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Starting a concrete business requires a thorough market analysis, the right tools and training, and obtaining all necessary legal licenses and permits. Those requirements vary by state.
Carving into a fresh concrete mix can give homeowners and businesses a one-of-a-kind decorative accent that can look like stones, rocks, or chiseled wood. It also brings life to plain walls. Contact Carved Concrete Contractor for professional help.
Carving concrete in relief is a way to add a unique and distinctive decorative element to walls, patios and other surfaces. Concrete contractors who have the proper tools and training can create stunning one-of-a-kind pieces that can truly set a home or business apart from all the rest. This sculptural technique uses a specialized concrete mix that contains finer grades of sand and polymers than standard concrete. This makes it easier to shape, stamp, color and carve into. It also holds its shape and texture longer, making it a great choice for outdoor projects.
For those who are interested in learning this art form, it’s recommended that they begin by creating a simple project such as a steppingstone or bird bath. This will allow the new carver to gain confidence and experience before attempting larger projects, such as vertical concrete carving. It’s also important to wear a dust mask and gloves while working with concrete, as it contains silica, which can irritate the skin and lung tissues when inhaled over an extended period of time.
Relief sculpture is an ancient art form that involves chiseling away the background to make sculpted objects seem as though they are elevated above a solid surface. It’s an art form that never fell out of favor, and even today, it’s still a popular option for many artists. It’s seen in works like the Nimrud ivories, Late Antique Consular diptychs and the Berthouville Casket. It’s also used by contemporary artists to play with scale and form.
Stamped concrete is a popular way to add the look of stone, brick or wood to patios, walkways and driveways. Installation professionals level and pour a new slab of concrete, then use rubber stamps or skins to texture the wet cement so it takes the shape of the material it’s supposed to mimic. The concrete dries, and contractors apply concrete stains to color the stamped concrete. The finished product can resemble pavers, bricks, slate, natural rock or even wood planks.
If the concrete is poured and textured right, it should have a smooth surface without any holes or cracks. The contractor will then spray a membrane-forming curing compound over the entire surface, and he or she may also add an additive to improve the strength of the concrete.
The next step is to apply a concrete coloring mix that matches the shade of the bricks, pavers or stone that the concrete is supposed to imitate. The contractor will also use an accent color to give the concrete dimension. The accent color is often mixed with a concrete release agent, which has a nonstick effect that helps concrete stamps come off cleanly once the concrete has dried.
Once the concrete is stained and cured, the contractor will apply a sealer to protect it from dirt, rain and sun damage. A reseal every two to three years should keep the concrete looking fresh. If the concrete is exposed to a lot of traffic or wear, it may need an additional coat of sealer, which can add about $1 per square foot to the cost of the project.
A carved concrete patio, walkway or driveway can enhance your property’s curb appeal and increase its value. However, this type of project is challenging and time consuming, so it’s best left to professional contractors who have experience working with concrete.
When hiring a carved concrete contractor, make sure they’re licensed and insured. They should have photos of previous work, as well as references from satisfied clients. They should also be able to provide you with an estimate for the job before starting any work.
Vertical Concrete Carving
Concrete sculptors can take decorative concrete beyond stamped patios and sidewalks to add unique architectural elements to walls, water features and other vertical surfaces. For example, a contractor can carve concrete to look like stones, rocks or chiseled wood and then stain or color the material. This can make a wall or other surface stand out or create an interesting focal point in a room.
Although concrete carving has been around for decades, it’s becoming more popular in residential applications such as fire pits and seat walls that mimic rock, says Emil Gera of Gera Concrete in Weatherly, Pennsylvania. He has found that homeowners are seeking unique designs for their backyards, but some are also looking for design elements to transform living rooms or other interior spaces.
Gera recommends using a concrete mix designed specifically for vertical stamping and carving, such as Kingdom Products Imperial Vertical Carving Mix. The product is lightweight and exceptionally strong and can be carved, textured and stamped to produce stone, brick or block designs. It is easy to work with and can be applied up to 5 inches thick on a properly prepared surface.
Another option for a versatile vertical concrete mix is Tru Pac X, which is an additive that’s mixed with 80-lb bags of standard Type S mortar to produce a high-performance, reusable stampable/carving and vertical mixing mix. It can be used on both a cement or EPS foam substrate.
Regardless of the material or technique, it’s important to prepare the surface for vertical concrete carving properly. This includes ensuring proper formwork and reinforcement, as well as cleaning the shotcrete before applying the base coat or carving mix. It’s also a good idea to mist the surface of the base or sculpting mix regularly to help control moisture loss.
Finally, it’s important to use the right tools for each phase of the job. A hand carving tool is useful for sculpting into the wet concrete and a power tool can be helpful when carving detailed shapes and joints. It’s also a good idea for contractors to wear gloves and a dust mask when working with concrete, as it contains silica that can irritate the skin and lungs over a long period of time.
Etching or Engraving
There are a number of decorative treatments available for freshly placed concrete, including pattern stamping, exposed aggregate and textured overlays. However, if you have existing plain gray concrete that needs a little more decorative flair, engraving or etching is the way to go. These processes use special tools to cut patterns and designs into cured concrete, leaving one-of-a-kind markings or designs that can be further enhanced with staining. Unlike overlays, which are added as a polymer layer on top of the concrete and must be sealed, etched or engraved concrete is carved directly into the surface and is a permanent treatment.
While many people are familiar with the decorative potential of concrete for floors, sidewalks and driveways, fewer are aware that this durable material can also be used to sculpt and shape unique rock and wood-like accents on walls and other vertical surfaces. This unique technique allows contractors to carve concrete into surfaces that resemble stones, rocks and even chiseled wood, and can transform dull basement bars and unsightly foundations into distinctive living spaces and home amenities.
To create the illusion of a carved surface, contractors level and pour a new slab, then use rubber stamps to press and tamp it so it takes on the shape of bricks, stones or wood planks. When the concrete dries, contractors apply concrete stains to color the new surface and match it to the stone or wood they’re mimicking. The resulting finish looks like natural stone, pavers or wood and is long-lasting, low maintenance and slip-resistant.
When it comes to creating the etched or carved appearance, the main difference is that engravings are drawn with sharp, pointed tools while etching is done with acid. When the acid interacts with the metal it etches the soft surface beneath, leaving behind the engraved or carved line. While etching is commonly used on metal plates for printing, it’s also a popular art form and a great option for homeowners who want to add an artistic touch to their concrete.
Fortunately for experienced decorative contractors, there are now a few specialized machines designed to help them master the art of carving concrete. Two patented systems, Engrave-A-Crete and KaleidoCrete, arm them with all the tools they need to cut an endless array of patterns into concrete and achieve professional results. Darrel Adamson, whose background includes remodeling contractor work and a stint as a decorative concrete contractor, developed both of these innovative tools and now trains contractors worldwide through his company, Engrave-A-Crete.