Taking Care of Concrete this winter

As some of you know. Applying Rock Salt to either  old concrete or new in excess or at all may damage your concrete. If you have a new installation it is not recommended that you use salt within the first year from the date of installation.

New concrete may be de-iced using what is called Mag Ice. This product can be purchased at Home Depot or your local concrete supplier. It is the safest way to melt ice on new and old concrete.

Unfortunately in some areas of the country State and Local Governments are using a liquid salt that may be brought in on your car without you knowing it. This is extremely caustic and will ruin both old and new driveways that are even sealed.

Prosoco makes a product called Salt Guard that has been showing some good results as a protective measure against salt damage. It is easily applied and can make a difference.

Removing Sealer from Stamped Concrete

I am happy to report that I have successfully removed the sealer from my own driveway that had a whitening condition due to incompatibility of sealers. I had explained that I had stripped I thought all the sealer off  in the past only to reseal again and have the same problem come up.

This process was not only time-consuming but messy and as I said did not work. I happy that we found this solution that in my opinion is both fast and cost-effective as a solution too this problem.

I will follow-up with pictures in the future and a complete explanation of the procedure.

If anyone out there is having the same problem please let us direct you on how to do this since it will save you a lot of aggravation and unnecessary cost.

I can always be reached at Ted@split-rok.com

My thanks goes out to Tim in Colorado for this suggestion. Amazing how well it worked

Contractors helping Contractors do better

We all know that we are in a tough competitive economy. I for one have always felt that competition is a good thing provided its sensible competition. Competing generates a better business environment.

Contractors that are in like businesses are no threat to one and other if they are beyond the area that I or anyone does business. As a result if I can help someone in say California, Virginia or the Carolinas why wouldn’t I open a discussion with those Contractors about what they are doing in this tough economy to create new business. ANSWER: I would.

Years ago there was a magazine that explained this as having a mentor in a non-competing area of the Country. I have people like this in my network. No one can understand what you do regarding your type business that you are in better than another contractor. Someone out of your market area.

People in general like to help and exchange ideas and new concepts. Why not reach out to people and get their advice or some new ways of generating business from the people you admire what they do.

I have a mentor in Indiana that if I want to for example know a better way to run my shop he would be the guy I call. His operation runs like a finely tuned watch.

Give this some thought. I am in the Decorative Concrete Business. There are many  Associations that I could join that would be helpful to me. The catch is dropping my EGO to the point that I realize that I can’t know everything and that there are others who do what I do who might have a better way that I can use provided I have an open mind to new ways of thinking and have a desire to change.

If you’re struggling give this a try. Build a Network. It’s easy today with the internet as a tool. You will get a lot of NO responses and that’s OK since the ones who say YES are the ones you really want to know anyway.

When I was younger my Father always said ” Learn from other people’s mistakes, it’s easier and wiser than making them yourself. Wish I could say that I always took this advice but something frequently got in the way.  My ego coupled with PRIDE.

With these two human emotions running together the door to new ways of doing things is not closed. Its welded shut. Those that will survive these challenging economic times are those who can look at what they are doing that isn’t working and take the next step no matter how hard to try something different.

Ted Mechnick

Ted@split-rok.com

Whitening of Stamped Concrete Sealers – Possible causes and Solutions Don’t become a Statistic

This is can be a frustrating problem in our Industry that has shown up in the past 5-6 years. There are many reasons why this happens that we are aware of and others that we are addressing. The American Society of Concrete Contractors in St. Louis that we are a Member of is taking the lead in identifying all the causes and possible solutions pertaining to Whitening of Sealer or as it is also known Blushing.

ASCC is having a symposium that Contractors and Suppliers are going to attend on Dec 1-2 to discuss what we are going to do to correct this condition. We will keep you informed on the outcome.

This condition in most causes is associated with applying sealers to soon after pressure washing. Sealing the same day can almost guarantee that you will have problems. As you would never paint a wet wall with paint the same precaution needs to be adhered to regarding sealing Decorative Concrete.

