What to Look for in a Concrete Contractor

When contracting any type of significant work on your residential or commercial property, it’s important to do your research before making a decision on a provider. Because concrete contractors aren’t as tightly regulated as plumbers or electricians in terms of licensing and insurance, there is a lot of quality variation within the industry. In this blog, we go through all of the key factors you should take into consideration when looking for a concrete contractor.

 

Insurance

Asking about the type of insurance your employer has is the first thing you should do when looking for a contractor. Their insurance should cover general liability, automobiles, and workers compensation at a bare minimum.

 

Performance guarantees

A good contractor will stand behind the quality of their work and should be able to offer guarantees regarding timeframe, working hours, job quality, clean-up and repairs.

These guarantees should be provided in writing to ensure you have some recourse against the contractor if anything goes wrong.

 

Experience level

The art of laying concrete is easy to learn but hard to master. As such, you’re always better off choosing a concrete contractor who has at least a decade of on the job experience and the evidence (i.e. testimonials, images) to prove it.

Broadly speaking, the more experienced the contractor, the more professional the result.

 

Portfolio

Being able to see the type of work the concrete contractor has recently completed will give you an idea of whether or not they are able to achieve the effect you are looking for.

Prestige Concrete for example, specialise in exposed aggregate, stencilled and coloured concrete types and we are continually working on projects of this nature. We’re the perfect concrete contractor to work with if you want to pave your pool patio area with exposed aggregate, but we are probably not the right choice if you want to lay a plain concrete carpark.

Testimonials

What customers have to say about a concrete contractors’ services can be very telling. A cursory search through Google Reviews should provide you with the most recent feedback from clients.

Whilst individual reviews should be taken with a grain of salt, if you begin to see patterns forming in the reviews about stretched out timeframes or unsatisfactory results, it’s fair to assume the contractor struggles to deliver on their promises. A lack or absence of reviews online doesn’t necessarily mean the contractor is bad, but you should still ask them for some examples of recent work and references you can follow up.

 

Prestige Concrete services are a Melbourne based concrete contractor with over 20 years of industry experience. Lean more about our services today by calling 0411 440 157.

 

 

 

 

7 Gardening Ideas that Don’t Require an Actual Garden

Just because you’ve foregone the suburban backyard in favour of inner city living or can’t be bothered maintaining a lawn, doesn’t mean you can’t have a green space in your home. Patio gardens, indoor plants, and small space gardening are an enormous trend at the moment, and it’s easy to see why: studies suggest that people who live with plants have happier, healthier lives. From an aesthetic perspective, plants are also a huge home design trend, with their organic shape and vibrant colours providing a much-needed to contrast modern silhouettes. In this blog we’ll be exploring some of the approach to small space gardening that are the perfect way to green up your concrete patio or apartment balcony.

 

Kokedama

This popular Japanese gardening tradition has only recently made it’s way into Australian gardens but it’s fast becoming one of the preferred ways to add greenery where garden beds aren’t really an option.

Kokedama is typically a ball of soil, covered in moss and held together with string, which is used to grow an ornamental plant.

Putting together your own Kokedama is inexpensive and can be a fun project if you have kids. Once made, Kokedama can be suspended in the air and only need to be occasionally submerged in water. From a design perspective, Kokedama look best when grouped together to create a kind of dangling wall.

 

Bonsai

Slightly more complicated but much more variable and sophisticated is the Japanese tradition of Bonsai. Broadly speaking, the tradition of Bonsai refers to cultivating small trees in containers that mimic the shape of full sized trees in nature.

This gardening tradition is an art form with different disciplines and an extremely long and interesting history which is well worth exploring if you are thinking about cultivating a Bonsai garden. Bonsai is by far the most labour-intensive form of garden less gardening on this list as Bonsai require regular pruning (both of the roots and of the branches), shaping, defoliating, grafting, watering and fertilising.

The payoff is a unique piece of living art that can become a family heirloom and last hundreds of years.  If you want to start a Bonsai garden, it’s best to go to a specialist Bonsai nursery and chat with a specialist. You might even like to buy your first few trees before attempting to create your own.
vertical-garden

Vertical Gardening

This is a great option if you have a small floor plan. Vertical gardening is exactly what it sounds like: you garden upwards instead of downwards. Whilst the idea of hanging gardens is thousands of years old, the 21st century interpretation of this tradition is often soil-less and designed to mimic the way vines and arboreal plants (like orchids) grow up cliff faces and tree trunks in the rainforest.

