Using Aggregates in Concrete Countertops
by TRP Ready Mix on November 11, 2018
Why Ready Mix Concrete is Ideal for Concrete Countertop Mix
Concrete is becoming increasingly popular for interior home décor. From votive candle holders to table tops, this material is cost-effective, durable, and attractive. It’s especially suited for creating long-lasting countertops that withstand heat and the daily wear and tear of kitchens.
The aggregates used in ready-mix concrete can be changed and swapped to suit any DIY concrete project, large or small, including countertops.
Of course, these aggregates don’t just look good. They offer a wealth of benefits for every project.
Here’s a look at the role aggregates play in concrete countertop mixes and how you can make your own concrete countertops.
Optimal Concrete Mix Ratios
The ideal amount of cement used in a concrete mix depends on the size of the aggregates. Aggregates for concrete countertop mixes are smaller in surface area than for larger concrete projects—typically 3/8 inch to 5/8 inch.
The cement in a concrete mix must coat the surfaces of all the aggregates. The smaller the aggregate particle, the more surface area per volume. This means more water is needed to wet the surface area. But too much water will lead to cement drying out, causing cracking, shrinking, and curling.
To prevent the damaging effects of drying and shrinking, the size of the aggregates, along with the cement paste content and curing processes must always be considered.
Using Aggregates for Strength and Style
Concrete has a high compressive strength and a low tensile strength. It can withstand the weight of heavy objects, but it cannot withstand bending or flexing. To help prevent cracking, concrete countertops, like most concrete structures, need reinforcement.
Fibre-reinforced concrete improves tensile strength and reduces the risk of cracking, especially for thinner slabs like countertops. These fibre reinforcements are often made of nylon, polypropylene, glass, or cellulose. And these fibre reinforcements can be added to your ready-mix concrete when ordered from a local supplier.
A galvanized wire will also reinforce concrete, preventing it from cracking as it dries while adding strength.
DIY: Making Your Own Concrete Countertop
Here are the steps to make your own concrete countertop:
Create the Base Mold
The quality of the mould you build will directly affect the appearance of your finished countertop.
The size of your concrete countertop (and mould) will depend on the size of your existing countertop and/or base cabinets. If you’re measuring your base cabinets, add ¾ inch extra to the final measurement for overhang.
Place a 4-ft by 6-ft piece of 1-inch thick melamine particle board on a pair of sawhorses. Measure the mould base and mark the exact dimensions on the particle board. Use a circular saw to cut the base dimensions. Then measure, mark, and cut four strips that are 2-¾-inches wide and 4-feet long.
Drill 2-inch pilot holes every 6 inches along the strips. Using wood screws, attach two strips along the 4-foot sides of the base. Use wood screws to attach the other two strips along the remaining sides of the mould, trimming them first to fit.
Use a square to check that the corners are even.
Add Cutouts to the Mold
For countertops that will hold sinks or cooktops, measure and mark the size of the hole you will need on the base of the mould.
To cut out the hole, first drill pilot holes on the inside corners of this marked area. Cut from hole to hole along the edges of the marked area using a jigsaw.
Measure and cut side pieces for the cut-out hole and attach them by butting them against the base from inside the cutout. Use wood screws to firmly attach these inner sides of the mould.
Clean the mould thoroughly to remove any sawdust and dirt. Since the base of the mould will form the top of the countertop, it’s very important to not set concrete on any debris that could affect the appearance of the finished countertop.
Using 100% silicone caulk, run a small uniform bead of caulk along the inner corners and seams of the mould. Carefully smooth out the caulk bead with a caulk tool and allow to dry for 24 hours.
This silicone caulking will prevent freshly-poured concrete from leaking out of the mould.
Build a Support Frame for the Mold
Since freshly-poured concrete is heavy, it can warp and bend the mould without proper support. You’ll need to build a support frame for the mould by measuring the mould and cutting 2x4s to frame the mould. Start by placing three boards that are longer than the mould beneat the mould.
Attach the 2×4 end pieces to the bottom boards using 2-inch screws. Then attach the remaining two 2×4 side pieces to the end pieces using screws.
The frame should be tight against the mould, but not attached to the mould.
To reinforce the concrete countertop, use metal snips to cut a piece of galvanized structural stucco wire to the shape of the mould, being about one inch away from the edges of the mould on each side. Set this cut wire aside.
Mix and Pour the Concrete
For a 12-square-foot (3 feet x 4 feet) countertop, you will need three 60-lb bags of ready-mix concrete.
Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and use a shovel to mix the concrete with water. This is the time to add pigment to the concrete if you want a coloured countertop. You can use liquid or powder pigment additives.
While liquid pigments are easy to measure and mix, you must account for the water in the liquid as part of the total amount of water in the concrete mix. So be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
Once the concrete reaches the texture of peanut butter, it’s ready to pour into the mould.
Use a small bucket and a spade to pour the concrete into the mould. Press and compact the concrete into the mould as you go, until it fills the mould about halfway up the sides, or has a depth of 1 inch.
Carefully set the wire into the concrete and make sure it doesn’t touch the mould. Then continue pouring the concrete to finish filling the mould, tamping with a trowel as you go to ensure it’s well compacted. Aim to slightly overfill the mould since the concrete will settle and drop.
