“Foiled!” – A driveway design project in Ft. Worth, TX
In Texas, summertime is outdoors time both for entertainment and home-improvement projects. During the dog days of summer, we get lots of requests to spruce up patios, sidewalks, and, as was the case with this memorable project, driveways.
The owners of this suburban Fort Worth, TX home had done a lot of improvements to their newly purchased home and wanted to dress up their boring concrete driveway. After some consultation, they chose a driveway design that would incorporate a stone pattern that complemented the stone accents on the front of their home. Color wise, they went with a rich brown hue to help hide dirt and make it easier to keep looking clean.
We have many options for a driveway design, they can vary from a simple skim coat (a thin layer that follows the contours of your existing floor) to an elaborate stamped overlay (a thicker layer that simulates the look and texture of natural stone). Deciding which way to go depends on many factors, the most important being what is the final result you would like to see on the floor, followed by budget.
In this case, our homeowners were looking for something pretty but not overwhelming. As such, we recommended a skim-coat overlay cut into a stone-like pattern. This is a popular concrete resurfacing method that achieves beautiful results, quickly and economically. Well, that is how it usually works.
Typically, we prep the floor, put the skim coat material down, score it into a stone pattern, seal it, and voila – the driveway design is complete and everyone is happy. That didn’t happen in this case – Mother Nature and some bad chemistry threw us for a loop. A day after wrapping up this particular driveway design project, heavy thunderstorms rolled through the area and it rained on and off for almost three straight days. Once the sun peeked back out, our homeowner called us to report that spots had suddenly appeared all over the surface of the driveway.
At first, we weren’t concerned. Though it happens rarely, after heavy rains, a bit of water can penetrate the semi-permeable sealer we use causing some temporary spots to appear. It’s caused by some parts of the concrete absorbing a little water and getting darker than the surrounding area. Normally all the spots disappear within a day or so after the concrete “breathes out” the moisture through evaporation.
This time though, the spots did not go away. After scratching our heads (we had never seen this happen before) we conducted some tests and discovered that one of the overlay materials we had used was defective. It had left the overlay much more porous than it usually is causing water to penetrate deeper, even when sealed. We were a little stunned, this had never happened in ten years of applying overlays but as the old adage goes: “You learn something new every day”.
The only real solution was to start over and redo the entire driveway design project. We could have tried adding a couple of more coats of sealer but the right thing to do was use a fresh batch of material. We repeated the entire process – grind, overlay, score into a stone like pattern, stain, and seal, after first apologizing to our homeowner for the inconvenience. Problem solved!
A couple of weeks later we had another batch of rainy weather and no issues, our driveway design project performed as expected. Occasionally, life throws us all curve balls. They key to overcoming adversities is to focus not on the problems, but on the solutions (and talking to your distributor to find out what happened).