July 2016

Colour Me Concrete!

by TRP Ready Mix on July 30, 2016

ready mix concreteWhat do you see when you close your eyes and imagine a room made of ready mixed concrete floors and walls?

While some of us might understandably envision an entirely grey space, some designers, landscapers, and crafty homeowners see … the colours of their choice!

If you were to choose a colour for your concrete project, what would it be? From black to white and all the hues in between, concrete and colour complement each other; they can be synonyms of a fantastic and original design.

How is that possible? Quite simply: by choosing to colour your ready mixed concrete, which can be done at various stages of the readymix installation process.

If you are planning to order readymix and wish give it a certain hue, you can purchase specially-designed pigments (which almost always come in bags) that should match the colour you are aiming for.

Once your bags are purchased, you may provide them to your trusted ready mixed concrete provider who will add those pigments to the mixture they will prepare for your project. Should you have any questions as to how many bags you would need to purchase, simply ask your provider to help guide you in this exciting process!

One look at contemporary design projects featuring incredible backyard landscaping or striking concrete countertops is enough to make you want to start ordering your readymix today.

But even if you already have a concrete wall, floor or item already made, you can still stain it with a multitude of colours offered in a variety of formulas that are available on the market now. While acid-stains were a standard in concrete colouring many years ago, these days water-based dyes offer an incredible value for your money, and have the added bonus of being odourless, and much easier to install.

If you plan on colouring a zone of concrete that will be grinded frequently, your best bet will always be to have added a bag of pigments to the readymix so the colour will become an integral part of the material and thus, will not come off.
Furthermore, if the concrete you plan on installing will receive high amounts of direct sun-light, it would be wise to speak to a readymix concrete specialist who can advise you on what types of stains or dyes are UV stable, so the colour will never fade away.
From pink to paprika, to blue and even metallics, colouring your concrete can spice up the simplest concrete project you have!

The Most Impressive Building Material in the World: 6 Fascinating Facts About Concrete

by TRP Ready Mix on July 27, 2016

Concrete Ottawa

What do the Pantheon in Rome, The Giza Pyramids in Egypt and a 12 million year-old rock in Isreal have in common? Concrete. Yes concrete is that hard, grey building material so ubiquitous today that we completely take it for granted. But concrete has a surprisingly fascinating story. Read on to learn more about the most widely-used building material in the world.

Concrete mixing is ancient

Concrete is commonly thought of as a modern building material. When we think of concrete in Ottawa we think of bridges, highways and skyscrapers. However, it may surprise you to know that some of the oldest structures in existence are made of a variation of concrete. In ancient Egypt, the concrete was used as infill during the construction of the Pyramids.

Romans used concrete to build the Pantheon and discovered it could set under water, providing supports for bridges. Today’s ready mix concrete harkens back to techniques used by the Romans up until the fall of the empire.

It exists in nature

It may not be the exact concrete Ottawa uses in its homes, buildings and roads today, but concrete has been found naturally occurring in a deposit over 12 million years old. This massive natural deposit found in Israel in the 1960’s is the result of oil shale naturally combusting near limestone.

The recipe was forgotten for over 1000 years

The Romans perfected the use of concrete in construction but when the Roman Empire was defeated in the fifth century, the formula for concrete was forgotten. It wasn’t until the 1800’s that concrete came back into use when Joseph Aspdin patented Portland cement, the forefather to the ready mix concrete of today.

It’s the most used material in the world

Over 2 billion tonnes of concrete is produced in a year, making it the most used material in existence today, in terms of volume. It’s not surprising considering concrete is used (literally) as the foundation of our cities, homes and communities. That’s why it’s a good thing…

It’s super strong

Ready mix concrete is basically artificially manufactured stone. In denser forms it can stand up to as much as 20,000 psi of pressure, though the most common form of concrete found in Ottawa can withstand 3,000 – 5,000 psi when reinforced. To get an idea of the strength and durability of concrete, just look to Hadrian’s Wall or the Pantheon, 2,000 year old concrete structures still standing today.