Smooth the surface with a trowel. And use an orbital sander without sandpaper to help the concrete settle. Hold the operating sander along the sides of the frame. The vibrations will bring air bubbles up to the surface of the concrete. Once the bubbles stop appearing, you can stop the vibrations.
Cover the concrete with a plastic sheet or wet burlap for at least a week so it cures properly.
Remove the Frame and Mold
Take apart the 2×4 frame. To remove the mould, drill two 2-inch screws halfway into the melamine sides and of equal distance apart. Do not drill all the way through.
While holding the mould sides to the base with one hand, use the back of a hammer with the new screws to gently pry each side of the mould away from the concrete countertop. Take your time to avoid damage to your new countertop.
With the help of a friend or two, flip the countertop over. Remove the cut-out sides using the same screw-hammer technique. Then remove the particleboard base. This should be easy to lift up.
Finish the countertop using an orbital sander to buff away any imperfections along the surface and edges of the concrete slab. Be sure to wear a protective face mask or respirator and goggles so you are protected from all the dust.
Start with a 100-grit sandpaper and work your way to finer grits, ending with a 220-grit sandpaper. Hold one hand on the countertop as you sand the edges. And be sure to sand evenly, checking the smoothness of the concrete with your hand. It will be done when each surface and edge is smooth.
Wipe the concrete with a damp rag when finished.
Wear eye protection, a respirator, and acid-proof gloves to etch the concrete surface with a solution of 1 ounce muriatic acid and 1 gallon of water. Wipe the solution over the concrete thoroughly with a sponge. If inside, open windows and doors for ventilation.
Use clean water to rinse the acid solution off the slab and allow the concrete to dry thoroughly. Once dry, apply a concrete sealer to the countertop with a clean sponge or brush. Seal from one end to the other, using broad strokes. Once dry, apply a second coat of sealer, working at a right angle to the first coat.
Repeat until the concrete won’t absorb any more sealer.
Once the concrete has fully dried, you can install the countertop. Run a thick bead of silicone caulk along the top edges of the cabinet. Set the countertop in place, press down gently, and enjoy your brand new concrete countertop.
To ensure you use the right concrete for the job, contact your local ready-mix concrete suppliers. They can help you find a suitable concrete mix to create an attractive, durable, and long-lasting concrete for your DIY concrete countertop project.
The Problem with Steel-Reinforced Concrete
by TRP Ready Mix on September 11, 2018
…And Why Concrete Contractors and Suppliers Prefer Alternative Reinforced Concrete Materials
A 19-century innovation, steel-reinforced concrete sought to make concrete structures more secure and stable. But as history shows, this approach to reinforced concrete hasn’t stood the test of time like its predecessors.
Concrete structures in Rome stand to this day, close to 2000 years after their creation. By comparison, many concrete highways, bridges, and buildings with steel reinforcement have already begun to crumble.
We know concrete is durable with a long lifespan. So what’s the issue?
The fact of the matter is there are several concerning disadvantages to using steel-reinforced concrete.
If you’re planning to order reinforced concrete from concrete suppliers, first consider the advantages and disadvantages of steel-reinforced concrete. You might also want to consider the alternatives that many concrete contractors prefer!
What Is Steel-Reinforced Concrete Used For?
Steel-reinforced concrete is meant to use the compressive strength of concrete with the tensile strength of steel to carry heavy loads, such as footings, foundation walls, and columns. Driveways with heavy traffic, carport floors, and large shed floors may also require reinforced concrete to support the weight.
Steel reinforcement is embedded in concrete to hold the concrete together, prevent large cracks, and add overall strength. This added strength allows for the creation of longer, thinner, cantilevered structures, and less-supported slabs that are more structurally sound due to the reinforcement.
Types of Reinforced Concrete
Reinforced concrete is often traditional cement concrete poured onto steel reinforcements. These reinforcements include:
Rebar is short for reinforcing bar. It is a mild steel bar that comes in various thickness, such as #3 which is 10-mm thick, and #4 which is 12-mm thick. Rebar is often manufactured for better grip, such as ribbed rebar.
Welded Wire Mesh
This is steel wire welded together in a square grid pattern to form a flat sheet. The steel wire thickness is usually 4 mm. And the typical grid size is 150 mm x 150 mm.
Both types of steel reinforcement are used in masonry projects. Typically, rebar goes around the footing while the welded mesh goes into the slab, often creating a cage.
While these are cost-effective options for building with concrete, they are made of steel, so they pose a risk of rusting and causing concrete corrosion.
Advantages of Steel-Reinforced Concrete
The combination of concrete and steel gives reinforced concrete high compressive and tensile strength. As a result, reinforced concrete is considered more durable. It is also fairly fire- and weather-resistant.
Since steel reinforcement can strengthen thinner concrete slabs, so concrete contractors can use less concrete and still have a strong and supported concrete slab. By using less concrete, this saves time and labour costs for supplying, transporting, mixing, and pouring concrete.
Steel is also an affordable material and is cheaper than some of the alternative reinforcement options, such as aluminum bronze and stainless steel.
Disadvantages of Steel Reinforced Concrete
While developers can save on upfront costs with steel reinforcement, they often don’t consider the long-term costs for maintenance, repairs, and replacement.
Steel’s main component, iron, is rust-prone. As a result, corrosion remains a unique disadvantage when using steel reinforced concrete.
