What Can You Make With Concrete?

There are so many ways I can answer the question “what can you make with concrete”, but I think what most people are asking is really….what can I make with Decorative Concrete or Concrete Overlays? Based on this, I’m going to have to do a multi-part series of blog posts just to keep them short and entertaining enough to read.

The first thing you have to know is that you can create almost anything with concrete…BUT…you have to have the right kind of concrete to make anything beyond a cement driveway, patio or concrete floor. For example…stamped concrete, which is also known as concrete overlay or decorative concrete, is different from the standard concrete you would use for a driveway or the foundation of a building or a concrete floor.

Decorative concrete and many concrete overlays have finer grades of sand, polymers, reinforced fibers and/or other specialty ingredients that add strength, smoothness and allow longer drying times so the concrete can be carved, stamped, colored, etc. Overlay concrete (stamped or decorative concrete) is designed and manufactured to hold its shape when carved and to stick to a wall, floor or other surfaces without moving, sluffing, sliding, drooping, running, or losing its new custom carved or stamped shape. It also dries as hard as or harder than standard concrete and is permanent.

Vertical Concrete Mixes Concrete Stamp mix

So…what can you make with concrete? Virtually anything, as long as you use a concrete mix “SPECIFICALLY DESIGNED” as a decorative, stamped or overlay product. Let me give you a couple of examples and actually show you what you can do with a professional grade concrete overlay mix.

Concrete Overlays Light Mountain Stamped Concrete

Vertical Concrete Wall Stamped Concrete

Stamped Concrete Floors

Stamped Concrete Wood Stamp

Wood Plank concrete stamps

The project below is the Bannister Family House on the UC San Diego Medical Campus and was a donated labor of love project. Several projects were created on retaining walls to beautify the landscape and create something that would last forever and be special and memorable for the children and their families who stay there. The Bannister Family House is where the parents and families of children with cancer can stay for free so they can be close to their child 24/7, while the child undergoes cancer treatments.

This Stairwell Project, created by Cindee Lundin, The Studio by Cindee Lundin using Stone Edge Surfaces Pro Wall Mix and lots of contractors that were actually part of a training class.

This Stairwell Project, created by Cindee Lundin, The Studio by Cindee Lundin using Stone Edge Surfaces Pro Wall Mix and lots of contractors that were actually part of a class, created an incredible bas-relief public mural on one of the Bannister Houses stairwells. Titled the “Ebb and Flow of Life,” the mural was created by integrating concrete with texturing, sculpting, coloring and design techniques.

It was a busy two days for the bas-relief participants, as most stayed from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. to help apply, color, texture and carve the design on an existing exterior concrete wall using a professional vertical concrete mix. They also colored and helped install detailed elements made with the same vertical mix prior to the show.

According to Lundin, “The design depicts the ebb and flow of our lives that go forward in the waves then are suddenly shattered by an event.” The doves, 40 in all, symbolize love and hopefulness taking flight after a fall, she says, and the feathers engraved on the walkway represent the little pieces we leave behind. Yet, through it all, “We are still able to fly.” Lydia Phillips of Murals, Mosaics and More by Lydia in La Mesa, California, had never worked with concrete before and took the class to learn a new technique. A muralist by trade, she says Lundin’s project and Stone Edge Surfaces products showed her how versatile concrete can be.

SAME MIX BELOW…DIFFERENT APPLICATION

At another area of the Bannister Family House, Troy Lemon, with the help of Warren Ness and another group of contractors created realistic rock formations and a hand carved rock wall…completely out of concrete.

In this “rockin’” workshop, attendees learned how to use vertical carving mixes, they specifically chose Stone Edge Surfaces Pro Wall Mix as it is the only one that is strong enough and light enough to come off the wall 6 inches! They created a stone façade for a large-scale retaining wall in the Bannister Family House courtyard. Workshop instructors Troy Lemon and Warren Ness shared their experience and technical know-how to help participants learn new tricks of the trade for carving, texturing and coloring concrete to make it look like natural boulders and chiseled stone.

Ness headed up the boulder-making segment of the workshop, which included coloring as well as carving. Besides including greenish “moss-covered” areas on the faux rocks, Ness demonstrated on a massive rock “outcropping” how to create realistic-looking lichens, simple slow-growing greyish plants that often grow on rocks. As a finishing touch, students eagerly created their own. And all of this was created with…you guessed it…concrete!

Then…just to show what else they could do with concrete, and the remainder of the donated Pro Wall Mix…they created a beautiful free standing hand carved wall that was meant to serve as a practice piece that would be destroyed at workshop’s end, but UC San Diego Health representatives asked if they could keep that impromptu piece — which was a mix of faux dry stack limestone and wood planks — and move it elsewhere on the property for permanent display. Lemon and his team gladly agreed, and even included the hospital’s name on the front of it.

So…what can you make with concrete…based on the above, and I think you will agree…with the right type of concrete you can create almost anything!

I will write another article or two and show you other very cool things I have seen and been a part of creating with concrete. Until then…thanks for reading!

Written by Bruce Grogg

 

Bruce Grogg has been in the concrete overlay and pool industry for many years. Besides his work in and ongoing efforts to better the concrete overlay industry, Bruce is also involved with Government Relations at the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals, and leads the Water Conservation Coalition that brought the pool cover industry manufacturers together to lobby Washington for conservation designations. For the past few years Bruce has been a regular on Capitol Hill meeting with the EPA and the coalition’s lobbyist and Congressional supporters. Bruce is also part of the ICC (International Code Council) where he sits on the 2015/2017 ISPSC (International Swimming pool & Spa Code) Code Development Committee and was the key author of the first ICC International pool cover code published in 2012. Concrete overlays are a big part of the pool industry where they are used on pool decks, patios and walkways, which is what made it an easy transition for him to move full time into the concrete overlay industry. Bruce loves writing, learning, being active in the industry, speaking, and he loves to travel…especially if there is a beach involved.

ergoes treatment. We were honored to be a part of this project and what was created using our products is amazing! From realistic rock, the look of wood and stucco, white doves, swirling colored artistry…just one mix created all of this that you see below! Thank you artisans Cindee and Troy Lemon for the incredible artistry and Concrete Decor Magazine for the opportunity.

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