Decorative Concrete Techniques and Design Ideas For Your Home’s Patio

How To Upgrade Your Home’s Patio With Decorative Concrete Designs

Summer nights are going to be here before you know it. It’s the time of year to have friends over, fire up the grill and eat dinner on the patio. But is your patio dinner party ready?

There are endless options to update your outdoor living space. From decorative decks, to pergolas, firepits and more, it gets difficult—and expensive—to decide what you want. This is when it pays off to use concrete!

If you’ve been thinking of sprucing up your patio, now’s the time to do it. And we’re here to help! You may not have thought about the different ways that concrete can give your patio the facelift it so badly needs, so we’ve compiled a list of three different decorative concrete techniques and four concrete design ideas to help transform your patio.

Why Choose Concrete Over Other Materials?

Many homeowners choose wood, brick or stone to decorate their patio. While these finishes give a nice touch, the same effect can be achieved with concrete while also achieving many other benefits!

It’s customizable

Concrete can be placed and constructed in a way that mimics stone and brick, and even have the same grain lines as a piece of wood. Plus, stains, pigments and antiquing agents can be applied to give concrete a completely unique look.

Additionally, concrete can be placed in any shape and size, allowing you to fully customize your desired design. The options really are limitless when it comes to decorative concrete techniques.

It’s affordable

Concrete is a much more affordable option than other design options such as stone, too. When you consider that you can get the exact look of stone, for a much lower price, it’s easy to see why concrete is a better option.

It’s durable

When you decide to use concrete for your home’s patio, you’re adding an extension to your home that will last for decades. Concrete is known for its durability, so you’ll be able to enjoy your patio for a lifetime! Not to mention, concrete is highly weather resistant, so it’ll be able to withstand the unpredictable Carolina weather.

3 Decorative Concrete Techniques To Transform Your Patio

Before deciding on what elements you want on your patio, consider the type of texture, finish and color you want your concrete to have.

1. Concrete Color

Concrete can be mixed to the color of your choosing through various pigments or stains.

Pigments can be added to the concrete prior to pouring, allowing the color to fully mix in. These pigments can be in liquid or powder form, and usually, only allow earthy colors such as brown and tan, but green, grey and blue can be added as well.

There are multiple types of concrete stains which can be applied at any point throughout the process. Typically, however, you want the stain to be added quickly after the pouring is complete so the final product is as vibrant as possible. Like pigments, stains come in more subtle, earthy tones. However, acrylic-based stains can add black or white coloring to your patio!

These decorative concrete coloring techniques allow your patio to perfectly complement the architecture of your home, while giving your patio a completely unique and custom look.

2. Concrete Finishes

Consider how much moisture exposure your patio will experience. Do you have a pool? Are you located in an area that receives a lot of rain? Maybe children running back and forth results in unexpected spills? If this is the case, consider a decorative concrete texture that adds more traction for the safest results.

One of the ways to add traction is with a broom finish. A broom finish is used after the concrete has been smoothed to give traction. This is done by dragging a broom across wet concrete, leaving small ridges to give grip.

If you have a pool, a salt finish would be the ideal finish for your concrete. Rock salt is applied to wet concrete, which is later washed away. Once completed, small pits are left behind that give some much-needed traction around the pool.

And remember, finishing your concrete surface with a layer of sealant provides a whole host of benefits!

3. Concrete Texture

While there are multiple different ways to achieve concrete texture, the one we want to focus on is decorative concrete stamping.

Stamping has three main steps: base color, accent color and stamping. Say you want to add a wood-like finish to your patio. You would first choose the color you want the wood to have. Once decided, these colors will be added to the concrete though powder pigments or stains. Next, the design will be stamped.

The concrete is stamped by using patterned “stamps”. The stamps are laid on wet concrete, and the pattern is softly pressed in, allowing the concrete to mold to the pattern. Finally, the stamp is carefully removed and the process is repeated throughout the rest of the surface.

Concrete stamping is a popular method because it can mimic the exact look of stone, brick, wood, tile and more. Plus, concrete stamping is a much more affordable option than using materials like brick, stone and wood.

Want to see stamping in action? Watch this video from HGTV to see how concrete can be transformed into wood-like pallets.

4 Concrete Designs Ideas For Your Patio

Now that you know some of the endless technique options for decorative concrete, it’s time to put them to the test! Here are four ways to transform your patio with concrete design:

1. Stamped Stone-Like Concrete

If you want the look of stone without the cost, go with concrete. Not only is concrete a much more affordable option, but it can be poured in any shape or size to look just like real stone!

The concrete can be manipulated by hand to mimic almost any stone you would choose. This stone-like look will upgrade your patio and give it a true one-of-a-kind look.

2. Tiered Concrete Steps

Decorative concrete steps will also elevate your patio. Adding steps can lead your family or guests to an element such as a pool or firepit, making your patio a directional feature of your home.

