What to look for when selecting a decorative concrete contractor

When comparing bids from decorative concrete contractors, it’s important to know some qualifying factors. Many times people will come to us asking why our concrete costs more. Once we dive into the inclusions and explain our experience and processes – most of the time, everyone recognizes the value and understands that the lower price of someone else isn’t always the same value as the dollar spent on a quality contractor. So what should you look for when selecting a decorative concrete contractor? Here is a list of what we would recommend in the Denver market:

  1. Experience – Has the contractor installed something similar somewhere else? You don’t want your project to be the first or the trial run. And do those other projects/installations live up to your expectations? Are the sawcuts and form lines straight? Does the concrete finish appear consistent? Does it match the design intent?
  2. Samples – Can the contractor produce a small sample to show you the color and finish you are hoping for? If they can’t produce something on a small scale that you like, chances are they can’t produce it on a larger scale either.

    Design Center
    Colorado Hardscapes’ Design Center with many samples available for the design community
  3. Mock-ups – Small samples are great for selecting colors and finishes, but they are not representative of a true installation. If your project is large enough, it would be beneficial to require your decorative concrete contractor to install a full-scaled mock-up prior to the actual installation. The mock-up should be around 10’x10′ and show the complexities your concrete project will have – everything from expansion, sawcuts, finishes, edges, walls, caulking, reinforcement, finishing, color, sealer, etc. If your project is not large enough to justify a mock-up, this is where the experience qualifier comes into play again. Instead of a mock-up, request 3-5 other similar projects the decorative concrete contractor installed that you can physically visit to understand their capabilities.
  4. Details – Now this can mean so many things, but it’s the extra effort the contractor takes into consideration to make sure the project is complete and the best possible. Most of the details are in the minds of the craftsmen and just take the extra attention and thought. Some details Colorado Hardscapes’ crews pay attention to include:
    • Protecting adjacent surfaces during construction
    • Laying out sawcuts before cutting them to ensure the best pattern both aesthetically and functionally
    • Perform a final cleaning to ensure consistency in color and finish
    • Seal the concrete – Colorado Hardscapes seals all of the concrete we install to help it through the first year of its life – concrete’s most vulnerable timeframe
    • Use edge grinders to finish a saw cut – many times the large blades on saws can’t get to the very edge of what is being cut. So, rather than skipping the last bit, or over cutting, our crews will use a smaller blade to bring it closer to the edge
    • Clean up – seems simple, but cleaning up after themselves is a sign of a quality crew who takes pride in both their work and the project they are on

      Concrete details
      Concrete detailing by protecting adjacent surfaces and bringing cuts to the edge
  5. Longevity – Will the decorative concrete contractor be there next year, or in five years? You will want to choose a contractor who will be there for you, not only during that first year warranty period, but for years to come. You may have an addition down the road or a new need for decorative concrete. You also want to be confident that they will be there during the warranty period and stand behind their work.
  6. Responsiveness – Do they answer your questions and concerns in a timely manner before, during and after construction?
  7. Loyalty – Loyalty goes both ways. The relationship between you and your decorative concrete contractor should be one of trust. They may have additional resources and recommendations for your project and should always have your best interests in mind.
  8. Safety – A decorative concrete contractor who respects the importance of safety is one you will want on your project. Safety for you, your clients, other workers, and themselves shows respect for everyone on and around the project and should be a requirement for anyone you hire.
  9. Resource – A good decorative concrete contractor should be your expert in decorative concrete.
    Colorado Hardscapes worked with the designers to find the right decorative concrete colors and finishes for Asbury Green
    Colorado Hardscapes worked with the designers to find the right decorative concrete colors and finishes for Asbury Green

    They should be able to make suggestions for your project as well as answer questions you may have. They should be able to show you options for your project, identify the best coloring techniques, give finish recommendations, help with budgets, provide samples, and even help with specifications.

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