Thomas Edison loved concrete

Thomas Edison loved to experiment with concrete, and was one of the first in modern history to foresee concrete as the building material of the future. He held 49 concrete patents and built precast concrete houses. He even created furniture, pianos and refrigerators out of the stuff and would undoubtedly be the first to tell you how great that drab grey stuff is that’s all around us today.

The Importance Of Using A Concrete Calculator For Your Next Project

by TRP Ready Mix on July 24, 2016

concrete calculatorsHave you decided to use ready mixed concrete for your next big renovation project? It’s easy to see why! Ready mixed concrete is professionally mixed and prepared, and often delivered directly to your construction site. It eliminates the need to buy additional supplies to mix the messy concrete yourself, and saves time and money, making the entire process of using concrete more convenient.

You’ve obviously made an informed choice, but the decisions don’t stop there. The most important thing you need to determine is how much concrete your job will require. If you don’t order the right amount, the whole process can become inconvenient and stressful, negating all of the benefits that encouraged you to choose ready mixed concrete in the first place. That’s where concrete calculators come into play!

Ordering too much concrete can not only be a waste of money, but it can also be a hassle to find an environmentally safe way to dispose of the excess, and ordering too little has the potential to be an even bigger problem. If you don’t order enough concrete for your job, you run the risk of incurring extra costs for additional materials, overtime worked by the crew to remedy the situation, and possibly the cost of an emergency delivery or short load charge. Besides cost, the quality of the project will also be compromised when you’re forced to put it on hold while waiting for the next delivery. Even if this is only for a short amount of time, possible problems or errors can occur including spillage, over-excavation or a cold joint where one pour ended and another began.

As you can see, pre-determining the amount of concrete required with the help of concrete calculators can be of enormous value. Concrete is usually measured in cubic meters or yards, and most ready mixed concrete companies have concrete calculators on their website to help you determine the volume of concrete needed based on the length, width and depth measurements of your project.

It is recommended that you use this calculation as a guideline, and always order a small amount (anywhere from 5-10%) more than calculated to ensure you don’t run in to any of the problems mentioned above.

If the area of your project is an unusual shape and difficult to calculate using a standard concrete calculator, or if you’re just unsure about the amount recommended, request that your ready mixed concrete supplier visit your site. He or she is an expert and will be able to give you a trustworthy opinion regarding the quantity of concrete required. They can check job conditions, safety, and identify any issues or conditions that you may need to be aware of to ensure the success of your project!

What’s the Difference Between Ancient and Ready Mixed Concrete?

by TRP Ready Mix on July 21, 2016

Concrete is a building material with a very long history. Apart from today’s tools, such as concrete calculators, there are many similarities between the two types of concrete. Listed below are several interesting comparisons between Roman and ready mixed concrete.

They Have the Same Composition

Concrete is made of three elements: a binder, an aggregate, and a strengthening admixture. Roman concrete uses a limited variety of ingredients. Aggregates of stone or brick, a binder of gypsum or lime, and pozzolana are commonly the favored strengthening admixtures. It was a simple recipe that amounted to widespread success.

The very opposite can be said about ready mixed concrete. Our engineering revolution has created countless types of concrete made from a wide variety of materials. Aggregates can be made from almost any stone type, gravel, or even glass. Admixtures consist of chemicals to change the physical properties of concrete, like reducing its curing time. The only consistent ingredient is its Portland cement binder.

Read more on ready mixed concrete types

Construction Methods

Concrete has a curing period, which is a chemical reaction occurring between the binder and water to solidify the substance. The ancients mixed their ingredients in a mortar box and carried it on site in baskets. Ancient concrete needed to cure for two years until it reached full strength, which is why the Romans could get away with leaving it in baskets!

