Concrete siding has come into its own with innovations that make it more attractive than ever, while still being a long-lasting, environmentally friendly solution for paving outside and flooring in. Used for driveways and patios since the fifties, the imprinting of concrete is now a major force in the construction and improvement of homes and businesses. Here are some of the advantages of concrete siding.
Concrete, which is a mixture of cement and aggregates such as sand and rock, is a mostly recycled product on today’s market. It is poured on site and fashioned to resemble tile, slate, flagstone, brick, cobblestone, and other paving materials. This means that it uses far less energy than manufactured or quarried material, which requires raw materials to be shipped to a factory or from the source in the case of natural stone, and the finished product to be shipped to a retailer. Then the selected papers must be delivered to the building site, requiring more fuel.
Concrete also requires no adhesives, which are often harmful regarding air pollution. The concrete itself will have a high solar reflectivity index, causing less of a heating effect than other materials, and of course, may be recycled at the end of its usefulness.
However, its useful life is very long, which is another factor in its favor. A poured concrete patio or walkway, for instance, is a continuous surface, though it might appear to be individual stones or bricks with grout in between. For this reason, the covering will be resistant to moisture, sinking (if the under the surface is properly prepared), frost heaving, and the invasion of weeds and grass. This means less tripping hazards or chances of turning an ankle in a depression and far less maintenance over many years.
Concrete used to be concrete siding with metal patterns which made an approximation of the shape of flagstone, slate, or brick, but the new polyethylene molds now allow the texture to be imitated as well. With the new methods of coloring the concrete, a concrete siding patio or pool deck will look very authentic. Even tile and brick floors inside, or smooth and glossy floors that just offer an excellent surface, can now be high fashion.
Concrete can even look like wood, with the color either impregnated throughout the concrete or applied to the wet surface where it sinks in for a lasting finish. Wood siding on homes and commercial buildings looks like expensive wood siding, though it is much more affordable, durable and impervious to insect damage and warping. It has a high thermal mass as well, cutting energy costs as well.
There are many traditional looks in concrete siding, but since it is always a custom job, almost any design can be used. Molded sea shells on a packed sand background – all concrete – or cobblestones, or even pebbles. Shaping into an easy walk around flowerbeds is easy. It is fluid at first, so can be spread over slopes or uneven surfaces with proper foundational work. It can be reinforced with steel rods when extra strength is required, with no loss of decorative appeal.
Concrete siding can be done by homeowners, but there are reasons to use professional concrete artists. The ground must be firm and smooth underneath to prevent future cracking, a depth of four inches or more is requires, and the finished surface must be power washed after drying for twenty-four hours, to remove the releasing agents that keep the molds from sticking to the concrete.