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Where we break down the details baby!

Aqua-Blue Pool Deck Creates the Illusion of a Never-Ending Pool

Wednesday, October 5, 2011 at 5:59PM

Project submitted by Brock Lynch, BDC Ltd., Longview, Texas

pool deck

This broom-finished concrete deck, stained aqua-blue to match the color of the pool lining, gives the illusion of a never-ending body of water.

The challenge: To create a Zen-like atmosphere, the owners of this outdoor pool and spa wanted the deck surrounding it to echo the color and movement of the water, creating the feel of an expansive, floating pool. But they were unable to find any type of tile or slate to fit their vision. Knowing they did not want a solid-colored surface, they opted for stained concrete.

Design goals: "The homeowners contacted us through their pool builder, who recommended us for the staining of the pool deck," says Brock Lynch of BDC Ltd., a company specializing in all types of commercial and residential decorative concrete work. We stained this patio in a blend of blue and aqua stains. We tried as much as possible to match the color of the pool lining.

To add texture and create the illusion of rippling water, the surface was given a broom finish. Narrow channels were left between some of the concrete slabs and filled with blue-gray river rock, adding to the Zen-like feel.

Secrets to success: The biggest challenge on this project was getting the color just right, says Lynch. "We started with one coat of aqua-blue acid stain on the broom-finished deck, to create a natural-blue background color instead of the plain gray concrete. Once this was completed, we switched to a water-based stain. Referring to a stain color chart, we mixed a large batch of stain combining gray, blue, green, and black and applied it in two coats with an airless sprayer."

Protection of the existing surfaces before staining was paramount. "We tape off everything when we do a stain project. The last thing someone wants is to hire a contractor to clean up after another contractor," says Lynch.

For the final finish, the surface was coated with a high-solids solvent-based acrylic with grip enhancers stirred into it for slip-resistance. "After three to six years, it's always good to apply clear coat to a stained surface to keep the colors fresh and protect the surface," says Lynch.

This project is one of many that BDC Ltd. takes on for the opportunity to try something new with decorative concrete. "It's great to have people trust you to come up with ideas for their projects. That passion is what keeps me moving forward. Whether it's a concrete bartop for a trendy restaurant or an elementary school courtyard, we are always prepared to do something new."

Materials used

 Aqua-blue acid stain: Kemiko

Water-based stains: Decorative Concrete Supply

Acrylic sealer: Decra-Seal, from W.R. Meadows

Grip enhancer: H&C SharkGrip

Contractor BDC Ltd. Longview, Texas

Ironing Out the Wrinkles: How flat and level is your floor?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011 at 5:17PM

The world may not be flat but concrete floors are becoming flatter, to the point of becoming “super flat.”

The measurement of floor tolerances for “flatness” is being forced away from the era of the ruler and 10 foot straightedge into the era of the computer. The old way of determining floor flatness was accomplished by placing a 10-foot straightedge on the surface of the concrete and then measuring the gaps between the straightedge and the concrete with a ruler. The most common tolerance is “1/8 inch in 10 feet.”

Now there’s new technology that tosses the ruler and lets you measure floor flatness with speed, precision, and incredible accuracy.

Today's flat floors are found in more than ultra-sophisticated warehouses using unmanned forklifts, where the goods and parts may be stacked on shelves 20 feet or higher. Flatter and more level floors have been shown to be lower maintenance and provide an improved operational surface for many types of businesses. As a result, the demand for flatter floors is being seen in many different types of projects, from warehouses to retail store operations. This article provides you with important fundamentals about how flat floors are achieved and how they are measured.

To avoid the problems inherent with the old straightedge approach, a rigorous new statistically-based system was described by Allen Face in his 1985 Concrete International article “Specification and Control of Concrete Floor Flatness.” The birth of the F-number system was thus announced, and ACI adopted it in 1989.

Those mysterious F-numbers. The F-number system addresses both floor flatness and floor levelness. FF is the flatness number and defines the floor's characteristic curvature over 24 inches. FL is the levelness number and defines the floor's characteristic elevation difference over 10 feet. Both F-numbers are computed from successive point elevation measurements on 12 inch centers, and both numbers extend from zero to infinity: the larger the number, the more “flat” or “level” the floor. The system is perfectly linear so that a FF 30 / FL 24 floor is exactly twice as flat and twice as level as a FF 15 / FL 12 floor.

Don’t read this unless you’re a contractor. To avoid boundary problems, measurements are not taken within 2 feet of construction joints or other full-depth penetrations. To fairly gauge the installer's compliance with contract tolerances, measurements must be taken within 72 hours after finishing. If I were a concrete contractor, I would want the measurements taken the same day and before the curing compound is applied, since the floor will be its “flattest” right after it has been finished. With ongoing moisture loss and autogenous shrinkage, curling starts immediately and will continue to worsen for as long as 2 years, with the F-numbers decreasing accordingly.

— Philip Smith, P.E., FACI, ASTM; L&M Vice President, Technical Director, Resident Engineer; Phone: 800-362-3331, e-mail: 

Pavers to the rescue!


Hoaglund & Sons Concrete
Vista, CA 92084
Phone: (760) 941-3685

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