Artificial Rock and Waterfalls
When you plan an architectural design and want to include rocks, boulders or a waterfall, it is often unrealistic to go to a rock quarry and find a formation that can be disassembled, transported and then rebuilt back at the construction site. This doesn't mean it is impossible; it is just sometimes unrealistic.
Today's modern technology allows us to recreate what Mother Nature has spent millions of years to develop. Concrete as a medium allows an artisan the ability to design, develop and construct small or large formations of rock and add similar colors and textures to what is found in nature as long as space permits. When concrete is in its plastic state it can be stamped, carved, imprinted, texturized and molded to any shape or form. The process of creating a rockscape can be as simple as ordering and installing a pre-formed hollow casting, to the more elaborate undertaking of creating a template out of steel rebar and wire meshing and slowly covering it with concrete to mimic a natural rock surface. During the process of construction it is possible to add water tubing which can be pumped over the finished rock surface to create the illusion of a natural waterfall. Lighting can be added and a variety of different design elements can be used to customize it just the way you like. A true artistic craftsman will have you and your guests believing it is nothing but a natural rock setting.
Artificial rocks made of concrete or other materials are a dramatic yet economical way to enhance water features, landscapes, buildings, and more. Rock and stone have long been valued as natural, distinctive landscaping elements. But imagine the equipment, effort, and expense that would be required to haul large boulders weighing at least a ton each into a backyard and then to stack them around an in-ground pool or pond water feature. That's why more and more landscape and swimming pool designers and contractors are turning to faux rock for water feature construction. Not only can artificial rocks be molded, textured, and colored to exactly replicate the look and feel of real rock formations, they also can be built onsite, eliminating the inconvenience and expense of hauling in material to build a water feature.
Other benefits of faux rock include:
- Design flexibility
- Ease and speed of installation
- The ability to conceal unsightly plumbing and other utilities
Faux rock can be made from a variety of materials including fiberglass, synthetic materials, rubber, and plaster. However, polymer-modified or glass-fiber-reinforced concrete are the most common materials used because the concrete can easily be sculpted or molded to achieve very realistic results. Concrete mixtures can produce rocks that are extremely strong (up to 9600 psi) and lightweight (when made with lightweight aggregates). In some cases, artificial rocks can be more durable than the natural stones they imitate.Top of Page
A stucco concrete wall is a thin layer of concrete that goes over an existing wall. This not only allows for coverage of cracks and chips, but it also adds texture to the wall. This is an inexpensive way of giving a wall the look of concrete. The stucco material can be applied in patterns that swirl, crisscross or go straight up and down. This type of material is relatively easy to work with and can withstand the coldest and hottest of weather.
Stamped concrete walls are becoming popular. Stamping of the wall is accomplished by pouring concrete into forms that mold the concrete into stone and masonry patterns. The resultant wall can look remarkably like stone or brick, which adds a natural rustic look to the wall you are constructing. This technique is less expensive and takes less time than building a stone or masonry wall.
Colored concrete walls are available in all the poured concrete techniques and some of the pre-made panels. This works especially well with the stamped concrete in the shapes of stones, giving them a more realistic coloring. Many colors are available in addition to the options for the natural colors of stone and brick. This coloring technique allows you to deviate from the plain chalky look of traditional concrete.
Decorative Concrete Walls...are not a new concept-they have been around for decades. There are good reasons for their history of popularity-concrete is a very economical, stable and tough material, weathers well without much noticeable decay, and needs little maintenance. As technology has advanced, decorative concrete walls have gone from rather simple and crude to complex and often beautiful. Recent developments in form liner technology have refined the process to include very intricate details formed into the concrete panel.
- Have great potential for creative design
- Are extremely durable
- Require very little maintenance
- Are beautiful and add a look of distinction
- Can be stained to obtain natural appearances
A concrete patio offers a great spot to set up a relaxing sitting or eating area outside a home or as an outdoor space at a restuarant or pub. Concrete patios can be creative, decorative, textured and patterned. Back yards, especially concrete patios, are being transformed into luxurious extensions of the house. They're the new favorite room to relax, entertain, and cook. And the heart and soul of the backyard resort area is the concrete patio.
