Concrete-Driveways

 

Most Pattern Imprinted Concrete Problems can be avoided!

Pattern Imprinted concrete problems do happen. But you can avoid many of the problems by choosing the right company to install your driveway. There are many good companies to choose from. Unfortunately there are many cowboys out there too.

To help you find a good installer download our buyers guide now. This will help you decide what company to trust and which to avoid.

What are the most common pattern imprinted concrete problems you might face?

The most common problems are

  • Puddles
  • Cracks
  • Discolouration
  • Inadequate drainage

 

Most Pattern Imprinted Concrete Problems are due to installers cutting corners.

The person who will install your driveway is often working for himself and hires workmen to help him install the driveway. The cost of laying your concrete driveway are covered by the installer. These costs include:

  • Stone for the base
  • Concrete
  • Wages for workmen
  • Drainage
  • Machinery hire
  • Tools
  • Sealant

So why would an installer  cut corners if he works for himself and knows the end product might be mediocre?

Many imprinted driveway companies are basically just a salesperson.

When you speak to a driveway company you would expect a whole team of experts working together to provide you with a great product. Unfortunately this is often not the case.

Many driveway companies consists of one salesperson. Once this person gets a sale he  will hire installers to install your driveway.

While you might pay £85 per square metre for your new driveway. The installer might only get £45 per square metre.

The salesperson will pocket £40 per square metre. This is just for selling you the driveway. The salesperson will need to pay for advertising costs. But after that all money goes straight in his pocket.

An installer can reduce the cost of the installation in various ways. While this is not the proper way to install a driveway, unfortunately it happens regularly.

So where can an installer safe money and cause you problems?

 

Pattern imprinted concrete problems:  preparation (ground work) stage:

 

To save money the preparation for a concrete driveway is rushed

When the installer wants to save money on workmen the preparation of your driveway may be rushed. The concrete slab laid on top may sink or crack or both.

The wrong type of stone is uses as a base for your driveway.

It is imperative that the right amount of Type 1 stone is laid as a base. This should be at least 4 inches all over.  If the ground is soft then an extra 2 inches should be added.

Think about it for a moment. A heavy concrete slab is being laid. Therefore the base it is laid on must be solid enough to take the weight. 

Concrete Driveway preparation Type 1 stone

 

Puddles on pattern imprinted concrete driveways are inexcusable

Apart from looking bad and the inconvenience of stepping into one as you get out of your car, puddles on pattern imprinted concrete driveways are inexcusable. 

During the pattern imprinted concrete installation process, the levelling or screeding of concrete is very important. This is by far the most skilled part of the pattern imprinted concrete installation process and a good installer is a good screeder.

The water should run away from the house into a bed or drainage system.

Sometimes the installer either doesn’t have the experience or uses unexperienced workmen to do the screeding.

Pattern imprinted concrete problems- Cracks.

Most pattern imprinted concrete companies will act as if cracks do not exist. Unless concrete is laid a metre thick there is a chance of a crack. What starts as a hairline crack can progress into something more substantial in a relatively short period of time. Fibres and steel can be used during the pattern imprinted concrete installation process but these additions may still not prevent cracking.

The type of weather a pattern imprinted driveway is laid in can also contribute to an increased probability of cracking. The best time of year is Spring and early Autumn. Many people make the mistake of thinking that the Summer is the best time but extreme heat can make the concrete and hardeners set too quickly and this will cause cracking.

Apart from looking awful, a crack can become dangerous, especially if a poor sub base has been laid. As the concrete lifts it can become a trip hazard and organic materials will begin to grow.

So, how can cracks be prevented?

A common method is to cut expansion joints into the newly installed pattern imprinted concrete. Concrete expands and contracts. Therefore by cutting expansion joints into the concrete, the risk of cracking can be reduced. The expansion joints should be at least 1 inch deep and be cut at angles away from the corner of a house or other building.

hairline crack pattern imprinted concrete drive
pattern imprinted concrete driveway fading
pattern imprinted concrete driveway sealant worn away

Discolouration and fading.

If colour surface hardener is not applied correctly a pattern imprinted concrete driveway can look like this. This shows that too little hardener has been applied and the colour of the concrete is coming through. Colour surface hardener should be applied evenly and at the right time in the installation process. This means that the concrete must be setting but not be set. If colour surface hardener is applied too soon it will simply be absorbed into the concrete and light patches will be visible when the wash off is carried out.

There are also variations in the quality of surface hardeners. Some companies simply make their own colour. Like most things it is best to make sure that the colour surface hardener being used on your concrete is the best quality there is.

Another direct cause of faded areas is simply the pattern imprinted concrete firm skimping on cost. Each bag of colour surface hardener covers a certain amount of square metres. If a firm is trying to cut costs too little colour surface hardener may be ordered and may have to stretch too far, in terms of coverage.

Pattern imprinted concrete problems: mix has too much cement or too little.

The mix should be appropriate for the job with the right sized stone mixed in. This should not be more than 10mm thick and the composition should be right. If a mix is too stony or has too bigger stones, then these may show through on the surface. If too little stone is added to the mix then you will just have cement and sand and overall strength will be compromised.

 

 

The weather will  determine what type of mix the concrete specialist orders. If it is a hot day with little cloud cover a wetter mix will be ordered. Conversely in the winter months a semi-dry mix will be ordered.

Points to consider:

What mix is being used? Ask for confirmation from the concrete delivery driver when they attend your property.  A concrete slump test should have been carried out and the driver will be able to show you this.

Pattern imprinted concrete problems – Drainage.

If there is one headache you do not need,  and it is to do with drainage. These can range from incorrectly laid drainage channels to wrong sized or blocked soak aways and in the extreme blocked mains drains. If a manhole is replaced special care should be taken so that no debris is left where waste has to exit. If a main drain gets blocked there will be serious ‘back up’ problems which leave little to the imagination.

So how do you make sure that drainage is installed properly and minimise the risk of drainage problems?

Again attention should be paid to how the current area (before preparation works are started) drains water.

Points to consider:

  • Does it run off into bedding/planters?
  • Does it run downhill towards the road?
  • Is there a drain in the middle, which (probably) leads to a soak away?
  • Is there a manhole – is it for waste water or rainwater?
  • Look to see where water is drained away from downpipes on the house. Does it drain into a gully or just run out into a planter/bedding?

 

pattern imprinted concrete driveway drainage

Pattern imprinted concrete problems – Bad weather.

The weather can be unpredictable. If any type of rain (apart from light rain) is forecast then the installation date should be rearranged. If an installation is carried out in the rain the best case scenario will be droplet mark. The worst case will be the colour and cement completely washed out leaving just bare stones from the concrete mix exposed.

If the weather is too hot then the colour surface hardener will dry out too quickly and crack off the surface of the concrete underneath.  If the weather is too cold (near freezing) then there is a chance of the water freezing within the concrete mix and cracking almost immediately.

Wind gusts can also be problematic. Tree branches twigs and leaves can be blown into the pattern imprinted concrete and leave an effect that you may not want.

Points to consider:

  • What is the weather forecast?
  • Is rain forecast? If so, light or heavy?

Cats, dogs, foxes, rodents and birds should be kept away from the pattern imprinted installation as once their footprints are stamped in – there is no way of removing them.