3. Colored Borders

Around the patio or walkways, add colored concrete borders to give your patio extra definition. These can also be poured with any texture or finish you want. These borders are a great way to add more personalized touches to your outdoor living space.

4. Concrete Fire Pit

A concrete fire pit can also be poured in any shape, design or texture you desire. A fire pit is a wonderful addition to any home because it gives an extra gathering area for family or guests.

Again, a concrete fire pit will be much more affordable than other options, but will still add a high-end touch to your home. Not to mention the level of safety of a concrete fire pit! The right contractor knows to line concrete fire pits with protective veneer, which may be fire brick grouted with fire clay or a steel ring. This extra level of protection makes a concrete fire pit and safe choice for your home and family.

Upgrade Your Patio With Concrete Supply Co.

When you’re looking to upgrade your residence or patio, trust the team at Concrete Supply Co. to help with your project!

Since 1958, we have been providing ready-mix concrete to projects and transforming areas—big and small—all over the Carolinas. When it comes to concrete, we are your source!

We are ready to help take your patio to the next level with our state-of-the-art concrete. Plus, we value sustainability, so we can keep your project eco-friendly.

Reach out to us so we can talk about the opportunities for concrete to transform your outdoor living spaces!

Want more information about concrete? Download our free guide, Concrete Checklist: Gets The Best Ready Mix For Your Project!

csc checklist guide

decorative concrete patio

Concrete Construction Hazards With Solutions From OSHA

Concrete Construction Hazards and Our Solutions From OSHA

Like many labor-intensive jobs, there are a few occupational safety hazards of working in the concrete construction industry.

At Concrete Supply Co., we believe you, your co-workers, supervisors, and project managers should take the necessary steps to eliminate the potential dangers that exist on your worksite. Our goal is to ensure each worksite is safe for all.

Keep in mind, even the most basic of concrete worksites can be filled with safety hazards.

Throughout our 60 years in the residential, commercial, and DOT concrete construction industries, we’ve become very familiar with the hazards that exist on site. With that being said, we’ve also become accustomed to following OSHA’s specific concrete construction guidelines in order to avoid hazards and keep the site safe.

When it comes time to start your next concrete construction job, plan ahead in a way that prevents the following hazards:

  1. Chemical burns
  2. Respiratory irritation, illness, or infection
  3. Injuries for improper lifting
  4. Form blowout
  5. Injuries from falling objects
  6. Falls from elevated platforms
  7. Vehicle accidents

Then, implement the guidelines mandated by OSHA to solve or eliminate the concrete industry hazard from your work zone.

Irritation, Dermatitis, and Burns

Any type of direct contact with wet concrete can quickly lead to skin irritation, dermatitis, or worse, a chemical burn.

Think about it–as concrete hardens it absorbs moisture. The chemicals in cement pull moisture out of anything to aid in the drying process.

When cement pulls the moisture from skin, it leaves behind severely damage skin cells. Once concrete hardens, if left untreated, the skin will begin to blister, swell, and bleed, eventually becoming a second to third-degree burn.

The most severe cases of skin coming in direct contact with concrete have led to scarring, the need for skin grafts, and even amputations. And the harmful effects of skin coming in direct contact with concrete are only worsened when admixtures are introduced to the concrete mixture.

OSHA reports that concrete workers in the U.S. lose four times as many workdays for skin problems compared to other construction trade workers.   

If you or your crew are working with fresh concrete, extreme care should be taken to avoid and treat skin irritation and/or chemical burns. Always wear protective equipment such as waterproof apparel, tall boots, alkali-resistant gloves, long pants, and long sleeves while on site. If skin irritation persists or in the case of a deep burn, seek medical attention immediately.   

OSHA also mandates that employers must supply workers with alkali-resistant gloves and coveralls, as well as provide access to emergency washing stations in order to avoid burns from contact with wet concrete and cement.

Find more of OSHA’s respiratory protection guidelines.

Respiratory Irritation

Exposure to dust from dry concrete mixtures can irritate the respiratory system, leading to various infections and illnesses. In the short term, inhaling concrete dust can irritate the nose and throat making it difficult to breathe.

Know that dust from sanding, grinding, cutting, pouring, and mixing concrete can find its way into the air you and your crew breath.

Therefore, OSHA requires employers to provide persons who perform or are in the area of any of the previously mentioned actions with suitable respiratory protective equipment. This equipment can include a P-, N- or R-95 respirator or face mask to minimize inhalation of cement-related air pollution on site.

When you mix your own concrete on the job site, there is an increased risk for breathing it in. You can prevent the likelihood of breathing a mix’s dust in by having a supplier, like Concrete Supply Co. create the mix in their controlled plant and then delivering it to your site by truck. See the various project’s we’ve safely mixed and delivered ready-mixes to in the past.

