CD Designs Blog
Despite the recent snow’s attempts to persuade us all otherwise, spring and summer are on their way. And although it might feel like they’ll never get here, they will, we promise. With spring and summer comes sunny weather (hopefully), and sunny weather means you’ll be getting a lot more use out of the great outdoors.
You don’t have to go on a holiday to enjoy the sunshine; you don’t even need to leave your street. With a pattern imprinted concrete driveway you’ve got a durable and regular surface. And if the sun’s beaming down, why not make the most of it? Burn off a few of those BBQ calories with some concrete driveway based exercise; have a cement sports-day.
Obviously, concrete isn’t the softest thing to land on, so that sadly rules out full-contact sports like rugby and American football, unless you’re happy with the slightly more gentle “tag” versions of those games. Basketball, however, could practically have been invented for playing on a concrete drive; hence the number of different free standing, base-weighted basketball hoops that you can buy.
When Wimbledon rolls around, why not have a go at some driveway-tennis – it’s closely related to lawn-tennis, you know. And, of course, there’s always football. Though you might not want to play heads-and-volleys; an over energetic kick could spell doom for one of your windows. In fact, that might make football one sport that’s better off played down the park…
31st March 2010
Petrol spills can happen for a variety of reasons. If you’re a bit of a home mechanic you might’ve learnt this the hard way. But it could be something as simple as filling the tank of a petrol-engine lawnmower with fuel from a jerry-can that leads to you accidentally applying petrol to your driveway.
Concrete is as durable as it is versatile, and there’s a reason why petrol station forecourts are made of concrete; it can easily deal with such spills. Tarmacadam, however, the cheaper alternative to concrete for driveway surfacing, can be an absolute nightmare if exposed to petrol.
This is because the fixative which binds the aggregate in place in a tarmacadam surface is bitumen. Bitumen, like petrol, is derived from oil. What this means in practical terms is that petrol spilled onto tarmacadam acts as a solvent, compromising the bitumen’s ability to hold the aggregate together. If you give petrol enough time to work on tarmacadam, you’ll be left with a soft, useless area; the only available solution is to re-patch the tarmacadam. This entails cutting out the affected area, with a wide margin surrounding it, and re-pouring fresh tarmacadam.
Chemical substances can, of course, adversely affect concrete. However, it’s much more forgiving than tarmacadam, and provided that you mop up a spill quickly enough – it’s a bad idea to leave a puddle of noxious or corrosive substance sitting on any surface longer than is strictly necessary – your concrete driveway should show no ill effects. Soak up the petrol with cat litter, sand, or another absorbent, granular substance. When no more is being absorbed, give the area a thorough wash with plenty of water.
29th March 2010
Despite being a massively widely used material and an everyday sight, concrete doesn’t seem to have excited writers, painters and other artists as much as, say, trees, or the sky or the sea. Well, you might be thinking, that’s because concrete’s boring. Or maybe, if you haven’t seen the remarkable possibilities of pattern imprinting and colouring concrete, you think that concrete is ugly.
Well, in this series of blog-posts we’ll be bringing some concrete-related bits of art and media to your attention.
Concrete is a (relatively) modern material. Despite being originally used by the ancient Romans, it was “forgotten” until the 19th century, and only in the 20th century did it become the construction industry’s material of choice. So it’ll come as no surprise that the majority of the creative works that we’ll be looking at are very modern. In fact, there are few things more modern than the format of our first example: it’s a graphic novel. (Also known as a comic book…)
Concrete, published by Dark Horse, America’s largest independent comic book imprint, began its run in 1986. As with many graphic novels, it isn’t much concerned with realism, preferring to use fantastic, impossible events to communicate truths about the human condition. Hence, the Concrete series tells the story of a political speech writer who has his human body replaced with a new super-tough, concrete-like body. By aliens.
If you’re struggling to see where “communicating truths about the human condition” mentioned above would fit into that story line, here is a very interesting interview with the author of Concrete, in which he explains the complex thought processes behind the story of a concrete-bodied speech-writer.
26th March 2010
Summer’s a fantastic time, isn’t it? Winter in the UK seems to last forever, which means that when summer comes around practically the whole nation goes briefly mad. People squeeze themselves into clothes that are far too small for them and dedicated a lot of time to getting as sunburned as possible.
Of course, not everyone’s like that. There’s a decent percentage of the population who are a little more sensible when the hot months arrive. But still, they – you – want to enjoy the sunshine as much as possible.
Summer is the time when your external property – your front and back gardens and your driveway – are going to get the most use. A well designed and well installed pattern imprinted driveway not only increases the re-sale value of your home; it adds value to the use you get out of your home during summer.
By contacting us now for a quotation, or a discussion of your driveway design ideas and the specifics of your property, you can take a big step towards having the perfect concrete driveway installed in time for the hot summer months. Not only does this mean that, if you decide to complete the project, you can have it installed and sealed well in time for summer, it also means that we won’t have to work in the heat… (only joking; we’ve no objection to completing projects when it’s warm: after all, it’s better than trying to do it in the rain and snow!)
24th March 2010
Installing a concrete driveway is a fairly major project, but if you’ve got a skilled contractor like CD Designs on the job it should be head-ache free and completed quickly. There’s a detailed description of the installation process on this page of our website, but let’s take a quick look at some of the tools commonly used for laying pattern imprinted concrete driveways.
Site excavation is the first stage of installation. This entails the removal of your old drive surface, and digging down to the necessary depth in order to lay the sub-base that the pattern imprinted concrete to sit on. This is done with old fashioned shovels, and, depending on the project, modern mini-diggers etc. The spoil we excavate is removed, and then we set boundaries for the fields of concrete and fill the excavation in with sub-base material.
Then the concrete is poured to fill the boundaries we’ve set. The concrete is smoothed and screeded, usually using trowels at first, then exotically named tools like bug rollers and bull floats. These processes and tools are designed to ensure that the concrete has an even surface, with no exposed aggregate. Colouration pigments and any other necessary admixtures are also applied to the concrete at this stage. The edges of the concrete fields can be finished using special Arris trowels; the main area of the concrete is finished by flat floating.
Then it’s time to imprint the concrete with your chosen pattern or patterns. Because by this stage the concrete will have begun to harden, a release agent is applied to make sure it doesn’t stick to the textured mats used for imprinting. These modular mats are what imprint the pattern onto the concrete. Hard mats are used for large areas of imprinting, with soft “floppy” mats used for edges and non-square areas. The mats are laid on the surface of the concrete and then tapped with a punnel to imprint the pattern onto the setting concrete.
After the concrete has had time to set, its surface is washed, more often than not with a power washer, and then sealed.
So there you have it: a combination of tools and tasks you’re probably familiar with, combined with some you’ve probably never heard of before. Welcome to the mysterious world of pattern imprinted concrete!
22nd March 2010