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 top 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 top 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 top 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 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.)
Changing Our Thinking on Driveways
As developed societies become more affluent and the ability to generate new products evolves, being good stewards of the world we live in is essential. We have the resources to do an excellent job of taking care of the earth we live on and driveway alternatives are a place where every home owner can improve their stewardship.
The quote about how small changes can make a big difference is true where driveways are concerned. Initially, changes may need to be uncomplicated ones such as repairing or replacing a driveway apron but if a new home is being considered taking time to explore driveway options can provide some beneficial surprises.
A remodel is also a great opportunity to incorporate one of the newly developed options. Expanding outdoor living spaces, turning them into multi-use areas, recreating places that both children and grownups enjoy can all include the need to remake a driveway.
Driveways Past and Present
For the most part, from the very beginning of their production concrete driveways have been just plain ugly. If they were beautiful, individuals and companies would not have such good success with inventing ways to alter the look of the raw slabs.
From paint to stamps to stains to edgings to planters and more, attempts to make concrete driveways more appealing are a grand effort. Costs for those applications vary greatly depending on how much DIY homeowners are willing to put into the project or if they decide to pay for labor to have it done professionally.
When it’s time to replace failed concrete or when a new home is being built, though, other choices are available. There are now products that change not only the face but also the usefulness of the places we drive on to get from roads to our carports and garages.
Those areas should be as attractive and as earth friendly as possible. Happily, the following ideas are not just doable, they are affordable (some remarkably so), whether applied to new construction or to a remodel.
My husband and I have looked at the options for a remodel that includes replacing a 50 year old asphalt and concrete driveway. It is a long bunch of surfacing that we do not want replaced entirely with new concrete. We plan to incorporate new green spaces in the design.
You can imagine what it looks like with previous homeowners having tried to use the stinky, sticky black stuff to repair the hard white/greyish stuff! Pleasantly surprised at the number of products with high rain absorption rates, we think we’ve worked our way through them all and made our decision.
While a new option may be on the horizon, meaning the decision could change by the time we get to that phase, we are able to move forward now. Confident that our chosen option is going to make a huge difference in every aspect of our property's usefulness and appearance, we are ready to get the needed permit.
6 Options for Friendly Driveways
1) In Santa Monica an example of breaking up a concrete driveway into what looks like slate rock tiles shows a quick and easy fix for an existing slab that keeps water from soaking into the ground. Compared to some other options this is a fast solution. The grassy areas are obviously penetrable spaces for water to soak in rather than run off. If I chose this method I would definitely use a stain treatment to make the tiles look more like slate.
2) A split driveway, often referred to as a ribbon driveway, is not a new idea. That these runners can lead to a nice landing for foot traffic makes them very appealing, and again porous lawn areas prevent water from flowing into drainage systems. The strips, runners, or ribbons (whatever you choose to call them) can be created from a current driveway, much like the slate/tile-like example above. This option can also be incorporated into a renovation or new construction. PermaTurf is a product worth looking at before installing a split driveway. Using porous asphalt could also be a possibility for a split driveway (see number 4 below).
3) A gravel bed made of pea gravel or crushed stone, crush and run being commonly used, is a tried and true option but the old method is not without its drawbacks. Today there are functional and pretty ways to use gravel. Combining it with modern stone look pavers that are actually new methods of allowing water to percolate into the ground (see below) and prevent gravel from shifting is a must consider update. New products like EcoGrid also offer homeowners a more stable option for gravel driveways than they’ve had in the past.
4) Pervious asphalt, originally from the 70s era, is now greatly improved, with research and development continuing. As with some other permeable surfaces for driveways, communities may offer incentives in the form of grants, tax benefits, and additional help to promote the use of filtration pavements. Though current asphalt products would not be suitable for our upcoming project, the reading I’ve done causes me to look forward to what may yet be developed to make this a real contender among homeowners.
5) Permeable pavers are available from several sources. Loved because they permit water to filter down into the earth instead of making muddy messes, causing erosion, and moving various chemicals into natural water sources, this paver replacement is a great run off solution. Widely used industrially and by homeowners, the range of quality should be well researched before making a decision on which to use. Significantly lowering the impact on newly developed areas, porous pavers' popularity is rising. (Say that 5 times fast!)
6) My favorite solution so far allows grass to grow and thrive in the driveway areas. Drivable Grass is a DIY option that I have fallen so much in love with that I have cast my vote for this choice in our new project. Softening hardscape spaces by using a system that solves problems and gives me the green stuff has to be at the top of the list. Even though we are also incorporating some ribbons and permeable pavers, grass that works as a driveway is my top choice.
Other options in this category include TrueGrid’s green permeable paving solution that is tough enough for fire engine lanes and Home Depot’s concrete grass mat for savvy DIY types who want a plantable driveway. Grasscrete’s self-venting paving system bears up to 40 tonnes of gross vehicle weight and Canadians have access to Core Grass for low-impact parking. Grass paving systems are evolving and sometimes, simpler is better--don’t miss this turf protection mesh from the UK.
Though it is exciting to consider what will be available as technology develops new products, all of the great choices presented here have positive applications that homeowners can benefit from and enjoy on a long term basis. Keeping an eye on developments in the making will help you plan for the day that the concrete you now have must be replaced. That's a happy thought now that we have great alternatives!
• Check out small yard solutions and make the most of your outdoor spaces!
Caring for Your Driveway, Patio, or Walkway
Search HubPages for more information:
• Good advice on taking care of your brick paving work.
• Learn about using different kinds of pressure washers.
• See a method for an easy care faux paint walkway.
FLORIDA biggest concrete companies