Grout Is More Than Just Filler: Choosing Grout That Will Complete Your Home

If you’re having concrete fixtures poured at your home, either outside (like a patio) or inside (like a concrete garage floor that will be covered with tile), you need to consider whether you’ll need grout, and if so, what type. Grout helps strengthen floors and walls that have tiles by holding the tiles more firmly in place and preventing moisture from getting to the base material under the tiles. If the concrete is out in the open and not covered by extra tile, placing grout between concrete sections also helps stop water from washing away soil under the concrete. You’ll have to consider a few things when looking for grout, though.

What Grout Color Do You Want?

This is not as easy a question to answer as it seems. First you should look at the blend/contrast/neutral question; do you want the grout to blend in or not? If you want it to blend, look for a color that matches the tile or concrete color. If you want it to contrast and provide a visible outline to each tile or section of concrete, get a contrasting color (such as black grout for white concrete). Neutral colors work for multicolored surfaces where you want the grout to not stand out that much.

Once you decide that, then look at the effect of the grout color. Black grout can be sleek and modern — or it can look like the tile has been invaded by mold. White grout can look clean, but it will show dirt easily and will need to be cleaned more often. Basically, figure out the consequences of choosing each color, and decide which ones you’re most willing to deal with long-term.

Should You Seal the Grout?

If the grout will be anywhere that moisture is an issue, such as the bathroom or out on the patio, yes, you should seal it. So you’ll have to evaluate exactly what the grout is going to encounter. For example, grout between concrete sections on the floor of a garage used as an entertainment room/home theater might not need sealant. But if the garage will be used to house cars that might be wet from rain, then you would need sealant.

What Type of Grout Is Best?

Sanded grout, which has sand mixed in, is better if you need something that isn’t going to stretch. But it’s also scratchy, and if you’re planning to use marble tiles, for example, you have to watch out that you don’t damage the marble. But sanded grout could be perfect for concrete sections on a patio, where stress from shifting soil and lots of foot traffic would require stronger grout.

Tile installers and concrete contractors from a company like Superior Grout will be able to further discuss the merits of grout with you. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to ask them.

Here’s What You’ll Need to Know about Pouring Concrete in Cold Weather

It’s not every day that you see work crews pouring concrete during the winter. The cold temperatures pose plenty of unique challenges for a successful pour, which is why it’s usually best to wait for warmer weather. However, there are times when you can’t afford to wait, as doing so could cost you both time and money.

To ensure that you get the same quality results as you’d expect in warmer weather, it’s important to not only understand these challenges but also how to overcome them. The following offers a few pointers you can use for a successful pour.

Challenges to Expect

Cold temperatures can drastically slow down the curing process. Below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, the curing process slows to a crawl, resulting in significantly longer set times. Below 40 degrees, the hydration reactions in concrete cease, preventing the concrete from gaining strength.

Another problem with pouring concrete in cold weather is that it can freeze before it has a chance to cure properly. This can result in the underlying matrix being broken up, which in turn makes the concrete much weaker than before.

Precautions to Take

Before you get started on your wintertime concrete pour, it’s a good idea to consider the following precautions:

  • Never pour concrete on frozen or snow-covered ground. The frozen ground can settle once it thaws, putting the concrete at risk of developing stress cracks. In addition, contact with the frozen ground slows down the curing process, leaving the underlying concrete weakened.
  • Request your ready mix producer to use air entrained concrete. This concrete contains numerous air pockets that allow water to safely expand as it freezes without adding stress to the concrete.
  • Consider having the ready mix producer add extra cement to the concrete mix for a hotter exothermic reaction.
  • Use concrete accelerators such as calcium chloride to speed up the hydration reaction and keep set times on schedule.  

What to Avoid

During the winter, certain additives and materials can make an otherwise successful wintertime pour into a miserable experience. Take fly ash and slag cement, for instance. Although there’s nothing wrong with using these materials during warmer weather, cold outdoor temperatures can cripple their ability to set properly, resulting in lower internal temperatures and slower setting times.

The same goes for water reducers. Helpful for preventing slump loss in warmer temperatures, these chemicals can also slow down the set time when used in cold weather. 

Talk to a concrete supplier like Island Ready-Mix Concrete for more information.