Unfortunately there are those Concrete Contractors who will tell you that you need to reseal every year. This is an utterly false statement that has been used by those who are either not well schooled in this aspect of our business or they are trying to make money by instilling false fears on you the customer.

Good quality sealers do last longer than 1 year if they are Resin –Solvent based sealers. Unfortunately in some States there are VOC regulations that prohibit the use of the Sealers  that we had great success with for over 20 years. It is my understanding from talking to my supplier at The Sealant Depot in Cinnaminson New Jersey that the EPA reached out to producers and asked how the changing the formulation of sealers to make them VOC compliant would affect the this industry.

I don’t know how many producers were asked but apparently not enough to have changed the minds of the EPA regarding changing the formulation.

It seems that the main ingredient being the solvent was replaced in part with a Tertiary Butyl Acetate to a degree that makes the sealer compliant. We will be addressing this I am sure at the Symposium to see if there is any validity to the claim that this has caused some of the problem.

Problems caused by:

Sealing the same day

Not cleaning thoroughly prior to sealing. Bad adhesion of sealer.

Applying to many thick coats of sealer.

Trapped moisture shows up a white condition since water is trapped between the surface of the concrete and the bottom of the sealer. Sunlight causes evaporation and the moisture is trapped. Sealer actually needs to breath. Allowing ground water and surface water to freely evaporate. Too many coats and incompatible sealers will cause problems.

Sealing to frequently 3-4 years is an approximately  the time a good sealer should last. Multi coats will trap water and cause blushing.

The above problems don’t show up immediately in some cases but will occur if those applying sealers incorrectly or using incompatible sealers insist on improper installation.

Solutions:

Stripping- Messy and Costly and might not remove all the bad sealer. You reapply and the same problem occurs.

Sandblasting – The most cost effective solution to correcting this. CAUTION: This needs to be done by a sandblasting Professional that has a great eye and believe this or not some degree of passion about what they do. This can be used using Coal Slag as a blasting medium. Coal Slag is the preferred blasting agent due to it being more environmentally friendly due in part to it being biodegradable. Silica Sand that is typically used is harder and can cause health issues. The application of Sealer needs to be done in very thin coats too not create the same problem.

Shot Blasting and Overlay- Extremely costly and I feel and unnecessary approach due to the advent of Sandblasting as an option.

Remove and Replace- We don’t even want to go there.

Surface Aid by The Sealant Depot. Only good for trapped moisture on a new application. It can sometimes work on older applications or reseals but generally takes to many applications to make the blushing go away for good. We find that spray followed by scrubbing works best. It emulsifies the sealer and allows the water to evaporate that was trapped.

This is only a brief description of Causes and  Solutions that I am sure will be elaborated on and discussed to see if both are plausible  or not at the ASCC meeting this December 1-2

I can always be reached at Ted@split-rok.com  or by calling our office at 732-915-6391. We are always trying to better this industry that we are passionate about by helping those who need our help. Helping each other benefits all.

Ted Mechnick

The Concrete Professor

Apology

Repairing Cracks in Stamped Concrete

Stamped Concrete Repair

Repairing Cracks in Stamped Concrete

Once you have paid for what you hope is a good Stamped Concrete installation all looks well until a crack shows up. The feeling that you did not get a good job shows up and you pick up the phone and call the Concrete Contractor who tells you. CONCRETE CRACKS which it will if not placed properly and in some cases even if it was placed properly it still may crack.

All is not lost if you have followed our previous suggestions regarding the proper installation of Stamped Concrete. If you had the Contractor use Color Hardener to do your project most cracks with a bit of diligence and Artistic ability can be fixed.

There are Injectable Epoxies on the market that when used in conjunction with a good quality caulk can be used to fix any crack to a level of not being noticeable provided the person fixing it has the knowledge and determination to do so.