Whilst it is possible to create your own vertical garden (and there are plenty of tutorials online), the impressive large-scale ones which are made to look like rainforest walls are almost all professionally installed by a specialist landscaping companies. These services are not cheap, but they do include plants, panels, irrigation, setup and maintenance.

Once established, vertical gardens require regular maintenance during the first year whilst the plants are establishing themselves as well as a plant room to control irrigation and nutrient levels. The payoff is a stunning wall display which improves air quality, reduces background noise, increases humidity and adds value to your property.

 

Terrariums

Whilst this trend has been around for a while and the smaller versions of these containing succulents and cacti can look a little barren (and a bit naff), large scale, creative interpretations of this gardening style can still make an impact.

The term terrarium refers to a self-sustaining plant ecosystem encased in glass. These mini worlds are perfect for low light situations like inner city patios are an interesting hybrid of garden and design object. Once established, terrariums are quite hardy and only require an occasional watering.

The key to creating an interesting terrarium is to think outside the box. Pick a vessel that is a little out of the ordinary- anything that is watertight and which you can fit your hand into for planting is suitable so get creative. An old coffee pot, a Christmas bauble, an unused computer monitor, or a wine carafe are all unique terrarium candidates.

Plant wise, don’t waste your time with sparse looking succulents and cacti, these are desert plants which are not really suited to the humid terrarium environment. Opt instead for lush rainforest plants in a mix of colours and textures.

 

Mediterranean Style Gardening

Mediterranean countries have a long-established gardening tradition that has developed to compensate for the erosion prone soils and low rainfall associated with the region.

One of the ways Mediterranean gardeners have got around these limitations by landscaping with either tiles, bricks or concrete, and then planting in pots or raised garden beds. Think terracotta pots filled with lavender, rosemary and citrus trees, a trickling fountain and wrought iron furniture on a tiled patio.

These elements combine to create a low maintenance garden which is ideal for entertaining. This gardenless garden solution is ideal for homeowners with a larger outdoor space who don’t want to deal with a labour-intensive lawn or garden beds.

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Windowsill Gardening

For those who have absolutely no outdoor space to work with, the windowsill garden is a good way to go. Whilst window boxes and of course literally lining pot plants up along a window have always been around, modern interpretations of windowsill gardening tend to focus on producing edible plants and making use of extremely slim windowsills under the kitchen sink.

To achieve this, modern windowsill gardening typically includes some kind of basket or tray, along which you can line up small pots of herbs or vegetables. Successful windowsill gardens employ pots with good drainage and are positioned in front of a window that receives at least six hours of sunlight a day.

air-plants

Air plants (Tillandsia)

Air plants are the ultimate in minimalist gardening. As the name suggests, air plants don’t need soil to survive and draw their nutrients from the air. There are over 650 different types of air plants which can survive without soil and they come in a wide range of colours, textures and shapes; some even flower!

The only care an air plant needs is a weekly watering where the plants are rinsed in the sink and left to drain.

Air plants can be tied together and strung from the ceiling, placed in an empty vase or terrarium or arranged on a shelf to create a kind of impromptu vertical garden. These plants are ideal for indoor areas with limited space and are almost impossible to kill.

 

Prestige Concrete are here to help you landscape your garden with a wide variety of decorative concrete solutions including stencilled, coloured and exposed aggregate concrete. If you need a concrete contractor in the Melbourne area, we’re the guys to call. For more information about our services, please don’t hesitate to get in touch on 0411 440 157.

 

 

5 Interesting Facts About Concrete

It’s safe to say that not many people would associate ‘interesting’ with ‘concrete.’ We can also safely say that, when it comes to concrete, you can’t judge a book by its cover. Concrete has a pivotal role in our lives and a surprisingly rich history. In this blog, we have picked out the most surprising, weird and interesting facts about concrete to share with you.

 

It’s older than you think

 

Concrete has been with us for eons. What you probably know is there was concrete unearthed in Israel that dates all the way to the Neolithic times. It’s estimated that we started using concrete at around 10,200 BC to 2000 BC. Throughout the ages concrete has been forgotten and reinvented, over and over again.