In comparison, ready mixed concrete cures on an average of twenty-eight days. Because of this short period, it is transported differently. After a concrete calculator determines the volume of ingredients, they’re mixed in a rotating truck to prevent the mixture from hardening (it would dry out if left in baskets). Using the concrete calculator ensures that the right amount of concrete is brought to site, so there is little excess waste. The Romans wouldn’t have needed a concrete calculator, since making enough concrete was more problematic.

Formwork

ready mixed concreteConcrete is a liquid before it cures, so it needs formwork to hold it up. The Romans used wooden formwork and placed bricks at regular intervals for better support. As a result, bricks often became a permanent part of the structure.

Ready mixed concrete is prepared in a similar fashion. Wood is also used, but not bricks because concrete is much stronger. Wooden planks are fastened together with the centre left empty for the concrete to fill. The plank dimensions are placed into a concrete calculator to determine the amount of concrete needed for the floor or wall. A concrete calculator also determines other component volumes, such as columns or footings.

Concrete is a versatile building material that has revolutionized our built environment. As one of our first manufactured building materials, it’ll continue being a dominant material in our century!

DIY Concrete Ready Mixed Valentine’s Day Gifts

by TRP Ready Mix on July 18, 2016

concrete ottawaValentine’s Day is all about the ones we love. Whether you’re writing love letters to your sweetie or spoiling your kids with treats, giving gifts for this occasion should come from the heart. What better way to say I love you than to gift something homemade that you crafted with your own two hands. These ready mixed concrete projects will have your Valentine blushing with excitement and the best part is that the supplies needed are probably already lying around your house. Get a supply of concrete in Ottawa and your crafting tools and you’re ready to create a memorable DIY Valentine’s Day gift.

DIY Candle Holder

What you’ll need:

– Ready mixed concrete

– A mold to cast your holder in (soda cans work perfectly)

– Pink or red paint

– Tea light candle

  1. Carefully cut the top of your soda can or other mold off.
  2. Pour the ready mixed concrete into the mold leaving a 1 inch space from the top.
  3. Gently press the tea light candle into the middle so it sinks down a bit – don’t worry, once the concrete dries you’ll be able to remove the candle.
  4. After leaving your candle mold to dry overnight, cut and carefully remove the can.
  5. Paint a strip around the bottom of the holder or a cute design – like hearts – and there you have it! The perfect handmade gift for that special someone created from concrete in Ottawa.

DIY Concrete Hearts

What you’ll need:

– Ready mixed concrete

– Heart shaped silicone ice cube or baking trays

– Paint and glitter (optional)

  1. Pour your ready mixed concrete into the heart-shaped molds.
  2. Let dry overnight then carefully pop out.
  3. Decorate with colourful paint and glitter and gift your heart to your special Valentine. These hearts make cute paper weights or nick knack for grandma crafted from Ottawa concrete.

DIY Concrete Letters

What you’ll need:

– Ready mixed concrete

– Silicone letter molds

  1. Choose the letters you’d like to gift (like I, L & U or their first initial) and fill the mold with your concrete.
  2. Let sit overnight and remove once completely dried.
  3. For a modern look, keep the letters grey or decorate them with paint to give them a pop of colour. No matter how you choose to gift them your letters created from Ottawa concrete will be sure to impress.

Winterize and Love Your Home

by TRP Ready Mix on July 15, 2016

concrete ottawaAs the seasons change, we adapt to appreciate what nature offers us. Winter creeps up on us before we even know it.  Our windows frame the beautiful white Winterland outside; we relish in the sights. We take pleasure in warming up upon entering from the outdoors. It is during the winter time that we hibernate indoors, enjoying the comforts of cozy couches, warm cooked meals, evenings in front of the fireplace, family get-togethers and full hearted lounging with our loved ones.  As a proud home owner, the winter time can truly be the best time of year to enjoy the pleasures of home ownership.

Early Fall is the best time of the year to prepare your home for the winter. Early preparations will simplify your life as you will avoid incurring damage to the interior and exterior of your home from such inconveniences as:  leaks, water and ice damage. Your home will be more comfortable for you and your family, and you will have the peace of mind knowing that you have avoided the many pitfalls of winter home management. You will also ensure your heating bill is in check.