Improper Lifting Injuries

While injuries from lifting are common on construction sites, they tend to be especially common with concrete construction due to improper lifting techniques. At about 150 pounds per cubic foot, even a small piece of concrete can weigh enough to cause serious, long-term damage.

Safe lifting procedures and load-carrying techniques will almost always prevent painful and expensive injuries on the job site. When moving items over 50 pounds, use a forklift or lift the load with another individual on the job site. If you must move heavy objects manually, lower and lift with the knees, not the back, and avoid twisting while carrying heavy items.

OSHA encourages employers to train employees on how to lift safely and to implement effective ergonomic (the science of designing the job, equipment, and workspace to fit the worker) programs. Doing so will help ensure a workplace free of hazards.

Read more on how OSHA recommends preventing lifting injuries.

Vehicle Accidents

Often a concrete construction site requires large, heavy-duty pieces of construction equipment and vehicles to operate within a tight work zone–a disaster waiting to happen. When vehicles and other types of mobile equipment are operated improperly by untrained workers, the risk of injuries or even fatalities in the work zone is possible.

It should be known that working on a highly active site is serious. This is not the place for anyone to cut corners or cheat on safety. Encourage your workers to remain highly vigilant and always pay attention. This will vehicle accidents to a minimum.

According to OSHA, you can further prevent concrete construction site accidents by:

  • Allowing only workers who are extensively trained to operate equipment. (If a trained worker is not available, bring in an experienced outside professional for concrete pours and other specialty work.)
  • Supplying workers with high-visibility safety apparel.
  • Using temporary traffic barriers throughout the workspace to notify drivers of clearances, speed limits, duration and type of operations, volume of traffic, etc.
  • Planning and setting up the work area in a way that allows for any possible type of maneuvers. (Consider the size of any construction vehicles or equipment that may enter the site.)
  • See more from OSHA on site vehicle safety.

When it comes to any concrete vehicle-related operations, be sure they are conducted under the direct supervision of a competent supervisor.

Form blow-out

When using concrete formworks, blow-outs are a very scary but oh-so-real possibility.

The term “blow-out” refers to a break in the form. Form blow-out is due to the pressure from liquid concrete during the concrete placement and consolidation. A blow-out can result in catastrophic effects not only on the structure itself, but injuring workers who may have been working on the structure.  

OSHA states that formwork shall be designed, fabricated, erected, supported, braced and maintained so that it will be capable of supporting without failure all vertical and lateral loads that may reasonably be anticipated to be applied to the formwork.

Find a Supplier Who Mitigates Concrete Construction Hazards and Adheres to OSHA Standards

While the listed are general concrete industry hazards, every worksite should have a competent individual or team of individuals responsible for performing an assessment of the site-specific hazards and measures that should be taken to limit them.

Site management should be responsible for ensuring all equipment is routinely serviced and maintained in a safe condition. This is done by conducting periodic on-site inspections of operations, and providing operation and safety training for relevant employees. Site supervisors should continuously observe operation safety, provide immediate corrective training for all unsafe acts, and conduct pre-pour inspections. Employees and crew members should follow all safety and operational procedures and immediately notify supervision of all unsafe conditions. Together you can maintain a safe working environment. 

The reality is, hazards exist on any concrete construction site. But there are steps you can take to control and limit incidents–keeping your entire team safe. Take a look at Safety Data Sheets for Concrete Supply Co. which outline our specific safety practices on our site.

If site safety is a top priority of yours, you should find a concrete supplier who also values safety. Safety is something that is sure to come up during the pre-qualification process. See our guide to pre-qualifying suppliers for more important qualities to look for in a concrete supplier.

Download The Contractors Guide To Pre-Qualifying Suppliers


Feel free to contact an experienced project manager on the Concrete Supply Co. team. We would be happy to discuss how we can help you limit the hazards and dangers lurking on your site. Contact us today!

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hard hats for safety on a concrete construction site

Concrete’s Impact on Building and Infrastructure Resilience

Key Decision Makers Can Enhance Resilience By Choosing Concrete.

Today, Americans are entirely aware of the damage a natural or manmade disaster can have on a community.

From the recent California Wildfires that burned entire towns down; to Hurricanes, Michael, Florence, and Irma that brought more wind and rain than we could have imagined; on top of countless other disasters including floods, tornadoes, and earthquakes that wreaked havoc on our nation this year–we know quite well how serious these disasters can be.  

While no one is completely out of harm’s way when it comes to these disastrous events, key decision makers like city planners, architects, designers, and builders can make decisions that enhance a community’s infrastructure resilience. One of those key decisions is to build with concrete.

What Makes Buildings and Infrastructure Systems Resilient?

The National Infrastructure Advisory Council defines infrastructure resilience as the ability to reduce the magnitude and/or duration of disruptive events.

The effectiveness of a resilient building or infrastructure system depends on its ability to anticipate, absorb, adapt to, and/or rapidly recover from a potentially disruptive event. Essentially, how quickly a community is able to restore energy, transportation, clean water, and communication services to residents after a disaster is the measure of a community’s infrastructure resilience.

