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Properly Designing Your Concrete Patio
A properly built concrete patio is a thing of beauty, strong and very functional. With little to no maintenance it can last a lifetime. When considering a concrete patio, deck, sidewalk or porch, there are a few things that should not be overlooked.
A proper design and layout is crucial. It is very important to design your patio in a way that make sense. It should complement it’s surroundings. The patio lines should flow nicely with the lines on the house. Your colors should all work together. You don’t want to try to invent something new. You don’t have to try to match your colors exactly, but you do want something that works well with what you already have.
Grading and drainage are an essential part of your design. A stamped patio may need a little more slope than a broom finished surface, but not much. You can get creative with your patio to help solve or prevent water problems. Concrete, unlike wood, is good at moving water quickly away from your structure. If you don’t want water in your basement, you can easily move water away from your house and out into the yard, and have a nice patio to enjoy all at the same time. Improperly designed patios can create problems that you never had in the first place.
Reinforcement is another crucial part of a well built patio, porch, deck, driveway or sidewalk. Steel reinforcement bars, also known as rebar are very important. A driveway will have heavy loads on it that can crack the concrete. Concrete is hard to crush, but it is easy to crack when spread out over a larger area. Rebar is designed to strengthen the concrete and enhance it’s shear strength. With rebar, concrete can be incredibly strong. Rebar is what makes concrete great for bridges and high rise buildings. Wire mesh is generally and inferior substitute for rebar. Wire mesh can be strong, but generally people use cheap light gauge mesh that is not strong enough to do it’s job. Rebar needs to be lifted up off the ground to work properly. Rebar needs to be in the concrete, not in the dirt. Rebar is also effective against shrinkage cracks. Concrete shrinks when it cures, it expands when it is hot, and shrinks when it is cold. This can cause cracks in the concrete. Preventative measures, such as saw cuts and control joints are used to help the concrete crack on a strait line. You try to get it to crack where you want, not where it wants. Control joints need to be properly designed and placed to help ensure that you don’t have a bunch of ugly cracks.
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