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    CD Designs Blog

    Our Favourite Fire Pit Pictures. Does Your Patio Have One?

    We’re not afraid to admit that we’re a little bit obsessed with fire pits. Ideal for making more of your outdoor space in cooler weather, there’s nothing lovelier than huddling around a glowing outdoor fire with some hot food, a drink and good company of an evening.

    Concrete Fire Pit - Pic by Snassek

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    Concrete Fire Pit - Pic by Snassek

    There’s also a huge range of fire pits and other outdoor fires and stoves now available at a range of prices. Some powered by wood, others by ethanol or special bio-gels, the fire pit market ranges from the budget simple brand to high end designer art pieces.

    Many people however prefer to build or commission their own designs – and as you’ll see from some of the images of concrete fireplaces below, there’s nothing more satisfying than designing a piece that works for your back garden. We can also assist in showing off your fire pit to its best potential by building the pattern imprinted concrete patio or Pattern imprinted concrete driveway for it to sit on! After all, a beautifully designed fire pit requires a suitably attractive supporting structure!

    Whether concrete fire pits, pattern imprinted concrete driveways, patios, floors or other concrete items – we’re always here to help you make the most of your outdoor space. Ask the experts and we’ll advise on the best options for your circumstances. Meanwhile enjoy the radiating glow from these fantastic images below – some of our favourites indeed!

    Tips For Designing Your New Concrete Patio

    Two of the most popular concrete applications for homes are new pattern imprinted concrete patios and pattern imprinted concrete driveways.

    Tips For Designing Your New Concrete Patio

    Tips For Designing Your New Concrete Patio

    Patios in particular have become hugely popular in a past few years, thanks to design show and lifestyle magazines which have encouraged us to rethink how we use our outdoor space. Not simply for the occasional good weather Summer BBQ, patios are now being developed to encourage ‘non Summer’ usage, with fire pits, durable seating and heated, lit areas for the family to gather in and enjoy the outdoors.

    Patios extend living space and provide extra useful room for entertaining. However, it can be difficult to accurately plan the layout, size and design of a patio without incurring expensive mistakes, so it’s wise to hire a professional to advise and scope out your requirements, before carrying out a professional build for you.

    Basic design factors to consider start with size and the eventual area you’d like your patio to cover. Bear in mind that the addition of garden furniture will rapidly make a ‘naked’ concrete patio space seem smaller – exactly as furniture does within a house, so factor in as much room as possible. A typical outdoor table for four will require at least 12 feet squared. Factor in additional requirements such as loungers, BBQs and any outdoor bar areas.

    Look too at the shape – a simple rectangle may seem obvious, but patios blend far better with the garden when edges are gently rounded into lawns and surrounding plant borders. Poured concrete patios can help to provide more flexible shape options than using fixed paving stones or slabs.

    The eventual use of your patio is another important concern. Heavy entertaining might require a couple of small patio areas, to allow guests to mingle in small gatherings. Connect each space with walkways and lighting. Regular family use for meals may suit a large single patio area better, with a hardscape directly from the backdoor.

    Another very important factor to consider is planning permission or permits, and this applies for many outdoor projects including patios, Pattern imprinted concrete driveways, general extensions and structures, where homes maybe listed or have other restrictions. Check with your council or seek advice from your concrete contractor, who will advise as part of your project.

    With the help of a professional, you can sit back and relax knowing that the patio of your dreams is being constructed expertly, to offer you and your family many years of valuable use and enjoyment.

    Image from our Case Studies

    DIY Concrete Driveway Repair?

    For the many of us who have pattern imprinted concrete driveways, the temptation to turn to DIY driveway repair becomes strong as cracks and chips begin to show – particularly in our difficult economic climate.

    Cracked Concrete Driveway? DIY, or Professional Repair?

    Cracked Concrete Driveway? DIY, or Professional Repair?

    However, there are dangers with carrying out DIY concrete driveway repairs, and inexpert action can lead to time-consuming re-work and professional repair- along with large bills!

    Repairing a concrete driveway is a skilled and time-consuming job. You need a power washer, the ability to prime cracks properly and reinforce them with specialist fabric, and the know-how to apply elastomeric basecoats correctly. You’ll need to be handy with grinding machinery and have advanced skills in texturing and trowelling, along with the patience and correct technique for applying the colour coating and sealant.

