Unique Concrete Uses in Your Home
by TRP Ready Mix on October 11, 2018
With Ready Mix Concrete, Your Home Décor Options Are Endless!
Is concrete a suitable material for projects at home? If you’re thinking that its uses are limited to walkways, driveways, and foundations, you’re missing out on the tremendous potential of this versatile material.
You may have considered building your own concrete patio. But concrete can also be used inside to enhance the look, feel, and function of your home.
Here are some of the many uses of concrete throughout the home along with the many benefits of using concrete.
Using Concrete in Projects at Home
Concrete can be used for:
Concrete floors are a homeowner’s dream come true. They are customizable with coloured dyes, stamps, embedded materials, etchings, and polishes to suit any interior décor.
They are incredibly durable, being scratch- and scuff-resistant. And they are easy to clean, requiring a simple sweep and mop. Concrete is also excellent for basement floors and staircases.
Concrete walls, especially on the exterior walls of your home, are easy to clean and maintain. They are durable enough to withstand harsh elements and extreme weather. And since concrete is fire-resistant, concrete walls will keep you and your home safe.
Concrete walls also prevent pests from burrowing into your home. And these are excellent at blocking outside noise.
Concrete countertops are seamless and waterproof, making these ideal for use in kitchens, bathrooms, and outdoor kitchens. Since these countertops are created with a single pour, there are no joints or cracks for water to seep into.
Concrete countertops are customizable in shape and size, being poured into custom moulds. And you can even have a sink moulded in for a continuous countertop-sink combo. Other parts you can add to the design include a dish drain, soap dish, and trivet.
Concrete sinks, whether standalone or continuous with the countertop, are durable, unique, and low-maintenance. With an occasional sealing, these sinks will last for years.
If you want a durable, long-lasting indoor or outdoor tabletop, consider using concrete. You can customize these tabletops to suit your home, and you can use the table with your family for many years to come.
You can create a modern-looking fireplace hearth and mantle using a solid piece of stained concrete. Or, you can stamp it to look like brick or stone. Concrete is an efficient material for fireplaces since it retains heat. So even after your fire is out, the concrete will slowly release heat into your home.
Shower Walls & Floors
Troweled-on concrete makes for seamless, low-maintenance, and waterproof shower stalls. Concrete shower walls and basins are also much easier to clean than your typical grouted tiles.
Concrete bathtubs vary in size. There are single-person, standalone soaker tubs that take up minimal floor space. And there are also two-person tubs.
But do keep in mind the strength of your floor if opting for a large concrete tub. Concrete is heavy. So you will need to have a professional inspect your flooring before installing a heavy tub.
You can make almost anything with concrete. And concrete accessories can certainly enhance your home décor. Some home décor accessories you can make with concrete include bowls, candlesticks, napkin rings, vases, and coasters.
What’s a Good Concrete Mixing Ratio?
When mixing your own concrete, refer to the manufacturer’s instructions on the concrete bag. Otherwise, use a concrete calculator to determine how much concrete you need, and contact your local ready mix concrete supplier.
Depending on the amount and type of concrete you need, you can have your concrete delivered to your door and ready to pour.
Advantages of Working with Concrete
The following are some of the many benefits of using concrete for your home.
Concrete won’t degrade, rust, rot, or mildew like wood and other interior materials. So it can last longer and won’t affect the air quality of your home.
Concrete is also resistant to scratches and scuff marks, so if you drop a pan on the floor or countertop, you won’t have to worry about leaving a mark.
Unlike many materials found in homes, concrete won’t off-gas and reduce the air quality in your home. During off-gassing, human-made materials release volatile organic compounds in the air.
Materials like carpeting, paint, cleaners, and sealers will off-gas. Off-gassing may or may not smell, but it can cause health problems, like headaches, dizziness, nausea, worsening asthma symptoms, and irritated eyes, noses, and throats.
Concrete doesn’t burn. So concrete in the home, like on countertops, floors, and walls, is more likely to stop the spread of a fire than flammable materials like wood. And since concrete is heat-resistant, you can place hot pots and pans on your concrete countertops without worry of causing heat-related damage.
The durability of concrete means it has a long lifespan and won’t need replacement as often as other materials. This means less waste and materials used in the long run.
Concrete is recyclable, being reused as aggregates on road beds or in new concrete mixes. And concrete is often made with industrial waste and by-products, diverting these materials from landfills.
Ready mix concrete also comes from local materials sourced by nearby concrete suppliers. So when shopping local, you can reduce the environmental footprint of your concrete.
Concrete is more affordable than other building materials, and it can last much longer. Its long lifespan and minimal maintenance make this a cost-effective material that could save you plenty of money over time.
You can create unique concrete forms in any shape, size, or colour. And you can have it stamped, embossed, etched, hand-stained, and polished for an attractive, customized pattern, texture, or design.
Aside from radiating heat from fireplaces, concrete can also retain and radiate heat in bathtubs and heated floors.
Concrete can help block noises from travelling in your home, especially through concrete floors and walls.
Challenges of Working with Ready Mixed Concrete
While concrete is waterproof, it is also porous, which means it can stain easily if not sealed properly. So no matter the type of concrete project you take on at home, you should seal the concrete once it has dried using either a penetration or a topical sealer.
