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 patio 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 patio 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 .
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 patio 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.
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.
How to Hire a Local Concrete Cutting Company
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.)
How to Hire a Local Concrete Cutting Company
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.