Fast becoming a critical consideration of eco-conscious citizens around the world, “Green” concrete landscaping and using concrete to repurpose, harvest and conserve water is the latest trend in Xeriscaping and environmental sustainability.
As climate changes and the effects of global warming start to reveal their consequences by shaping new seasons, extreme weather patterns and a growing number of natural disasters, we must continue to look for ways to live in a more sustainable and eco-conscious manner. Green garden landscaping or more formally referred to as Xeriscaping takes into consideration the change in environmental factors that are influencing typical weather patterns. Where seasonal rainfall has started to drastically decline, extreme temperatures raises the mercury far beyond what has ever been experienced before and El Niño patterns wreak havoc on South African seasons, home owners and landscaping contractors continue to factor in evolving environmental changes.
Integrating the smart calculated use of concrete or hardscaping into improving Xeriscaping tactics and assisting in the repurposing of water runoff and rainwater harvesting is extremely effective in conserving water and a more eco-conscious way of utilising natural resources when they are available.
While most gardening enthusiasts envision a desert or succulent type landscape when contractors propose Xeriscaping as an option, on the contrary, green landscaping with concrete can still create countryside scenery and cool shady indigenous gardens. To follow see some of Sephaku Cement’s Top Tips to incorporating Green Garden landscaping to create a more sustainable self-sufficient and beautiful garden set up.
- Water Conscious Hardscaping
From creating a distinguished and contemporary appearance, to incorporating planned and intentional hardscaping to channel and collect rainwater runoff, landscaping with concrete offers an effective means to a more sustainable and self-sufficient garden landscape. Consciously placed runoff gutters to re-directing rainwater into secondary flower beds or even rainwater harvesting tanks (also now effectively installed as concrete tanks instead of unsightly plastic ones), create a decorative network of concrete brooks that can be even further beautified by stonework decals or disguised by dainty outdoor stepping stones and bridgework.
Hardscaping materials are also effective in influencing a green garden landscape when installed using more permeable materials that allow water to pass though pavers, cobbles and stonework into ground water sources beneath the surface of your garden.
- Downspout Gardening
Another effective Xeriscaping effort in repurposing harvested rainwater is with downspout gardening. Where most roof gutter systems channel rain water collected from the large surface area of a roof into rain water, sewers use downspout hardscaping to disperse rainwater runoff and more efficiently water your garden. Hardscaping these downspout areas will further Xeriscaping efforts by using pavers, stones and even a simple concrete network of channels to distribute the flow of runoff water on the nearby lawns or flowerbeds. As the rainwater runoff hits the pavers or channels, instead of burrowing into one focused spot, the water is more evenly spread across a greater catchment area.
- Repurpose, Re-use and Recycle
The best place to begin when creating a “green” garden landscape is by repurposing, reusing and upcycling unused bricks, concrete pavers, stones and even cracked concrete or terracotta pots to beautify your garden. Instead of purchasing new items, examine unused items to creatively incorporate into your garden before heading to your closest garden shop and feeding into the ongoing commercial cycle of buying more. Other ways to repurpose “waste” while offering a more organic and eco-friendly solution to maintaining a beautiful garden is by making your own compost using a concrete garden-decomposer with kitchen offcuts and other biodegradable materials. Other garden enthusiasts also swear by harvesting a worm farm for some of the most effective and organic fertiliser ever made.
With more mindful applications and a splash of creativity Xeriscaping concrete hardscaping and downspout gardening with concrete applications each offer viable solutions and green gardening tactics for a more sustainable and eco-friendly concrete landscape.
From award winning concrete noise barriers to self-healing concrete construction, the concrete chemical engineering and nanotechnology sectors are no strangers to pioneering advancements that are seeing to it the construction industry dig deep and build strong with concrete technology. While not all of these innovations are new to the world, the South African architecture and construction industry has seen an increased uptake of some of these alternatively progressive materials and techniques utilised in the ground-breaking building projects across the continent.
- See-through Cement
Not new to the market but still an incredibly impressive advancement in the concrete construction business, translucent concrete allows light to project through concrete panels that are cast layer by layer using fine grained cement and translucent fabric. Transmitting light through concrete without compromising on durability and the overall strength of the construct means that contractors can now build see-through concrete feature walls, shading fixtures, skylights or even paving that can be lit up from beneath the surface that is still load bearing, sturdy and as stable as standard concrete construction.
- Lightweight Carbon Concrete
While said to weigh up to 66% less than standard precast concrete panels, lightweight Carbon fibre precast concrete is also renowned for its high strength and durability, reinforcing the bonds of conventional concrete even more so than it is as a standalone fitting. An effective replacement for streel reinforcement, carbon fibre is also corrosion resistant which means even longer lasting durability that won’t rust or weaken as it is exposed to moisture.
- Concrete Wallpaper
What may initially appear as delicate wallpaper decals and designs, to the touch, precast concrete wall paper adds depth and dimension to what most assume is an optical illusion created by standard wall paper applications. Concrete wallpaper is reshaping the way that interior decorators are highlighting feature walls and adding creative accents to homes, hotels and places of business affluence. Available in a variety of standard patterns or custom designs, stained, cast and made to fit almost any theme, concrete wallpaper is essentially applied as a precast concrete cladding also competent when installed as flooring, as a slip-resistant solution and other feature surfaces such as counters, decorative basins and cabinet cladding.
- Plastic Concrete
Said to be up to 500 times more flexible than conventional concrete, the latest tech to come out of the University of Michigan has seen the unveiling of a lightweight "plastic" concrete. Using a masterful blend of silica sand together with polyvinyl alcohol fibres, as concrete installations inevitably expand and contract which would typically cause a break or crack in the surface, instead of the bonds splintering into a break, the slippery fibres simply slide apart offering a more supple and “bendable” installation. An extremely effective solution in areas that are exposed to extreme weather responsible for freeze thaw expansion and contraction, this concrete blend is also tremendously valuable in areas that encounter frequent and devastating seismic activity and earth tremors.
As the 4th industrial revolution continues to change the face of architecture and construction, scientists and engineers around the globe uncover new and improved innovative ways to build bigger, better and stronger with the latest in concrete and cement technology.
As building systems and products continue to advance with pioneering chemical and industrial engineering techniques, concrete technologies propel the construction sector into the 4th Industrial Revolution with the likes of precast concrete noise barriers, acoustic concrete and soundproof concrete technologies.
Already an effective acoustic insulator for sound and loud noises, the high density make up of concrete constructs offers a number of acoustic benefits in reducing noise pollution and separating sound between two rooms or from exteriors and interiors of homes, industrial areas and office spaces, by incorporating different concrete technologies and treatments, concrete can help to deter loud noise and sound pollution while also offering the means to enhance the aesthetic sounds of specific areas where desired.
From restaurants to classrooms, theatres and amphitheatres, studios or transit terminals, concrete noise barriers, acoustic concrete treatments, wood fibre panels and other soundproof concrete techniques can adjust the intensity of sound waves and noise accordingly.
- Precast Concrete Noise Barriers
Having recently been recognised at the 2019 CMA Premier Awards in the “Innovative Concrete Products” category, specialised precast concrete noise barriers are effectively being used to control residential noise pollution along South Africa’s Gautrain route. Fitted by Southern Pipeline Contractors, these innovative concrete barriers are the first of their kind to be produced in Southern Africa and compliance tested by the acoustic laboratory of the SABS (South African Bureau of Standards). Installed as 100mm thick reinforced concrete panels along the various commuter and airport service line, these act as sound reflective barriers. The noise barriers have also been treated with acoustic tiles produced using cement and imported wooden chips which enhance noise deterrence with further sound modification.
- Acoustic Concrete
Fitted in spaces that produce some of the most beautiful sounds known to man, acoustic concrete treatments are deigned to control the effects of noise and unwanted vibrations resulting from various frequency sound waves. While used to enhance and beautify the sounds to come out of theatres, opera houses and amphitheatres, acoustic concrete is also effectively installed in airports, sports stadiums and even along urban highway thoroughfares to influence both transport and environmental acoustics.
- Wood Fibres Concrete
Known for its sound absorption and insulation properties, blending Portland cement with wood fibres or chips offers a lightweight and cost effective solution to sound insulation. Effectively used to keep the sound in and not out or absorbed instead of reflected, wood chips or fibres act as an aggregate when blending a Portland cement and water mix. Presenting sound waves with a highly porous surface, loud noise is more easily absorbed into wood fibre concrete panels, engulfed by the larger spaces between the wood cement bods. While noise is easily absorbed the fibrous construct of wood fibre concrete also presents the sound waves with a further distance to travel from start to finish. As the sound wave passes through the pockets of space, the lengthier journey sees the sound or noise lose decibels as it travels.
Already at an advantage given its density, concrete sound walls or shaped barriers and acoustic concrete treatments are a most effective means to manipulating sounds of varying forms both unwanted and desirable, seeing more than half of these noise barrier fittings constructed out of precast concrete or masonry block.
Often referred to as textile concrete, carbon concrete is revolutionising concrete architecture and the way in which civil engineers are reinforcing load bearing constructs around the world. What typically sees the incorporation of steel reinforcing bars (rebar), polymers or alternate composite materials, is now being replaced by new composite material carbon concrete. Incorporating conventional concrete blends with carbon fibres has resulted in an all new, lightweight and sustainable, load bearing concrete with added tensile strength or ductility.
One of the main challenges when reinforcing concrete with steel rods, mesh, wires, or cables embedded into concrete before its cured is its vulnerability to corrosion, especially in the presence of moisture. Given the relative porousness of poorly compacted concrete, exposure to moisture is inevitable and when reinforcing concrete with any type of steel, after ongoing exposure, the steel reinforcement will eventually begin to corrode as a result of ongoing oxidation. Rusting steel will soon lose its strength and its change in dimensional stability and will lead to cracking, compromising the load bearing capacity of what should be a durable and long lasting installation.
Using carbon fibre reinforcements however does not experience such corrosive vulnerabilities together with a number of other benefits that we will list to follow.
- As mentioned above carbon fibre will not rust or corrode, offering a longer lasting strength and reinforcement to loadbearing constructs, high rise buildings, dwellings, freeways, bridges and other installations that need to consistently meet safety standards and regulations.
- The production of carbon fibre concrete produces fewer CO2 emissions compared to other reinforcement materials which translates into a more eco-friendly and sustainable approach to construction and civil engineering.
- While carbon concrete offers a far greater load bearing capacity than any other reinforced concrete materials available, the new composite material is extremely lightweight and far easier to work with than the more weighty steel reinforced installations.
- Carbon concrete composite offers up to six times the loadbearing capacity of all other reinforced concrete alternatives, making this one of the strongest concrete construction materials in the history of Portland cement.
- Carbon fibres are not susceptible to corrosion or rusting due to exposure to wet or humid conditions, instead of having to account for this factor by using thick layers of concrete, less building materials are required to install carbon fibre concrete that will still result in an extremely sturdy installation.