Community facilities such as fire, police, health care, government entities, and designated shelters or residential units are typically built to the highest resilience.

The Impact Of Material Selection On Resilience:

A community can gain resilience when buildings are constructed in a way that allows them to withstand intense, disastrous events. As you can imagine, this type of resilience weighs heavily on the material selection process.

Resilient communities start with comprehensive planning and include stricter building codes that produce strong, long-lasting structures. As someone responsible for planning and designing buildings and infrastructure systems, it’s important to recognize the opportunity for resilience throughout the material selection process.

The most common building materials include wood, brick, stone, steel, iron–all of which have pros and cons.

Take wood for example. Wood is a very common building material boasting qualities such as being: strong, lightweight, and easy to use. But it should be noted that wood is easily prone to decaying and damage due to moisture, pest infestation, fire, and whatever other harsh environmental elements might come about.

A material that can be incorporated in several key aspects of a building or infrastructure system project to make it more durable and disaster resistant is concrete.

Read more of our construction need-to-knows for material management success.

Concrete Makes Buildings And Infrastructure Systems Resilient.

Nobody can deny concrete’s strength, durability, longevity, and inherent resilience, among many other benefits.

Today, concrete is the only building material that cost-effectively delivers:

  • Energy efficiency through thermal mass
  • Sound insulation
  • 100% recyclability–considered a sustainable building materials!
  • Durability in any type of environment
  • Low carbon footprint for a structure or surface throughout its lifecycle
  • Safety and security
  • Versatility in shape, color, pattern, etc.
  • Low maintenance costs
  • Abundance of mix materials (water, air, gravel, sand) almost everywhere
  • Resilience

Concrete doesn’t burn, rust, or rot. It’s resistant to fire, wind, water, vibrations, and earthquakes.

Moreover, concrete provides resiliency in the form of weight and mass. Think about it, concrete is physically heavier than most other building materials. It’s due to this quality that concrete structures are able to resist almost any force a disastrous event may unleash.

Below you can see the resilience of concrete wall systems, floor systems, finishes, roof tiles, storm shelters, retaining walls, and pavements in the face of various conditions.chart showing the resilience of concrete

As a stakeholder, designer or builder, it is in your best interest to consider how you can contribute to a building or infrastructure system’s resilience. A concrete wall, floor and/or roof system can provide your structure with the best combination of strength, security, and resilience.

Put it in Concrete Terms:

When you choose to build with concrete, you’re able to enjoy peace of mind knowing that you are providing unsurpassed safety and security for the building or community’s occupants. You’ll play a part in limiting the risk for costly property damage and/or losses, ensuring long-term continuity, and enhancing overall building resilience.

The same piece of mind you’ll enjoy knowing you chose to build with a resilient building material like concrete, is the piece of mind we enjoy knowing we supply our clients with a quality and well designed ready-mix concrete!

At Concrete Supply Co., we’ve made it our mission to be the premier provider of quality ready-mix concrete and related services while acting in the best interest of our employees, customers, shareholders, and the community.

We strive to embody our values of integrity, family, customers, teamwork, community, industry, and profitability in everything we do–something we feel is important to find in any supplier.

Learn more about who we are at Concrete Supply Co

If your next concrete project requires concrete that is extra strong, be sure to let your ready mix supplier know. Your ready-mix can be mixed in a way that contributes to the strength. A strong concrete ready-mix will ultimately allow you to have a more resilient building. For more on how to get the best ready-mix for your job, download our checklist.

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resilient city infrastructure

Cold Weather Concreting 101

Cold Weather Concreting Is Possible When Certain Precautions Are Taken

Construction doesn’t stop–it’s a year-round industry. This means concrete mixes, pours and placements are needed all year and cannot come to a halt due to less-than-ideal weather conditions.

While concrete can be mixed and poured during the cold weather, there are many things to keep in mind which we plan to detail throughout this blog.

  • First, we’ll explain what can go wrong while pouring concrete in cold weather conditions.
  • Then, we’ll discuss how your ready mix provider can help you overcome the problems associated with cold weather concreting.
  • Finally, we’ll warn you of the mistakes we frequently see when it comes to cold weather concrete pouring and tips to avoid making those mistakes.  

Before we start, we feel it’s important to all get on the same page as to what exactly “cold weather” is considered.

The ACI or American Concrete Institute says in their ACI 306R-10 “Guide to Cold Weather Concreting that “cold weather exists when the air temperature has fallen to, or is expected to fall below 40℉ during the protection period*.” So if you find yourself grabbing a jacket on your way out the door, consider the air temperature before mixing, pouring, or placing concrete.

*The “protection period” is defined as the time required to prevent concrete from being affected by exposure to cold weather.