You will need to reapply the sealer every couple of years, or according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
At-Home Concrete Curing
Depending on the size of your concrete project, it can take about 1 to 3 days for your concrete to dry and 28 days for it to cure. So avoid touching or walking on your new concrete until it has dried.
Consider covering it with a cloth or plastic sheet to keep it clean and protected. And don’t place or drag any heavy items on the concrete until it cures.
If you’re ready to start using concrete at home, pull up the concrete calculator to figure out how much you’ll need and contact your local ready mix suppliers. When it comes to using concrete, the options are almost limitless, so don’t be afraid to enhance your home with this versatile and durable material.
Sun Damage to Concrete: What’s the Story?
by TRP Ready Mix on August 11, 2018
How to Protect and Repair Concrete Products from the Sun’s Harmful Effects
Can sunlight damage concrete?
It might surprise you to learn that, yes, UV rays can damage concrete over time and extended sun exposure, especially prolonged exposure in summer, can speed up this damage.
We know that ultraviolet (UV) radiation destroys both living and non-living structures—e.g. in the form of sunburns, skin prematurely ageing, and materials fading. But even strong, durable structures like concrete will deteriorate and weaken over time with exposure to UV radiation.
So whether you have an old or new concrete patio or driveway, protect your concrete from sun damage this summer to maintain its strength and extend its lifespan.
How Does Sunlight Damage Concrete?
The harmful UV radiation from sunlight can damage concrete in all its stages, from new, freshly-poured concrete to concrete that’s been around for a while.
Damage to Curing Concrete
Freshly poured concrete is susceptible to excessive damage from solar radiation. Direct sunlight causes water to evaporate from the concrete prematurely.
As a result, concrete will not have enough time (and water) to strengthen its structure before it dries out. And once it has dried out, it will experience shrinkage and cracking.
Damage to Cured Concrete
UV radiation breaks down the polymers and other bond chains of the concrete structure. Over time, this damage weakens the concrete, turns concrete into fine dust, and causes cracking and spalling away from joins or seams.
Pigments and colours on the surface of decorative concrete will break down as well, causing colour fading.
This concrete damage will only get worse with time and increased exposure to sunlight, resulting in a decreased life-span for your concrete.
How Can You Protect Your Concrete?
Protect your concrete from damage from the very start and throughout the years to extend the life of your concrete.
When curing freshly-poured concrete, you must take precautions to prevent water evaporation caused by direct sunlight.
For the duration of the curing process, which is typically 28 to 30 days, keep your concrete watered, covered, and sheltered from wind and sunlight.
Use a curing blanket, burlap, or a vinyl film to cover the concrete and keep it wet with a sprinkler or a hose.
You may also need to use sun-shades and wind-breaks to prevent both sunlight and wind from drying out the concrete.
As soon as your concrete has finished curing, use a concrete sealer to seal the concrete. Preferably, use a sealer with UV-blocking additives.
Concrete should be resealed every two years, or when the sealer shows signs of wear.
Along with sealing concrete, make sure to inspect for damage and repair concrete when needed before the damage worsens.
Do You Need to Use Concrete Sealer?
If you want to extend the life of your concrete, then, yes, you do need to use concrete sealer. Sealer protects concrete by acting as a barrier against damaging elements.
Along with blocking harmful UV rays, concrete sealer also protects against water, dirt, stains, colour fading, and scratches.
With this protective barrier, you can prevent concrete from cracking, spalling, staining, and losing strength.
There are various types of sealers available to suit your different concrete needs.
For decorative concrete, consider using an acrylic topical sealer to enhance the colour, add a gloss shine or create a matte finish, and protect the concrete from sunlight, rain, mould, and mildew.
If you want your concrete to have a non-slip surface, mix in an anti-skid material into the sealer. This is a convenient and safe option for pool decks, patios, and decorative concrete flooring.
Other types of sealers include penetrating sealers with silicates to strengthen concrete and create a waterproof barrier.
And sealers with epoxies, urethanes, and polyaspartics are often used in airports, industrial warehouses, and retail stores to protect concrete surfaces from high traffic and high chemical risks.
How Long Does It Take for Concrete Sealer to Dry?
The time it takes for concrete sealer to dry will depend on the type of sealer you use.
Penetrating sealers are usually dry and safe to walk and drive on after 24 hours. Topical sealers take up to 48 hours to dry and be safe for traffic.
What Happens to Dried Out Concrete?
Several types of damage occur with dried-out concrete. The most obvious damage is shrinkage, crumbling, and cracking on the surface, along with concrete developing a chalk-like texture.
Concrete also loses structural integrity when it dries out due to uneven curing throughout the structure. If the top part of a concrete slab dries out faster than the bottom, then the entire structure weakens and can develop cracks within as well as on top.
And when the top layer of concrete is dry, its edges tend to crumble while the entire surface can develop long cracks.
Whether you’re starting a new ready mixed concrete project, or your concrete is older, make sure to protect it from the sun’s harmful UV rays.
The bit of extra work to protect it while curing and with proper sealing is worth it to maintain strong, lasting concrete.