 

It has inspired art

There was a concrete art movement that sprouted in the 1930s distinct for it’s simple and abstract works. There was another concrete art movement in Brazil around the 1970s. Concrete art has informed other art movements like cubism and futurism.

 

Ancient Romans made it better

 

The concrete the Romans made are still standing strong after 1,500 years. While the modern recipe for concrete only has 50-60 years before it starts cracking. This is because the Roman concrete recipe was mixed with volcanic ash that reacted well with seawater and became sturdier. Only in recent years scientists have been able to uncover this lost recipe.

 

It can be scented

 

It is now possible to create concrete that is scented! You can spice up your concrete with mouth-watering scents like coffee or bubble-gum. Create a soothing space by adding essential oils to bring out a relaxing fragrance.

 

The largest concrete structure is a dam

 

The Three Gorges Dam sits on the world’s third largest river in China. If weighed, it would be 144,309,356,753.51 pounds or roughly 65457623143.000114 kg. This mammoth concrete structure took an astounding seventeen years to build and cost $37 billion. The construction caused some controversy as it forced a massive amount of people to relocate.

 

At Prestige Concrete Services we know the ins and outs of concrete. If you’re considering using concrete, we offer a wide range of concrete services for residential, commercial and for local government. Get in touch by calling 0411 440 157 for more information or a quote today.

Top Landscaping Trends For 2018 

2017 is now behind us. With a new year brings new trends and ideas. The landscaping world is no different. This year, we are set to see several new exciting outdoor trends. To keep you in the loop, we’ve created a list of the top three landscaping trends we’re sure to see take off this year. 

fire pit

1) Textured Paving 

The first landscaping trend for 2018 is textured paving. While minimalist, large format, clean line pavers took centre stage in 2017, 2018 will highlight smaller, textural flooring choices. Expect to see different stones being used for flagging and cobbles to break up large areas. Cobblestones will also be used in creative ways to mix linear lines with rounded shapes. 

2) Fire Pits 

Fire pits are becoming increasingly popular with homeowners now viewing them as essential. They are great for the cooler months and can even double as a coffee table to extend their use in summer. The varying price points of fire pits also makes them accessible for a wide range of people. 2018 is expected to be the biggest year for fire pits yet – so get on board now.  

3) Outdoor Rooms 

While outdoor rooms have been popular in the past as a luxurious addition to any home, they are expected to blow up in 2018. These spaces resemble the functionality of indoor spaces while simultaneously playing into our desire to spend more time outside in nature. Outdoor rooms also allow you the flexibility to design the space however you like – from outdoor kitchens to daybeds to outdoor showers and sunken lounges, the creativity and choices are all yours. 

At Prestige Concrete Services, we’re on top of the upcoming trends. And what’s more? We have over 20 years’ experience providing concreting services to Melbourne’s West. For a quote on your project, or to learn more – please call us on 0411 440 157.  

Coloured Concrete 101

What’s the deal with coloured concrete? While concrete is often the utilitarian choice in building materials, there are so many aesthetically pleasing options to choose from. At Prestige Concrete Services, we’re driven by excellence in concrete, so that means ensuring that it’s not only high quality in its function, but also in its appearance. However, when it comes to achieving the perfect colour in concrete, it’s not so much of an art as it is a science. So in this week’s article, we’re going to explain coloured concrete in greater detail.

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Core components

For the overall appearance of a coloured concrete surface, there are a few factors at play. Cement type, aggregate size and colour, water content, pigment selection, mixing technique and finishing methods are all involved in the final outcome. For example, white cement has the greatest range of colour possibilities, especially with regards to bright and vibrant colours. For grey cement, it’s best to stick to muted earthy tones. Aggregate size and colour will also influence the final outcome of decorative concrete. Exposed aggregate will detract for the concrete colour, and the human eye will tend to focus on the aaggregate colour.

 

Customization is key

Colour in concrete is dependent upon the cementitious material present. In order to formulate a colour sample, use a single pigment at different loading rates until the desired shade is found. Creating your custom colour palette using a mix of primary colours can be quite a unique process! However, it can also be pretty complex- so that’s why it’s important to have the best team behind you.

Prestige Concrete Services are your local experts when it comes to concrete; you can be sure there’ll be no disasters. Get in touch by calling 0411 440 157  for more information on coloured concrete today.