The crack if wide enough can be filled about 1/8” below the surface with Epoxy and allowed to dry. Once dry the 1/8” space left can be filled with clear caulk and then the coordinating color sprinkled and rubbed into the caulk to disguise the crack. If the job is multi-colored all the better. These type of repairs due to the crack if long moving from one color to the next.

If your job was done using Integral Color ( Color Mixed in the Truck) it is much harder to correct these cracks since you need to try to custom mix a color that matches the Integral Color. These type repairs are more likely to still remain noticeable.

We hope that you got a warranty with your job and most of all we hope that your Contractor will honor it.

We at Split-Rok Construction provide our customers with a Lifetime Warrantee for defects in workmanship with the understanding that we will honor it in as timely a fashion as possible.

As always we can be reached at Ted@split-rok.com or call 732-915-6391 . If you are out of the area we would also like to help wherever possible. Send an email and pictures with colors used and we will try to walk you through the repair if you want to attempt it yourself.

Ted Mechnick

The Concrete Professor

www.split-rok.com

Resurfacing Old Concrete to Look New Again

Resurfacing your Old Concrete

 

Many people that have old concrete that over time that has become unsightly have resorted to power washing and in some cases painting their concrete to make it more presentable.

GOOD NEWS: There are now numerous ways to address this problem due to Polymer Modified Overlays, Colored Sealers and Micro-Toppings that will if installed properly hold up very well in the Northeast. They can even be used for interior applications.

Proper surface preparation is key to these types of  installations and Cutting Corners will only result in a Fatal Collision that will not only be costly but also aggravating. It cannot be stressed enough that choosing the correct contractor for these type applications is the difference between success or failure.

Most concrete can be overlaid provided that there are not numerous cracks that although repaired will likely reappear in the new surface since movement under the new overlay will still occur cracking the new surface. Small cracks can be repaired and stand a better chance of not reappearing if they are shrinkage related. This can be assessed by the Professional that you select.

When we say Professional we are not kidding. A professional will be totally honest with you. He or She will let you know that cracks that are repaired may likely return. They will let you know that you concrete is not a good candidate for resurfacing due to a dusting surface, numerous cracking, high moisture content in the slab due to ground water perking up through the concrete or latent materials that are present such as oil.

Some of the poor conditions for overlays can be remedied prior to installation but if not addressed properly can cause a failure.

Get a warranty of at least two years.  You will likely see any issues show up in the first winter if outside but for sure by the second.

We at Split-Rok Construction have been installing these overlays for years and never do a job that we feel will be questionable since if it fails it costs us money and you aggravation.

These overlays can be Stamped with an impression, Polished and Stained or just colored. They are all different costs that can be explained by the contractor that you chose.

Remember that Honesty and Proper assessment is what will insure a proper installation.

We would be happy to assess your concrete for a possible resurfacing that can not only save you money but will give your old concrete a brand new look in most cases for less than a removal and replacement. If you are out of our area we can help you assess your concrete if you supply pictures and call or email.

I can always be reached by email at Ted@split-rok.com and return all emails promptly. Oh Yes! Don’t forget. If you are out of our immediate area don’t hesitate to contact me. I want to be of help.

Ted Mechnick

The Concrete Professor

www.split-rok.com

Protecting your Stamped Concrete/ Regular Concrete in Winter

Winter can do untold damage to your Stamped Concrete/ Regular Concrete. This is the result of using the wrong methods of melting ice during the winter months.

We have been experiencing a lot of damage from not only using Rock Salt or Calcium Chloride but also due to State and Local Governments using a more caustic salt to melt road ice.

The road salt presently being used comes in on your car and when it drips on your concrete left overnight it’s like a cancer. It doesn’t show up right away but since it can’t be seen it lays there on your concrete doing it’s damage. When the Spring arrives you will likely find that where you typically parked your car has pop outs and spalling even though in some cases you have a Sealed Concrete Driveway.

Your first reaction is that your Concrete Contractor did a shoddy job. After all you did not put any salt on your driveway as directed by your Concrete Contractor. In most cases we have found that the road salt that was brought in was the cause of your damaged driveway.