There are things that we think of every winter, such as furnace filters, batteries in smoke and carbon dioxide detectors.  Have you ever thought of checking your concrete?

There is lots of concrete in Ottawa.  The streets, the sidewalks, driveways, even foundations to houses are all made of concrete.  Have you thought about how much heat you are losing from the crack in the foundation? Or what you will do if that crack in your driveways expands during the winter? Concrete contractors can certainly help you this aspect!

Here are some tips on how to take care of your home in Ottawa’s harsh winter:

  1. Change furnace filters
  2. Get your furnace and thermostat inspected.
  3. Insulate water pumps to avoid pipes bursting.
  4. Ensure smoke and carbon dioxide detectors are in good working order.
  5. Ensure the weather seals around the doors and windows of your home are in working order.
  6. Check your ducts with a flashlight.
  7. Check your exterior walls, windows and doors for gaps or loose connections and faulty seals. Caulk or expanding foam can seal most gaps.
  8. Detach your garden hoses and sprinklers, drain them and put them away. Turn off the water source to outside faucets to prevent ice congestion.
  9. Check the roof for debris and gutters. Gutters can retain water and cause damage.
  10. Seal cracks in your driveway and sidewalks with concrete in order to avoid further winter damage due to ice and snow expanding cracks. A concrete contractor can offer a free consultation. There is no need to fret over how to handle concrete in Ottawa’s weather.
  11. Check chimneys for clogs that will make your winter fireplace experience uncomfortable. You may be surprised to find critters that you don’t wish to enter your home in a cold spell.
  12. Cut back your branches and bushes. In the event of an ice storm, you will be glad that you did.
  13. Check your windows and doors for drafts. Seals with caulking is an option. This is particularly important if you live in an older home.

To make the most of your winter, enjoy and relish in the comfort of your home!

DIY Ready Mixed Concrete Gift Ideas

by TRP Ready Mix on July 12, 2016

Tis the season for giving – and for some, crafting! With busy shopping malls and pricy holiday bills, why not opt for a thoughtful and memorable DIY project to create something for everyone special on your list. Ready mixed concrete is the perfect base to make dozens of creative gifts. Here are three projects featuring ready mix concrete and inexpensive materials you probably already have lying around at home.

For The Special Women In Your Life – DIY Holiday Ornament

ready mix concrete

DIY Ready Mix Cement Christmas Ornament

Whether it’s for mom, grandma or your best friend, creating something handmade from the heart is the most thoughtful gift

you can give. Here is a project that requires only five materials that you can likely dig up from your kitchen drawers.

  1. First, grab yourself a silicone ice cube tray in funky shapes like stars or hearts. Then collect a disposable mixing container, toothpicks, some ready mixed concrete and pretty ribbon.
  2. Mix the ready mix concrete in the disposable container and pour evenly into the silicone trays.
  3. As the mixture begins to dry, stick toothpicks into the shapes to create holes for the ribbon.
  4. Let the ornaments dry overnight then pop them out in the morning.
  5. Now you have beautiful modern ornaments that you can choose to leave grey or paint in festive colours.
ready mix concrete

DIY Ready Mix Cement Coasters

 

 

For The Men In Your Life – DIY Coasters

It’s no secret that dad likes to sit back with a cold one every once in a while or grandpa likes to enjoy his morning coffee while reading the paper. You can create some cool ready mixed concrete coasters to give as the perfect holiday gift for the thirsty man in your life. All you’ll need is three materials and a bit of creativity.

  1. First, get yourself some ready mix concrete and a set of mini spring pans – like the ones to make cheesecakes. You can usually buy a pack of four that measure four to six inches each – depending on how large ready mix concreteyou’d like your coasters to be.
  2. Line the pans with wax paper then pour the ready mixed concreate half an inch full then let sit overnight. Before they fully dry you can add some recycled beer or soda caps to create a cool design or even some old pennies.
  3. Once dried, pop them out and you have a unique gift that will surely be a hit.