The Two Biggest Problems Cold Weather Concreting Creates

Now, there are two big problems you’ll face when pouring concrete in cold weather.

Problem #1

Concrete must be protected from freezing at an early age. If concrete freezes prior to reaching an initial strength of 500 psi it will not achieve its intended strength.

A general rule to keep in mind is that once the concrete has gained a strength of about 500 psi, it can withstand the effects of one freezing-and-thawing cycle. Exterior concrete should be air entrained and at the minimum required strength prior to exposure to multiple freezing-and-thawing cycles.

Problem #2

Concrete sets more slowly when it is cold but especially slow when temps are below 40℉. Below 40℉ the hydration reaction basically stops and the concrete will gain strength at a very slow rate.

To help your concrete reach that 500 psi strength ASAP, your ready-mix provider can add to (or change-up) the mix in ways that will get it to set more quickly. Those mix add-ins and changes are explained further below.

Mix adjustments alone can only do so much and its possible additional precautions are required to provide temporary heat prior to, during and after a concrete placement to aid in maintaining the concrete temperature once in place.

Mix Changes Your Ready-Mix Supplier Can Make To Help Your Cold Weather Concrete

Many of the problems experienced with cold weather concrete pouring can be overcome with an experienced ready-mix producer’s assistance. A concrete mix can be manipulated in ways that allow it to set and strengthen quickly.

  • Hot water – As temperatures get colder most producers can start using hot water in the mixing process when requested to meet a minimum placement temperature.
  • Slump – The slump required from any ready-mix is dependent on a variety of things. A slump that is less than 4 inches can reduce bleeding. Since the concrete sets slowly in the cold, bleeding starts later, lasts longer, and you’ll see more bleed water.
  • Accelerators – Accelerators keep setting on a somewhat predictable schedule. Often times you’ll see the use of calcium chloride to speed up the hydration reaction. But consider this–calcium chloride can lead to corrosion of any steel embedded in the concrete and it can lead to a streaked and spotted surface appearance with colored concretes.
  • Non-chloride accelerators – Non-chloride accelerators are readily available and must be used any time there are embedded metals such as reinforcing steel. Non-chloride accelerators are also appealing because they don’t discolor concrete.

*Please note that accelerators should not be considered antifreeze agents. They work to increase the rate of the hydration reaction–not prevent freezing.

  • Fly ash –  Fly ash or slag cement may cause the mix to set slower and generate less heat compared to a straight cement mix. Your ready-mix producer will have straight cement options available upon request.
  • More internal heat – To make the reaction hotter, mixes with higher cement contents can be requested. You may consider ordering a concrete that is one or two classes higher in strength. The use of Type III cement may also be an option based on availability which is typically limited to larger metropolitan areas. Your mix’s internal heat can be used to your advantage, and you’ll see why a little later on in this article.

A quality concrete mix design is crucial for success in construction. At Concrete Supply Co. we believe in our ready-mix designs and their ability to help you achieve a successful cold weather concrete placement.

Avoid These Common Mistakes with Cold Weather Concreting

1. Placing concrete on a frozen ground

measuring ground temp

Concrete should not be placed on ground that is frozen or covered with ice or snow as it will have an immediate and long-term impact on the performance of the concrete. A frozen or cold subgrade will slow the set by lowering the in place concrete temperature reducing the effect of the hot water and/or accelerating admixtures when used. Frozen ground may also settle once thawed leading to potential settlement cracks.

2. Allowing concrete to freeze

Think about it this way, water takes up more space in its ice phase than it does in its liquid phase. So when the water used in your mix freezes, it expands, causing damage to the concrete. Do what you can to ensure your pour sets fast enough to prevent freezing. Additional precautions to prevent the in place concrete from freezing may be needed during the protection period.

3. Not taking advantage of heating techniques (or using them incorrectly)

Many times, heating techniques are used to prevent concrete from freezing (mistake #2). When it comes to flatwork, the best way to protect concrete from the cold is to cover it with blankets after it’s been finished. This is where you should take advantage of the heat concrete generates on its own. Blankets will keep your concrete warm even if the temperature goes below 20℉. Use layers of blankets at corners and edges that could freeze.

If blankets aren’t enough, try laying heating blankets on top of the slab or using hydronic heating pipes to keep the slab from freezing.

Still not enough? Enclose and heat the air with a temporary enclosure. While this option comes with its own problems and can run a pretty penny, it is sometimes your only option if the concrete pour has to happen. Be especially careful when using fuel-fired heaters. If your enclosure isn’t properly ventilated, carbon dioxide can build up and react with the concrete, causing the surface to become weak and dusty.

These same blankets used to protect the in place concrete after the placement can also be used to prevent the subgrade from freezing the day or night before the placement providing a warmer subgrade leading to faster set times.

4. Using cold materials

Not only is it important to ensure your mix, the ground, and the air are warm enough, the materials (forms, embedments, and tools) you use for cold weather concrete pouring should also be above freezing and close to the delivered concrete temperature if possible.