Applied to concrete architecture using three different processes, this corrosion resistant additive can be applied by blending carbon fibres generously distributing the carbon composite throughout the mix resulting in an even and consistent blend. Alternatively carbon fibre composite can be sprayed over the surface or in between layers of poured concrete as exercised by scientists at the Universität Augsburg in Germany. One of the other ways contractors are reinforcing construction sites with carbon fibre is by placing what resembles a fence-like framework made of a carbon fibre grill similar to the steel mesh or wire in-between thin layers of wet concrete.
While the benefits of using carbon fibre concrete as a more efficient method to reinforcing concrete installations are apparent, cost is still a leading deterrent to utilising this state of the art material. However, when taking into account durability and corrosion resistant properties, the cost to install is largely offset against the cost to repair or replace steel reinforced installations that have become compromised over time.
Restoring original stamped concrete can be done by carefully resealing surfaces following best practice suggestions from Sephaku Cement. As with any indoor or outdoor paving, tiling or decked surfaces, with time, exposure to the elements and foot traffic, stamped concrete installations will need some degree of maintenance or refurbishment at any given point in its lifetime. While resealing stamped concrete flooring can be successfully done, special care and attention should be paid when applying a new concrete sealer to ensure a functional and attractive finish.
To follow, see tops tips and best practice advice to effectively reseal stamped concrete installations or concrete floor sealers:
- Begin by Cleaning the Surface
Using a general purpose household detergent and a stiff brittle brush or broom, scrub the surface of the stamped concrete , paying careful attention to cracks, grooves and corners of the stamped area. Now, using a high pressure washer, preferably fitted with a rotary surface cleaner attachment, remove dirt, grime, sand and any other debris that may be caught between the grooves and on the surface of the stamped concrete. By using a good pressure washer this will also help to remove old and flaking sealant previously applied. Be sure that all detergent and debris as well as deteriorated - old sealant has been washed from the surface before allowing to dry.
Less is Always More
When resealing the surface of stamped concrete installations, never be tempted to apply the sealant as a thick layer. Most effective when applied as a thin layer, sealants are engineered to expel moisture from the concrete installation. When the surface is sealed with a layer that is too thick to allow moisture to escape, the moisture becomes trapped between the concrete and the sealant causing a discolouration on the surface of stamped concrete and raises the chances of making bubbles that will wear out very quickly if there is any foot traffic on the concrete, similar to the effects of efflorescence, and will eventually cause the sealant to peel in a flaky mess thats tricky to restore.
Ready, Steady, Seal!
Now that you are ready to seal the surface of your stamped concrete application, select either a water or acrylic based sealer to proceed with. Keep in mind that a water-based sealer typically soaks into the surface of the concrete, where an acrylic sealer coats the surface in a film like membrane. Opting for a water-based solution is often the easier option when sealing concrete but does not always achieve a refurbished look to dated and faded surfaces. Sealing stamped concrete with a solvent acrylic based sealer will however restore tired and distressed stamped concrete surfaces to their former glory, enhancing the colour, sheen and overall lustre of the surface.
Ideally applying the sealant using a pump sprayer, which is effective in directing an even and thin film on the surface, as mentioned above it’s important to not apply too much sealant to stamped concrete flooring, trapping in moisture that is preferably able to evaporate.
Requiring very little maintenance if effectively applied, you need only consider resealing your stamped concrete surfaces again in two to three years depending on the volume of foot traffic, exposure to the elements and frequency of contact with heavy bearing weight that will influence the long term strength and durability of the sealant.
Offering an unending variety in choice, concrete installations can be poured or cast into different designs, forms and functional installations finished with a number of varying techniques. Manipulated either by alternative concrete finishing techniques, different materials used, exposed aggregate concrete or a combination of a multitude of methods, the appearance of concrete and especially in the case of floor finishes, can be vastly different based on different types of finishing techniques applied. For the most part concrete floor finishes, if not modified will cure with a smooth to semi smooth surface. While this finish is ideally suited if the flooring will later be finished with tiles, carpets or laminate flooring, there are a number of concrete finishing techniques that will result in an aesthetically appealing appearance without any further styling.
Sephaku Cement explores various concrete finishing techniques unlocking a world of versatility in concrete floor finishes.
Just as concrete has been placed, using an aluminium tool to smooth out the surface, screeding concrete will result in a supremely smoothed concrete surface as the screed board or floating screed is guided over the surface of wet concrete. This concrete finishing technique can be further enhanced by adding a concrete stain to the surface of the screeded concrete. Through the application of either an acid stain to the surface of screed concrete floors or alternatively by adding pigment when initially mixing the concrete, concrete staining and pigmentations add a vibrant accent to concrete floor finishes with a flash of colour from a vast selection of options.
After applying an initial screeding technique to wet concrete, manual or power float concrete finishing techniques can be applied to further smooth out concrete installations. By using either a handheld flat steel blade fitted to a handle or a power trowel ideally used on larger surface areas, trowelling concrete surfaces will further refine grooves and edges for a more polished concrete finish and glossy appearance.
Bevelled edging results in the sloped or rounded boarders of placed concrete installations. Where wood box moulds cast sharp precise corners, bevelled concrete edging tools will see softer borders with either a round or angled gradient and a more refined finish. Employing a specialised edging tool to achieve this finish, the same tool can also be used to guide intentional concrete joins in the directing of concrete cracks. Bevelled edging and control joints may also be achieved from stamped concrete installations. Provided the concrete stamp stencil echoes the same bevelled edged as the handheld edging tool, the same finish can be achieved as stamped concrete at a fraction of the time (and expense) especially when applied to larger areas.
Broomed or Brushed Finish
Not the most elegant or refined concrete finishing technique, but an effective method to adding traction as a slip resistant solution or an artistic texture to typically smooth concrete or plaster. A brushed concrete finish is achieved much as its name suggests, by running a clean hard bristle broom over the surface of recently placed concrete , a broom finish creates a scrubbed or grazed surface and can be created either in long straight strokes or a circular motion to create skimmed swirls.
The surest way to convert an ordinary family garage into a man cave is by enhancing grey and ashy concrete floors with a hardwearing, heavy duty epoxy-based coating. Serving both function and an aesthetic appeal, epoxy-based concrete coating systems will not only enhance the look of your man cave’s flooring, but will also help to prevent unsightly staining, water damage, oil marks and tire tracks from the bat-mobile!
Creating a chemical and wear resistant shield on the surface of any concrete flooring, epoxy floor coatings are especially effective on warehousing or heavy-duty flooring like in a man cave or a garage, given the hard wearing nature needed of these indoor areas.
Epoxy concrete floor finishes can be applied in a variety of colours while also creating various finishes or designs with even further options of adding colour flakes or chips to create a flash of decorative quartz or a salt and peppered texture. From green to rose or brown and tan speckles, varying shades of sand or clay and shadowy blacks or grey, there are very few colour limitations when looking for the ideal shade of epoxy finishes available for your concrete flooring needs. Easy to clean and even less effort to maintain, concrete epoxy coatings will extend the lifetime of your garages concrete flooring, preventing inevitable flaws and imperfections while also keeping surfaces weather and waterproof when parking wet, muddy and oil grimed vehicles indoors.
Where concrete epoxy coatings create the perfect finish to a recently placed garage floor, it’s also effective in hiding already tarnished surfaces, masking oil marks and blemishes as if they were never there.
To apply an epoxy coating to your man caves concrete flooring, begin by thoroughly cleaning the surface of the floor. By removing dirt and build up will ensure the epoxy coating bonds to the concrete and will not lift or peel after it’s been applied. Remove any excess dust, debris, sand and grime using a household washing detergent and a high pressure hose or hard bristle brush, paying close attention to corners and skirting boards where the wall meets the flooring. With the necessary precautions and safety gear use a solution of four parts water to one part acid, wash the concrete surface with the diluted acid wash followed by a neutralising solution made up of one part ammonia mixed with ten parts water. Once evenly applied, wash away the excess neutraliser mix with a stiff bristle broom and high pressure water hose ensuring the concrete surface is clear from excess chemicals. Once the surface has adequately dried, next you can prepare to apply your concrete epoxy coating.
Made up of a primer, a base coat and finished with a top coat, applying an epoxy coating to concrete garage floors is a lot more straight forward than one might expect.
- Apply a coat of primer using a roller brush and allow to dry thoroughly.
- Next apply a urethane base coat on top of the dried primer. (Note: If accenting the coating with coloured chips, apply these now making sure to spread evenly over the sticky surface of the wet basecoat.)
- After removing loose excess colour paint flakes and pigment, scrape the surface sweeping away left over debris from the pigment.
- Finish the coating by applying two coats of a UV resistant aliphatic polyurethane and allow this to dry between two and five days before parking vehicles on the surface.
Turning your garage into a space that plays a more prominent feature to your home’s layout and design means making a space that still serves it purpose but also meets the need to compliment interiors especially where garages inter-lead into your home. With epoxy coatings, simple grey concrete surfaces can be transformed into elegant garage flooring to be envied.
Sephaku Cement answers all of your cement flooring FAQ's with hard and fast facts to your frequently asked cement/concrete questions. From selecting the right type of cement, to applying the perfect concrete stain, concrete colours and dyes. See Sephaku Cements answers to your most commonly asked cement questions.
Question: Is concrete flooring cold and damp to the touch?
Answer: Cold to the touch yes, but damp, no. One of the most common assumptions about concrete is that it’s a cold and damp deterrent. The truth in fact is while concrete can be cold; it’s no chillier than any other flooring alternatives such as tiling or stone type options. In fact, while concrete may be innately cold to the touch, its actually extremely good at radiating heat, making it one of the most ideal flooring options to incorporate underfloor heating systems. Keeping ambient summer temperatures comfortably low and radiating heating systems in the winter, concrete flooring systems are a win for temperature control, regardless of the season.
Question: Is decorative concrete flooring costly?
Answer: On the contrary, decorative concrete flooring offers a more affordable solution to decorative flooring systems while offering a diverse selection of finishes and decals, at a fraction of the cost of authentic materials. From wood grains, to cobbles, concrete stamping, stencils and etching, stains and concrete dyes. Decorative concrete treatments effortlessly enhance the appeal of any concrete based installation at the most affordable cost associated to the job.
Question: How do I choose the right type of cement for my project?
Answer: Outside of selecting the correct blend of cement for your project, it’s important to note that substituting costs for quality is never the recommended approach when it comes to buying your preferred brand of cement. While cheaper cement options may support a more affordable budget in the short term, longer term costs to repair compromised concrete on account of using poor quality cement will always work out more costly long term. Outside of frail and brittle concrete finishes, using a poor quality product will also see the need to use greater proportions of cement to achievethe same strength and durable end result.
Question: Is concrete poolside paving slippery?