How A Budget-Minded Homeowner Can Work With A Contractor To Repair Damaged Concrete Blocks

Cracked or damaged concrete sidewalk blocks are both unsightly and hazardous. The blocks can be costly to repair as well. Homeowners with a limited household budget may not be able to immediately afford replacing several blocks. Ignoring the problem, however, is not a wise solution. The cracks and imperfections are only going to get worse since cracks are prone to expand with changes in the weather. Thankfully, a combination of do-it-yourself work and proper budgeting can remedy the situation.

The One Block A Month Fix

Repairing six concrete blocks at, say, $250 each comes out to $1,500. While fixing all the blocks at one time is the best option, those short on funds may feel they have no choice but to let things go until finances improve. Actually, fixing one block a month until all the work is completed is far better than nothing. A contractor is not likely to turn down a request for fixing one block. In fact, fixing a single block is not going to take a huge time commitment. A contractor should be able to squeeze the work into even a very crowded and busy schedule.

Of course, this does mean hazards exist with the remaining damaged blocks. This is where a partial do-it-yourself plan comes into effect.

  • Filler Repair

There are fairly inexpensive concrete filler mixes that be can be used by the homeowner to fill in gaps and cracks in concrete. These ready mix concrete fillers are fine for a decent patch job and provide a temporary solution until the concrete blocks are replaced. In some cases, it may be advisable to go over the patch job with a coating of durable concrete resurfacing cement. A contractor could add the resurfacing layer for a reasonable fee. So, the remaining blocks look decent and even until they can be replaced..

  • Epoxy Painting

Epoxy paint can be added to blocks with or without the resurfaced layer. Epoxy paint is chemically designed to stick to concrete surfaces. The paint provides two valuable benefits. For one, a coat of epoxy paint presents a single color across the cement block. The mix of the original cement, the cement filler, and new block(s) will display different colors. The epoxy coating improves the aesthetics. Epoxy sealant paint has the added benefit of keeping moisture out which, in turn, reduces the chances for more damage.

Over time, the concrete sidewalk returns to its original pristine condition thanks to the combined work of the homeowner and the contractor. To learn more, contact a company like New Interstate Concrete

5 Things You Need To Do To Your Concrete Driveway NOW To Sell Your Home

Curb appeal does not simply apply to the front of your house. Your driveway plays an important role as well and should welcome guests to your home. A worn out, pothole-riddled driveway is neither attractive, nor welcoming. Repairing a few details, however, makes your home more appealing to potential buyers and gets your home sold fast.  

1. Cracks: Every drive develops cracks with time, particularly in areas with harsh winters or intense summer heat. Clean out any weeds, leaves, or debris from the crack and, as Better Homes and Gardens suggests, use a high pressure washer to clean the area. Many home improvement super stores sell concrete repair kits to fill the crack and get your driveway looking new again. 

2. Potholes: Potholes are pretty much a sin in real estate. They are the anti-curb appeal. The reason is that when potential buyers bounce up and down in your pothole as they drive up to your home, they wonder if the rest of your home is in such a state of disrepair as your driveway is. It colors their opinion of your home before they even enter. You do not want to give them any excuses to not buy your home. Call in the professionals to get those fixed with pothole patches, and fast.

3. Pressure Wash: Concrete drives get dirty. Oil stains, tire marks, and even green algae and mold can discolor your driveway. Luckily, this is an easy fix on a Saturday afternoon. Many hardware stores sell a concrete wash that you can use in conjunction with a pressure washer to clean your concrete driveway, sidewalk, and patio and return them to their original state. 

4. Pavers: If you want to dress up your simple concrete driveway to blow away your real estate competition, you can have brick pavers installed along the edges of your driveway. These ribbons of brick can add both curb appeal and value to your home. 

5. Salt Burn: While not specifically something you need to do to your driveway, salt burn is a by-product of taking care of your driveway during the winter months. Applying rock salt to icy spots on your driveway creates a safer surface to drive and walk on in the winter, but it wrecks havoc on your grass. Unfortunately, the grass will not simply grow back. Take the time to dig up the burnt areas of your lawn that line your driveway and re-seed it.  

Answering Questions About Preventing Driveway Cracks

Caring for your driveway is a critical task for ensuring that your property’s appearance and value is maintained. Unfortunately, if you are not very informed about the needs of your driveway, this task can be made far more difficult than necessary. Fortunately, if you understand these answers to three common questions about driveway maintenance, you will be better equipped to get the most from this part of your property.