At Concrete Supply Co., we have experience with all types of ready-mixes, even mixes that will stand up to freezing conditions. If you need to pour concrete this winter, download our Get The Best Mix For Your Project Concrete Checklist, and be sure to specify that you’ll be looking to pour your mix during cold temperatures.

And remember, concrete can be poured during cold weather and develop sufficient strength and durability to satisfy requirements when the proper precautions are taken. A mix that is properly proportioned, produced, placed, and protected will survive the cold weather.  

cold weather concrete site

The True Benefits Of Sealing Concrete

Regardless of the surface type, whether it be a decorative floor inside your home, a covered outdoor patio area, or your driveway, applying some type of concrete sealer is always beneficial. Here are a few reasons why sealing concrete is the way to go:

1. Sealing protects concrete from damage.

There are several reasons why a concrete surface might experience damage. The conditions it’s poured under, settlement, shrinkage, overload, and various other factors can all cause concrete to crack, spall, and flake.

A sealer protects your concrete surface from the various elements that can further contribute to damage. Oil, chemicals, salt, grease, weather exposure, UV rays, and moisture are all big ones. In the winter, when your driveway is covered by a layer of ice, water has the potential to seep below the surface of the concrete. This becomes a problem when that water freezes and expands separating the concrete. Sealer prevents moisture and other elements from seeping below the surface and negatively affecting your concrete surface.

2. Concrete should be sealed to protect from mold and mildew.

Because concrete is a porous material, it has a tendency to absorb moisture. When this moisture doesn’t dry and the surface is left wet for an extended period of time, mildew begins to form and mold begins to grow. You’ll know you have mold growing on your concrete by the greenish color that appears.

When you seal your concrete, you inhibit moisture from penetrating the surface and therefore prevent the development of mold and mildew.

3. Sealing concrete increases its longevity.

Generally speaking, concrete is a long lasting and durable material. Typically, a concrete driveway can last anywhere from 25-30 years unless it becomes damaged. In that case, it will likely need to be replaced sooner.

Sealing your concrete not only ensures your concrete surface is protected, but that it is long lasting. It should also be noted that compared to the cost of replacing a concrete surface, sealing is relatively inexpensive and easy to do–definitely worth a long lasting concrete floor, patio, slab, or driveway.   

4. The appearance of the concrete will be improved by sealing.

There is nothing too special about the appearance of concrete–hey, we’ll admit it! Right after concrete is poured, it has a rough look and over time can become discolored, while developing a dingy, old appearance.

Applying a sealer enhances the overall look of concrete. Most sealers keep your concrete looking new, while also smoothing and preserving color. Are you’re planning to stain your concrete surface? Is your concrete surface is indoors where you and your family will be walking barefoot? Will you’ll be placing furniture on your concrete surface and would prefer if it didn’t get scuffed up? Seal.

Most of these 2018 residential concrete trends require sealing for their appearance.

There are so many important reasons to seal your concrete surfaces. If you choose to forego sealing, you should know you’ll likely suffer some of these negative consequences.

Here are the negative consequences you could encounter if you do not seal concrete:

  • Like anything that is subject to harsh outdoor elements, (and oil, chemicals, grease, salt, etc) concrete will begin to fail prematurely.
  • Oxidation from the sun can begin to break down the concrete causing it to age quicker than normal.
  • In colder climates, moisture that penetrates concrete can freeze and thaw continuously causing the concrete to shift, crack, heave or buckle.
  • Mold and mildew can build up on concrete that has not been sealed.

Sealing concrete helps to maintain a durable and beautiful concrete surface for years to come.

While we just stressed the importance of sealing concrete for appearance, durability, and longevity, it all starts with a great ready mix. Before you start any concrete project, download our free Perfect Ready Mix Checklist. Your answers to the questions on this checklist will help determine exactly what kind of ready-mix your project requires–the best ready mix as we say/

concrete sealing

Concrete Basics: Essential Ingredients For A Concrete Mixture

Concrete is and has been for thousands of years, a very popular building material.

Made up of just a few basic ingredients, concrete is the most widely used man-made material on the planet. Humans use more concrete than all other building materials combined.

So what is concrete exactly?

What goes into the most commonly used building material?

Concrete is a mixture of cement, air, water, sand, and gravel–it’s as simple as that!

Not exactly. The typical concrete mix is made up of roughly 10% cement, 20% air and water, 30% sand, and 40% gravel. This is called the 10-20-30-40 Rule–though proportions may vary depending on the type of cement and other factors.

Now let’s discuss each ingredient and the important role they play in your mix.