This corrosion is difficult to detect in concrete structures. But it destroys the durability of concrete, leading to a shorter lifespan of only 50 to 100 years, with deterioration starting in as little as 10 years. Compared to the ancient concrete structures in Rome, 50 to 100 years is not nearly enough time for modern-day structures to last.
As a result of this shorter lifespan, crumbling buildings, bridges, highways, and other infrastructure are costly to repair. The repair and rebuilding costs of steel reinforced concrete structures will only get worse over time as more structures deteriorate and lose structural integrity.
Why Steel Isn’t the Best Option
The presence of steel reinforcement in concrete makes concrete more prone to cracking. While regular concrete can handle a few tiny cracks, these cracks pave the way (pardon the pun) for a major threat to steel reinforcement—moisture.
When moisture enters concrete through these cracks, it creates an electrochemical reaction with the steel reinforcement embedded in the concrete. This reaction creates a battery, with one end of the rebar becoming an anode while the other end becomes a cathode. This battery powers corrosion, transforming the steel into rust.
Rust has the ability to expand steel up to four times its size. This expansion creates larger cracks and fractures apart concrete in a process called spalling (AKA concrete cancer).
Natural Rebar Alternatives
The concrete industry is always looking for ways to be more environmentally-friendly. One such way of doing so is with these alternatives to steel rebar:
Continuous Basalt Fiber (CBF)
Made from basalt, CBF is a dense, abrasion-resistant igneous rock. This rock fibre is more than double the strength-to-weight ratio of alloyed steel. It won’t corrode like steel and it won’t deteriorate from acids. CBF is also fire-resistant and works well with a variety of composites.
Compared to steel rebar, CBF also reduces the amount of concrete used, making for thinner, lighter concrete that allows for more insulation room. CBF is also not thermally conductive so it can connect to both inner and outer insulated wall panels without transferring heat. This means more energy-efficient buildings due to reduced heat loss.
Woven-Strand Bamboo (WSB)
WSB uses skinned bamboo stalks that are sliced lengthwise into thin strands. These strands are then carbonized, dipped into a water-based adhesive, and either hot- or cold-pressed in moulds. The result is a product that is three times the density of bamboo and is also resistant to absorbing moisture, swelling, and decaying from bacteria and fungi.
Bamboo has high tensile strength, is quickly renewable, and it sequesters carbon, making it an extremely eco-friendly reinforcement alternative to steel rebar.
Fibre-Reinforced Polymer (FRP)
FRP is another alternative to steel rebar that can build energy-efficient concrete structures and won’t corrode. FRP, especially glass FRP provides thermal and electric insulation, has a high strength-to-weight ratio, and has low maintenance costs.
By building reinforced concrete with alternatives that won’t corrode, concrete structures get a longer lifespan. They require less maintenance and fewer resources. They will be able to stand the tests of time like the ancient Roman structures, and they won’t become a costly financial burden for maintenance, repairs, or replacement.
Curing and Pouring Concrete: Best Practices for Summer
by TRP Ready Mix on July 11, 2018
How to Overcome the Challenges of Pouring and Curing Ready Mix Concrete When It’s Hot
Summer is a busy season for concrete contractors, but the hot weather poses challenges for curing concrete.
If it’s too hot outside, concrete will cure quickly and risk losing quality and strength. And if it’s also dry and windy, these three factors combined will increase the risk of drying concrete too quickly.
But there are ways to pour and cure concrete in the hot summer months without risking the concrete’s structural integrity.
If you’re planning a DIY concrete project, consider the following information and tips for pouring and curing concrete in the summer.
What Is the Ideal Temperature for Pouring Concrete?
To achieve the optimal concrete strength, the ideal temperature should be maintained at around 12˚ C (55˚ F).
However, it is safe to pour concrete with air temperatures between 10˚ C and 32˚ C (50˚ F and 90˚ F). If you must pour concrete outside of this temperature range, take extra precautions to ensure the concrete cures properly.
If it is too hot, the water content in the concrete will evaporate quickly, causing the concrete to dry too fast.
To pour concrete on hot summer days, make sure to pour the concrete when the temperature is the coolest—i.e. early morning. And keep the concrete wet to prevent it from drying too quickly.
Avoid pouring concrete at noon, or during the afternoon when the sun is the strongest and the temperatures are the highest.
What Is the Purpose of Curing Concrete?
The purpose of curing concrete is to maintain adequate moisture content and temperature so the concrete slab can gain its optimal strength as it sets.
Curing is mandatory in concrete construction. How concrete cures will determine its long-term strength and durability.
Concrete sets with a process called hydration. When concrete is hydrating, it absorbs water that bonds the concrete mix together, forming crystals around particles in the concrete. This crystallization strengthens concrete.
In cooler temperatures, the hydration process slows down, allowing more time for the crystal structures to strengthen. But when the temperature is too hot, the crystallization process speeds up, leaving less time for the crystal structures and concrete to strengthen.
In hot temperatures, water also evaporates from the surface of concrete, causing it to dry out and shrink. This will lead to weaker concrete at the top of the slab that is more prone to cracking.
Concrete can reach a solid state before it has completely cured. Properly curing concrete can take up to 28 days to reach its desired strength and quality.
What Happens When Concrete Dries Too Fast?
When concrete dries too fast, it is difficult to finish, since it loses workability. It will also have an increased rate of slump, so it will not be consistent throughout.
Concrete that dries too fast becomes soft, and in some cases, chalky.