Answer: Adding traction to any pool side area should never be overlooked given the increased risk of slipping on the inevitable wet surfaces around a pool. While even textured pool decking can be slippery when wet, cement flooring and paving can be equally as slippery underfoot when wet. While this is certainly the case especially when concrete floors have been polished or sealed with glossy epoxy coatings, there are fool proof methods to texturizing cement without influencing the look of the finish. Stamping concrete surfaces or adding a decorative etched decal can do just the trick to add traction to slippery surfaces, as well as other texturizing treatments such as applying a gritty sealer to cured surfaces or slip resistant tape.
Question: Will concrete flooring inevitably crack?
Answer: Yes and no. While all concrete installations are prone to crack as a result of the effects from freeze thaw expansion and contraction, there are sure ways to prevent this eventuality, making sure that extensive cement based installations are able to adjust to the inclusion or loss of moisture. Beginning by ensuring that the concrete mix is blended with the correct proportion of water, and the subgrade has been adequately prepared to form a level and stable foundation. The correct placement of sealing joints will help guide inevitable cracks into mindfully placed grooves that help prevent the random and aesthetically unpleasing cracks in concrete slabs and flooring.
Sephaku Cement explores what it takes to blend a great basic concrete mix that’s easy to work with, durable and versatile across a variety of projects.
Understanding the basic components and applying the correct concrete mix ratios when creating the ideal concrete mix is the only thing standing between you and your next home improvement project. Where some refer to mix proportioning, others may speak about a cement mix design, both really refer to the accurate proportioning of the various materials that go into mixing the ideal concrete blend
With the intention of producing a fool proof concrete mix, begin by always taking into account the purpose of the concrete and the required strength of the project. Where most instances will quite adequately make use of a general purpose product such as Sephaku 32 or Sephaku 42 N, more elaborate engineering projects or those with load bearing qualities may be better suited to the use of a more sophisticated strength class cement product such as Sephaku 42 R.
Another important consideration to account for when calculating the ideal mix is the desired finish of your concrete mix which is largely influenced by the size of aggregate that the cement ratios are blended with. For smooth and closely contacted concrete such as plaster or mortar, fine sand is blended with cement to produce a uniform finish. For a more rough finish but with added strength and load bearing qualities, larger aggregate stones are mixed with cement and sand that is ideally used in paving, slabs, handmade bricks or lintels.
Factoring in the “placability” of your concrete mix this is another characteristic that will determine a “designer concrete mix”. Placability describes the ease/way in which mixed concrete are poured or "placed" as well as the finish of the cured result. It can be more simply described or measured by the concrete mix slump which is an indication of consistency. Once again influenced by the type of aggregate that the cement and water ratios have been mixed with, a slump test should reveal an ideal mix that maintains a relative slump or mound without being too stiff and rigid or collapsing into a flat, soggy mess. Correct ratios of a concrete mix will result in the ideal placability of a concrete mix that will also not segregate as it is pumped or poured or otherwise placed and the objective of “fully compacted” is achieved.
Outside of blending cement with the suited aggregate and mixing both with the precise amount of water, making use of the finest grade cement product is possibly the most critical consideration outside of factoring for the ideal mix proportioning. While cost and economy comes into play, opting for the most affordable product (but compromising on quality) may benefit your budget in the short term but will, with certainty, end up costing more to repair in the long term. Not only does the wrong choice of the grade/class of cement or too much water result in a poor quality concrete product but it will lack in strength and durability and will often see to it that more Portland Cement will be required to produce an ideal concrete mix. It is strongly suggested, if there is a lack of knowledge or understanding of mix designing, that the suggested proportions given on every bag of quality guaranteed Sephaku Cement bag are used.
Together with the ideal mix proportioning of your concrete mix, sealed with the Sephaku stamp of quality assurance Sephaku Cement guarantees only the most pure grade original Portland cement blended with the finest quality extenders, expertly engineered to enhance performance and curing.
Correcting the colour of concrete may sound like a complicated process but see how Sephaku Cement simplifies this task with easy to follow solutions. Indoor, outdoor, decorative, or simply a faded pathway that needs a bit of a lift, changing the colour of concrete is fairly simple process depending on how elaborate the desired outcome is.
Changing or enhancing the colour of stamped concrete can be effectively produced by using different shades of staining, tinting or applying a dye. Where only a minor adjustment or enhancement is needed to existing pigments, applying a diluted acid stain works extremely well in accentuating the stamped etchings of decorative concrete, colouring a deeper shade between the grooves and a lighter hue on higher surfaces.
To see a more apparent change to the colour of stamped concrete apply a full-strength acid stain for an intense colour kick. Dyes and tinted stains are also a great option to use when looking for a more noticeable enhancement to original colouring of concrete installations.
For bold contrasts to what concrete was previously coloured with, acrylic or solid colour staining is the best option to use to mask previous colours and will result in a vast difference to what the concrete was once coloured before. When choosing a solid colour option to enhance concrete applications, be sure of the colour you select and your desired end result because once an acrylic solution is applied it can be both a tricky and costly exercise to remove if poorly matched.
Using a dye to colour concrete offers a variety of colours to select from and is a fairly simple way to pigment concrete installations. Where a stain results from a chemical reaction to the cement, when using a dye to colour concrete the process is non-reactive where the pigment in the dye simply absorbs or penetrates into the pores of the cement. Available as a water or solvent based solution, dyes can be used to create a translucent or marbled finish or can alternatively be applied as an intense colour resulting in a solid monotone effect.
Colour correcting efflorescence from concrete can be an ongoing struggle for darker coloured cement. An unsightly chalk like colour that seems to seep out of blackened concrete after getting wet. Efflorescence takes place as moisture evaporates from the pore like chambers of cured cement bonds. As the moisture evaporates it leaves behind calcium salts present in cement which causes the chalk-like crystals to appear on the surface of darker coloured cement. This effect actually occurs on all cement applications but is more visibly noticeable on contrasting darker pigmented concrete and is one of the leading reasons why many contractors will deter from using dark cement colouring on their projects. The only way to prevent this naturally occurring process is to incorporate a coloured curing compound to the concrete mix or alternatively (and potentially the more effective means to preventing efflorescence) is to use a concrete sealant matched to the colour of the concrete which will inhibit the process altogether.
From rain water harvesting, to septic tanks and even wine making tanks, Sephaku Cement explores the benefits of using concrete tanks in place of plastic, stainless steel and other more frequently used storage materials.
Precast Concrete Water Tanks
With the ongoing threat of global warming and the apparent change in rainfall patterns, more and more households, schools and places of business are harvesting rain water in efforts to alleviate pressure placed on fresh water supplies. While the typical go-to solution sees the installation of plastic water tanks, concrete tanks offer an excellent eco-friendly alternative. Cost effective, long lasting and requiring little to no maintenance, sinking a precast concrete water tank under your driveway or in your garden means no unsightly views of ugly plastic tanks, while also serving as an effective solution in the catchment and harvesting of rainwater. Further to the obvious benefits, concrete water tanks are also able to keep stored water both germ and algae free, where filter screens need only be changed every two to three months. Offering an efficient, environmentally friendly and durable solution to the ongoing need to harvest rain water, concrete water tanks can be installed in various precast shapes and sizes, custom fit to suit your specific installation needs.
Concrete Wine Tanks
From barrels and butts to tanks, surely concrete would be the last type of material one would assume to find being used as a fermentation vessel in the production of wine. Think again. What started with wood barrels or clay amphorae and later evolved to stainless steel, egg shaped concrete wine barrels have begun to debut as the latest technique used to influence the flavour and fermentation process of up and coming South African wines.
Claimed to have celestial energy coupled with their ability to induce a natural convection, egg-shaped concrete wine barrels are attracting the attention of local South African wine makers. Not only do concrete wine tanks have a positive influence on the flavour of the wine, but given the porous and somewhat “breathable” nature of cement based, concrete wine tanks are excellent at incorporating micro-oxygenation during the fermentation process of wine production. With a longer life expectancy to that of wooden barrels, the fermentation process that occurs in concrete wine tanks has also been said to produce a smoother more well-rounded flavour in boutique wines.
Concrete Septic Tanks
Durable, built to last and virtually impenetrable, concrete septic tanks offer an effective solution in the storage of waste and grey water runoff. Because of its strength, concrete septic tanks are less likely to become compromised as a result of wear and tear or exposure to UV damage and therefore reduce the risk of contamination to ground water supplies and other fresh water sources. Superior at self-containment compared to plastic, fibre glass of steel tanks, concrete sceptic tanks will not rust, lose strength or erode regardless of the wasted matter it holds.
While there are a number of alternative materials used in both water harvesting, wine making and waste storage, where some may argue that these options are sold at a more cost effective rate, taking into consideration the lasting durability and low to no maintenance needs, concrete tanks will remain uncompromised for years beyond their counterparts.
While strength testing your concrete installation may not be a critical consideration for small to medium sized construction, for entrepreneurs and contractors, this added step may save you unforeseen problems and huge costs later in your project. Sephaku Cement discusses different types of concrete strength testing and simple steps to test the durability of any concrete application large or small. The assumption that strength testing concrete is a costly process is an incorrect one and not nearly as costly as having to replace installations compromised due to inadequate load bearing qualities or poor durability.
Adding a step to assess the strength of fresh concrete assures both contractors and clients of a quality installation and peace of mind that their project will pass safety compliance testing.
While testing the slump or volume of air in wet concrete may seem to be the obvious and more commonly exercised method to measure strength and durability, from field test sampling to testing the temperatures and measuring the density of concrete there are a number of alternative ways to evaluate the strength of freshly placed concrete.
When working frequently with cement, the chemical reaction that takes place when cement becomes wet should come as no surprise, as a result, this chemical reaction gives off heat (heat of hydration) and offers a good indication of what can be expected from the strength of the concrete once cured. The process of measuring the temperature of concrete is a simple one beginning with your first measurement taken 5 minutes after pouring.
Insert your thermometer between 5 and 10 cm into the wet concrete taking the temperature for around two minutes, because the temperature of concrete can influence a number of variables that take place during curing, measuring the temperature of wet concrete will help contractors to respond to ambient conditions which in turn can influence a stable curing process. Concrete with a high internal temperature can be vulnerable to cracking due to the fast evaporation of water during the curing process as well as due to temperature differential between the temperature inside the concrete and the surface of the concrete (expansion and contraction). Concrete that cures at too cold temperatures may be prone to freezing which negatively impacts the compressive strength resulting in a brittle final product. With temperature information available on site, concrete should not be placed at temperatures 5oC and falling, building contractors can respond to the varying curing conditions and temperatures and positively influence a favourable curing process by closing/covering newly casted concrete to allow temperature built-up.
Concrete Density Testing
Testing the density of concrete takes specialised skills and equipment including the need for a Type B pressure meter or a calibrated scale to measure mass per volume. Although an added technical requirement to your project, this process offers valuable insight that could end up saving you more than the cost of conducting the test itself. Relaying information that will indicate the relative yield of your concrete, this test will not only pinpoint the air content of the concrete mix which is directly related to the strength measurement of the concrete, but will also help determine the exact volume of concrete required for the project ensuring the correct quantities of materials are used.