 

5 Reasons To Choose Concrete 

Concrete is a reliable building material that people have consistently turned to throughout history. While there are a lots of different building materials to choose from today, concrete has lots of different benefits that separate it from the rest. In this week’s blog, we share three reasons why you should choose concrete for your next residential, commercial or council project. 

Edwardian garden path

1) Strength 

The first undeniable benefit of concrete is its sturdiness. Concrete is incredibly strong and can withstand arduous weather conditions and other knocks.  

2) Durable 

Due to its strength, concrete is also extremely durable. This not only means less hassle down the track of trying to replace your concrete but also less money spent. Concrete is therefore an incredibly cost-effective investment.  

3) Reliable 

As previously mentioned, concrete is dependable. Thanks to decades of research and development, concrete has continually evolved to be a strong, trustworthy building material. This is sure to give you peace of mind after using concrete in a massive project. 

4) Non-flammable 

Another reason why you should choose concrete is because it’s non-flammable. Unlike thermoplastic conduit, concrete pipe won’t burn. This is particularly helpful if you live in an area that is prone to fires. It also makes concrete a smart choice for construction site safety and public safety. 

5) Local availability 

The final point that makes concrete a great choice is because it is widely available. Concrete is a popular building material, meaning that it is easily accessible for your project. 

At Prestige Concrete Services, provide premier concreting services to Melbourne’s West and have been doing so for over 20 years. Whether you need to concrete a pathway, driveway, pool surrounds or entertainment area, Prestige Concrete Services can help you. For more information or a quote, please contact us on 0411 440 157.

Tips for Maintaining a Sleek Concrete Driveway 

It’s incredibly exciting when your driveway has just been completed. A new driveway is smooth and fresh yet, over time, it’s easy for a driveway to lose its lustre and start to reveal cracks, marks and other imperfections. So how do you maintain a sleek and smooth concrete driveway? In this week’s blog, we share our top tips for ensuring your concrete driveway stays in its optimal condition. 

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1) Regularly Clean Your Driveway 

The first thing you do to maintain a sleek driveway is to regularly and properly clean it. Although this seems pretty straight forward, there are some things to consider, such as pressure washing or vacuuming and how to seal your driveway. In between these routine cleaning sessions, make sure you remove debris off the driveway as these can accumulate and damage your driveway.  

2) Stay Away From Deicing Chemicals 

It’s tempting to want to use deicing chemicals on your driveway. However, if you wish to preserve the integrity of your driveway, then you should avoid all deicing chemicals for as long as possible. A driveway that has just been completed is most susceptible to damage from these chemicals.  

3) Repair Any Damage Immediately 

If any damage does occur to your driveway, it’s best to repair this straight-away. This will prevent from other issues arising later down the track. While you might want to repair the damage yourself, it’s best to contact an expert who can perform the job correctly. 

4) Clean Oil and Other Stains Right Away 

Similarly to above, it’s essential that you clean any oil or other stains right away. Hot soapy water works well with traditional stains. However, if there is a grease or gasoline spill, then opt for a degreaser or stain remover designed specifically for concrete.  

At Prestige Concrete Services, we have over 20 years’ experience providing concreting services to Melbourne’s West. For a quote or to learn more about our services, please feel free to give us a ring on 0411 440 157.  

All About Concrete

The jury’s out- concrete is one of the most used substances around, and is used in many areas of our home. Have you ever wondered what makes up this amazing substance? In this week’s blog, we’ll be running through the main properties of concrete and what role they play.

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Cement

As the main binding element, cement essentially forms a glue for the other materials found in concrete. By combining iron, chalk, clay, slate, aluminium, iron, silicon, limestone and other chemicals, cement is created in a controlled mixture. When mixed with water, it reacts with the other materials by heating and hardening, to create a solid concrete structure.

Sand

Sand is the fine aggregate part of concrete, which assists in the solidification process. Sand fills up the pores within the concrete, so that the material is able to achieve the necessary strength required. Its resistant to weathering and its solid quality makes means sand is a perfect addition to the concrete mixture.

Coarse aggregates

The larger stones in the concrete mixture are known as coarse aggregates. As one of the main strengthening properties, they also ensure that your concrete mix stretches further. For the best strength properties, aim for 20mm aggregate. If the size of coarse aggregates is reduced to 10mm, you may weaken your concrete.