Why Choose Concrete Over Pavers, Tile, or Wood Decking?
While any type of surface you choose for your patio will have its benefits and drawbacks, there are a few things to keep in mind that make concrete the most desirable choice.
Concrete vs. Pavers
A slab of concrete for a backyard patio can be much more economical than hand-placed pavers. Many people seem to prefer the look of pavers, but at the same time are unaware that concrete can be created to look nearly identical. The drawbacks of pavers include broken pieces, separation, and the ability for weeds to grow between. Concrete, on the other hand, provides a solid surface that completely eliminates weed growth. Although concrete can crack, proper installation from a qualified contractor can help reduce the likelihood. And concrete can be colored, textured and stamped in form to resemble the look of pavers
Concrete vs. Tile
Many people only think of using tile inside the home. However, there are types of tile that can be used outdoors. One uncertainty is the surface of the tile which can often be slippery when wet. In contrast, when using concrete, you can modify the surface to a proper texture that will ensure traction. In addition, concrete can be scored to resemble tile. This is often a unique way to camouflage or incorporate concrete control joints into a tiled pattern.
Concrete vs. Wood Decking
Needless to say, concrete is much more durable and long-lasting than wood decking. Its maintenance is also less time-consuming and costly. Although wood decks are characteristically unique, they pose considerable drawbacks with splintering, regular sealing, warping, etc. With concrete, however, wood plank stamps now exist that can create the look of wood in the concrete surface, providing a much more resilient and still aesthetically pleasing appearance.
One of the unique attributes of concrete as a surface material is its ability to be colored and patterned. Rather than paying the expensive price of installing natural stone or similar materials, concrete can be textured to look almost identical. Imagine what you can do when you can color your patio slab to complement your home’s siding. The color of your concrete patio is an important part of creating an appealing outdoor retreat. Adding color is one of the simplest ways to enhance your patio. Be sure to choose a color that either complements your home or complements your surrounding landscape for the best effect. Neutral colors in browns or tans are most common. You can add depth by contrasting with a darker shade of the same color in a border or other feature. You can get the look of brick, slate, flagstone, stone, tile, and even wood by putting a stamped texture on your patio.Top of Page
Driveways and Entryways
It wasn't long ago when deciding on a driveway material was easy: asphalt or concrete. Today, the "concrete" choice has expanded to include an astounding array of decorative options. Sometimes referred to as a cement driveway or as painted concrete, decorative concrete is one of the most reasonable ways to spruce up the entrance to your home.
Although plain gray concrete is still installed most often, more people are catching on to the dazzling effects possible with decorative concrete—and seeing the instant curb appeal a decorative driveway can give to any home, no matter what the style. If you already have a concrete driveway, you can still give it a decorative makeover. The concrete industry has introduced many products and methods that can rejuvenate or resurface existing plain-gray driveways.
Why concrete driveways? Because concrete is so versatile, preferred for durability, appearance, low maintenance, and indicates quality construction from the first glance. A concrete driveway does it all.
Homeowners take great pride in the exterior of their home. The concrete driveway has become an essential part of a landscaping plan that imparts an inviting image. Concrete’s wide variety of texture, color, or patterns has elevated the driveway to the status of a landscape design element…meeting today’s homeowner’s exacting demands.
The entryway probably endures more traffic than any other room in the house. Why not choose a flooring material that is durable, easy to clean, and looks great with just a simple pass of a broom?
Great entryways begin with a welcoming walkway that ushers visitors to your front door in grand fashion. With concrete, the decorative options for entrance walks are endless. Stamped or stenciled patterns, engraving, exposed-aggregate finishes, colored concrete, and concrete staining are just a few of the ways you can enhance your sidewalk design.Top of Page
Exposed Aggregate Concrete
A great way to add pizazz to a normally gray concrete finish. Exposed aggregate can have many different styles determined mainly by the pebble or aggregate used. The finish is designed to show off the stone found in the concrete and is very durable, your wear surface is rock and very long lasting.
Exposed aggregate uses finely ground, colored hardeners which are sprinkled into a freshly cast concrete surface. The moisture in the cement activates the powder in the aggregate and bonds the concrete to it. The result is a hard-finished surface that is slip-resistant and hard to damage.
Main Feature: A durable timeless finish that goes with many styles and decor settings.
Benefits: Exposed aggregate is a common finish that can be done in many settings, it offers slip resistance and is very hard to damage.
Maintenance: Standard cleaning is recommended but may require an occasional pressure wash to remove dirt and grit from between the aggregate. As with all decorative concrete surfaces, a periodic reseal of the surface will restore a beautiful luster and shine.
Look and feel: Exposed aggregate looks like a field of small stones or pebbles and has an accu-pressure kind of feel on the bottom of your feet.
An exposed aggregate finish can be any type of aggregate that is left exposed in the final surface of the concrete. Aggregate is just a fancy way of saying stone, pebble, rocks or sand.
A few methods for creating such a surface are as follows.
1. Standard exposed aggregate: Aggregate is mixed into the concrete batch itself, whereas the surface aggregate will be a random placement of any of the type of aggregate that were originally mixed.
2. Topping aggregate: Another way of having a bit more control over the surface aggregate is by using a topping system. An initial concrete slab is poured to fill and build the base surface. Once dry a top layer or topping concrete usually averaging 1 1/2 -2" inches thick is then poured on top of the first. This topping can be filled will specific aggregate and therefore give more control over the design and finish.
3. Seeded aggregate gives the most control over the surface aggregate. Seeding is done by placing or seeding the aggregate into the surface of the wet concrete. It gives a lot of control over the design of the finish, although for obvious reasons is much more labor intensive. This is a basic overview of how exposed aggregate finishes are achieved.Top of Page
Fire Pits, Cooking, Outdoor Living
Traditionally, the favorite hangouts in the home have been the kitchen and family room. But today, the backyard is taking over as the favorite gathering space for cooking, entertaining and relaxation. More homeowners are bringing all the comforts of their indoor rooms to the outside by creating multipurpose outdoor living spaces that function as inviting extensions of their home.
Thanks to its versatility and ability to withstand all types of weather, decorative concrete is expanding the possibilities of outdoor living. Concrete can be used to build nearly every structural element of an outdoor room, including patios and pool decks, countertops and sinks, pizza ovens and fireplaces, built-in seating, architectural accents and water features. What's more, decorative concrete permits homeowners to match the colors, textures and styles of the elements inside their homes and create seamless visual transitions.
One of a backyard’s most unique features is a fire pit. It’s a gathering place and one of the fastest growing trends in outdoor design. A fire pit provides warmth, light, and a source relaxation that goes hand in hand with outdoor living. The aesthetic allure of a fire pit has grown in popularity in recent years.
When thinking of outdoor living it often derives images of sitting outside with the sun or moon beaming down in an environment that has all the comforts of home but with the view of the sky and stars and a subtle refreshing breeze and sounds of nature, only possible when you're outside.
Outdoor living areas can be much more than a grill and a fireplace. An outdoor living area may have a kitchen, grilling accessories, counter top space, cabinets and drawers, a sink, refrigerator, dishwasher, table and chairs, as well as lighting, stereo, and even a TV.
With the advent of decorative concrete its no surprise that outdoor living spaces are becoming increasingly popular. With the obvious durability and functionally of concrete it makes sense that it is the material of choice when creating the ultimate outdoor living environment.Top of Page
Overlays, Repair, and Resurfacing
If you already have a plain gray concrete walkway or sidewalk leading to your home, but it needs a major facelift, you can often rejuvenate it with a colored and patterned concrete overlay. You'll be amazed at the transformation, while avoiding the expense and hassle of ripping out your existing concrete.