Outside of confirming the yield and relative yield of the volume of concrete, density testing will also confirm results that may come out of a slump and air content test where if the slump of concrete is high and the air content is high the density of concrete will measures low. As a rule of thumb an air content of 1% above the normal air content relates to a reduction of 5 MPa strength. E.g. a concrete designed for 25 MPa with an additional 2% air can measure strength of as low as 15 MPa. This strength reduction not only may render a sub-strength concrete by the air voids will greatly reduce its durability.
Ensuring the use of an excellent quality cement product such as the Sephaku Cement range, as well as the correct ratio proportioning of building materials have been measured, curing conditions are favourable and care and attention paid during placing, regardless of the test type conducted there should be no reason to doubt that test results will measure near perfect when testing the strength of concrete.
Pool side decking can be installed in a variety of materials, finishes and designs, although not all options offer quite as much versatility to those that can be achieved with concrete pool decks. From brick paving or wood and plastic composites, to tiles or cladding, none compare to decorative concrete pool decks when stacked up against cost, ease of installation and long term maintenance. Checking all of the boxes when it comes to beautifying your pool side appearance, concrete pool decking offers a safe and durable solution made to last a lifetime. Outside of its decorative appeal, concrete pool decking also offers one of the safer nonslip options compared to some of its counterparts. Coloured, textured, and poured to fit any pool shape imaginable, Sephaku Cement stacks up the pro’s to placing a concrete pool side that far outweigh any of the cons worth mentioning.
The first thing that comes to mind when selecting the ideal option for your pool side paradise is safety. Taking into account that most surfaces become slippery when wet, a non-negotiable when installing poolside decking is to make sure that surfaces provide some degree of traction under the foot and especially when wet. With various methods to ensure that concrete pool decking remains slip resistant. Broomed or exposed aggregate finishes offer both a functional and aesthetic solution, while textured overlays or special nonslip grit additives to concrete sealants serve as an equally effective solution.
Strength and Durability
Tough, durable and professionally placed concrete patios and poolside decking can withstand the fiercest outdoor conditions. From extreme heat, to cold and wet weather, provided your concrete contractor has applied all the necessary measures to account for inevitable freeze-thaw effects, as well as applying an annual sealant to preserve decorative effects and other blemishing that can occur in outdoor areas. Concrete pool decking will serve its purpose almost perfectly for an inordinate number of years.
Keeping is Cool by the Pool
Not even nature has managed to get this quite as "cool" as concrete. Unlike tiled or brick (and beach sand) decking, concrete paving is extremely efficient in reflecting solar radiation, making the surface significantly cooler under your feet compared to other materials. Lighter in colour and even cooler to the touch when applied with decorative etching, concrete pavers and pool side decking options offer a much cooler solution to patios and pool paving.
Cost and Versatility
While other materials may seem to offer a more decorative appeal, these do come at a premium cost compared to concrete. Innately more affordable given its ease of installation (and less long term maintenance required), concrete pool side installations offer a cost effective paving solution without compromising on the desired decorative finish. From stamped patterns made to reflect the most elaborate designs, to one, of a kind etching, decals, colours, stains and polishes. Concrete deck design possibilities are endless at a much less expensive price point compared to alternate options. Outside of installation and design costs, it’s also worth mentioning the maintenance or lack thereof when it comes to caring long term for your concrete pool side decking. With a six monthly clean and an annual re-seal under extreme weather conditions, unlike brick and paving, concrete poolside decking won’t need to be releveled or replaced due to shifting or sinking and nor will you need to remove weed growth between joins and cracks.
Provided your pool side concrete installation is fitted by an experienced contractor who takes into account the ideal methods employed to effectively placing concrete, your concrete pool side paradise will consistently make a splash year on year, all through sunny summer months!
From larger square slabs to round or decorative stepping stones, Sephaku Cement shares best practice on how to fit precast concrete slabs of any size, shape or form. With most precast concrete slabs measuring around 50mm in thickness, precast pavers are an ideal option for garden or pavement (sidewalk) pathways, while also offering an easy to install solution for Do-It-Yourself home improvement enthusiasts.
When placing concrete slabs fit for pedestrian foot traffic or the occasional light vehicle traffic, preparing the pavers bed and foundation is the most critical step in the installation process. By ensuring a levelled and compacted stable surface for the concrete slab pavers to anchor to will ensure a lasting installation that remains steadfast and firm under foot.
Taking care to also seal and maintain concrete pavers on location sees concrete slabs offer an effective decorative paving solution, to garden landscaping and pavement exteriors suited to any design theme.
Placing Concrete Slab Pavers on Garden Soil
Ensuring that the sub soil is stable and densely compacted, concrete pavers will need to sit on soil that won’t collapse under pressure or expand when exposed to water, causing the pavers to shift up or down. Poor load bearing soil or any clay soil will need to be cleared away and replaced with a more sturdy soil or stone, taking into account correct depth of both the bed as well as measured to fit the thickness of the slab.
Once a bed of stable sub soil has been smoothed over and compacted for added strength, cover the surface with a 25mm layer of fine river sand blended with around 10% of general purpose cement such as Sephaku 32 or Sephaku 42N.
Placing the Concrete Slabs
Now that the sub soil has been adequately prepared, pave the surface with the concrete slabs testing the even placement of each slab as they are moved into place. You can test the stability or “level” of the paver by pressing on the opposite sides of the slab, measuring the amount of movement with your hands. The goal here is for a minimal see-saw effect. You may also like to use masonry string or fishing line to guide your paver’s placement, depending on the design, which will help to create a uniform and neat end result. Also take into account that you will need to leave join spacing of 10 to 20 mm between each slab which will later be filled with a grout mix. As a final step to ensure the level stability of each paver as well as fixing any spacing issues, gently tap each concrete slab with a rubber mallet confirming that each is neat and consistently placed on the sub soil bed.
Grout the Gaps
Using a dry mix of cement and fine river sand similar to the blend placed on the sub soil, measure 1 part of general purpose cement to 3 parts sand, blending well and ensuring the cement is mixed throughout. Neatly fill the joints between each concrete slab with the blended cement sand mix, working this in between all the spaces. After brushing over the pavers and then firmly securing the grout gaps with a brick joining tool, remove excess grouting material to reveal a uniform surface, grouted to perfection.
Finish by cleaning each cement slab with clean water and a sponge removing cement residue that you don’t want to cure to the surface later. Finally, coat with a cement sealant that will help prevent future staining and hard to remove blemishes while adding traction to the surface.
Sephaku shares stylish garden ornaments, pots, planters and DIY Décor advice to complete your garden landscaping with concrete garden ornaments. Concrete garden statues have come a long way from the assortment of garden gnomes and painted ducks that used to embellish backyards and gardens in the 70’s and 80’s. While much has changed by way of the type of décor, the materials and methods used to create stylish concrete garden ornaments remain largely the same.
Hard wearing, weatherproof and extremely versatile, it’s no surprise that cement based outdoor décor and concrete ornaments are a product of choice by industry leading garden landscapers.
Before sharing some tasteful design ideas, let’s begin by making sure your garden concrete mix and method is fool proof.
Whether you are making use of premixed concrete blends or mixing up your own Portland Cement blends and aggregate, consider the desired texture you want to accomplish from the final product. Keep in mind that cement mixed with larger aggregates such as course stone will result in a rough and irregular finish, whereas cement blended with finer sand will produce a more smooth result. When opting to use cement only (not recommended as cracking will be inevitable), the finish will result in a somewhat glassy and more polished product.
To create DIY concrete garden ornaments, work in small workable batches measuring out close to precise volumes needed for your project. When mixing larger batches of cement and water, greater volumes are more difficult to work with and start to become stiff within about 20 to 30 minutes after mixing with water. When casting concrete ornaments using moulds or stencils, it’s important to line these with a lubricant, such as vegetable oil or even aerosol cooking oil that will help to remove the cast once the concrete has cured.
Once cured you can either opt to seal your concrete garden ornaments or paint them with a durable outdoor paint, which will help your DIY creations withstand the harsh outdoor weather conditions.
Search for more contemporary DIY concrete ideas on our blog to add a modern appeal to concrete garden ornaments.
Hanging Tiles or Decorative Footpaths:
Using a wood or plastic frame in any shape or size but measuring no less than around 50mm in depth, pour wet concrete mix into the tray and using different textures, press desired items into the wet concrete to create their imprint in the cast. Think along the lines of gorgeous, delicious monster leaves, pinecone pressings, the out patterns of sea shells or smooth pebbles and stones of various sizes. Once you are happy with the desired design imprinted into the concrete, allow curing, later hanging your contemporary tile on boundary walls or even use these as creative directional footpaths and stepping stones following high foot traffic zones in your garden.
Using an old round glass globe cover, fill the sphere with fine concrete mix and once cured, carefully break the glass mould to reveal a contemporary domed garden statue. Be sure to wear protective goggles and gloves when breaking away at the glass mould and be certain all debris is later cleared away. Add function to form and paint your garden globe with glow in the dark paint to create energy efficient mood lighting for night-time entertaining.
For more concrete garden ornament ideas, concrete garden furniture and DIY concrete crafting; see various topics and inserts in the Sephaku Cement blog collection here.
Sephaku Cement discusses precast concrete traffic bollards, what they are used for and how they are most commonly installed.
Not a common point of conversation, but still a topic of interest for concrete and cement crafters, traffic bollards are fitted as three different installations namely; surface mounted, embedded and rebounding or retractable/removable concrete barriers.
Installed in different areas and each with a specific purpose, concrete traffic bollards can be found in parking lots, as a protective measure in high pedestrian areas and to direct traffic or to deter unwanted parking. Some of these concrete barriers may include lighting or can also be fitted as decorative concrete bollards, adding a somewhat ornamental accent to more aesthetic areas where others simply serve as a blockading purpose.
Learn how to differentiate between the three variations of concrete traffic bollards:
Surface Mounted Traffic Bollards and Concrete Barriers
Anchored into place with heavy duty bolts, precast concrete bollards and barriers are mounted onto desired surfaces and can typically be found as a deterrent to unwanted parking and driving, protecting high pedestrian zones or other areas of interest, as well as protecting beauty such as park fountains or statues. While commonly fitted in a variety of locations, this method is not known to be the strongest or most secure means of deterrence - if struck hard enough the precast concrete bollard can become dislodged, uprooting its anchor system and potentially causing damage to its foundations. While surface mounted concrete bollards may not be a fool proof way of preventing high impact entry, these concrete installations do serve as an effective and affordable "psychological" barrier to unwanted entry.
Embedded Concrete Bollards
While once again making use of precast concrete bollard moulds, embedded concrete bollards are typically installed during the foundation phase of a construction project. Sinking the concrete (or in other instances steel or wood bollards) into the foundation, while effectively burring a portion of the bollard for added reinforcement. Depending on materials used during the installation (wood versus steel), an embedded bollard can be a more effective solution to that of its mounted counterpart. Keeping in mind this installation will only be as strong as the foundation it is fitted into, much in the same as a surface mounted option, embedded bollards offer an excellent barrier and deterrent to entry, protecting earmarked areas. Concrete bollards can also be used very effectively to demarcate walking paths.
