Liquid vs Powder Release

Liquid vs Powder Release

A release agent is necessary whenever stamping concrete. Without it, the texture tools will stick to the concrete. This leads to wear and tear on the tool and, more importantly, damage to the stamped concrete. Release agents are absolutely vital to a satisfactory textured concrete surface.

Premium Living in the Great Outdoors

Summer is here. That means grilling, pool parties, and more time spent in the great outdoors. Many families will practically live outdoors, turning their backyard into their primary living space. That’s why premium outdoor living spaces are becoming more popular around the country. Homeowners are demanding that their backyard become as comfortable as their living room. Here’s how you can help them out.

Premium Patios and Pool Decks

Outdoor living spaces are more important to family life and entertaining. Simple gray pads that were once the standard patio are no longer acceptable. Homeowners and their guests are looking for something nicer. A decorative patio and/or pool deck will serve as the base for any outdoor installation.

Use stains, on their own or in conjunction with other finishes, to add variety and color. Stains are especially useful because they can be used on new and old concrete. You can use stains to easily upgrade the appearance of an existing, plain gray patio. Refresh older decorative surfaces by highlighting with stain. Stains can add important variation, highlights, and color to a newly cured patio, too.

Texture is vital to a premium concrete patio. When selecting texture, the opportunities are endless. Different combinations of stamps and seamless skins can yield breathtaking results. Surround a medallion stamp with a radius to create a natural focal point. Borders and bands with different textures are a great way to break up repeating patterns and obscure sawcuts.

Exposed aggregate is a classic finish that has been regaining popularity over the years. It is especially useful on pool decks because it creates a non-slip surface while remaining attractive. Exposed aggregate finishes can also combine with other textures, finishes, and colors. Use exposed aggregate bands and borders with stamped textures. Stain your exposed aggregate finishes for more variation.

Restoration

Restoration projects are an excellent opportunity to upgrade. Use decorative overlays to obscure blemishes and improve appearance after repairs are made. Microtoppings and spray deck overlays can be stenciled and trowel textured for simple, attractive finishes. Use stampable overlays to create more detailed textures. Of course, most overlays can be stained just like concrete.

Outdoor Kitchens

Name one summer event that doesn’t have some form of food or drink involved. When people get together, the food and beverages flow. The outdoor kitchen has evolved beyond a simple grill and cooler full of ice. Concrete, as durable and versatile as it is, has made functional outdoor kitchens more attainable than ever before.

Before you begin designing and building the outdoor kitchen, consider what appliances and features are to be included. Will it just be a grill and sink? Will there also be a refrigerator, storage cabinets, or dishwasher? Make sure each of these are accounted for in the design, electrical hookups, and plumbing.

The concrete countertop is the most important part of the outdoor kitchen. It sets the visual tone and is subjected to the most use, abuse, and weather. Concrete is a superior choice for outdoor countertops because it can be formed into most any shape with nearly any color. Use a special countertop mix for maximum performance. Form liners can be used to impart text on the edges of the concrete, mimicking stone and other natural materials. Concrete countertops can be stained or colored to match your design and tastes unlike granite and other common natural materials. Make sure the countertop is ground smooth and properly sealed.

Firepits

Who needs television when you have a cozy fire? Bonfires and roasting fires are central to the outdoor experience once the sun starts to set. When constructing a firepit, hearth or outdoor fireplace, concrete offers stellar options.

When you first start planning, there are a few things to consider. Will it be a gas-fed fire? If so, access to natural gas lines or propane needs to be safe and feasible. From where does the homeowner want the fire to be viewable or accessible? Often, it’s a good idea to place the fire near a spa, dining area, or with a view from the indoor living space. You will also want to make sure the fire installation has seating and social areas nearby. Safety should always be consideration number one.

When designing and building the firepit, hearth, or fireplace, make sure all materials are suitable for heat exposure. Some concrete mixes may contain aggregates not suitable for fire exposure, for example. It is also important to determine whether a firepit, fireplace, or first accent is best. Firepits, for example, are best for larger social groups and entertaining while fireplaces are best for smaller, more intimate groups.

