August 2015 Job of the Month:
Sometimes, a change in color can be enough need to dress up a deck. That's exactly what this homeowner was hoping for when she contacted us. She wanted to make some color changes to her front and back patios and was tired of plain gray concrete. She contracted us to lay down a new cement skim coat over both patios and then stain them a light rust color.
A cement skim coat can be a good economic option for a decorative concrete project. It was perfect for this one as the homeowner wanted to keep it simple. A cement skim coat can also transform an area into something new and beautiful in less time than some of our other decorative concrete options.
Another economic option would have been to apply a color stain directly to the existing concrete patio. This would skip the steps where we first lay down the cement skim coat. A direct color stain to the existing concrete isn't always an option, however, and it wouldn't work for this project for the simple reason of the color that was selected. The gray color of the existing concrete would have interfered too much with the final color of the stain. As the stain color is translucent the base color of the concrete influences the final color of the project. Lighter colors are almost impossible to create with a direct acid stain, since the existing concrete layer's gray color is just too dark to start with. The best option in this project is to start over with a clean slate. A cement skim coat makes this possible as we put it down with a much lighter color, covering up the darker gray underneath.
Before laying down the cement skim coat we had to prepare the area. Sometimes, preparation isn't limited to clearing the existing concrete of blemishes, stains and any flooring materials; we also need to remove things from the immediate area around the existing concrete. In outdoor projects, this can include patches of grass and flower beds that butt against it. We need to be able to reach the vertical faces of the existing concrete pad as we roll the concrete overlay mixture over the edges. This process completely covers all the visible areas of the concrete, and grass and flower beds can get in the way. Thankfully, we didn't have to worry this time. While there were flower beds butting against the front patio, we were able to work around them without too many problems.
While a cement skim coat can be faster than other types of concrete overlays, we always need a bit of flexibility for exterior concrete projects. We always have to keep in mind the weather and our surroundings. In this case, we had to deal with a lot of falling leaves. While we were laying down the overlay material and waiting for it to cure, we had to continuously pick out leaves that fell onto the patio decks. Thankfully, leaves don't do a whole lot of damage to wet concrete overlays, especially compared to rain or footprints, whether from people or pets; it's usually pretty easy to pick them out and smooth over the areas they touched. Even though it was a small job the final result came out very nice. We replaced the old, gray, drab concrete with a new, lighter surface. The changes really helped to dress up both areas in the front and back of the house.