Retractable and Removable Bollards
Although this type of bollard is not typically cast from concrete but rather a hollow steel tube, its foundation is usually fitted with concrete for lasting durability and alignment. The purpose of a removable or retractable bollard is to inhibit entry during certain times and allow access during others. Installed using a manually removable pipe-in-a-tube or a pivoting method, retractable barriers can also come as a more costly removable bollard fitted as a hydraulic, automatically retractable version.
Whether installed as a means of traffic denial, to indicate drive-thru lanes or as pedestrian or parking lot protection, precast concrete bollards are extensively used in and around a number of civil engineering projects, park maintenance and under some instances residential home improvements.
Polishing concrete is a fool proof way to achieve high gloss concrete floors and other concrete applications. Sephaku Cement shares a quick guide on how to achieve high sheen and glossy concrete flooring that doesn’t require waxing or exhaustive measures to keep floors polished and shining to perfection.
Polishing concrete floors essentially sees the grinding of concrete surfaces leaving behind a high sheen finish that remains durable, low maintenance and easy on the eye. Requiring very little upkeep, polished concrete floors create the ultimate wax-free flooring solution for homes, showroom floors, contemporary office space and warehousing.
Wet or Dry, which is the best method to polishing concrete?
Concrete flooring can be polished using either a wet of dry method, both with their unique pros and cons depending on what your polished floor objectives are.
Where dry polishing sees to it faster results, this method is more effective in polishing the very top surface layers of concrete applications, keeping deeper aggregate layers intact without cutting too deeply into the flooring.
When polishing concrete with water, because the water acts as a lubricant and ultimately reduces friction, the diamond abrasives are maintained for longer and can grind more effortlessly into the deeper layers of aggregate. As a result, wet polishing will not only polish the surface resulting in a glossy finish, but will also change the appearance of the concrete flooring as it exposes deeper layers of aggregate material.
Steps to Polishing Concrete Flooring
- Step One
Examine the current condition of the concrete flooring, taking into account uneven surfaces, cracks, spalling or damage that needs to be repaired as well as sealers, paints or epoxy coatings that will influence the polishing process.
- Step Two
Before beginning the polishing process, sealants, coatings and paint will first need to be stripped from the surface by using a coarse grit grinding. A 16- or 20-grit diamond tooling is an effective method to remove unwanted surface coatings as a starting point.
- Step Three
With all previous coatings and sealants removed, now repair any spalling, cracks and other damage to the existing concrete flooring
- Step Four
Begin the initial polishing using a rough grinding tool to prepare the surface and achieve the ultimate polished sheen. Moving from course to fine, these steps will see a number of passes over the same surface area but each time using a finer grit grinding than the one before. Imagine sanding wood that also sees the method starting with course sandpaper and ending on the finest grit paper to result on the most velvety smooth touch to the wood.
- Step Five:
After finishing up the grinding process with either a 150-grit metal bonded abrasive or a 300-grit grind, use a liquid chemical hardener to densify the surface of the flooring and protect the concrete from water and grime stains.
- Step Six:
The final step to polishing concrete flooring to perfection follows on from the last grit abrasive used in step four. Using an even finer grit, between 200 and 800 until the desired gloss has been achieved, some contractors may even wish to use a grit as fine as 3000 which will result in a glassy, reflective polished concrete
Remember to safe-guard polished concrete flooring from stains, water markings and wear and tear from high foot traffic by applying a stain-guard and coating the surface every four to six months to ensure the longevity and polished appeal of the concrete flooring surface.
With a few weeks until the start of the next summer season we explore concrete patio ideas to beautify your backyard and outdoor entertainment spaces.
Versatile, consistent and cost effective, Sephaku 32 cement is a general purpose, normal strength blended cement perfect for home and DIY projects such as concrete patios and outdoor entertainment paving, offering lasting durability and fit for purpose quality. An alternative, but higher strength, option but equally well suited to outdoor patios and concrete pavers, Sephaku 42 cement can be put to use across a wide range of home improvement projects and general purpose applications both indoors and outdoors delivering controlled performance and consistent high quality.
Whether you are considering placing concrete pavers or casting / pouring a continuous concrete slab or strip, home improvement enthusiasts have the freedom of creativity with unlimited designs and styles or finishes to choose from when using Sephaku Cement as their building material product of choice. Alongside the variety of decorative patio options available, concrete applications also check all the boxes when taking into account affordability, durability and as a low maintenance outdoor solution. From a modern exterior styling to a more traditional, country styled theme, let’s explore various DIY concrete patio styles to choose from as you plan to remodel your next outdoor entertainment project with the help of Sephaku Cement.
- Contemporary and Modern Designs
Together with oversized geometric designs, striking lines and raw materials that echo an industrial theme, cement based applications ooze modern contemporary outdoor entertainment themes given its smooth finish and cool shades of grey when left untreated. To add to the up-to-date character of your outdoor patio design, concrete can be applied in slabs, or poured as an unbroken installation or even stained with a moody marble pigment complementing the arty drama that concrete effortlessly creates.
- Old World Overgrown
Stamped stained and distressed with stone finishes, cracked and blemished surfaces tell a time worn story perfectly created by the endless versatility delivered when using Sephaku Cement. Once the old world concrete theme has been poured and cured to perfection, overgrow selected areas with lush shrubbery, creepers and ferns to create a Jurassic undertone or possibly an ancient Mediterranean style.
- Desert Ranch Rustic
Planted with succulent varieties both large and small, complement desert ranch outdoor concrete applications with earthy tones sandy pigments, rustic textures and stone masonry stamps and etching. Complete with a concrete fire pit and accessorised with wagon wheel wall suspensions, barrel benches and a country western charm, pull off a rustic ranch theme ideally suited to South Africa’s blistering summers and factoring for water conscious garden landscaping.
- Copacabana Tropical
Blended to create the perfect seaside escape, coloured to echo beige sandy beaches, wave washed rounded boulders or even charcoal stained volcanic splash pools; complement a tropical outdoor patio theme with towering palm trees, colourful hibiscus and magnolias to complete the look. Cement, with other building materials, is one of the only materials that can seamlessly transform from something that starts out as cold and grey into one of the warmest and most welcoming patio installations ideal for sunny summer days and outdoor entertaining.
While acrylic, porcelain enamelled, fiberglass-reinforced or plastic bathtub fittings were more commonly used as part of most bathroom remodelling plans, concrete bathtubs are making a splash in up and coming interior bathroom décor and design.
Creating an eye catching focal point to a gorgeous bathroom redesign, cast in almost any theme, shape and design you can imagine, precast concrete bathtubs offer endless options for decorative bathroom fittings. Alternatively, hugely versatile and effortless to mould, customised, made to serve both function and form and matching even the most uncommon theme, custom-build concrete bathtubs take centre stage in beautifying bathroom projects. Concrete bath applications offer a modern and contemporary fitting to bathroom decor and can be made to match any colour variation, style, shape and size. When installed correctly, sealed and maintained annually, cement bathtubs are waterproof and stain proof upholding their original colour without fading, chipping or forming unsightly blemishes.
Sporting a luxurious design, mottled in elegant colour staining, outside of their plush appearance another pleasing appeal to concrete bathtubs is their affordability and accessibility to even beginner builders and novice home improvement contractors. Easy to work with, mixed and made to fit any bathroom space, and finished by a smooth and glossy surface, see our top tips and pointers when casting a concrete bathtub.
- Embrace the Unconventional
Where style and design are only as limited as your imagination, when installing a concrete bathtub don’t stick to the conventional. Let your concrete application create a striking focal point to your bathroom design that is inviting, interesting and unique. From square, to oval, slanted, sunken or perched to meet a sunset windowsill, concrete bathtubs can be made to fit or casted and moulded to even the most unconventional spaces.
- Polished to Perfection
Polished concrete offers an affordable alternative to a marbled finish. Keep this in mind when selecting appropriate aggregate to mix with. Once applied and appropriately cured, polished concrete can create a variety of finishes depending on the diamond grit used to polish and the degree of aggregate exposed. From gloss and sheen to exposed aggregate, polished and exposed concrete bathtubs bear an uncanny resemblance to marble or granite.
Starting with a cream finish that has been polished just enough to result in a glossy surface, salt and pepper appearances will be revealed after lightly grinding, exposing the surface layer of aggregate. Keep going and a random aggregate exposure will result in a varied appearance between salt and pepper to a fully exposed aggregate finish, fully exposed finishes reveal maximum aggregate creating a smooth stoned appearance.
- Add a Splash of Colour
Think of a colour and concrete staining or pigments, it can be achieved. Whether using water based or an acid based stain, concrete pigments come in every colour imaginable to result in one solid colour or a mottled "washed" appearance. From white to beige and earthy tones to create a warm and relaxing retreat, or more striking and eccentric colour palettes to add drama and rich personality, contrary to popular belief, concrete bathtubs can add warmth to what would be typically a cold, grey and boring bathroom space.
Sephaku Cement debunks myths about concrete furniture revealing both fact and fiction about cement based interior décor and age old concrete furniture myths. With a reputation of being cold, emotionless, rigid and suited only to warehousing, workshops and industrial purposes, concrete furniture and fittings surprise unassuming home decorators oblivious to the creative resourcefulness of cement based concrete furniture.
True or False? Cement is a Material Exclusive to Modern Construction
Positioned as a material of choice by modern-man, cement has in fact long been used in the production of both furniture and some of the oldest standing architecture debuting as early as the 19th century. In fact Thomas Edison who was more commonly known for having invented the lightbulb was also one of the first to have constructed a home using concrete. In efforts to sell the idea to the naysayers, after having recognised concrete for its durability and affordability, he also moulded a number of items of furniture to demonstrate his preference of concrete as a building material of choice.
Fact or Fiction: Concrete can’t Be Lightweight
While solid concrete furniture and movable fittings are weightier than wood, steel and other synthetic building materials, its weight in most cases, forms part of a list of Pro's when weighing up concrete furniture, it’s not impossible to create cement based furnishings that can be moved. Employing varying cement blends or even making use of foam or stiff sponge like moulds, with a little help from technology, cement can be cured around the lightweight casts making items of furniture much lighter to carry and easier to move.
Myth Busted: Concrete is Cold and Uncomfortable
As with any soluble, blended and in its watered form, most wet material is cold and not necessarily pleasant to the touch but the belief that cured concrete furnishings are cold and uncomfortable to sit on is a myth. No more cold to be seated on than wrought iron, leather, marble and hard thick wood, concrete benches, stools and tables warm to the touch and in the sun much in the same way as its counterparts. Further to this, given its fluid and highly versatile make up, furnishings can be cast and moulded to take the shape of a seated form making furniture extremely comfortable and supportive to sit on.