For The Kids – DIY Hand and Feet Impressions

ready mix concrete

DIY Ready Mix Cement Hand Impressions

This DIY project is fun to do with the kids and acts as a great holiday memory to cherish for years to come. All you’ll need is some large, deep paper plates, ready mix concrete and little fingers and toes.

  1. Pour the concrete mixture into the paper plates. You can choose to use large or small ones to fit your little one’s hands and feet.
  2. Next let the concrete dry halfway then have your kids make a hand print or foot print in the mix.
  3. Once they dry, invite your kids to decorate their personalised creations with glitter or paint and you’ll have a memorable plaque you and your kids will always cherish

If you’re planning on doing some  DIY cement crafts in colder temperatures, make sure you check out our blog post on tips for laying ready mixed concrete in the cold!

Things to Consider When Ordering Concrete

by TRP Ready Mix on July 9, 2016

concrete calculator

Are you curious about using concrete for your next home improvement project? Whether you are building a driveway, patio, a new garage floor or stairs, it can be intimidating to order concrete for the first time.  Don’t worry!  A bit of basic knowledge, like learning how to use a concrete calculator, can boost your confidence and help you order the right amount and type of concrete.  So to make sure you get a quality product, here are some things you should consider before ordering concrete:

Amount – Before you place an order for concrete, the most important thing you should know is how much concrete you will need.  Concrete is usually measured in cubic meters or yards, which means you calculate the volume of the area needing concrete.  Many ready mix concrete companies have a concrete calculator on their website, which makes this step much easier since the concrete calculator quickly determines the volume based on your length, width and depth measurements.  However, you should only use the concrete calculator results as a guideline, as the amount of concrete will also depend on where it will be applied, and what type of concrete will be needed.  Concrete contractors also recommend that an additional 5-10 % of concrete be ordered on top of the concrete calculator amount, as it is better to have a little bit extra concrete than to not have enough.

Strength – When ordering concrete, it is important to tell your supplier what the concrete is for, as different strengths of concrete are required depending on the purpose.  In the concrete business, strength is referred to as compressive strength, and is measured in pounds per square inch (psi).  A compressive strength of 4,000 psi (meaning the concrete can handle a 4,000 lb load per square inch without failure) is usually adequate.  Climate must also be considered when factoring in the strength of your concrete.  If you live in a region with freeze/thaw cycles, it is recommended that your concrete contain 5 % air entrainment. This simply means the supplier will add a chemical to the concrete to trap air, which helps the concrete withstand the expansion and contraction that occurs during freezing and thawing.

Aggregate and Slump – Two terms you may come across when discussing the mix of concrete needed are aggregate and slump.  Aggregate refers to the size of the coarse aggregate needed in the concrete.  The size of coarse aggregate required will depend on the spacing of reinforcement bars, and the dimensions of the area, but a size of ¾ – 1 inch is generally used.  Slump is the term used to describe the consistency of concrete when it’s being applied, is measured in inches and is determined by the spacing of reinforcement bars as well as the slope of the project area.  Most home improvement projects will require a slump of between 1-4 inches.

With these things taken into consideration, ordering concrete should be a much more straightforward thing to remove from your to-do list!

DIY Ready Mixed Concrete Projects: Tips To Make It Unique

by TRP Ready Mix on July 6, 2016

DIY cement projectsThere’s nothing like the feeling of taking on a do-it-yourself project and really knocking it out of the park. When guests ooh and aah over something you made with your own two hands, it not only makes you feel proud, but it gives you the right to brag about it.

Believe it or not, one of the most impressive and easiest materials to DIY with is ready mixed concrete.
Once you’ve gotten your materials from the concrete supplier, completing your project is as easy as following some simple procedures and being patient. However, finished concrete can look quite boring – unless you put your own spin on it.