Concrete mix ingredients and their important roles:


Though cement makes up the smallest percentage of the mixture, it’s an essential ingredient in concrete. Cement serves as the glue that keeps everything else together. It’s also what allows the ready mix to harden once it’s placed. There are five different types of cement depending on what kind of concrete you’re looking to make:

  • Type I is used for most residential work
  • Type II is used in moderate sulfate conditions
  • Type III is used in climates where freezing is a risk
  • Type IV is used for special orders like industrial placements
  • Type V is used in extreme sulfate conditions

Types I and II are the most widely used residentially in the United States due to the relatively moderate climates we experience here.

Air and Water

For a mixture to be effective, some amount of air entrainment (tiny air bubbles) is needed in the concrete. Air-entrained cement ensures that excess water has a chance to expand when it moves through the freeze-thaw cycle. These air bubbles, however, must be microscopically small or else the ‘entrained’ air will turn into ‘entrapped’ air which leads to shrinkage and cracking.

Amongst all of the other essential ingredients involved in creating a mixture, water tends to have the largest impact. As a rule of thumb, the more water that you put into the mixture, the less strength the hardened mixture will have. Shrinkage and cracking are also probable when too much water is involved. Excess water will eventually evaporate out of the hardened concrete, causing the concrete to shrink and eventually crack.

An ideal amount of water can be measured by water to cement ratio, which should vary between .4 and .6. The higher the ratio, the weaker the concrete. A good way to test the solubility of your concrete is to perform a slump test. This will help to determine whether or not your mixture contains too much water.  

Gravel and Sand

As you can see, gravel and sand aggregates make up about 70% of the mixture. This high percentage makes the mixture more economical–as gravel and sand are both stronger and more cost-effective than the cement. A good ready mix will include proportionate amounts of both large (gravel) and small (sand).

The reason for this is that the gravel makes up the majority of the ready-mix and the smaller sand particles do a good job of filling in any extra spots that could otherwise be filled by unwanted air pockets.

Well there you have it, the ingredients that combine to create the most widely used building material in the world–concrete. As you can see, each ingredient and its ratio impacts the final ready mix’s quality and type. It’s important that you get the best ready mix for your specific job. That’s why we’ve created this Ready Mix Checklist to help you and your ready mix supplier create just what you need. Download your Ready Mix Checklist now.

Concrete supply co mixing truck in front of plant

Material Management: Construction Need-to-Knows

Construction Need-to-Knows for Material Management Success

Material management creates a process for planning, executing, controlling and overseeing all construction activities. Both in the field and in the office. After all, it’s the first step in ensuring that the right materials are available when needed, ordered and delivered at the right time for a reasonable cost.

Likewise, proper material management is a necessary component in improving productivity and cost efficiency. Consequently, construction materials and equipment often make up the bulk of the total cost for a construction project. As a result, this usually amounts to about 70 percent or more of the total cost. That’s why it’s important that they are managed in a way that increases productivity while reducing overall project costs.

Material Management Objectives

As a material manager, your objectives will include:

  • Efficient materials planning
  • Purchasing and receiving inventory
  • Storing and inventory control
  • Materials supply and distribution
  • Good supplier and customer relationship
  • Improved efficiency among the department

Good coordination between employees and departments is necessary to meet these objectives.

Materials Management Functions

As a materials manager, your day-to-day functions will include:

  • Planning for materials requirements
  • Purchasing materials
  • Inventory planning and control
  • Creating and maintaining the flow and supply of materials
  • Quality control of materials
  • Efficiency among the department

The functions of materials management are needed to fulfill your objectives.

Basic Strategies for Improving Construction Project Efficiency

Inventory Organization

Materials that are scattered around the job site or not clearly accounted for. As a result, this leads to a productivity slowdown on the construction site for crews that have to correct these problems. After all, not knowing the exact inventory of your materials or not knowing where they are can lead to over ordering. It’s important to have a system that keeps your materials in a convenient place and delivered on time.

Project Material Planning

Further, it’s important to plan and schedule the delivery of your project materials ahead of time. This way, if the construction crew knows they’ll need certain materials, they will be ordered and delivered on time. Likewise, this decreases the amount of time the crew will have to wait for materials and increases productivity on the site.

Project Material Purchasing

First, select the sources of supply. Second, finalize the terms of the purchase. Next, place purchase order. Then, input your payment and finally, evaluate the supplier and the purchase.

Shipment Planning and Storage

Bulk shipments of materials for different phases of the job, unplanned deliveries and material relocation can drain money and time. Especially when you have to find the items you moved or ordered a while ago. Thus, it’s smart to schedule the materials you’ll need shipped with a specific storage space. You should also be sure to ship materials according to the product manager’s schedule. This way, you’ll know what is being delivered, when and where.

Any significant effort in reducing material costs by management will improve the profitability of the company. As well as productivity and cost efficiency for any given construction project.

Concrete Supply Co. has the material management expertise to provide your construction project with the highest quality concrete products and services.

For more information, contact us on Concrete Supply Co.!