It also results in a weak and unstable concrete, with reduced compressive strength and durability.
If the top of the concrete dries faster than the bottom due to hot weather, the top will shrink while the bottom does not. This results in internal problems that will damage the concrete slab. And shrinkage cracks can appear that will eventually get worse with time.
To achieve optimal concrete strength, the top and bottom halves of the concrete slab need to cure evenly at the same rate.
What Temperature Does It Have to Be for Concrete to Cure?
Concrete will not cure if it’s colder than -6˚ C (20˚ F). But, ideally, it should be kept at a minimum temperature of 10˚ C for at least three days. And concrete should not get hotter than around 32˚ C (90˚ F).
Why Do You Keep Concrete Wet?
Keeping concrete wet ensures that concrete will cure properly and reach its desired strength. This prevents concrete from drying out too quickly and risking shrinking, cracking, and reduced strength. The cement in concrete also needs constant moisture to gain strength.
It’s important to keep your concrete as moist as possible for seven days after placement so it gains strength and shrinks less, creating fewer cracks.
Here are tips to keep concrete wet and at a cool enough temperature in hot weather so it will cure properly:
- Store the concrete mix and materials in a cool place or out of direct sunlight.
- Use cold water for the concrete mix to keep its temperature down. Ready mixed concrete suppliers use cooling methods, such as adding ice to the concrete mix.
- Reduce the mixing time once water has been added.
- Batch and mix concrete at a ready mix concrete plant.
- Be ready to receive and place delivered concrete so it can avoid prolonged exposure to heat.
- Keep all concrete equipment covered, in the shade, and sprayed with cold water until the moment you need to use it.
- Dampen the subgrade and side forms with cold water before pouring the concrete.
- Do not finish the concrete while water is on the surface.
- Prevent evaporation by covering concrete with curing blankets plastic sheeting, or spray-on membrane-forming curing compounds.
- Keep concrete wet with water curing. Either pond or spray the surface periodically with a hose, or turn on a sprinkler to a fine mist, and then cover with wet burlap.
- Block direct sunlight and wind using sunshades and windbreaks.
- Use evaporative retarders if the temperature gets hotter and water is evaporating quickly from the concrete.
While it’s not ideal to pour and cure concrete in hot weather, it is possible. So keep these tips in mind to ensure your ready mix concrete maintains long-term strength and durability after you pour this summer.
Keep Your Concrete Patio Summer-Ready
by TRP Ready Mix on June 11, 2018
Cleaning and Caring for Concrete Patios throughout the Summer
Patio season has finally returned to Ottawa, and that means it’s time to dust off your patio furniture and remove any unsightly dirt from your patio’s concrete pad.
But your patio care shouldn’t end there. Besides cleaning your patio, you should check for damage and take preventative measures to ensure your summer space stays in top condition all year long.
We’ve put together some concrete-friendly maintenance tips on how to clean concrete patios and restore and care for them this summer.
How to Clean Your Concrete Patio
Start by clearing your patio of all furniture and décor. Remove any weeds that have grown around your patio and between the pavers, and give the concrete surfaces a good sweep.
For Lightly-Soiled Patios
Remove dirt with a stiff nylon-bristled brush (don’t use metal) and a diluted bleach solution. Oxygen bleach is a safer option.
Dilute any cleaners you use with water in a spray bottle, taking care not to spray any nearby plants in your garden. Rinse off your patio when finished.
For Tough Stains
Mix oxygen bleach with a bit of water to create a paste with a consistency like that of peanut butter. Apply to the stain and allow to sit for an hour before scrubbing with a nylon-bristled brush.
If you don’t want to use oxygen bleach on your patio, you can make your own eco-friendly cleaners.
Mix equal parts vinegar and water to clean stains, or use full-strength vinegar on heavily soiled areas.
You can also use a simple baking soda solution to get the job done.
For every gallon of water needed for cleaning, add a half cup of baking soda and an eighth of a cup of liquid dish detergent, mixing well. Spray this solution on your patio, let sit for 30 minutes, scrub, and rinse.
For Mildewed & Heavily-Stained Patios
You may need to use a pressure washer to thoroughly clean heavily stained patios. You can rent a pressure washer at a home improvement store.
Make sure to follow the instructions on the equipment carefully. Be sure to wear protective eyewear and gloves, and use sheeting to protect your home from any loose debris.
For Stamped Concrete Patios
Use a garden hose or pressure washer to rinse off dirt and debris, then apply a small amount of liquid dish soap to the surface and scrub with a push broom.
Rinse well with a hose and allow the concrete to dry completely (wait at least 24 hours), or dry with a leaf blower.
Checking for Repairs
Once you’ve cleaned your patio, check for signs of damage, such as cracks, gaps, and worn-out sealer. Make any necessary repairs before the damage worsens and compromises the appearance and quality of your concrete.
Pouring More Concrete to Repair Damage
To repair damaged concrete, contact your local Ottawa concrete contractors to make repairs. Alternatively, you can order concrete and make the repairs yourself by replacing damaged concrete. Here’s how to pour concrete for a patio.
Preventative Maintenance Tips to Protect Your Patio
Seal the Concrete
Once you’ve thoroughly cleaned your patio, consider sealing the concrete with a concrete sealer to prevent future stains. Make sure your patio is completely dry before sealing.