Whether you’re pouring a patio, a fire pit area or a driveway, ready mixed concrete from a concrete supplier always looks fairly similar. On the other hand, there are some ways you can make it a little bit more visually interesting.

Grey brick stamped concrete

A sample of grey brick stamped concrete

Stamp It

It is incredibly easy to put your own stamp on a ready mixed concrete project by doing exactly that: stamping it. Before the concrete you got from the concrete supplier starts to dry, you can use tools to stamp different patterns into the surface to create a variety of effects: herringbone, etched, brick, tile. You can even make it look like interlock stone or a mosaic.

coloured concrete blue, green and beige

Blue, green and beige coloured concrete squares as an outdoor patio design

Colour It

Did you know that ready mixed concrete can be coloured? Some concrete suppliers will add tint to the mix before they deliver it, but it is also possible to colour your own after it arrives.

Colouring your concrete project will make it look unique. Whether you stain it blue, green, red or a more natural tone, it will almost certainly look better than the standard pale gray.

Brown acid stained cement

Beautifully stained brown acid  cement

Stain It

While staining concrete is not an easy task, it produces stunning and always unique results. A quick search of acid-stained concrete photos will show you just how beautiful any concrete project can look if you take the time to stain in correctly. Depending on the materials and technique you use, you can make your patio look like it’s made from slate or even marble; or you can get some stunning psychedelic patterns in crazy colours. Whatever the result, it’s sure to look more impressive than the standard ready mixed concrete you get from a concrete supplier.

Regardless of the finish you use on your DIY concrete project, it’s always a good feeling to make something with your own two hands – most concrete suppliers would agree. However, if you want to take the time to make it extra special, there are a number of finishing options you can use on ready mixed concrete to make it one of a kind.

Three Tips For Laying Ready Mixed Concrete In The Cold

by TRP Ready Mix on July 3, 2016

Ready Mixed ConcreteAs the leaves fall and the cold weather creeps up on us, many homeowners often ask themselves: ”Is it too late to complete my concrete ready mix project ?”. Concrete professionals will tell you: it’s not too late! On the contrary: concrete construction projects can be completed year-round, as long as you follow certain guidelines that will help your concrete cure solidly and safely throughout its solidifying stages.

If the temperature is averaging less than 5 degrees Celsius and you are wondering what precautions you should take when laying your concrete in the cold, the following expert tips will give you confidence to finish your DIY concrete project this year.

How Cold Weather Affects Your Concrete

Many of us have, at one point, left a bottle of water in the freezer and hours later suddenly heard: ”BOOM!”. The bottle exploded due to frozen water being more voluminous than liquid water. This reaction is one of the reasons why laying out concrete in cold weather requires special measures to avoid cracking of the concrete as it solidifies, as cracks in your concrete create a definite and potentially dangerous structural weakness.  Furthermore, if ice forms in your concrete within the first 24 hours it is poured, it can lose up to 50% of its strength.

Before You Pour Your Concrete

It will be critical to ensure that the ground, or form, on which you will be pouring your concrete is not frozen, and does not contain snow or ice. Why should you take such precautions? As the snow or ice will eventually thaw, it will leave an empty space in your concrete, and this will lead to an easily preventable weakness in your concrete. Monitor the weather on the day your plan to pour your concrete, and prepare the ground or forms appropriately.

Insulating Your Concrete While It Cures

It will be crucial to ensure that your concrete remains properly hydrated as it cures in the cold. For this reason, professionals often recommend insulating your concrete mix with burlap bags, heated blankets, or straw insulation to keep your concrete at approximately 10 degrees Celsius.  It would also be a good idea to speak to your ready mixed concrete provider regarding the possibility of adding specially designed additives to your concrete mix to help it cure appropriately in cold weather.

Keeping your concrete project safe and beautiful is not rocket science… it’s concrete science! Luckily, your ready mixed concrete provider should be readily available to assist you in helping your finish your DIY concrete project solidly and effectively this winter.