Typically, the firepit or fireplace itself tends to be made from heat-resistant masonry or stone with a decorative concrete patio surrounding it. Precast concrete bowls, boxes, and rings have gotten popular as well. Consider a colored and stained concrete apron or coping around the top of a masonry or stone firepit. This provides a durable ledge to prop up feet, sit, or rest food and drinks while complimenting the surrounding concrete patio.

Water Features

 Especially for premium outdoor living spaces, water features are a nice addition to add motion, life, and vibrancy. They can be standalone fountains, feeders for ponds, or worked into pools. Some of the most common design elements are stones and boulders, going for a naturalistic waterfall motif. But anything is possible if it works with the overall them of the outdoor space. Just make sure your plumbing and drainage are suitable!

For intricate designs often found in water features, a carved vertical mix is ideal. First, you will want to frame in the feature using a wood or metal structure. Make sure it will be able to support the weight of the cementitious vertical mix, pumps, and water lines. You should also be aware of environmental concerns, weather, and drainage. Once the rough structure is constructed, skin it and install a lathe and/or scratch coat to hold the vertical mix. Let your creativity run wild when texturing and carving the vertical mix. Vertical stamps are available to impart texture, but you can always hand carve and texture. Make sure to stain the cured vertical mix with a water based stain, then seal, for a realistic and attractive finish.

Outdoor living spaces are a growing market full of opportunity. When tied into landscaping and overall home design, an outdoor living space vastly improves the usability and hominess of a property. Decorative – colored, textured, and stained – concrete should prominently work into any outdoor living area. Due to its durability and decorative potential, concrete is ideal and should be heavily utilized.

The Contractor’s Guide to Troubleshooting Integral Color

The Contractor’s Guide to Troubleshooting Integral Color

Even the best laid plans run afoul. Due to mixing and application mistakes, faulty materials, poor planning, or just bad luck, it is always possible that something can go wrong and negatively impact the color on a project. With something as fundamental as integral color, your first instinct may be to tear out and start again. Fortunately, that’s seldom necessary.

The Fair Cares

The Fair Cares

Of all the exhibitors at the Decorative Concrete Fair, we’re most proud to have Concrete Cares joining us. Concrete Cares is “fighting cancer one yard at a time.” Concrete Cares, and founder Mike Murray, uses the skills and charity of the decorative concrete community to raise money for cancer research and supporting the families stricken with cancer.

The Contractor’s Guide to Using Integral Color

The Contractor’s Guide to Using Integral Color

Integral color can be of significant value when used correctly. As with any material or tool, it’s too easy to get the most out of integral color. By playing up to its strengths and designing around weaknesses, you can knock it out of the park on your next integral color job.

The Contractor’s Guide to Getting Good Color

The Contractor’s Guide to Getting Good Color

Colored concrete requires a little more attention to detail than uncolored flatwork. Many faults and blemishes that would otherwise go unnoticed become more prominent or problematic with colored concrete. For this reason, it is vital to maintain best practices when placing and finishing integrally colored concrete.

One Month Left - Register Now, Save 50%

One Month Left - Register Now, Save 50%

You’ve got exactly one month until the Decorative Concrete Fair! Register now to make sure you get the best value in decorative concrete training! Our special 50% off deal won’t last forever. Register online or via fax (see the registration form or click here for details) for half off the full registration price – that’s only $50!

A Few Days of Training; Years of Benefit

A Few Days of Training; Years of Benefit

It’s always a challenge to challenge to convince yourself to step away from the jobsite for a couple days. But, if you begin thinking long term, it makes sense to do it for the right reasons. Spend just a few days, August 17 – 19, with us at the Decorative Concrete Fair and it will be worth your while.

What Makes Manufacturer Sponsored Training Special

What Makes Manufacturer Sponsored Training Special

Manufacturer training events offer the distinct advantage of deep knowledge. Manufacturers, like Solomon Colors and Brickform, know their individual products better than anyone else, so they can offer the greatest depth of knowledge. Furthermore, manufacturers tend to have resources not available to other trainers. Because training is not how they make money, manufacturer training programs tend to be more cost effective than other comprehensive programs.

