Below we reveal 3 pattern imprinted concrete problems that are quite common and ever so easy to avoid:
It’s all in the Mix – Pattern Imprinted Concrete Problems – Number 1
So, there’s sand, aggregate (stone) and cement. Easy right? Throw it in all in a drum, mix and then pour the load! But not all mixes are the same. There are good mixes and some bad ones. For example, if a larger aggregate (stone) is used, there’s a possibility it will show through to the top surface. Whilst this is great if you are installing a concrete counter tops (these can look great, by the way) – for a pattern imprinted concrete driveway, exposed aggregate looks BAD.
Solution – ensure the correct size aggregate is used.
Another issue can be if too much water is added to a mix which makes it too sloppy. If you’ve ever baked a cake (or helped out with it) you’ll know that a sloppy wet mix is harder to work with than a stiffer mix. But with mixes for pattern imprinted concrete there is a fine balance between ‘too wet’ and ‘too stiff.’
An installer needs it just right to the desirable finish that is the signature of a professional installation. So………..that’s not too sloppy and wet so it’s unworkable, but also not too stiff, so that it’s too difficult to move. And of course, unlike cake, if concrete sets it cannot simply be crumbled to start new…..it will have to be broken out with a breaker at considerable cost (and pain).
Solution – Effective planning. Because warm weather makes concrete set faster all areas exposed to the sun should be poured, screeded and troweled first. Then shaded areas can be worked. This is on the basis, of course, that the installation allows this. If an installation is totally in the sun, extra installers will be needed to get the job done right. This will relieve the time pressure and avoid the temptation to make the mix wetter (which can weaken and cause aggregate to sink, as mentioned above).
Puddling – Pattern Imprinted Concrete Problems – Number 2
On a sloping driveway puddling will not be an issue because all surface water will run off. Puddling in other areas is a pain, especially if it’s right outside a door opening (or by a step) and/or where you get out of your car.
The cause is sloppy workmanship.
Unlike block paving and resin installations pattern imprinted concrete is laid as one ‘slab’. This presents challenges not associated with other driveway surfacing products. There’s a short time frame to get the all important ‘levels right’ and if concrete is taken from one area to another to compensate for ‘dips’ these in turn can ‘lower’ other levels, leading to the formation of a puddle on the finished surface. An installer spending too long on one area whilst using ‘kneel’ boards can also cause dips, which will also puddle.
Solution – Even and consistent distribution of both concrete and weight. Experienced pattern imprinted concrete installers will not leave puddles behind as a reminder.
Printing – Pattern Imprinted Concrete Problems – Number 3
When a driveway or patio is ready to print it means a number of tasks have been completed:
- Sub base installed and compacted
- Edging and drainage installed – Must read on drainage
- Concrete poured, screeded and troweled with colour
- Allowed to set
- Release agent powder added (for both toning down base colour and easy removal of mats during printing process)
- Okay…ready to print.
A set of 6 -8 mats that fit together….what can go wrong?
- Starting in the wrong place. This is a common mistake of inexperienced installers. This problem can be exacerbated if access is difficult. Therefore, careful planning must be made as to where printing will begin and mats must be placed in this area prior to the pouring stage. Otherwise, mats will have to be lifted over the newly installed concrete and if one drops, immediate remediation will be necessary.
- Applying too little or not enough pressure. On the basis that the newly installed concrete is ready to print, the actual process of printing is pretty quick. Usually, a couple of men just walking over the mats (there are a lack of women that choose to do this, if you know of any, let us know!) is enough to achieve a good print. What do we mean by ‘good print’? The lines should match up and the pattern should be consistent all over. There shouldn’t be any dips and care must be taken that the mats do not ‘snag’ on the new surface as they are lifted.
- Extra skill around steps and awkward places. A mat exists called a ‘floppy’ because it’s…floppy and flexible. It’s used to print around curves (read this on curves) and care must be taken when using it. Due to its flexibility it has a habit of flopping into other parts of a newly installed driveway, and this can leave unwanted marks on the print. Two people are normally needed to help prevent this. One person prints while the other holds the floppy part (nice). Did you eat garlic today, Derek?
There are other pattern imprinted concrete problems and this post is just focusing on the 3 main ones. Keep in mind that all driveway surfacing installations have challenges and problems. As always using a professional driveway installer is key to getting a beautiful looking driveway, with minimal problems.