How Does Sealing Prevent Cracks From Forming?

Applying a sealant to the pavement can be one of the more effective ways of protecting it from developing cracks. This is due to the sealant’s ability to prevent water from being able to seep into the concrete or asphalt. If water is allowed to get into the interior of the pavement, it can weaken it, which may make it more susceptible to developing surface cracks. By simply applying a sealant at least every couple of years, you can help to ensure the pavement is protected against moisture caused cracks.

Is Sealing The Only Option For Stopping A Driveway From Cracking?

While applying a sealant is one of the more effective ways of preventing cracks from forming, you should also be aware that regularly cleaning the pavement can also help to protect it against this problem. This stems from the fact that oil and other substances can weaken the driveway’s surface. When this occurs, it can become brittle, which will make cracking more likely. To minimize this risk, you should make it a point to rinse off the driveway every couple of weeks. This will help to remove these substances before they can cause this form of damage.

Will Deicing Chemicals Damage The Pavement?

Preventing ice from forming on the pavement is important for ensuring that you can safely use the driveway during the winter months. However, many deicing chemicals are extremely harsh on pavement, which can damage and discolor it. To help prevent this issue, you should opt for sand instead of these chemicals. Sand will help to prevent ice from forming while also helping to provide traction in the event ice does form, but it is not harsh enough to damage the pavement.

Getting the most from your paved driveway will require you to understand some of the basic steps that you should take to avoid cracks from forming. By appreciating the need to seal and rinse the pavement as well as avoiding using harsh deicing chemicals during the winter, you can help to protect your driveway from these issues. To find out more, speak with a business like Bill Mariotti Site Development Co Inc.

Tips For Repairing A Crumbling Concrete Step In The Middle Of Your Front Porch Stairs

Concrete steps are a great and durable access method for a front porch. But concrete, like any building material, can show some wear over time. If one of your front porch steps starts to crumble, the broken stair poses a safety hazard and takes away from the curb appeal of your home. The problem is particularly noticeable when it’s a middle stair flanked by healthy-looking concrete stairs on either side.

You can fix a crumbling stair on your own if you have a steady hand and some time to kill. You can find quick-setting concrete at most hardware stores but you might find more of a selection at your local concrete supply company.

There are a few key tips that can make your step-fixing process run smoothly for the best final result.

Properly Prepare and Anchor the Step

You want to make sure the crumbled step is as clean, smooth, and secured as possible before you add new concrete on top. You can start this process by using a chisel and a hammer to undercut along the rough edges where the still-healthy stair segment gives way to the crumbling section.

Use a hammer drill to drill some holes strategically in the areas where there is crumbled concrete. You can insert concrete screws into the holes using the same hammer drill. You want the screws to be positioned in areas where the existing concrete is weak enough to require filling but not too weak to support the screws, which will act as an added form of support. Make sure the screws are in deep enough that the screws will be fully submerged under the concrete once it is poured and leveled.

Finally, use a stiff wire brush to clean off any remaining debris on the step. Once the stair is clean and the mold is in place, which is described in the next section, you can use a stiff paintbrush to apply a concrete bonding adhesive to the step. Follow the package directions on application.

Take Time Setting Up Your Mold

Create a front form for your step using a piece of wood. You want the wood to be a few inches higher than you plan to pour the concrete and long enough to rest against the entire front of the step. If your stairs have a concrete railing on either side, you can cut the wood to wedge tightly between those railings to hold it in place. If you don’t have railings, you can just skip to the next step of placing cinder blocks in front of the board to hold it firmly in place.

Pro tip: spritz an even coat of cooking spray on the side of the board that will be against the fresh concrete. The spray makes it easier to pull the board away when you’re done.

Mix the Concrete to the Right Consistency and Trowel Well

Mix the concrete quickly according to package directions. Make sure the consistency is right: it should be thick enough to go on your trowel but not so thick that the concrete doesn’t drip off when you hold the trowel vertical. Think of the consistency of overly thick cake batter.

Work in sections making sure you apply and smooth one section of concrete thoroughly before moving on to the next section. Contact a business, such as the Unit Step Company, for more information.   

Home Deconstruction: Is It Worth It?