THE SOLUTION:

Prosoco Corporation makes a product that can aid in the protection of your driveway against salt damage.

Follow this link:  

http://www.prosoco.com/ProductDetail.asp?ID={1014F9C4-1CB2-43DA-80C7-245A77F71CE2}

In addition to protecting your concrete you are the main line of defense. Using Mag Ice to melt snow is recommended by the industry as a alternative to using Calcium Chloride ( Rock Salt).

Please note that if you have a driveway that has been damaged that all is not lost in many cases. They can be repaired using many techniques that we have learned over our 26 years in business. We can be contacted at Ted@split-Rok.com  should you need an assessment of your problem.

No matter what part of the Country that you are located we stand ready to help you with any concrete problem that you might have. Send us pictures. We are happy to help.

Ted Mechnick

The Concrete Professor

www.split-rok.com

The Best Stamped Concrete Installation Process

Split-Rok Construction has been in the Stamped Concrete business for the past 26 years and we are recognized as not only an Industry Leader in this field but recognized both Nationally and Globally as an Authority in The Decorative Concrete Industry.
Although there are many articles that promote the idea of using Integral Color as the type of concrete to be used for Stamped Concrete for the following reason I am writing this to inform those who are thinking of using it as to its Limitations.
Statement of Installer:
The color mixed throughout the entire load insures that should you get a chip or gouge
in your Stamped Concrete will not be that noticeable since the color goes all the way through.
Although the color does go all the way through the mix there are many downsides to its use and disadvantages long-term that may insure that what you paid for today might and will likely not be even close to what it will look like in the future.
ADVANTAGES OF USING COLOR HARDENER vs. INTEGRAL COLOR
Color Hardener as its name implies is a Hardener with Pigment added to give you a more dramatic Artistic and Realistic look that will be able to last and be repaired should that be necessary to do so should some mishap such as Chipping, or gouging occur.
This is possible since we at Split-Rok Construction Company document all colors used on your projects and can easily match colors years later if a repair is needed. Usually at no cost to you if it is minor.  THIS CANNOT BE DONE WITH INTERGRAL COLOR. You have to live with imperfections.
Ask yourself?
Do you expect your Stamped Concrete to look as great years later, provided you maintain it? Of course you do. You spent your hard-earned money for something that should last the test of time. Unfortunately the truth may come to visit that Integral Colored Concrete fades more dramatically than Color Hardened Concrete and if you have any damaged areas like chips or gouges you likely have to live with them due to the inability to match the color to repair them.
It’s next to impossible to match Integral Color years later if not only weeks later.
The use of Color Hardeners remove the following possible problems that may occur in installing Stamped Concrete with Integral Color.
1.      Mismatched Colors from load to load due to improper mixing of Integral Color
2.      Colors that fade. I have installed jobs 10-15 years ago with Color Hardener with little or no fading.
3.      Hardened Surface due to surface strength being about 7,000-8,000 PSI   (L.M. Scofield Company.
4.      Easily repaired if necessary
5.      We can provide a LIFETIME WARANTEE since we are confident that you will not have problems and if you do they can be and will be addressed.
6.      During the Stamping Process things happen since this is a manmade product not factory manufactured should accept as a consumer. Chips from incorrect lifting of stamps and poor placement. Cannot be fixed due to the inability to match the color using Integral Color.
Many in my field do not use Color Hardener due to contractors never taking the time to learn the proper use of Color Hardener and also due to it being harder to do. There is a definite technique to using Color Hardener. There are those who are committed to providing the best Stamped Concrete Installations possible. They are the Contractors that you will see using Color Hardeners.
Using an example at today’s prices and using 500 square feet for this discussion. Assume that you paid $8.00 per square foot for a job that could have been Color Hardened and would have likely cost .50-$1.00 per square foot more. Wouldn’t it pay to spend a bit more to get a better job that has all the Advantages listed above?  
We use only the Highest Quality Color Hardeners by L.M. Scofield Company. One of the reasons we use them is because they are the ones who have been in the Color Concrete business the longest and are committed to providing the best product.
We use their Color Hardener because we have tried others and have found that they lack the consistency that we require.
We use their Integral Color when we are doing a Colored Concrete application due to them providing a Product called Color wax that assures a better match of color.
Let’s assume that we are pouring an Integral Concrete job using either a Magnesium Finish or Broom Finish that needs multiple loads of concrete delivered. Ex. 60 C.U.Yards.
Assuming that all loads were 10 yards the chances of getting a good match from load to load are decreased due to human error or just plain not caring enough to mix each load uniformly. It’s all about consistency.
There are many out there who even though they have a License in the State of New Jersey have never had to qualify at any level to do this type of work. They have been taught and in most cases incorrectly, the wrong way to install Stamped or Colored Concrete.
We at Split-Rok Construction are not only recognized for the quality of our work but for our in-house training given all employees and my ACI (American Concrete Institute) Certification that I must qualify for by retesting every 5 years along with our Membership in ASCC (American Society of Concrete Contractors).
If you were building a High-Rise in Manhattan or a Large Project that required someone who had a good grasp and knowledge on the proper installation procedures that are required to install good concrete you would specify on those who were ACI Certified.
Over my 26 years in business and over 35 years total in the Business of installing both Decorative Concrete and Concrete in general I have always put quality at the head of the list.
My intent here was only to clarify what the reasonable expectations are in using Integrally Colored Concrete as a media for the Installation of Stamped Concrete. There are those who are skilled as we are in the proper mixing procedure and the correct method of installation using Integrally Colored Concrete.
If after reading this you are still skeptical or on the fence as to what media to use please ask those who you are thinking of working with to see some large projects that they have done using Integrally Colored Concrete. Ask to see some that are a few years old. If you can see a mismatch of colors or excessive wear you might want to consider hiring a Contractor that uses Color Hardener instead.
Ted Mechnick
Split-Rok Construction Company

