CD Designs Blog
When working with concrete for any length of time, either as a casual hobbyist involved in DIY projects, or as an obsessively dedicated professional like the good people of CD Designs, you’ll sooner or later run into the term “curing”. For the curious out there, let’s explore what this means in the context of concrete, and why it is so important.
Simply put, curing is a vital part of the concrete process — it is the period during which the cement mixture loses moisture and hardens to develop the strength of concrete. This process is dependant on the rate of moisture evaporation, which in turn is dependant on the heat and humidity of the surrounding environment, and any measures the implementor has taken to control the process artificially.
It is very important to make sure the curing process does not happen too quickly — otherwise the concrete will not be strong enough, and the appearance may be affected in the case of decorative concrete, such as in pattern imprinted concrete driveways and concrete patios, resulting in a patchy or uneven look. The curing should take place immediately after finishing the implementation.
The amount of time of time you should let concrete cure ranges — at least 72 hours is good for all uses of concrete, although concrete will continue to cure and gain strength after that, and allowing up to 8 days is often recommended. For structural concrete, experts advise figures more like 28 days for full strength.
To control curing, you should:
* Consider using an evaporation inhibitor, a chemical mixture added after the concrete has been laid that will slow down the process. Make sure you don’t over-apply the mixture, and consult the manufacturer’s instructions to make sure the one you choose is right for your situation.
* Protect your concrete on bright sunny days — cover it over, and/or cover over neighbouring walls and windows that may reflect heat and light onto the concrete. This is particularly important in the case of coloured decorative concrete, as excessive heat/light during the curing process can affect your colouring dramatically.
10th November 2011
You might think of winter as a really hard time to get much enjoyment out of your pattern imprinted concrete patio. It is certainly a far cry from the sun loungers and BBQ’ed food of summer! But this needn’t be the case. You just need to do a bit of planning beforehand, and get some nice features in place that will shine through the winter.
Your choice of surrounding winter plants is the most important. Winter flowering pansies are a great choice for your pots, as they will bloom with beautiful bright coloured spotty flowers from winter until early June. Other good choices for winter are winter flowering heather, Camellias, Snowdrops, Japanese pieris, Winterhazel and Wintersweet. You should try combining your pretty flowers with some greenery for added texture, such as ornamental cabbages and kale, or an evergreen such as winter box.
We’d suggest that you get some nice big pots to put your winter displays in. Give them a base of pebbles or broken pottery to provide good drainage, and fill them up with fresh soil and a nice dose of fresh compost. Get everything planted in Autumn so that they are thriving by the time Jack Frost moves in.
Lastly, how about planting a good choice of trees nearby, to mingle in nicely with the flowers and other winter plants? Prunus Serrula is a good choice, as it gives mahogany coloured bark and cherry blossom in the spring.
16th September 2011
When you’ve got your pattern imprinted concrete patio installed and looking great, accessorising it will be the next step for you to take. There are a wide range of choices, from plants, statues and other decorative pieces, to more practical items such as furniture, BBQs and shelters. Furniture is probably where the biggest choice lies, so here is a thought – why not go for some concrete furniture as a perfect complement for you pattern imprinted concrete patio? It will also have the added benefit of staying put in strong winds, we know ours would have benefited from some this Monday!
There are a number of design firms experimenting with furniture made out of concrete, one of the most notable being Holmes Wilson, an outfit based in the US. They have fully embraced the idea of marrying form and function, with most of their concrete pieces being pretty low-fi, coming across more like functional art than mere furniture. To break up the plain, smooth curves of their concrete tables and chairs, they have experimented with embossing shapes in the designs, such as leaves and other plant forms. This combination makes the work come across as organic and natural, despite the choice of materials!
The furniture is fairly heavy, which should come as no surprise, but it is surprisingly comfortable, especially when combined with a choice of cushion. Investigate more today, and see what you find.
Image via Holmes Wilson
14th September 2011
So, you’ve decided to get a nice new pattern imprinted concrete patio installed, to make your back garden look great and cut down on upkeep time. But you want to keep it looking nice in the distant future, as well as just after installation, don’t you? You should therefore start thinking about maintenance and upkeep now, and follow our simple advice.
Make sure it is sealed properly, with a suitable sealant for your specific surface. This is necessary to protect both colour and the structural integrity. You should also ask your contractor about crack control joints before work starts. With these properly positioned – especially around weak points such as manholes and drains – you can minimise cracking and other structural problems.
You also need to reseal your driveway at regular intervals – exactly how often will depend on your particular situation, but it should be in the region of every 2 to 5 years. Talk to us to get exact advice on what you need! We even offer a complete resealing service, so you don’t have to worry about anything. Amongst other things, regular sealing can stop unwanted plant growth – pattern imprinted concrete suffers from this a lot less than other types of ground coverage like paving, as there are no natural joints. There is still a chance however, as moss likes to grow into pores, and other plants can exploit weak points, leading to cracks. Reseal regularly to avoid such problems.
Be careful also to avoid prolonged exposure of your driveway to any corrosive substances that might cause damage. Problem substances that you’ll be likely to find near your driveway include oil, chemical de-icers and cleaners, and grit/salt. It’s better to use sand to provide traction in winter, and to wash away any such spills.
6th September 2011
When do you start planning your holiday? With Christmas out of the way, do you find yourself daydreaming about sandy beaches? It can help get through the depths of winter. Let’s face it, even at the best of times the north west of England is definitely chilly when you compare it to summer in the Med, or in Ibizia.
It’s a question of planning ahead. After Christmas, it’s traditional to tighten the belt and start saving. Christmas is a big expenditure, and once you’ve got it sorted, it’s time to plan the year ahead, working out how much you’ll need – and how to get the best deals – for things like holidays and home improvement projects.
A pattern imprinted concrete driveway is exactly the kind of home improvement that you should consider. A new driveway is the kind of thing that gets put off and put off. Unfortunately, if you have problems with your driveway they won’t get better over time; you need to purchase a replacement. That’s where we come in. We’ve got a lot of experience (see our case studies) in installing pattern imprinted concrete driveways, which are high quality and excellent value for money.
Summer is a great time to have a driveway or pattern imprinted concrete patio installed, and if you book now you’ll have more choice as to when the installation takes place. So, don’t think of it as an expenditure, think of it as something else to look forward to. After all, some durable and attractive hard surfacing can really improve a lot of traditional summer activities, from BBQs to back-garden sunbathing.
19th January 2011