Environmentally-conscious homeowners looking to do renovations on their house face a big problem–interior demolition creates a lot of waste. That’s why deconstruction has become so popular recently. During deconstruction, contractors salvage materials such as doors, windows, and carpets and either reuse them or donate them to charity. However, though this process seems friendlier to the environment, it can cost the homeowners much more in time and money. Here are a few things to consider when deciding whether to deconstruct instead of demolish.


It takes much longer to deconstruct a house rather than demolish it, which shouldn’t come as a surprise. For demolition, the demolition contractor will simply shut off the utilities, break it all down, and send it off to the dump. This whole process takes only a few days.

Deconstruction takes more time to not just scrap the interior for parts but also for the assessment of the building. In order to receive a tax deduction, homeowners will have to hire an appraiser to determine the worth of their recyclable materials. This can take some time to schedule depending on the area. When the contractors actually deconstruct the house, they have to take their time to ensure they don’t damage anything that could be donated. The whole process can take four or even five times longer than demolition.


Deconstruction also costs much more than demolition. First, because the process takes longer, deconstruction will cost more in labor. Homeowners may also have to find alternative living arrangements while their interior rooms are deconstructed. Altogether, it costs at least twice as much as demolition.

However, deconstruction can be worth the cost because the homeowners will receive a tax deduction. This tax deduction can be worth quite a bit depending on the value of the materials. Still, hiring appraisers and accountants to assess this value and prepare the necessary forms will cost money up front.

Environmental Impact

Deconstruction is better for the environment than demolition, but both processes produce waste. The materials salvaged from deconstruction are usually donated to a charity like Habitat for Humanity, which may reuse or sell them. If the materials don’t sell or aren’t reusable, they end up at the dump just like in demolition. There will also be waste from the deconstruction process because not every fixture can be recycled.

Even though deconstruction is greener, homeowners shouldn’t dwell on the fact that the inside of their homes will end up in a landfill. Hazardous materials from both deconstruction and demolition have to be properly disposed of by the demolition contractor.

The Best Choice

Deconstruction isn’t usually the best choice for homeowners who need to save money on their renovations. Though demolition produces more waste, it saves time and money. If you’re not sure whether deconstruction or demolition is a better choice for you, ask your demolition contractor about the costs and benefits of both.

3 Mistakes To Avoid When Installing A Concrete Surface

Working with concrete is hardly rocket science–a fact that tempts many homeowners into installing concrete surfaces all on their own. Those who go into this type of project without the relevant information often find themselves at a marked disadvantage. If you are planning to install a concrete surface, read on. This article will break down three of the most common mistakes people make.

Ordering too little concrete

Installing a concrete slab undeniably requires a high degree of precision. You must carefully account for the dimensions of the surface, the depth of the concrete, and many other factors. This data provides invaluable information about just how much concrete you will need. Yet by ordering only just enough concrete to meet your projected needs, you run the risk of putting yourself in a serious bind when things don’t go as planned.

No matter how diligent your efforts of calculation, unpredictable factors always manage to rear their heads. Whether to accommodate for accidental spills, last minute changes of plan, or simply human error, it pays to order more concrete than you think you’ll need. The additional expense involved will be well worth the peace of mind it brings.

Failure to account for weather

Those who are undertaking indoor projects don’t need to worry about this quite as much. But for those installing a new patio, sidewalk, or driveway, it is crucial to plan your installation around the weather. Be aware, however, that it isn’t just the chances of rain that you need to pay attention to.

You see, hot sunny weather can cause just as many problems for fresh concrete. That’s because concrete has a tendency to dry too rapidly when exposed to excessive heat. This means that the surface will become dehydrated much more quickly than the concrete deeper down. This state of affairs tends to cause the development of ugly, unwanted cracks.

You can avoid this type of nightmare scenario by scheduling your pour to occur on an overcast day of moderate temperature. If that simply isn’t possible, schedule your installation for a time in the evening, after the hottest part of the day has passed. To protect against crack formation, you may also want to look into setting up some sun shades.

Diluting the poured concrete to make it easier to spread

Troweling the surface of freshly poured concrete is a task which many amateurs struggle with. You must resist the temptation to add extra water in an attempt to soften up the concrete and make it easier to spread. While this might work in the short term, ultimately it will weaken the concrete on the surface of your slab. This in turn increases the chances of chipping, flaking, and spalling down the line. 

