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Concrete: the refurbishment engineers friend on Mon 25th November, 2013
The engineers of ancient Rome made concrete famous but present day builders and designers are constantly finding new and exciting applications for the most basic of construction materials writes Carl Richardson - Head of Refurbishment at aspect.co.uk
The word concrete comes from the Latin "concretus" - which means compact - and Roman engineers were the first to use concrete as more than a bulk construction material. The famous Parthenon in Rome can still boast the largest unreinforced solid concrete dome in the world but the use of concrete dates back a long way before the Roman Empire - at least as far back as 1400BC Greece.
3500 years later we are still finding new ways of employing concrete. At aspect.co.uk we carry out maintenance and refurbishment work to both commercial and residential properties and the increase in the use of concrete within high end finishes in both sectors over the last ten years has been astonishing.
Polished concrete floors and work surfaces have become very common throughout both commercial and residential buildings: from cafes and restaurants, to offices and private homes.
The principle benefit to a property maintenance and refurbishment company of using polished concrete for floors is that they can be re-finished for a completely new look or total overhaul relatively cheaply.
From the customers point of view concrete floors are very low maintenance and easy to clean. Also, they last a very long time and are very robust.
The constantly changing myriad of colours, textures and finishes arriving on the market means that there is a concrete product for most applications.
Concrete work surfaces are also now widespread throughout both commercial and domestic property sectors. Work surfaces can be created by pouring the concrete in situ which means that they can be virtually any shape and size without visible joins.
The cost of stone and slate work surfaces has been prohibitive for many customers over the years but by using concrete they can let their imaginations run free. If a carpenter can make frame to fit it then the concrete can be poured in.
Stone work surfaces crack or become damaged and were virtually impossible to match if a section had to be replaced. Concrete work tops can be repaired or even replaced far more cost effectively. And they can also be re-finished to refurbish work areas at a later date.
As well as floors and work surfaces you can now also find concrete wall finishing, basins and even furniture. Gone are the days when concrete is just associated with large scale construction and poured slabs, concrete now really is an incredibly versatile product that can easily be finished in many different ways to achieve great high end product.
As well as poured concrete there has also been an upsurge of stamped or textured products that replicate slate, stone, flagstone or brick. They can be use to create or repair driveways, patios, deck areas and extensively throughout landscaped gardens.
Stamped concrete can be used to repair a stone or tiles drive way when the original material is no longer available. There is such an array of colours and finishes available that the concrete products can be made to blend in almost unnoticeably. In every instance concrete products will be considerably cheaper than the materials they are substituting for!
Stamped concrete tiles or especially finished concrete surfaces can provide good contact for pedestrians or wheel chair users and are often a good option for areas of public passage. Flagstones and some polished surfaces can be slippy for pedestrians - especially in wet or sub-zero temperatures - but concrete tiles can be laid to create a safer surface.
And the other attribute of concrete that should not be forgotten is that it is recyclable. Gone are the days when trucks have to cart away masses of concrete rubble to landfill sites that could be miles away. Crushing machines of all sizes can be brought to the site to restore old concrete to usable aggregate.
On major construction sites old concrete can be crushed to gravel sized pieces to form base layers. But portable mini-crushers can be used to produce aggregate on smaller jobs that is good enough for new concrete creations.
John Price, Hillgrove PR.
T. +44 (0) 20 3603 0366