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Residential Concrete Trends of 2018

Top Residential Concrete Trends of 2018

Today’s homeowner tends to value a home that is not only visually appealing but is structurally safe. They want a home that will stand the test of time. But at the same time, they want a home that is energy-efficient, low-maintenance, and environmentally friendly.

As a result, the concrete industry is always changing to accommodate those desires with new advancements in technology and techniques.  

More and more homeowners are realizing concrete’s potential for beautiful aesthetic and structural capabilities in one, while also being affordable!

We’ve seen a number of concrete trends emerge with residential homeowners this year, both structurally and aesthetically.  

Structural Concrete Trends

Resilient Construction with Concrete

In a time where natural disasters seem to be more common (and destructive), residential homeowners are concerned with resilient construction. Standing up to hurricanes, fires, earthquakes, floods and more–concrete is the answer to resilient construction. In 2018 we’re likely to see an increase in concrete use throughout the residential construction industry because of its resiliency. Leading us to our next trend….     

Insulated Concrete Form Walls

ICFs, or insulated concrete form walls, are becoming a popular option for residential owners and builders. The growing popularity of ICFs is due to the fact that they make the building process quicker, easier. Additionally, they create a structure that is durable, efficient, and safe.

The process of constructing ICFs involves stacking the dual-sided expanded polystyrene units held together by a high-density polypropylene webbing. Steel reinforcement is locked in to place as the wall is constructed and then filled with high-strength concrete to form a solid wall structure.

ICF walls create a structure that is energy-efficient, fire-resistant, and can withstand flying debris. These walls can handle debris from tornadoes and hurricanes with wind speeds of up to 250 mph. ICF construction is quiet, low maintenance, healthy, and has a lifespan that is significantly longer than traditional building methods. Compared to a wood-framed home, ICF walls provide 20 percent or more in energy savings. As well as 10-30 percent less outside air infiltration and three times less noise and a 4-hour fire rating.  

We expect to continue to see the ICF wall system be used throughout the residential and even the commercial construction industry in the future.

Aesthetic Concrete Trends

What was once just a construction material is now a high style decor material for residential homeowners everywhere. There are several advantages to using concrete for decorative purposes:

  • Few seams and the ability to minimize the appearance of seams with the use of a color matched filler.
  • Water and stain resistant with the use of a surface sealer.
  • Infinite color options with integral coloring, staining, or both which gives a homeowner the ability to coordinate or match with any room.
  • Can be cast in any shape and almost any size.
  • The ability to create custom edges or replicate designs using molding products.
  • Can be personalized with unique embedded items like pebbles, recycled glass and, seashells.
  • The appearance will improve with age. Since concrete is not a static material, it will evolve and acquire character over time.

The trend of using concrete for architectural and decorative purposes on the residential level is flourishing thanks to new products, advanced techniques, and designers promoting the look. Achieving a particular decorative or architectural appearance with concrete typically requires special forms, unique finishes, different ingredients, colors, and other variables. Here’s how people are using concrete within their homes:

Concrete Countertops

Concrete countertops are especially trendy today. The demand for concrete countertops is growing as people learn the advantages of using the material in their kitchens. One of the most appealing factors swaying people towards concrete countertops is how easy they are to maintain!

Decorative Concrete Floors

Also associated with the decorative and architectural concrete trend are decorative concrete floors. A range of pigments, stains, stamps, dies and stencil patterns, glass and friction finishes allow you to create a walkable piece of art that fits any location.

Concrete floors are economical when compared to quarried stone, they’re also strong, require little maintenance, are long lasting, and provide you with a variety of decorative options!

Pool, Patio, and Other Outdoor areas

Generally, people look to cover their outdoor surfaces with a material that is strong and durable yet practical. Decorative concrete can add a fresh and unique look to your pool, patio, or other outdoor areas, which is something everyone is prioritizing this year!

Driveways and large walkways

Compared to gravel and asphalt, concrete is a more expensive material to pave your driveway or large walkways with, but less expensive than brick or cobblestone. The incentive to use concrete? It’s strength, minimum maintenance, cooler surface, and longevity. Concrete is strong by its very nature standing up to heavy loads through its ability to disperse those loads evenly throughout the pavement. Concrete requires little to no maintenance and its high reflectivity means that more of the sun’s incoming radiation is reflected back into the atmosphere, lowering the amount of heat absorbed by the pavement and its surroundings.

While these are the current trends in residential concrete use, one thing is for sure, the full potential of concrete as a material is just being tapped into. Trends will continue to emerge, taking the concrete industry to new places.

From small do-it-yourself projects, retaining walls, driveways, walkways, and outdoor living areas, to major home renovations and new home construction, plus everything in between, we’ve got you and your residential concrete needs covered. Get an estimate for your residential concrete project today.

Keep in mind, no concrete mix is going to work perfectly for every project, that’s why it’s important to understand how to get the perfect mix. We’ve created a checklist of questions that can help guide you to the best mix for your application. Click to download your checklist.

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