    For the majority of us, this will mean getting a professional in – however, there’s a less time intensive solution to consider when seeking to improve the look of your driveway – and that is by resurfacing it.

    Also requiring professional help, but at a lesser cost in money and time, resurfacing can truly revitalise regular finish and pattern imprinted concrete driveways, as well as repair cracks. It is significantly cheaper than a total driveway replacement, and offers the option of adding decorative stamping finishes, which can give a high end paving or brick finish.

    A concrete resurfacing professional will advise on your particular situation, and at CD designs we are the experts in concrete design and installation. We’ll arrange to assess your driveway, and advise on whether resurfacing is right for you, and if so, what colour and style options are available for a fresh new look.

    Inexpensive and extending the life of your driveway, resurfacing is the smart way to protect your original investment, and enjoy the appearance of your driveway for many further years to come.

    Image by Rick

    Can concrete be eco-friendly? We think so!

    Concrete has surprised many by being heralded as a green building material, thanks to new production techniques, composite materials, and the application of specialised coatings and designs, designed to reduce pollution, ‘self-clean’, and perform other cooling or filtering functions.

    Certainly concrete has come a long way from being used in industrial council buildings or swirly pattern imprinted concrete driveways across the majority of British homes.

    Traditionally concrete has been made from sand, cement, gravel and water mixes. The use of cement – a potentially hazardous and environmentally unfriendly product has courted controversy for many years, thanks to its fuel intensive production requirements, increasing levels of demand, and tax on quarries from stone and sand mining.

    However, technology is moving at a pace to provide eco alternatives, and new concrete formulations are being developed all the time that provide the usual benefits of cost, flexibility and durability – without damaging the environment.

    Cement substitutes are being used – minerals and recyclable materials which reduce carbon emissions and cut landfill disposals at the same time.

    Fly ash is an example of these materials – once dumped into landfill in huge amounts, now recycled into a strong and durable cement compound suitable for intensive industrial use, and domestic use. AshCrete is another substitute made from 97% recycled materials, including fly ash and borate – and it’s known to be twice as strong as traditional concrete mixes.

    The newest compound mix is carbon concrete, made with a thermoplastic from oil refinery by products. It cannot be used for tall buildings, but can be used for paving – whether that’s for town roads, or pattern imprinted concrete driveways outside homes.

    Additionally, scientists are working on ways to recycle and reduce cement materials, and make use of recycled additions. Developments such as  foamCrete – a lightweight concrete requiring little production energy, and GrassCrete – referring to a cellular laying pattern that allows grass to grow between blocks, improving drainage and reducing total concrete use.

    Green builders are already supplying viable alternatives to traditional concrete, so it’s worth speaking with your local concrete expert to find out more, give us a call for example.

    Concrete tube, or eco-friendly concrete house?

    Concrete tube, or eco-friendly concrete house?

    Concrete tube, or eco-friendly concrete house?

    Until now, most of us have only experienced concrete in everyday situations. A favourite material of civil engineers, concrete is commonly found in large industrial buildings, on our motorways, and in throughout our urban areas. At home we use it in more discrete ways – popular concrete patio areas, attractive pattern imprinted concrete driveways or highly polished and naturally coloured kitchen splash backs, workspaces or floors for example.

    But designers are turning their hands to using this flexible material in a number of more futuristic ways. Step forward Hugon Kowalski from H3AR – a firm of architects based in Poland. A prominent figure on the competitive design scene, he has recently created an ‘instant house’ for a competition in Milan. Made from concrete tubes of light Styrofoam and coated lightly with titanium dioxide to cut surrounding air pollution, the design caused great interest amongst the young and forward-thinking.

    With Kowalski predicting that concrete will eventually be made from recycled rice husks, his futuristic concrete home designs featured no internal stairs, one room per stair-level, and tall, tube-like appearances.

    Certainly, it’s an opportunity for the future, and meanwhile most of us will focus on presenting our cars most attractively on a well installed pattern imprinted concrete driveway, as the extent of our experimentation with concrete. But for future generations, it looks as though ‘eco’ concrete buildings may just be one of the developments they have to look forward to.

    Image via designboom

    Complete Driveway Designs Ltd

    The Yard, Stubbins Lane, Ramsbottom, BL0 0PT
    E:info@northwest-driveways.co.uk
    T: 01706 827180

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