For more tips to help you with your concrete project, talk with a company like Pumptex Concrete Pumping.

3 Indoor Signs That Your Home’s Foundation Needs Repair

There are a number of costly repairs that homeowners must face. One such repair – that of the foundation – is a less common one, but one that can certainly cause you a whole host of issues and cost you thousands if not addressed immediately. Learn how you can catch the issue early with the three signs below.

1. Doors Begin to Jam or Fail to Close Properly

A door that suddenly jams or fails to latch can cause a number of issues, and it can also be caused by a number of factors. The most common factor is a foundation that’s in need of repair which is why this sign should never be ignored.

As the foundation shifts, the frames of your doors will be affected. This will cause the frame to shift, and the door will no longer fit within the frame as it’s supposed to. If this has suddenly become a problem for you, it’s time to call in a contractor to assess the sitatuion and determine whether it’s a foundation issue or not.

2. Windows Close Unevenly or Not at All

If you’re having trouble with a window that once easily closed, you may assume that the window was shoddy and that the problem lies with the window’s improper installation. There could, however, be a more serious problem.

If the foundation of your home is in need of repair, your window frames may become misaligned. This usually occurs slowly, so you may not notice a drastic difference simply by looking at the window. You will notice, however, that the window is now difficult to open or close, or the window no longer closes all the way (the rail does not sit in the sill).

3. Cracks Appear on the Walls or Floor

Cracks are the tell-tale sign of a damaged foundation and should be taken very seriously.

Overtime, the foundation of your home can shift. This can cause damage to your home’s structure and will be seen in the walls and floors of the home in the form of cracks. These cracks can occur anywhere, though they’re more likely to appear in the corners, above doorways, and where the walls and floors meet.

As a homeowner, you expect a reasonable amount of repairs to be required throughout the lifetime of your home. The necessary repair of your home’s foundation, however, may crop up unexpectedly and leave you with costly issues. The above three signs will provide you with the insight necessary to catch foundation issues early. Contact a contractor, like S&W Concrete, for more help.

How To Repair And Resurface A Concrete Patio

Concrete is a highly durable material, but after time, it can crack and crumble with changing weather and temperatures. If your concrete is just beginning to crack or looks a little rough, the good news is that it can be repaired and resurfaced. If, however, your concrete is already crumbling and in really bad shape, you may want to think about having a new concrete patio put in for you by a professional concrete contractor. See below for instructions on how to repair and resurface your patio.

Repairing Concrete

  • Cracks. For small cracks in your concrete, you can use a concrete fill. This is similar to a caulk and is easy to use. First, clean out the crack so it’s free of weeds or grass. Use a weed killer for this, then pull out the dead weeds/grass once dry. Use a broom to clean out any loose concrete or other debris (you can also use a shop vacuum for this as well). Finally, read the manufacturer’s directions on the concrete crack fill. For larger cracks, you may need to fill in the cracks using a concrete mix. Spread it into the crack using a small shovel and even it out using a putty knife. Allow either crack fill you use to dry completely before using the patio.
  • Stains. Concrete is very porous, so it can stain easily. If your concrete has stains from mold or algae, first try to use a power washer to get up most of the dirt and debris. Then use a mild detergent such as dish soap mixed with warm water and a soft scrub brush to try and get the stain out. For tougher stains such as oil or grease stains, look at your local hardware store for a concrete wash and follow the manufacturer’s directions.

Resurfacing Concrete

If the overall appearance of your concrete is looking a little rough from everyday use, you can resurface the entire area using a concrete resurfacer. You can find this at your local hardware store. Be sure to read the package to see how to use it, as well as how much you’ll need to use depending on the size of your patio. Be sure to clean your patio thoroughly using a power washer and cleaning agent, and repair any cracks in your patio before applying the resurfacer. Spread the concrete resurfacer evenly onto your patio in a thin layer using a squeegee. Allow the concrete to dry and set thoroughly before using your patio.

Be sure to maintain your concrete to keep it looking like new and prevent it from breaking down. Maintain your concrete by sweeping it often to keep debris such as grass clippings and leaves off of it, and clean it a few times per year using a hose and a mild detergent.

If your concrete patio is looking a little used and abused, try to repair and resurface it before it gets too bad and needs to be replaced. Contact concrete contractors in your area for more info.