Use a paint roller to apply the seal. Start from the middle of your patio and roll outward to the edges. Allow drying before using your patio.
Applying protective sealer prevents dirt, stains, and other substances from penetrating your concrete.
If you have a decorative stamped concrete patio, mix in an anti-skid material with the sealer, and use a sealer with UV protection to prevent the colour from fading in the sunlight. You should seal your concrete every two to three years, depending on how much wear it gets.
For the best results, seal in cooler temperatures in spring and fall, or before 10 a.m. and after 4 p.m. in summer.
While a sealed concrete patio will prevent stains, you should still sweep and wash your patio regularly to prevent dirt buildup and keep your patio looking pristine.
Fill Joints between Patio Stones with Polymeric Sand
Placing polymeric sand between concrete patio pavers will prevent weeds from growing up between the pavers and pesky bugs from living there.
This will ultimately prevent cracks from forming in your patio, prevent the need for future weeding, and also prevent bugs from burrowing between your stones. You can find polymeric sand in the landscaping and patio section at home renovation stores.
Follow these steps for placing polymeric sand between your patio stones:
- Remove existing weeds and moss.
- Clean patio stones with a cleaner or a pressure washer.
- Pour the polymeric sand between joints using a small cup (i.e. a yogurt cup)—the sand should be 1/8 of an inch below the pavers.
- Sweep excess sand into the joints.
- Use a rubber mallet to tap your stones and compact the sand.
- Remove excess sand with a leaf blower.
- Mist the stones and sand with a garden sprayer about three to four times in one hour.
- Don’t let water form puddles in the sand.
- Allow 24 hours for the sand to set before using your patio.
Prevent Stains, Moss, and Dirt Buildup
Apply Wet & Forget to your concrete patio each spring to keep your patio clean of algae, moss, and dirt buildup. Here’s how:
- In a garden sprayer, mix one part Wet & Forget with five parts water.
- Spray on your patio surface.
- Repeat every three or four months.
This should clean your concrete patio and keep it clean. But if there are any deep, hard-to-remove stains, spray with Wet & Forget and use a stiff brush to scrub the stains away.
Kill Weeds the Natural Way
Instead of using store-bought weed killers, you can make your own by filling a spray bottle with white vinegar and adding a teaspoon of dishwashing soap. Spray this solution on weeds during the sun’s peak times to help the vinegar absorb into the weeds.
Don’t Use De-Icing Salts in Winter
As with concrete driveways and walkways, avoid using de-icing salts on your concrete patio in winter. De-icing salts wear down sealers and put your concrete at risk of cracking and damage throughout the winter.
Keep your concrete patio in tip-top shape this summer by taking the time to clean, repair, and care for your patio. Contact Ottawa concrete suppliers for more information about concrete patios.
Everything You Need to Know to Pour a Concrete Patio
by TRP Ready Mix on May 11, 2018
Industry Tips for Building Patios with Ready Mix Concrete
Patio season is finally here, Ottawa! If you’re ready to enjoy your own outdoor patio this summer, why not build one yourself?
Using ready mix concrete, you can build a durable base for outdoor patios that will last a lifetime. Contact your local ready mixed concrete supplier and follow these steps for building your own concrete patio.
Checklist – Tools & Materials You’ll Need
- Hammer or drill;
- Tape measure;
- Bull float;
- Nails or screws; and,
- Steel or magnesium float.
- Gravel or crushed rock;
- Concrete mix and water or ready mixed concrete;
- Wood stakes;
- Rope string; and,
- Aluminum screed; and,
- Steel concrete form.
Tips to Help Your Prepare
Before ordering ready mixed concrete, you’ll first need to figure out how much concrete you’ll need for the project. Decide on a flat, convenient location for your patio and try to determine how large it will be.
Make sure you are compliant with local building regulations and check the location of underground utility lines and septic tanks. You absolutely must avoid digging into these and be sure not to build your patio on an area that may need to be accessed in the future.
Drive stakes into the corners of the patio area and tie strings between them. This will give you a visualization and therefore more accurate dimensions for your patio.
This border will also help you determine slope with a line level. For uneven ground, you can either dig out the high side or build up the low side. Use a hoe, shovel, or other gardening tool to remove grass, weeds, and topsoil from the roped-off area.
GETTING THE BASE READY
If you want your patio to be level with the ground, dig eight inches deep. Alternatively, for a raised patio, dig four inches deep. Next, tamp the earth to make it even and compact.
For patios that will hold heavy weight—i.e. a brick barbecue—first pour a layer of concrete for a more stable foundation. Otherwise, add a layer of gravel or crushed rock, and tamp until compact and even.
Add More Stakes
Drive sturdy stakes slightly outside of the original stakes and space the new ones at least two feet apart.
Installing the Frame (Form)
Cut 2x4s to the length and width of the patio and line them along the inside of the patio’s string border. These should be directly under the string since they are acting as the outer walls of your patio.
Next, nail or screw the 2x4s to the stakes. Check the level of the forms as you nail them to the stakes.
Saw off the top of the stakes just below the edge of the forms. If pouring concrete next to a house, structure, or slab of concrete, place an isolation joint between the concrete and the other surface.
Finally, coat the form boards with vegetable oil or a commercial releasing agent.
PLACING THE CONCRETE
Mix the concrete with water in a wheelbarrow, according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Or have ready mix concrete delivered and poured professionally.