So False: Concrete Furniture Designs are Limited and Limiting to Inter Design
Emphasised by its geometrical abstraction, ever heard of a movement in art lead by Theo van Doesburg? one of the first of many artists to reveal the versatility and adaptability of concrete design. Flexible and adaptable to take on any theme, shape, form, design and even colour, concrete furniture can be cast, moulded or sculpted into some of the most striking features to take centre stage in homes, businesses and art deco establishments worldwide.
Themed to suite any style desired, cement based applications and concrete furnishings blend into classic or contemporary themes, natural or industrial, minimalistic or detailed with the finest and most intricate etchings.
Consistently cemented at the centre of architectural and engineering implementations, Sephaku Cement unveils some of the most innovative concrete creations you may never knew existed.
Selected as a building material of choice some 2000 years ago, cement based civil engineering continues to stand the test of time when it comes to strength and lasting durability. While cement checks all the obvious boxes when used to erect any steadfast construction, to follow, see some of the coolest concrete innovations we bet you’ve never heard of!
- Concrete that heals itself
Whether you are in the construction industry or have ever installed cement based DIY applications, no matter how much care and attention is paid to pouring concrete to perfection, concrete cracks. Attributed to the porous nature of concrete components and its capacity to absorb water in the capillary pores expanding and contracting under extreme temperature conditions, this process eventually causes fissures and cracks in solid installations. Although there are tactics to avoid these cracks as best as possible, a team of industry leading scientists in the Netherlands are perfecting a cement based product that could potentially heal itself once cracked. Bioconcrete is mixed following the same process as regular concrete however it contains a selected set of bacteria. When Bioconcrete cracks, the bacteria present in the concrete blend activate and respond by forming either limestone or calcite materials which ultimately fills and heals the cracks formed in cracked concrete.
- Concrete 3D Printer
Gaining momentum in a growing number of industries, 3D printing is currently one of the leading techniques to roll out with an impressive selection of innovations. Joining forces with 3D printing practices that typically employ the use of plastic, a technology-focused University called TU Eindhoven are using cement as a material put to task by 3D printers. Based in the Netherlands, a concrete 3D printer is shaping concrete into highly customisable designs, including pavilions and recyclable concrete products.
- Grey Goes Green
Reducing the typical carbon footprint of concrete by as much as 25%, cement producers have begun blending cement with fly ash; a waste product generated by power stations that burn coal inevitably ending up in landfills. By up-cycling this fly ash waste, cement producers have begun to take much needed steps to becoming marginally more eco-friendly while offering a cementitious product that is smoother, cost effective and more durable to work with and versatile across a broad range of construction projects.
- The Porous Pavement
While traditional concrete is known to be impervious, it sees surface water that gathers on concrete installations run off expansive flat concrete areas such as freeways and slabbed roofing. As a leading cause of urban flooding, erosion, pollution and other ecological challenges associated to poor water drainage, the construction industry and city planners have begun to troubleshoot solutions to these adverse ecological circumstances that result from the concrete condition. Outside of architects finding more focussed ways to direct the flow of water when rolling out urban developments, the implementation of the “porous pavement” may just be the next big concrete solution.
Pervious concrete is made up of larger concrete particles that create larger voids between concrete bonds, with more space for water to be absorbed, instead of sheeting off the surface of large concrete installation surfaces; water is more easily absorbed allowing for the gradual infiltration of water into the ground beneath.
Much in the same as your skin may peel when over exposed to harsh conditions; Sephaku Cement describes the causes of spalling concrete and how to apply concrete repairs to unsightly damage. Spalling concrete sees the surface layers of the cement applications peel, chip and sheet off often exposing aggregate, joints or reinforced steel beneath the surface layers. Peeling between 15cm to 25cm in depth, spalling concrete can occur as a result of various reasons causing a flaky surface area across a broad range of cement based applications including concrete slabs, flooring or paving.
What causes Concrete Spalling?
While the most common culprit is attributed to the exposure of harsh weather conditions, there are a few different factors that can cause concrete spalling.
- Concrete Spalling can take place as a result of the corosion of the reinforcing steel set beneath the surface. As the steel rusts (as a result of the presence of moisture and oxygen inside the concrete), due to the increased volume of matter, pressure building from the "inside" of the concrete installation causes spalling to take place on the surface.
- An expansive effect of Alkali Silica Reaction, where the alkali’s present in cement reacts with the strained quarts in aggregates.
- Through exposure to fire or water the moisture present in the particles of concrete converts into steam, placing internal pressure on the construction which results in the consequential spalling of the concrete surface.
- Much in the same way as the effect of freeze thaw can cause cracks and fissures in concrete, the process is also linked to a leading cause of concrete spalling. Prolonged exposure to extreme heat as well as excessive cold conditions both compromises the surface of concrete.
- Concrete Spalling can also take place when steel reinforcements installed in concrete applications are not covered by an adequate volume (depth) of concrete.
- Joint spalls can also be caused as a result of construction joints that have not been correctly installed. Even the slightest error in installation can impact the overall integrity of the concrete
While this flaking condition of concrete caused by spalling can be effectively repaired; reversing the appearance of pitted and peeling concrete, if left untreated the area of concrete spalling will continue to expand, compromising the durability of the installation and requiring even more repair work. The key when it comes to repairing concrete spalling is to act fast and not compromise on quality.
As soon as you note concrete spalling taking place on any concrete installation follow these simple concrete repair steps to prevent irreversible damage.
- Step 1:
Using a high pressure water washer, clean the spalled surface from dirt build up and debris that may later prevent a stable bond from forming on the area to be repaired.
- Step 2:
Chip away broken concrete pieces still attached to the surface using a hammer and chisel. This step will ensure that repair work is able to attach to the original concrete application that has not yet been compromised by spalling. You may need to implement shot blasting or a grinder to adequately prepare the area to be repaired. You could also tap the surface of the original installation listening for hollow sounds that would indicate imminent spalling keeping in mind that every area of deterioration needs to be exposed for effective and lasting repair work. If reinforcement is exposed brush steel until free of dust and rust coat with a rust preventive sealcoat.
- Step 3:
For spalling damage no more than 1/3 of the original concrete depth, now all that is required is to fill the spalled area with a repair material mixture making use of a good quality Portland cement such as Sephaku 42N. Once adequately cured, it’s recommended to seal the full surface area including the original application as well as your repair work with a quality concrete sealer, by doing so the lasting surface of the installation is maintained and future spalling avoided.
Sephaku Cement shows you how crafting with concrete to create your own miniature concrete water fountain is not as difficult a task as one would think. Concrete crafting can seem complicated, messy and requiring experience and expertise. On the contrary, there are many simple and easy to follow instructions when creating concrete art forms or ornamental water features that require little to no previous know-how.
In fact if you are able to follow simple cooking recipes or basic DIY assembly instructions we don’t see any reason not to try out this Sephaku Cement indoor or outdoor DIY water feature project.
Indoor water features are a popular aesthetic addition to indoor atriums or as an outdoor water feature on your patio. Whether used to fill dead space outdoors, on countertops or even in the bathroom, together with the soothing lap of running water, this DIY concrete water fountain is one of our most simple cement craft Ideas.
You will need:
- 1 Bag of Sephaku 32 or 42 N Cement
- Water to mix
- An Arts and Crafts paintbrush
- 15mm Polystyrene sheeting
- An upcycled or single use bowl or basin (to form the base)
- Fabric gauze or bandages
- A water spray bottle
- A mini submersible pond or fountain pump (300 L/hour should do)
- 20mm Or 25mm PVC conduit (Depending on the size of the pump’s outlet)
- 20mm Or 25mm waterhouse PVC tubing
Steps on How to make you DIY Cement Water Fountain
- Step One:
Measure and cut tiered layers out of the polystyrene sheeting. These tiers will create the concrete water feature’s stepped gradient along which the water will flow down and into the basin below. The 1st layer at the base should measure to fit the base of the basin and should preferably have a ledge or lip to sit on. You can create as many “steps” as you wish, keeping in mind the taller the number of steps the stronger the water flow pump will need to be to tackle the gradient. Using a glue gun secure each layer together to create a tiered gradient. Once secured together using the PVC conduit, pierce and press a cylinder-shaped tube through that apex of the tiers, running from the very top through to the base. This is essentially where the water feature will spout from the top tier and trickle down the steps.
- Step Two:
Prepare the base basin by fitting a “block” or ledge for the fountain steps to sit on. You can do this by securing a wooden block or single use container turned upside down to create a “stool”. Mix your measured cement and water ratios together creating a semi fluid mix that can be painted onto layers of gauze, coating the basing to create cement “plated” bowl. Think of this process similar to that of concrete papier-mâché where the cement fills the role of the flour and water and the fabric gauze, the newspaper. Layering coated cement gauze in and around the base basin, by lining the surface with cement, you are effectively retexturing the base of the bowl to create a more rustic and authentic “stone” bowl cast.
- Step Three:
Much the same as you have resurfaced the base basin as detailed in step two, now you will do the same for the tiered step that will create the gradient flow of your concrete water feature. Secured using layers of gauze, paint on the semi fluid cement mix smoothing out the surface of the polystyrene mould to create a natural looking “stone” formation. Remember to adequately coat the entire surface taking into account the underneath of the polystyrene staircase.
- Step Four:
Once the basin and the tiered steps are generously layered in cement and gauze, spray both parts with water using the spray bottle allowing to dry in-between each interval, by doing so, this encourages the cement to cure with added strength that will result in a durable DIY craft. Once having cured for at least 24 hours now you can piece together your concrete water fountain to complete your project.
- Step Five:
Run the Waterhouse PVC Tubing through the pierced cylinder you created in the tiered layers of your cement fountain in step two. Connect the tubing to the mini submersible pond or fountain pump and place the tiered fountain "staircase" together with the pump onto the ledge or stool of the base basin. Fill the basin with pebbles adding to the aesthetics and lastly fill with water. Turn the pump on and behold as water cascades down your DIY cement craft water feature.
From large scale construction to small and medium sized building projects, Sephaku Cement shares free, open source construction cost calculators and project planning tools to make the building process simple. Estimating construction costs, calculating materials and project planning is a critical task for any contractor. Whether you are a large scale civil engineer, a SMME contractor or even planning a DIY home improvement project on your own, accurate calculations, estimating timelines and approximate materials required are what ultimately defines construction success.
To help with this process, Sephaku Cement shares their useful cement calculator together with construction estimating and project planning tools available free to construction specialists and DIY enthusiasts.
Sephaku Cement Calculator
Calculating accurate cement requirements using a reliable cement calculator should never be an oversight for any contractor, DIY enthusiasts or home improvement specialist. Accounting for a number of cost considerations that go into a successful construction project, the Sephaku Cement Calculator helps to equate the real cost of construction when building with cement. Calculating accurate volumes of cement required for any construction project together with aggregate and supplementary materials required, using the Sephaku Cement Calculator will ensure that costs are kept within budget and the purchase of wasteful excess materials are avoided. Not only is it important to accurately account for the correct volumes of materials required, but it is equally critical to understand different cement products and their uses. The Sephaku Cement Calculator will help you to do both and is freely available online to anyone visiting the Sephaku website.
