You need to read less and think more!

This blog is about getting stoked and getting worthwhile things done. There is a sea of useless information bombarding you, and this is a desert island where you beach your boat and build a hut. There are also some clever little construction tricks to be presented.



Wednesday, December 25, 2013

3 things to watch out for when using color hardener.

All tools do more damage than good without competent hands around them. (Imagine a crazy moron with a Skil Saw).  Some materials are the same.  

In our part of Texas, Color Hardener is woefully underused.  When used correctly, it imparts  permanent color to the top of the slab and makes the slab harder. Here are 3 things to watch out for:

1. The wrong color.  Color charts should be taken "with a grain of salt".  This is appropriate size for this metaphorical grain:


NEVER INSTALL COLOR HARDENER BASED ON THE CHART WITHOUT MAKING A MOCKUP FIRST.  

2.  Under-application = wasted money.  If there is not enough material on hand or if the finishers don't realize how much really needs to be broadcast into the slab, the color hardener will end up somewhere between the fines and the grey cream on the surface.  That is, you will not end up with any color other than the natural grey, and the money you spent at the decorative concrete supply house will be completely wasted.

3.  Lack of education + color hardener = bad finishing practices.  If the concrete finishers are not ACI certified or have no clue about the chemistry of concrete, odds are they are doing things that make the concrete much weaker than it is engineered to be.  Add color hardener to that and you will likely make it worse.  You can tell a guy to let it wet out before floating it, and you can tell him not to overwork it or to apply it at 50sf/bag or whatever.  But if he doesn't have the understanding of what is happening at the molecular level, he will not be as able to improvise as conditions change to create great concrete.  If the concrete is going to be covered, you can get away with some bad practices.  If it is to be a finished surface in a custom home, the guys had better know what you are doing.  

 

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Take it off.

Your floor may be wearing bad clothes.  It wants to be stripped naked and tanned so badly, you can almost hear it crying out.

Here is a little house in Granite Shoals that is getting nicer one surface at a time.  It started off with 3 colors of tile from the early 90s.  From some points you could see all three.

We pulled 3 crews together to get this house masked off and all the tile out by noon on the first day.  Here is a shot of the kitchen before we started grinding:

To keep our artisans safe and healthy, we grind wet whenever possible.  It's messy, but the concrete dust stays out of our lungs that way.  Notice the tile pattern persists even as the rocks in the concrete are exposed from the grinding.  We have found that no matter how much we grind, the concrete is a different color where it can "breathe" through the grout.  Here is a shot of some wet grinding:

What nearly all stained concrete floor installers are taught to do is a bad idea.  The industry standard is to somehow lay up a layer of plastic over the finished floor and hope that the customer maintains it.   Plastic scratches; homeowners can't easily be taught how to fix the floor; installers can't afford to come out every time it is scratched; and concrete flooring is supposed to be hassle-free, right?  So, what element7concrete does is chemically harden the floor, polish it with diamonds, and finish it with stuff that goes into the concrete rather than on top of it.  The result is a floor that is not too shiny, super-durable, and really easy on the eyes.  This is before trim and staging, but you get the idea:


What's cool is that for $4/sf this homeowner has something that will never wear out, go out of style.  Interested?  Call 830-798-2717 for a bid.  Thanks for reading.