Training Costs Too Much: The Time and Money Value of Decorative Concrete Training

Training Costs Too Much: The Time and Money Value of Decorative Concrete Training

Most contractors are hesitant to take their crews off the jobsite and spend money on training, especially in the middle of the busy season. It makes sense to want to keep your crews out there finishing jobs and making money. But taking part in a quality training program can more than make up for the expense and lost time. Learning new skills and improving old ones increases the quality of work and earning potential over time. One long weekend of training can pay dividends for years to come.

Decorative Concrete Fair Finalizes Exhibitors

Decorative Concrete Fair Finalizes Exhibitors

Solomon Colors has announced the full list of trainers, speakers, exhibiting organizations, and vendors for the 2017 Decorative Concrete Fair. This list includes some of the biggest experts in decorative concrete, respected industry groups, media outlets, and world-leading product and equipment manufacturers.

The Best Value in Training

The Best Value in Training

Few people can run out and start expertly stamping concrete, staining, placing overlays, or polishing concrete on day one. Experience and training are necessary to master the craft. But the problem is, training often takes time and money that simply isn’t available to the busy concrete contractor.

How Renovation Projects Help Concrete Contractors

How Renovation Projects Help Concrete Contractors

More people buy existing houses than build new ones.  It is common practice for new homeowners to renovate, remodel, and generally alter their home to make it more to their liking and better suit their lifestyle. Enterprising decorative concrete professionals can easily capitalize on this fact.

Join Us For The First Decorative Concrete Fair

Join Us For The First Decorative Concrete Fair

As an industry, we have many big meetings, shows, and conferences every year. There are events for every conceivable segment of concrete, masonry, and cement. But how many of those are aimed squarely at contractors? And how many are meant for the decorative concrete contractor? If you’re working hard, stamping concrete, staining, and installing decorative overlays, what’s out there for you to see the latest tools, techniques, and products?

Substituting Hardwood Flooring With Stamped Concrete

Substituting Hardwood Flooring With Stamped Concrete

We tend to fixate on using stamped concrete for a limited scope of applications – driveways, patios, sidewalks, pools. But there is more it can do. One of the more unlikely options is as a replacement for hardwood and engineered wood floors. Read more to find out how stamped concrete can effectively compete with hardwood.

Real Pros Act Profesional

Real Pros Act Profesional

Professionalism is important to continued and sustainable success. It can be difficult to maintain, but professionalism pays off. When you demonstrate the core values of a professional – competency, honesty, preparation, and consideration – you improve your chances of making the sale and developing long term, repeat customers who gladly recommend you to others. Respect your customer, respect your crew, and respect yourself.

Contest at KC Bobcat Demo! Congrats Bearded Wonders!

The team "Bearded Wonders" took on the challenge to create a pattern and coat a board with Brickform SM Pro in 30 minutes. Tim O'Bryan, Division General Manager second from left, pulled out $100 cash and threw down the challenge to the 20 in attendance. Mark Grismore, Bobcat Decorative Champion, middle rallied the troops and hosted an awesome training program.  KC Bobcat has three locations, Tracy, MO, Blue Springs, MO and Olathe, MO.

From Steve Johnson - Area Sales Manager

How Decorative Concrete Adds Value For The Concrete Contractor

How Decorative Concrete Adds Value For The Concrete Contractor

The value added prospect of decorative concrete is unique for the contractor. It relies heavily on the margin between the extra time and material expense and the customer’s higher perceived value of the finished product.  This difference represents the additional potential earnings for the contractor, versus traditional, non-decorative concrete work.

World of Concrete 2017 Preview

World of Concrete 2017 Preview

World of Concrete is the highlight of the year for the concrete and masonry industries. As a result, most exhibitors try to have something big to show off at World of Concrete. Here’s a quick preview of what Solomon Colors is bringing to the show for 2017: