed from the cement to the other side of the form.
7. Before pouring the concrete you may want to coat the inside face of the forms with diesel fuel or Kerosene so that you can more easily remove the forms when you are ready after the job is finished.
If you want a Rough texture for walkways etc: Wait until the top of the concrete is starting to get thick and then take a broom and lightly rake the broom ever the top evenly and carefully.
Test the cement in a non-visible area first: If your brooming looks too rough wait awhile longer before brooming the area... it is a little better to have the appearance smooth and "Lightly Broomed" than get hasty and have it too Rough.
Things you will need:
Wood for forms
Screws (I prefer Star Drive deck screws... they are much stronger and easier to use)
Stakes of wood (2x4's for extra strength and you can split some of them to make 2x2's for reinforcing trouble spots.)