If pouring on your own, pour the concrete all at once and have someone help you shovel out the concrete. Push the concrete into all corners of the patio area with a shovel.
Use an aluminum screed or a flat piece of 2×4 wood to level the top of the concrete, working from one end to the other in a sawing motion. Having a helper holding the screed or 2×4 on the other end will make this easier.
ADDING THE FINISHING TOUCHES
Smooth the surface with a bull float, moving back and forth to fill in low spots.
Slide an edger between the concrete and the forms to create a rounded edge.
Once the concrete can support your weight, cut grooves in the concrete every eight feet to act as control joints. Then use a steel or magnesium float to finish smoothing out the surface.
Cover with plastic or a curing compound and allow to cure for at least two days before removing the form boards.
Lastly, enjoy your new concrete patio this summer!
5 Products That Can Damage Concrete Driveway & Floors
by TRP Ready Mix on April 11, 2018
Concrete Contractors Offer Advice to Protect Your Concrete Flooring and Driveways
Although concrete is extremely strong and durable, it is not immune to certain products and spills.
When concrete is sealed properly, it’s better protected from the elements and everyday wear and tear, including cleaning products and other substances. But even so, there are some products strong enough to stain or damage a concrete surface permanently.
During home renovations or while working on the car, you may spill some paint or oil. These spills may seem harmless, but you could end up with permanent ugly stains on your garage floor or driveway.
If you want to maintain the appearance of your concrete flooring, then protect your concrete and be cautious when using certain products.
There are concrete-cleaning products available at home repair stores that can help remove some of the culprits. But if these won’t work, contact concrete contractors for help repairing your concrete.
Concrete contractors will grind, seal, and even polish your concrete floors and driveway to make them look new again.
Here are the top five products that can damage concrete and how you can remove their stains.
Tape adhesives are nearly impossible to remove from concrete. And if left on for too long, these adhesives might etch the concrete surface. Most construction-grade tapes use plasticizers, additives that help improve flexibility in the adhesive. Because concrete sealers are often somewhat porous, the plasticizers tend to bond very well to sealed concrete surfaces, creating an extremely strong bond.
What’s more, the similarity between resins in construction tape and concrete sealers creates a further issue. Sealers have a certain drying window – they might look and feel “dry” to the touch after two days, but chemically, they’re still setting. Applying construction tape at this point means you’re creating an incredibly strong bond between the two resins. When you peel back the tape, the adhesive remains (and potentially even some of the non-sticky portions of the tape).
It is possible to repair this damage. Concrete contractors would need to regrind and reseal the concrete surface, a time-consuming (and potentially costly) process. Want to avoid future repairs? Don’t apply tape directly to concrete!
Paint doesn’t necessarily damage concrete, but unlike so many other surfaces, concrete is incredibly difficult to clean paint from, sealed or unsealed. If you plan to do any painting, cover your concrete flooring first to avoid damage from paint spills. And if paint does spill, don’t allow it to dry. Wipe it immediately with a cloth and warm water. If it sets and dries, then you’re in a similar position to the damage caused by adhesives.
And just like adhesive damage, you’ll need to regrind and reseal the affected concrete to get it back to its original condition.
As with painting, always cover your concrete floors before installing drywall. Spilled drywall mix can cause unsightly blotches and patches on concrete products and are almost impossible to remove cleanly after they’ve dried. When it dries, you’ll have to regrind and reseal the affected concrete to get the clean, even look you want.
If you’re fast, though, you can quickly address spills. Using a drop cloth when working with drywall mix, including sheetrock mud, can help prevent any frustrating spills, but accidents do happen. Keep a spray bottle on hand filled with water, a trowel, and a sponge. Scrape off what you can immediately, then start spraying down the remaining mix and dabbing it away with a sponge. If you’re quick and diligent, you can remove most of the mix, or at least mitigate the damage.
Grease and Oil
The best solution for an oil stain is to clean it while it’s fresh. Use a diluted degreaser to remove fresh oil and grease.
Some of these household products might help remove oil and grease, but make sure to test them on a small surface first:
- Scrub with detergent and warm water;
- Spray with WD-40, leave overnight, and rinse off the next day; and
- Apply oven cleaner, wait 15 minutes, and scrub with a hard-bristled brush (repeat if needed).
For older stains that have set deeply in the concrete, grinding and sealing will repair the damage.
To prevent oil stains altogether, place a tray of sawdust or cat litter under your car to catch oil drips.
Water and Moisture
For water spots on concrete, burnishing should do the trick. For acidic food spills like cola, vinegar, wine, and mustard, try to wipe up as soon as possible. If these spills end up leaving stains, then you’ll need to regrind and reseal the concrete surface.
Contact your local concrete contractors for help removing stains from your concrete.
Although concrete driveways and garage floors are not as cherished as hardwood floors, you should still protect them so they will look great for longer. Clean, well-maintained concrete floors and driveways also boost a home’s curb appeal if you ever decide to sell your home.
Working Safely and Responsibly with Concrete
by TRP Ready Mix on April 3, 2018
Tips for Worker Safety and Sourcing Eco-Friendly Concrete Products
Concrete is the most widely used building material in the world. It’s versatile, long-lasting, and easy to work with.
But when working with concrete, you need to be safe and environmentally responsible. You can reduce your environmental footprint and keep workers safe with the right precautions. Where you order your concrete and how well you enforce workplace safety are crucial.