Decorative Concrete Problems and Solutions

Although Decorative Concrete is likely the most Attractive Form of hardscaping for your home or business and has the advantage of  lasting the longest if maintained properly it does have a few problems for the installer.

Many Concrete Contractors get into this part of the business after looking at a  you tube video about how to install stamped concrete. Great start but a far cry from the process of proper Installation.

Although I have been nicknamed the Concrete Professor by some of my peers I can assure you that during the 30 years that I have been installing Stamped and Decorative Concrete that it has remained challenging due to my strong desire to only install the best Decorative Concrete possible.

Seeking perfection can be emotionally draining since most of what I had to learn in the early years was by trial and error in my construction yard before, I could go out into the public and be confident enough to be able to deliver what I promised.

I started Split-Rok Construction here in the Jersey Shore with only that goal in mind to achieve a level of excellence that would be hard to surpass. I think that we have done that and now are considered the industry leader in the field.

This blog’s intention is to be helpful to those starting out in this business and for those who are having problems related to any form of Decorative Concrete or Concrete in general. I think that those like-minded individuals who read this that are as tenacious and committed to this industry will also be helpful to all and therefore better this industry that has been very good to me over the years.

Please keep in mind that those who chose to be involved in this blog I would hope share the same passion as I do about this form or Artistic Expression in Concrete. By helping one and other we all benefit. 

I have never feared competition. I actually welcome it. As someone comes up with a better way to do some aspect of our business it inspires me to raise the bar by getting better at what I do.

It seems to have become a Company Culture here at Split-Rok Construction. Those who come here to work soon (if so inclined) get with the program and become a part of the artistic side of our company.

Please actively keep in touch with this blog and help those with your experience so that we all will not only become profitable in this endeavor but have a great time doing it and have those who you work for singing your praises.

Remember that we are here to help.

The Difficult we Do Right Away the Impossible takes a Little Longer

Ted Mechnick

The Concrete Professor

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