The Process – How Printed Concrete is Installed
Step 1 – Confirming Your Requirements
On receiving your initial enquiry, we will call you to discuss your requirements and arrange an appointment to meet our surveyor.
We will come out at a date and time convenient to you, explain the process, take measurements and most importantly, detail your requirements.
Once our surveyor has a thorough understanding of the work, a drawing will be prepared to scale, noting all relevant points regarding the construction and a no-obligation quotation will be produced.
Step 2 – Scheduling A Start Date
Unlike other companies we don’t employ ‘traditional’ sales techniques. We will call you to make sure you’ve received the quotation and answer any questions you may have.
If you’re happy with the quotation and confident with our philosophy and approach as a company, we will schedule a design consultation where we will go through our portfolio to offer inspiration and guide you through the choice of colours and patterns available.
With our technical knowledge, expertise and experience we will be able to not only answer any questions you may have, but also to offer guidance on what is likely to look great for your installation.
Step 3 – Site Preparation
The site needs to be properly prepared prior to installing the paving. Most jobs will require a lot of existing material to be removed so wherever possible we will use plant and machinery to do this. However, for most patios, when access is restricted, excavation will be done by hand.
For most projects, depending on the size, we will plan to complete the preparation in a day but will let you know if we expect it to take more time.
The base will be prepared and MOT Type 1 used to achieve a well compacted and flat base, prepared with the correct falls. All drainage requirements are dealt with and all manhole covers, drains or drainage channels are set to the correct levels and falls. The levels are checked around the job so that when the concrete is laid, the falls of the paving will direct water to the desired locations.
Once the preparation has been completed and any shuttering has been erected, we will make sure that the layout of the prepared area is as you had envisaged.
Subject to favourable weather, the paving will be installed the following day. Should there be a delay, the site is left neat and tidy so the area can be used, keeping inconvenience to a minimum.
Step 4 – Paving Installation
Having checked the weather forecast is favourable, all systems are go and so begins the main stage of all DCS printed concrete installations.
We arrive on site about an hour before the concrete is due. In this time we get all tools and equipment ready, protect walls and adjacent structures from splashes and contamination, get all materials ready for use and organise the site in anticipation of concrete arrival.
The correct concrete mix, in accordance with the Concrete Society specifications and guidelines, is delivered to site in ready-mixed lorries. The concrete is unloaded quickly, using wheelbarrows or concrete pumps as needed, and placed evenly throughout the area to be paved. It is then raked to the correct levels and screeded ensuring the levels and falls are correct. Large magnesium floats are then used to trowel the surface of the concrete, creating a flat, floated, soft, wet, grey concrete slab.
At this point, with a normal concrete slab, work would finish. However, with us the real work is only just beginning.
After floating, the concrete is coloured with the chosen pigment. This is a powdered dry shake material called colour surface hardener (CSH). It is cast by hand over the surface of the concrete at a rate of about 2 kgs per m² and allowed to hydrate before being floated into the concrete.
The coloured concrete is dyed again using the same material, allowed to hydrate and floated again to ensure that the area is not patchy and a durable and uniform colour surface is achieved. Dependent on site conditions a third application of CSH may be applied.
Once the correct consistency of colour is achieved, the coloured concrete is ‘closed’ using large steel trowels. This achieves a smooth surface, free of any marks.
A coloured release agent is then applied to the soft, wet, coloured concrete. This prevents the imprinting mats from sticking to the concrete, ensuring a crisp, clean print. It also imparts a secondary, two tone effect to the surface of the paving, creating the rich natural stone effects achieved with this method.
The concrete is then imprinted with the chosen pattern while the site is cleaned.
Step 5 – Cutting Contraction Joints
After the paving has been laid we will return to site the following day to cut the contraction joints using diamond blade disc cutters. In cold conditions, it may not be possible to cut the joints in the next day as the concrete may still be too soft. In this case we would return the next day.
Step 6 – Removal of Release Agent
The release agent is washed off and removed after contraction joints have been inserted. The area is then swept to remove excess release agent.
The installation is then treated with a release agent wash which breaks down the powder, enabling effective removal and minimising the amount of powder which would otherwise be blown around the property. The paving is then cleaned with a high pressure washer, removing the release agent until the water runs clean.
A dilute acid wash is then applied to the clean surface to remove any release agent contaminants which would otherwise wear the surface of the paving.
The paving is then thoroughly washed again with the pressure washer.
Step 7 – Sealing
When the area has been washed, the paving is left to dry thoroughly before sealing.
In the summer, sealing can sometimes be completed on the same day as the washing off process. However, most of the time the sealing is done the following day in order for the paving to dry thoroughly.
Before sealing, a bead of silicone joint filler is applied into the cut contraction joints. This inhibits dirt build up which in turn inhibits weed growth.
All manhole covers are checked to ensure they lift freely after sealing.