December 2012 Job of the Month: One of the handy things about a coating of concrete is that it has the power to wipe the slate clean, so to speak. Think of concrete as a magic eraser that makes “do-overs” possible. That’s why the owners of this Bedford, TX contacted us – they needed a do over for the concrete pad surrounding their backyard pool. The contractor who initially poured the slab messed it up big time. Not only was the integral color way off the mark, but so was the texture. We got asked to help fix this mess.
The texture of the initial pool deck had what’s known as a “salt” finish. In this technique, before the concrete dries, large chunks of rock salt are thrown over it and then smoothed over with a trowel. The trowelling step is important because it causes the salt chunks to press down on the still-hardening concrete, and it determines what the final texture will look like. When the concrete is dry, the salt is power-washed, which causes it to dissolve away. All that’s left of the salt chunks are the indentations they leave behind. Usually, the uneven, randomly dispersed holes created by a salt finish are aesthetically pleasing. But in this case, the trowelling was sloppily done and the texture looked like a hot mess. Since there is no real way to fix a messed up texture job once its dried and cured, we were hired to apply a skim coating of concrete over the entire area to get rid of it and start fresh.
Generally, a skim coating of concrete can easily masks bad texture problems; but some sacrifices have to be made. It does so by filling in all the holes and burying the bad texture of the concrete. Our homeowners had to give up the salt finish they wanted in favor of a smooth but grainy patio surface. It’s a beautiful look, just different than what they had first envisioned. After we buried the texture under a thin coating of concrete, we applied a rich caramel-colored stain to our smooth new “canvas.” The original concrete pad had been a dull, whitish-gray color that certainly wasn’t very interesting to look at. The darker stain made a huge difference and transformed the patio into a true focal point. Last but not least, we applied a protective sealant to the entire area to safeguard it against spills, stains, and the elements.
In life, mistakes happen. Fortunately, when mistakes happen with concrete surfaces, they can be fixed, often without requiring a tearout which can be very expensive. Despite the added time and expense it took to finish the area around their pool, these homeowners agree with us that the final result was well worth the investment. We are glad that we were able to create a happy ending for our clients.