Concrete Basics

Concrete may be one of the soundest investments for your home. Installing a concrete driveway, sidewalks or patio gives your home an attractive, personal look. You should take care, however, that you do not settle for less than the best.

 

Preparation and Planning

Some home investment projects turn sour, mostly because the average homeowner does not know what he or she wants. Positive results spring from a well-informed consumer. The rewards of knowing what type of mix, what curing process to use, and even what time of year to install the concrete will benefit you in a margin of decades, instead of years.

 

Basic Ingredients for a Beautiful Installation

Because concrete is a blend of natural materials, it may have some natural imperfections. Do not be afraid to capitalize on them, using your creativity and a little working knowledge of concrete ingredients.

Concrete is a combination of portland cement, gravel or crushed stone, sand and water. Producers mix other natural products and some chemicals in order to speed up the drying process, to make a different look or even to protect it from the elements. Contractors will mention terms like Air Entrainment, Slump, Aggregates, and Curing. All of these have a definite effect on the look and quality of the finished product and can be found in the definitions of terms.

 

Selecting a Contractor

A good source of information on contractors is your local concrete producer. The producer will have had contact with dozens of contractors and will be glad to give you a list of the most qualified for a specific type of job. Be sure to ask prospective bidders for a reference list of both recent and past jobs. When checking a contractor's references, ask if the work was completed on schedule, within budget, was of good quality, and if the customer would use the contractor again. Do your research.