With a variety of contractor specific task management tools and technology now available to make construction project planning and building estimation easy, calculate your team’s performance and overall project success to secure future annuity and construction project continuity to take your SMME to the next level!
Whether fitting these at your local park, on busy street corners, at taxi ranks or even on the pavement outside your home, Sephaku Cement shares top tips on DIY precast concrete litter bins for a socially conscious installation. With a growing community commitment to litter pickups and community based clean ups, precast concrete bins are an effective way to traffic litter and prevent rubbish from being carelessly dropped on the ground.
What’s more, channelling rubbish collection into precast litter bins strategically placed at cross paths with pedestrian traffic and picnicking visitors, further enables the sorting of items that can be repurposed, upcycled and recycled. Instead of assembling community members on foot to collect littered rubbish, a weekly service of your concrete bin will suffice in helping to keep your community, local park and playgrounds clean and litter free.
To follow see the Sephaku Cement top tips to moulding your own concrete litter bins that can be placed to prevent careless littering and dumping in your area.
Weighty, robust and of little monetary value, precast as semi-permanent fittings, because of the weight that concrete bins carry, placing this type of litter collection in public areas will less likely see these moved, stolen or turned over.
- Tip 1: Made to Fit Dimensions
Casting your own DIY concrete dustbin can be done using almost any shape or mould, however, made to fit a standard plastic refuse bag (which makes litter collection and removal much easier and more sanitary to do), the following dimensions of your homemade litter bins should be adhered to if you plan on placing a refuse bag inside.
- Large Square Concrete Bin - 550mm x 550mm x 1000mm high and with a capacity of roughly 165 litres.
- Outdoor Advertising Concrete bins that can be used for marketing and advertising - 700mm x 700mm x 1150mm high, with a capacity of around 320 litres (due to its height).
- Standard Round Refuse Bin - 625mm diameter x 880mm high with less capacity of all other options measuring at 150 litres.
- Tip 2: Finish and Appearance
Concrete litter bins cast by professional service providers are made with different finishes that serve different purposes. Many concrete bins are cast with an exposed aggregate concrete finish which results in a rough and course exterior. This may be a better option for you if you are planning on placing these litter bins outside your home, in park or on play grounds as they are difficult to vandalise or stick unsightly posters and marketing material to. With that said however, if forming part of a community clean-up project, you could also cast your concrete bin with a smooth finish with every intent of offering marketing objectives. In doing so, by facilitating outdoor marketing, community members could use these concrete canvases to communicate awareness messages, local projects or promote events, meetings and other activities taking place in the area.
- Tip 3: Reinforce
When moulding your concrete community bin, reinforce your cast with a steel frame or wire mesh helping to maintain the integrity of the structure and accommodating for shrinkage and freeze thaw cracks. It’s also recommended to cast your litter bin with a small hole in the bottom of the bin to allow for liquid seepage and water waste to drain from the base.
Simple to cast and made to last, creating do-it-yourself concrete bins is an affordable means to keeping your community clean and clear from unwanted mess, pedestrian debris and harmful litter.
Course, textured and offering a one of a kind expression, Sephaku Cement explains more about an exposed aggregate finish and how this can be achieved.
Although it may take an experienced contractor to pull off the desired look, an exposed aggregate finish is responsible for creating some of the most unique and one of a kind appeals in concrete construction. Making use of carefully selected aggregate, an exposed aggregate finish adds depth, texture and a unique feel to an otherwise smooth and flat concrete finish. Over and above the appearance that exposed aggregate accomplishes, when used in sidewalk paving, garden pathways or even poolside decking, exposed aggregate concrete is extremely effective in achieving a non-slip solution to outdoor areas that can become slippery when wet.
While a standard concrete mix can be used, for best results special aggregates are incorporated to influence the texture and colour of the exposed aggregate finish. Achieving an exposed aggregate appearance takes experience, specialised skill and patience. Although a seemingly rudimentary process, it is in fact an intricate installation that requires care and attention during each phase.
Where the biggest challenge is accomplishing the correct depth when installing exposed aggregate paving, because the process is somewhat of a manual application, expert attention needs to be paid in order to achieve a uniform and even appearance.
With two methods used to achieve exposed aggregate, one way is to pour wet concrete mixed with course aggregate stones and then to wash the surface of the concrete installation before the concrete reached final set in other words strong enough to withstand the washing operation but not set too hard to not be able to wash out some small amount of paste from the surface of the concrete. Using either water or spraying the wet concrete with a retarding agent, in doing so will reveal the exposed aggregate stone a day after the concrete has been allowed to cure.
The second method used is achieved by surfacing placed concrete by applying course aggregate stone to pre-poured wet concrete mix. This method sees contractors adding carefully the pre-washed aggregate to already poured and still wet concrete in converse to exposing incorporated aggregate by means of “washing the surface”, as described above.
Carefully agitating and smoothing out the surface of the applied aggregate, by pressing the stone into the surface of the wet concrete your contractors will take extra care not to trowel the stones too deep into the concrete leaving just the right ratio of stone aggregate exposed. This method is extremely effective in controlling the depth of the installation while also allowing for and maintaining a secure bond between the aggregate and the concrete as the concrete cures.
Another important consideration to factor in, although not unique to the installation of exposed aggregate cement fitting, is the effect of freeze thaw and shrinkage of concrete. As you may well already know freeze thaw and shrinkage is the leading contributor to blemished and cracked concrete fittings, regardless of whether you are installing an exposed concrete or smoothed out finish. As is the case with all cement based applications, careful attention needs to be paid in taking into account the expansion and contraction of concrete and installing supportive measures (mesh and or joints) that will allow for this inevitable occurrence.
While many of us venture no further than the couch in colder seasons, winter presents some of the most optimal conditions to get your garden summer ready with the help of Sephaku Cement’s concrete garden bench ideas. With outdoor entertaining kept to a minimum you can be sure that no one will notice the flux or be bothered by your concrete constructions or renovations. Winter in fact offers prime time to landscape and is a contractors more busy season to assist with remodelling, distinguishing and designing your dream garden furniture and features and outdoor entrainment areas.
In this instalment we share more on quaint concrete garden benches, contemporary outdoor areas and zen garden retreats.
Ideally purposed to outdoor applications, Sephaku 32 and 42 offer strength versatility and affordability when landscaping outdoor concrete pause areas. From standalone benches to picnic table and chairs, both of these Sephaku products offer superior quality, expert handling and lasting durability. Whether you are planning your outdoor area project as a DIY installation or outsourcing to your preferred contractor, be sure to use only Sephaku Cement sealed with the Sephaku stamp of quality assurance and guaranteed performance.
- Contemporary Concrete Bench
Blending well with modern and minimalist themes as well as Japanese zen, contemporary chic or industrial themed décor, the contemporary concrete bench is an angular standalone garden feature so simple by design it exudes elegance and sophistication. The simplest design to cast and mould, with straight lines and angular legs, a square or more commonly cast rectangular shape offers great versatility should you later wish to adjust your theme of your landscaping.
- English Garden Round Table
Soft, classic, and antiquated, a garden (gnome) round table and concrete bench set creates an idyllic escape set amidst an old English rose garden or fairy flower bed. The perfect fitting for a country courtyard look often etched in decal and accompanied by a curved base, a concrete round table is somewhat trickier to mould when doing so as a DIY installation however, provided you can create your desired casting shape, the perfect results are still completely achievable.
- Delightful Concrete Domes
Simple sturdy and double backing as a perch to sit or décor to delight in, clustering concrete domes at random or arranged around a table offers a unique spin on outdoor seating options. Much like little Miss Muffat and her rounded tuffet, ball benches are seeing a new wave of garden seating wash over outdoor landscaping designs.
- Square Stacks
Minimalist, contemporary and extremely elegant, imagine square concrete slabs of varying sizes and perhaps pigmented in different shades of grey, slate and kohl, stacked in an opposed arrangement to form an asymmetrical block bench. Simple, chic and certainly a topic of much discussion, what a gorgeous way to add a modern design to your high fashion outdoor décor.
- A Blend of Both
In a juxtaposition of both angular and rounded forms, blending round with square creates a contemporary balance of the best of both. Perched on a base of two rounded balls, a stack-like slab makes for a modern concrete bench-come-art-form that not only fulfils its function but will intrigue seated guests with its outlandish design.
Whether you hope to create a tranquil simplistic pause area to reflect and mediate at, or rather looking to accomplish a picturesque English tea garden to picnic at, pull off your perfect outdoor pause area and bench set with your favourite Sephaku Cement mix.
Delving even deeper into the infinite world of DIY concrete creations, Sephaku Cement explores contemporary cement based crafts with an exceptional line up of new design ideas that will blow you away! By now we know to blend the ideal concrete craft mix we make use of Sephaku 32 or 42 along with good quality fine sand aggregate, desired pigment powder for effect and mix with the precise water to cement ratios. Always adding wet to dry, blend your cement and aggregate, mix well and when producing craft concrete / mortar on a small scale, agitate air bubbles and pockets out of the wet concrete/mortar by gently tapping the side or rim of the receptacle. Take care not to bang it out too much otherwise you may cause liquefication or force the heavier aggregate particles to sink to the base of the mix resulting in a weak and crumbly cured item/mould.
- Crumpled Concrete Cups
Using a large disposable plastic cup crumple up the base, kinking and denting the outside circumference. Using Vaseline or a spray on lubricant like spray and cook, line the inside of the crumpled cup which will later help to remove the mould from the cast. Pour pre-mixed wet concrete/mortar mix as detailed above into the crushed cup. Using a slightly smaller disposable cup, (being sure to lubricate the outside of this cup also to assist with removal later) gently press the smaller cup into the centre of the crumped outer mould. Wipe away dispersed concrete/mortar mix that may ooze out of the top of the mould and secure both cups in place using masking tape. Once adequately cured, gently remove the inner cup and then the outer crumped cup. Smooth edges and the lip of your cast with fine granular sandpaper and behold a contemporary concrete crumpled cup creation!
- Handheld Jewellery Organizer or Ornament
Begin by creating a mould of your hand in any form or pose you choose. Keep in mind if you are using this stand as a jewellery holder a better option would be to keep your hand open or cupped. Alternatively for a contemporary ornamental cast you can opt for a bolder, strong or statement poses. Blend together 6 Cups of rubber moulding mix with equal parts of water making sure there are no lumps or clumps in the mix. Cast your desired hand pose in the rubber mould mix and allow setting for five minutes. Carefully remove your hand to reveal a perfect casing mould. Blend together your concrete craft mix and pour this into the casting mould being sure to fill each chamber of the mould. After allowing curing for up to 24 hours, remove the concrete cast encased in the rubber mould and carefully cut and peel away the rubber. Smooth rough edges and snags with fine grained sandpaper and give yourself a hand for creating a gorgeous handheld jewellery organiser!