Tearing out and re-pouring an old, damaged or boring concrete slab is now only used as a last resort. With wonderful new products and technologies available we are now able to resurface, color and rejuvenate concrete.
Products that adhere tenaciously, keep their color and resist freeze and thaw cycles have proven themselves over the years. They allow for the addition of texture, rock patterns, designs and colorations to what in the past could not have been accomplished.
Whether it is a pool surround, patio, driveway or outdoor mall, decorative concrete overlays and resurfacing systems can offer unlimited design potential and create a beautiful exterior environment.
Want to permanently cover up surface imperfections in existing concrete? Or turn a plain-jane slab from drab to fab? With today's decorative overlays, it's easy to give almost any concrete surface, indoors or out, a complete face-lift and at a much lower cost than removal and replacement. The real challenge is choosing from among the many resurfacing products available and the diverse array of decorative finishes possible. There are multiple options available for achieving any look imaginable with a concrete overlay.
Here's a primer of the various overlay types available and the decorative options with each. We also give you pointers on how to choose the best system for a particular application. With the many options available, you're sure to find at least one system that meets your requirements for durability, appearance, maintenance, and cost.Top of Page
Concrete stamping uses a wide variety of patterns to imprint the outline and textures of more expensive outdoor flooring, such as stone, brick, slate and even wood. The process of concrete stamping can only be done into a freshly cast, concrete surface.
Stamped Concrete by design is one of the most versatile and colorful design options when it comes to creating a patio, walkway or driveway. Stamped concrete allows for the addition of integral color that gets blended into the mix during the placement of the cement as well can have a variety of surface colors as well as patterns added to the finish.
Main Feature: The widest variety of texture, color and patterns available. Limitless design and finish options.
Benefits: It becomes a solid one piece concrete slab that is great for stopping weeds and is relatively easy to clean, can be designed to blend in with any decor or setting.
Maintenance: Standard cleaning and occasional re-sealing every couple of years or so based on wear, climate and usage.
Look and feel: Stamped concrete mimics natural products and can resemble flagstone, brick, natural stone, slate, and other rock, tile, and stone patterns.
Stamped concrete involves pouring slab concrete for driveways, walkways, patios, etc., and then impressing both patterns and textures onto the concrete before it is fully dry. For many years, a lesser form of stamped concrete was often seen that merely duplicated patterns. But the newer types of stamped concrete impart textures that duplicate many different surfaces such as cobblestones, brick, pavers, wood, seashells, and more. Also, pigment is usually added to stamped concrete to further duplicate the look of such patterns.
Stamped concrete can make a dramatic impression, and there are many reasons why homeowners, businesses, and municipalities are choosing stamped concrete to enhance their landscapes and buildings. From a cobblestone driveway to a stone patio, the look of patterned concrete is not only realistic but also bears the permanent durability of concrete. Concrete is also cost-effective over alternative materials such as pavers, or natural stone. Installation is quicker and the final product is long- lasting, can mimic natural materials in color and design, and is therefore, more economical.
Brick, pavers, and cobbles look great, but since they form a surface of many interlocking pieces, they are susceptible to frost-heave and other changes in the underlying surface. Sometimes this can be good, if you're trying to cover an uneven surface--the brick, pavers, stone, or pavers will conform to the surface. But if you have a good, flat, and level undersurface, you'll want your concrete to be laid the same way. Reinforcing rods within the stamped concrete help to tie the pavement together and strengthen it.
Also, bricks, pavers, cobbles, etc. allow for weed to grow up through the cracks. Since stamped concrete is a solid, continuous surface, nothing can grow up through the "cracks." As you may already know, the "cracks" in stamped concrete are simply impressions in the concrete that only partially go through the surface.Top of Page
Stenciled Concrete Systems
When replicating a tile or stone pattern with the use of concrete it is often desirable to have a true likeness, which often times require grout lines. With typical stamped concrete the imprinting tools create an imprint of a grout line but aren't able to leave the grout grey while coloring only the stone or tile pattern as in real life. Stenciled concrete is therefore a solution. With the use of stencils just about any pattern, tile formation or design which has a grout pattern is now possible.