Here are tips for choosing a responsible concrete supplier in Ottawa and ensuring worker safety on the job so you can protect both your environment and your workers.
We all must do our part to protect the environment. If business activities could potentially impact the environment, then a business needs an Environmental Compliance Approval (ECA) from the Ministry of the Environment (MOE) to operate legally in Ontario.
This is why ECO Certification exists for concrete companies.
Concrete companies who are ECO Certified can assure their customers and communities that they, their facilities, and their concrete products are compliant to environmental and sustainable standards.
Certified companies are responsible for following best practices for the communities and environment in which they operate—including the air, water, noise, and waste.
So when choosing a reliable and responsible concrete supplier for your next concrete project, look for local concrete companies who are ECO Certified.
On-Site Safety Tips
When it comes to worker safety, you can never be too cautious. The weight and chemical composition of concrete can harm workers if these safety measures aren’t in place.
Hard hats are essential safety gear for all construction sites, whether or not you are working with concrete. As a result, head protection is absolutely necessary to ensure optimal worker safety.
Concrete can pose a threat to the eyes in both its dry and wet forms. To protect workers’ eyes from dust and concrete splatter, workers should wear full-cover goggles or safety glasses with side shields at all times.
Concrete and its separate ingredients—cement, aggregates, sand, water—are heavy. Whether you are mixing concrete on site or having it delivered from a local concrete supplier, make sure your workers follow these instructions for lifting heavy materials:
- Keep your legs bent and your back straight;
- Keep the weight between your legs and close to your body;
- Do not twist your body while lifting or carrying heavy objects;
- If the materials are too heavy, get others to help you;
- Use mechanical equipment to bring heavy materials as close as possible to the desired location;
- Opt to have concrete delivered to a final area with a truck pump or chute;
- Use a shovel to push—not lift—concrete should into its final position;
- To spread concrete, use a short-handled, square shovel, a concrete rake, or come-alongs; and,
- Avoid excessive horizontal movement of the concrete to prevent over-exertion and separation of ingredients.
Both fresh and dried concrete can irritate skin, so workers should take necessary precautions to avoid prolonged contact with concrete:
- Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and waterproof gloves;
- Wear high enough rubber boots to prevent contact while standing in fresh concrete;
- Prevent fresh concrete from saturating clothing with moisture;
- Rinse saturated clothing with water until clear;
- Wash hands, arms, and other affected areas with pH-neutral soap and clean water;
- Use waterproof pads to protect knees, elbows, and hands during concrete placing and finishing; and,
- If skin becomes irritated, causing persistent or severe discomfort, seek medical attention.
With environmental and safety best practices, you can ensure your concrete projects are safe, sustainable, and responsible. Protect your workers’ health and safety while protecting the environment when working with concrete.
Tips For Maintaining Your Concrete Driveway
by TRP Ready Mix on March 16, 2018
Advice from Concrete Contractors to Extend Driveway Life and Durability
Although concrete driveways are durable, they still need care ever so often. And new driveways need extra care to maintain their appearance for years to come.
Driveways experience a lot of traffic. They are often the first thing people notice about a home. To protect your investment and boost curb appeal, keep an eye on your driveway’s condition.
Contact your concrete contractor for repairs. And follow these maintenance tips to keep your driveway in great condition.
It’s important to remove stains from your driveway immediately. These include oil, gasoline, grease, radiator fluid, and other spills. Common methods to clean driveway stains include using:
- Non-clumping cat litter to absorb fresh oil;
- Warm water and grease-cutting dish soap or detergent;
- Grease-cutting biodegradable cleaners;
- A regular scrub brush; and,
- A pressure washer.
Do not use a wire brush to scrub the stains since it will damage the concrete’s surface.
To protect the concrete, reseal your driveway every two years or when the sealer starts to show wear. You can buy quality concrete sealers from home repair stores. Or, ask your concrete contractor to reseal your driveway.
Sealer protects concrete by:
- Repelling water;
- Preventing dirt and dust accumulation;
- Protect the concrete from abrasion; and,
- Protecting concrete from UV damage.
Along with resealing, you can also prevent cracks by trimming nearby tree roots. These roots may damage your concrete driveway, causing severe cracking if left untouched.
Also, heavy vehicles can cause cracking, especially along the edges of driveways. So park in the centre of your driveway. And if you have any visitors with heavy vehicles, ask them to park on the road instead.
The moment you notice a crack or hole in your driveway, patch it. This will prevent the damage from spreading and save you time and money in the future.
Use a masonry chisel to remove the broken pieces, and brush away any debris. Then apply a crack filler and a patching compound so it is flush with the rest of your driveway. Once dried, apply a sealer to your entire driveway.
Keep Water Away
Create a water-runoff trench around your driveway to prevent water buildup. This can be two- or three-inches wide along the edges. Also, keep your downspouts directed away from your driveway. Downspouts should also be a good distance from your home.
Although sealed driveways repel water, driveways can become saturated over time. Saturation is harmful in the winter when water freezes, expands, and cracks concrete.
Avoid De-Icing Chemicals
Salt and other de-icing chemicals penetrate concrete surfaces and aid in winter cracking. So opt to use a snow blower or a shovel to clear your driveway. And apply slip-resistant traction with sand, kitty litter, coffee grounds, or alfalfa meal.
