As unfortunate trends in the concrete industry are allowing homeowners to receive less than amazing service and quality , I have been inclined to write an educational post regarding concrete patio installations. While everyone wants to receive a good price for their installation, VALUE should be the keyword rather than cheap. You should be receiving the highest quality work for the best price possible. Far to many “contractors” with illegitimate businesses underbid to win jobs, but you as a homeowner should watch out for the following issues.
Common Shortcuts While Installing a Concrete Patio
First of all, always make sure your contractor is licensed and insured. This point seems to be addressed over and over, but accidents on your property can become your liability. Always ask for current copies of information. While it might feel awkward, legitimate contractors will be more than happy to provide the information.
Educate yourself and ask questions while planning and receiving bids for your concrete patio project.
What Questions Should I Ask for My Concrete Patio Estimate?
Excavation & Subgrade
How does the contractor plan on removing the existing structure, concrete or grass? Will they tear up your yard and not remedy the situation when the job is complete? How deep will the excavation be?
Basically stated, excavation should be AT LEAST 2″ below the depth of the concrete patio to allow for proper, structural base material to be installed and mechanically compacted. Any less and you are asking for voids and settling leading to cracks and heaving.
Mix Design for Concrete Patios
The actual design of the concrete mix is a critical issue when installing a concrete patio. There are custom designs for every situation, and an educated, professional contractor will be able to order a product that will ensure longevity.
4000 Pounds Per Square Inch (PSI) or commonly referred to as “6 Sack”referring to the amount of cement in the mixture, should be a bare minimum for strength rating. Many contractors order a weaker concrete mix to save money.
4″ Slump refers to the liquidity and the amount of water added to the concrete. Some contractors add water to make the concrete easier to work. Your contractor should RARELY or NEVER add water to the cement truck onsite as this greatly reduces the strength of the concrete and will cause many issues down the road.
Air Entraining Admixture is a critical detail when ordering concrete. Contractors WILL save money by not including this into the mix, but it is the most important aspect of mix design in climates like Boise, ID where freezing and thawing are common in the winter months. 6% air is a minimum for your concrete patio. This leaves microscopic air voids, which make the concrete patio extremely resilient to scaling and spalling.
Pouring Concrete Patio Against Siding
This issue, not commonly properly addressed can lead to major issues like termites, mold, mildew and moisture damage. Is it OK to pour concrete against siding? YES! But, it must be done properly. A breathable, waterproof barrier should be installed against any siding that comes in contact with concrete, and flashing is to be installed to deflect moisture. Many contractor will convince you that this isn’t and issue, but thats because the issues are never seen. This is a simple mitigation for potentially major problems.
Sealing Your Concrete Patio
At the very least, the contractor should apply a cure and seal compound the day of the pour. This can vary based on decorative techniques and coloring, but a measure should be taken to ensure your concrete patio cures uniformly. MANY contractors try to charge extra for this application, but is critical to the strength of the concrete and should be a standard inclusion to every contract.
After 30 days, concrete is fully cured. At this time a sealer can be applied. Some contractors will return for this service, many recommend it as a non requirement and will only return if called upon. Again, a critical aspect in the longevity of your concrete patio.
Site Cleanup/Warranty Information
When the work for your concrete patio is finished, there should be ZERO evidence that there was a contractor on your property. Sprinklers should be moved and adjusted, gaps between patio and grass should be backfilled with soil, concrete mess cleaned up and any tire tracks remedied.
Also, before the contractor leaves the property, you should be presented with literature explaining what to expect, care and sealing, maintenance, and most importantly, the contractors warranty promise. (yes they should have one)
Most importantly, enjoy your new outdoor living space. Concrete Patios are extremely versatile, durable and a beautiful use of space. You can now relax knowing you did the best you could while choosing a quality concrete contractor to complete your patio project.
Contact Fortis Concrete NOW for a FREE friendly consultation