Stencils are made of thick, tear-resistant paper covered with a water resistant coating. The stencil patterns consist of only the “mortar joint,” with the “brick or “stones” cut out. Stencils for concrete come in a wide variety of popular patterns ranging from running bond brick to stone, slate and tiles.
Stenciled concrete is very similar to stamped concrete. It uses the same materials such as color hardeners and antiquing release, and the finished product looks about the same. The important difference is that this process utilizes disposable paper stencils to impart the pattern instead of rubber mats.
Stenciled concrete is the process where a paper stencil is used to imprint a design or pattern into wet concrete. This process was only developed a little over ten years ago. Stenciled concrete is another decorative concreting option for homeowners, builders and architects.
- Stenciled concrete can be created on new or existing concrete flooring.
- The choice of patterns and designs are endless.
- The choice of colors is abundant.
- It is a cost-effective method of making concrete more attractive.
- It can imitate more expensive types of pavers.
- Installation is quick and easy.
- Produces a high quality finish and image.
- Does not have the problems of weed growth and structural movement.
Walkways, Paths, and Stairs
Walkways, paths and stairs are an important part of any new home construction or renovation. They can also add character to lawn and garden projects.
Concrete steps or terraced stairways are the most prominent feature at the entryway of many homes and public buildings, yet too often they get relegated to purely utilitarian status. Elevating concrete stairs from bland to grand makes them the dramatic focal point of any entrance. Even greater visual impact is possible by combining decorative stairways with stamped or stained concrete walkways and landings that incorporate coordinating colors and patterns.
Concrete steps can be poured right along with your walkways or entryway, so they can be colored and textured to match. Precast concrete steps and precast concrete stairs are also an option. If you know just where they are needed, you can have the steps built off-site and installed later on your project.
Concrete step design is only limited by your sense of style and your imagination. The biggest advantage to concrete today is that it can take on almost any look you want it to. For example, you can change the color of your concrete steps to a beautiful beige, brick red or sandy green hue. You can go with an acid stain for a mottled appearance or a dye for a solid sprint of color. Choose a hue to coordinate with the exterior of your home or match it to the existing color of your concrete patio or walkway.
Another fun option in concrete steps is to add pattern to the surface. This can be done through the stamping technique, which is particularly effective when applied to steps. You can create the look of faux stone, tile or brick without worrying about stability or durability. You can also use exposed aggregate to add color and texture to the surface. For a really nice finish to your concrete steps, consider the addition of step liners that will provide a decorative edging to your stairs. These noses and liners also come in an array of styles and colors so you can match them to your current design.Top of Page
Yard Borders and Edging
The days of having to place brick by brick or stone by stone dividers to separate the yard to the edge are over. With the advent of the continuous yard edging system you are now able to pour one solid divider without the need for mortar, digging or layering.
Concrete borders are a permanent landscape edging material that is durable, functional and even more attractive than traditional methods.
One-piece continuous installation eliminates the subsequent replacement of modular borders such as plastic or metal edging, concrete blocks, rocks, brick, landscape timbers etc.
Continuous concrete provides a durable, permanent, border with low maintenance. It won't rot, shatter, splinter, etc. Constructed of reinforced concrete, you can expect your edging to last for years to come. We use polypropylene fibers that are added to concrete before it is poured the fiber helps prevent cracking and holds the concrete together. When fully cured continuous concrete edging is rated at 4,000 psi (pounds per square inch). Total curing time varies from 14 to 30 days depending on the weather. Curbing is designed to be continuous poured in place edging with control joints placed 18 to 24' apart. These joints will allow the curbing to flex and move with the ground when it freezes.Top of Page