Plow & Shovel with Care
While plowing your driveway, lift the blade high enough so it won’t scrape the concrete surface. Also, use a plastic shovel on uneven surfaces to avoid damaging the driveway.
Extend the life of your driveway with these maintenance tips from concrete contractors.
Ready-Mix Concrete: A Solution to Ottawa’s Pothole Problem?
by TRP Ready Mix on February 19, 2018
How Ready-Mix Concrete Offers a Better Quality Fix to Ottawa’s Pothole Repair Problems
Potholes plague many city councils and their roads. But how a city addresses potholes will determine if these remain an ongoing issue or not. Often, and possibly in an attempt to save money, city road contractors will use a low-quality asphalt to repair potholes. The result? A need to repair these same potholes over and over again, costing the city more money in the long run.
But what if cities used a local ready-mix concrete supplier instead?
Here’s a look at the current problem with poor pothole fixes and how a ready-mix supplier can help.
In a recent report on the quality of asphalt used to repair Ottawa’s potholes, auditors found that the asphalt did not meet contract standards. They tested samples from the city’s suppliers, and all tests revealed substandard results. Although the city should be testing their asphalt to make sure it meets its standards, these tests are expensive—costing approximately $3,000.
But the costs of not testing the quality of asphalt could far outweigh the costs saved. Instead of having to repair the substandard asphalt with more substandard asphalt year after year, Ottawa’s potholes could have a more permanent fix with ready-mix concrete.
Meet City Standards
Ready-mix concrete suppliers produce concrete to meet various project needs and building standards. With a computerized batching system, there is little risk of human error that could be responsible for the substandard asphalt currently being used for fixing Ottawa’s potholes. Suppliers would work closely with city engineers to meet specifications that are realistic, producing and delivering high-quality concrete that is superior to the current asphalt.
Ready-mix suppliers use the same quality of aggregates for concrete construction projects, so there wouldn’t be any disparity between the quality of concrete for commercial projects and city road work. And suppliers with their own team of concrete contractors will have the skills and experience to provide efficient and quality repairs for Ottawa’s roads.
Have the Fleet and Equipment to Mix, Deliver, and Pour On-Site
Serious concrete suppliers will have a large enough fleet and quality equipment to accurately mix and deliver concrete on time. With a large fleet, more work can be completed around the city at once, instead of waiting for lengthy periods of time for contractors to be available during the busy construction season.
Save Time and Costs
Ready-mix suppliers ensure yield control for both aggregates and concrete, meaning the city won’t be overcharged for the amount of aggregates or concrete used. And the efficient mixing, pouring, and spreading of concrete will provide quality results that last. This means road work projects will be completed faster and on time. And the quality of concrete will meet or surpass city standards, requiring less frequent repairs than the poor-quality asphalt.
Instead of a quick, temporary fix for city pothole problems, cities should consider investing in trusted ready-mix suppliers who strive to produce quality concrete that will last. Quality concrete means the work won’t have to be repeated again next year, and city roads will be safer and easier to drive on for longer.
Ottawa Concrete: Your New Home Décor Must-Have
by TRP Ready Mix on February 7, 2018
How Concrete is Becoming More Than Just a Construction Site Material
When most people think of concrete, the first thing that comes to mind is a construction building material. Concrete is the most popular building material around the globe and has been used throughout history to build cities, roads, and the foundations of our homes.
But this popular construction material is gaining a new use—home décor. Designers have transformed this durable building material into durable and attractive home furnishings, decorative pieces, and other housewares. While Ottawa concrete suppliers are accustomed to filling large orders of concrete for use on construction sites, there are no projects too large or too small for concrete.
Concrete houseware designers have found a way to make concrete both functional and beautiful. They appreciate the strong, durable qualities of concrete. But to the surprise of many, concrete products can also actually be very lightweight. And when mixed with mineral pigments, concrete can achieve a watercolour finish.
Thanks to these designers, concrete is now an option for both durable and stylish home décor. Here are just some of the many housewares that are now being created with concrete:
- Lamps and shades;
- Tiles; and,
The Shift toward Concrete Design
Since the concrete industry has always needed to meet the demand of large-scale concrete construction, there was a time when you could only order large amounts of concrete from concrete suppliers. Large-scale projects will use hundreds of tons of concrete per project, whereas concrete designers only use small amounts—up to 15 tons—in an entire year.
But now, concrete is widely available for projects of all sizes. You can buy small bags of ready-mix concrete from suppliers and home improvement stores. This makes it much easier for homeowners who wish to complete their own concrete projects, as well as concrete designers who have taken to the art of designing concrete home décor.
Concrete suppliers around the globe are acknowledging and embracing this design trend that uses concrete on a much smaller scale, supplying ultralight, high-performance concrete to designers. Designer-grade concrete uses smaller aggregates to create stronger concrete in thinner applications.
Designers can purchase bags of ready-mix concrete that are as small as 2.5 kilograms and cure at a much faster rate than construction-grade concrete. Before designer-grade concrete was available, designers had to wait at least a week for their concrete products to cure. But now they only have to wait 12 to 24 hours with the designer-grade concrete. This makes it much easier for small businesses to keep up with production demands.
Concrete is a durable material, so why not also turn it into something beautiful that can be admired in the home? Contact Ottawa concrete suppliers for more information about ordering custom ready-mix concrete for projects both large and small.