Water

The last element in concrete is water- this makes the mixture workable during placement. Through the setting process, the water will evaporate as the cement materials start to heat up and bind together in a hardened mix. It should only take a few hours for the water to evaporate, and for the concrete to harden to the point that it can be walked on without causing damage.

Prestige Concrete Services specialise in concrete services across Melbourne and will work with you to ensure your outdoor area is both functional and aesthetically pleasing. Get in touch by calling 0411 440 157 for more information or a quote today.

How To Build an Outdoor Fire Pit 

There’s something nostalgic about sitting around a fire pit. Considered one of the most popular landscaping features, backyard fire pits are functional, attractive and a great outdoor gathering place to incorporate in the design of your home. In this week’s blog, we share how to build an outdoor fire pit.  

exposed aggregate concrete

1) Plan Your Fire Pit Design 

The first thing you want to do is plan your fire pit design. This is where you can unleash your creativity and flare. Just make sure the firepit is made from fireproof material on a flat, level area. It should also be several metres from a house or tree. Be sure to check the local laws and regulations on fire pits in your city or area.  

2) Build the Foundation 

After deciding what your fire pit will look like, it’s time to start building. Begin by pounding a rebar stake into the ground to mark the centre of the fire pit, then draw the circumference of the circle. Next, measure the diametre of your circle. Attach a string to the stake that is half the length of your circumference and tie this end of the string to a can of spray paint. Lightly pull the string tight and walk around the stake as you spray paint your circumference. Using a shovel, dig the space out to a depth of 6″. Use the same method as above to mark an inner circle 12″ in from the outer circle – this will form the edge of the fire pit wall. 

Next, create the foundation that the stones will sit on. Mix concrete with water until it reaches a creamy consistency. Lay the wet concrete in between the two circles so it’s level to the ground. Make sure to leave the centre space free to allow for drainage. Keep building the concrete until it is approximately 1 ½” below ground level. Press the rebar into the concrete for reinforcement and smooth the surface with a towel before allowing it to dry for 24 hours. 

3) Build Outer Wall 

Mix mortar and then shovel around 2″ of it on top of the concrete base. Lay the stones on the mortar. Select stone faces that are appealing and match the curve of your outline. After the first few levels of stone start to build, start laying the inner fire bricks. 

4) Build the Inner Fire Brick Wall 

To build the inner fire brick wall, fill in the gaps between with wet mortar, scraping away any excess. Measure the inner and outer edges of the wall to keep the wall’s thickness and circular shape. Keeping raising the bricks and stones to fill in any gaps between the stones and mortar. Lay a cap of pre-selected flat fieldstones on top of the wall to finish the structure.  

At Prestige Concrete Services, we provide residential, commercial and council concreting services to Melbourne’s West. For more information, please call us on 0411 440 157.  

‘Greening’ Cement

Aside from water, cement is the most widely used material in the world. This is because cement is one of the main ingredients in concrete- which is a building material loved all over the world. Sturdy, affordable and widely available, there’s no wonder it’s such a popular material. However, with global temperatures rising, it’s important to also consider its damaging effects on the planet. In this week’s article, we’ll be exploring the eco-friendly potential of cement.

cement

The facts

In Australia, every tonne of cement produced releases 0.82 tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. While this amount of CO2 may not seem like a “ton”, global cement productions exceeds 4 billion tonnes annually. This account for just under 10% of the planet’s CO2 emissions.

Taking steps to a better future

Across the cement industry, action has already been taken to reduce its carbon footprint. While these efforts have been a step in the right direction, cement production is responsible for so much of the CO2 emissions from this industry. For companies unwilling to part ways with cement altogether, less carbon-intensive practices should be implemented.

Alternatively, cement could be replaced with another kind of concrete, known as geopolymer concrete. In Australia, the transition to this new kind of concrete would be relatively smooth. This is because many of the ingredients required are already available. The main reason industry is hesitant to shift to this concrete lies simply in trust. Supply chains and large corporations are unlikely to disrupt their production process without first seeing examples of the new concrete in practice.

In any case, something must be done about climate change. Given that cement produces around 10% of global CO2 emissions, it makes sense to start here.

In the meantime, Prestige Concrete Services specialise in concrete services across Melbourne and will work with you to ensure your outdoor area is both functional and aesthetically pleasing. Get in touch by calling 0411 440 157  for more information or a quote today.