- Slender Stem Concrete Vase
Using a smooth edged container (think tall and thin), fill with concrete craft mix about ¾ ways to the top. Roll a standard pillar size candle in plastic wrap and lubricate using Vaseline of aerosol spray-on oil. Slide the lined candle into the mouth of the bottle being careful not to press it too deep into the base of the mould. Allow curing for 24 hours and once satisfactorily set remove the wrapped candle. Using a cutting blade cut away the moulding bottle to reveal a tall and slender hollowed out cast. Smooth out the mouth and any rough snags with fine grained sandpaper and dip the base in pretty pastel paint or gold leaf decals to reveal a stunning slender stem concrete vase perfect for 1 stem flower clippings.
No longer limited to cold, drab and “for function” only applications, Sephaku Cement inspires bespoke concrete furniture ideas using cement, water some aggregates and a little bit of creativity! Gone are the days that concrete was a material only considered functional for construction. With some of the industry’s most celebrated Interior décor specialists, together with award winning designers and architects, cement/concrete installations are being incorporated into design schemes and décor dream boards of the world’s most affluent homes.
From mid-century modern, to urban industrial, a perfect blend of Scandinavian fittings and décor to match, or even naturalistic, Japanese zen, farmhouse or Bohemian, cement/concrete has played its role in the décor and design of some of the most avant-garde feature furniture made.
Whether you are looking at renewing existing pieces of furniture in your home, or trying your hand at DIY concrete creations made from scratch, see some of Sephaku Cement’s favourite concrete furniture design ideas to follow.
Polished Concrete Coffee Tables
Made to resemble a marbled finish, polished concrete is the perfect material for small scale table tops, night stands and if you're really committed to the art of craft, even concrete TV cabinets and stands. When prepared with precision, care and patience, concrete can be used in some of the most gorgeous movable table tops, reinforced with load bearing capabilities and created at home at a fraction of the cost of concrete furniture purchased in store.
Concrete Bar Tables and Trolleys
Secured on steel slits or on roll-able wheels, bar stands and trollies add a “Great Gatsby” feel to interior decor inspired furniture. Made to stand crystal decanters, craft gins, collectable whiskies and wines, needing only to craft the top piece from concrete, using a curved or sharp edged mould, create a concrete surface to top-off an ordinary steel or roll-able trolley in a few simple steps.
Concrete Garden Bench
Sold in store with a hefty price tag, as well as expensive and strenuous to transport given its weight, crafting a modern DIY industrial styled or Japanese zen concrete garden bench will save on both cost and chiropractic expenses. Where constructing a casting mould is about as strenuous as this DIY concrete furniture project will get, simply design your garden bench casting mould from a melamine wooden frame to create a smooth and polished concrete look to finish your landscaped grounds.
Floating Shelves made from Concrete
Marbled, elegant and adding a seamless finish to concrete plastered walls, making floating shelves from concrete means you can mould these to the exact size, shape and dimension you desire. Creating a stepped ascent or symmetrical placement or mixing things up in a completely irregular layout, floating shelves are an effective storage and display space option in smaller rooms of the house.
Common across the full product range, Sephaku Cement guarantees only the purest grade original Portland cement, and where applicable, blended with the finest quality extenders designated to enhance performance and curing characteristics of all of our products across various applications. Whether creating conrete furniture to add to your interior décor or to complete your outdoor entertainment design projects, Sephaku Cement offers a range of products suited to your everyday DIY needs.
The second insert to our two part journey in uncovering a world of contemporary and classic concrete furniture, Sephaku Cement continues to reveal endless opportunities for DIY concrete furnishing and home fittings.
Having previously mused over polished concrete coffee tables, DIY bar tables and trolleys, contemporary garden benches and floating shelves, part two of Sephaku Cement’s “DIY: Concrete Furniture Ideas” sees even more inspiration motivation for home décor and furniture ideas.
Etched or Polished Concrete Patio Tables
Using similarly shaped or identical moulds completely change the look of outdoor patio tables by etching embellishments into semi cured concrete or polishing cured concrete furniture. As a starting point, when etching decals into semi cured concrete tables, using a few simple sculpture etching tools, follow your desired pattern template guiding your hand strokes and layout to ensure the end result resembles the look you were hoping to achieve. For polished patio tables, using fine grit polishing disks, buff the cured concrete (a process referred to as "Lapping") until the desired sheen is achieved.
Concrete-Wood Fused Side Tables
Casting the surface or “Table top” of your concrete side table is a synch. Using any size and shape concrete casting mould, simply mix and pour standard craft concrete mix, adding in a pigment for a more unique look. While the table top cures, source sturdy twigs and branches preferably selected from the same off-cuts. Peel away bark, sand to smooth out their surface and if desired varnish for a polished sheen. Just before the concrete table top cures to completion, press the twigs and sticks into the concrete in a closely, asymmetrical layout to almost form a “forest” of branches which will act as the “legs” of the table. Be sure these are cut to the same length to create a stable table stand.
Concrete Block Bench
So simple to pull off it should be a concrete crafters crime! Using a rectangular casting mould preferably with a slighting smaller inner (a solid block will be extremely heavy to move into place), cast a concrete block bench and allow to cure for 3 to 4 days. Once moved into its desired position, finish the block off by fitting wooden slats to create a decked seat on top of the concrete block. If you’re feeling especially crafty you could even assemble a matching back rest using the same wooden slats used to form the seat.
Simple Concrete Fire Pit
Another concrete no-brainer, provided you have a suitable mould to cast the desired design, a DIY concrete fire pit adds an elegant ambience to any outdoor entertainment area. Whether using a bowl like mould, a large cube or hollowed out rectangular shape, a concrete fire pit offers a low maintenance, effective means to keeping warm or adding a bit of “fire” to night-time entertainment.
Offering endless opportunities to add contemporary or classic concrete furnishing to your home, Sephaku Cement has been scientifically formulated to deliver controlled performance and consistent quality. Suited to specific applications and sealed with the Sephaku stamp of quality assurance, find the perfect Sephaku Cement product for your concrete furniture creations!
Taking your DIY concrete creations to the next level, Sephaku Cement talks you through the steps to curing your own concrete table or countertop. Trendy, affordable and not too taxing to craft from scratch, making your own concrete counter or concrete table is one of the simplest ways to spruce up your kitchen area, dining room or even entrance hall with an elegant receiving table.
Crafted into any shape or size you desire, to follow see Sephaku Cement’s simple steps mapping out the process to creating gorgeous concrete tables and countertops.
To begin with you will need:
- 1 to 2 bags or Sephaku 32 or Sephaku 42 depending on the size and depth or your countertop mould
- Double the volume of aggregate sand where the measurement equals to 1 part cement to 2 parts aggregate
- Wire Mesh (Typically available in 1.2m x 2.4m sheets)
- Melamine Wood - Cut to the shape, size and depth of the desired table top
- Painters tape
- 100% Silicon Caulk
- Water to mix
Step 1: Prepare Your Casting Mould
Start by assembling your concrete countertop casting mould by securing the selected pieces of wood together. Using the measured melamine wood and drywall screws, secure the base (which will actually create the surface of the countertop once moulded) to the side pieces of wood. Keep in mind that it will be the inside measurements of the melamine wood mould that will form the final table top results. It’s also important to take care to use the correct length of drywall screws. You want to avoid the points of the screws piercing through the wood frame as this will create a blemish in the cast concrete mould.
Step 2: Complete the Mould
Once assembled, the smooth surfaces of the inner melamine frame will be the mould that the outer cast of your table top will form. Prevent poured concrete from oozing or bleeding between the joins of melamine wood by sealing the corners with 100% silicon caulk. For an even more perfected edge, before "gunning" the silicon caulk into the grooves of wood, place painters tape for a guided and more accurate application.
Step 3: Measure and Cut Metal Reinforcements
Once the silicon caulk has cured, carefully remove your painters tape and proceed with preparing the wire mesh reinforcement. Using a bolt cutter, measure and cut the metal wiring to loosely fit into the melamine casting mould leaving about an inch to measure around the border. Once measured and cut to fit, clean the inside of your casting mould, preferably using rubbing alcohol and paper towels to ensure that no dust, sawdust, metal filings or unwanted particles line the inside of the mould. Lightly oil the contact surface(where concrete will make contact with mould)
Step 4: Mix and Pour your Concrete
Using a face mask, protective gloves and clothing, measure and mix the accurate ratios of cement to aggregate to water. It’s not recommended to mix your countertop concrete blend inside the wood mould, but rather in a wheel barrow or trough so as not to agitate any scratches, dents or unsightly marks in the mould (which will ultimately form part of the surface of your table top once complete).
As detailed in pervious posts it’s important to begin by mixing your dry ingredients together including any pigment powder or coloured sand. Slowly add the water, taking care to mix well in between additions, following this step slowly will ensure that the accurate consistency is achieved, taking care not to add too much water too quickly which will result in a sloppy or soggy mix. Once mixed well, pour half of your concrete mix into the melamine casting mould and firmly tap the wooden frame with a rubber mallet all around the circumference of the boarder. Now place your wire mesh into the centre of the mould and pour the remaining concrete mix on top. Tap the frame once again using a rubber mallet which will remove any air pockets and unwanted air bubbles and finishing the step by smoothing the concrete surface with a trowel.
Step 5: The Big Reveal
Once again, depending on the size and depth of the casting mould, allow your table top to cure between 3 and 4 days (or longer if you can). Once adequately cured, remove the secured screws that have kept your casting mould in place. Bang the frame using the same rubber mallet as above and the frame should fall away without too much effort. Using a sanding block smooth over any rough edges and borders and turn over your table to reveal a perfectly smoothed concrete countertop.
Poised to mix, pour and mould your favourite concrete craft into shape, Sephaku Cement shares top tips on how to pull off concrete crafting without a hitch. It’s no surprise that our last few Sephaku Cement blog inserts have got your concrete creative juices flowing.
Feeling inspired to forge ahead, to follow see some of our tried and tested top concrete tips to make sure that all your concrete crafting and concrete creations are cured to perfection!
Tip 1: Safety First
Although a seemingly user friendly crafting material to use, it’s important to keep in mind the chemical reaction that cement undergoes during hydration. As a result of this reaction, when coming into contact with water, hydrating cement gives off heat which is referred to as “Heat of Hydration” (cement is exothermic “giving off heat when in contact with water”).The larger the volume of cement, the greater the heat. As a result, no matter how small scale or elaborate, when working with cement/concrete always make use of protective clothing, gloves and goggles to protect your skin and eyes.
On the same note of safety, given the powdery consistency of dry cement, it is also advisable to cover your mouth with a surgical mask or at best a handkerchief to ensure that no particles are inhaled while the product is being agitated.(Cement is also alkaline and contact with skin and eyes must be prevented at all costs)
Tip 2: Selecting the Appropriate Product
Varying cement based products are blended with different types and different volumes of extenders. Designed to enhance strength and performance as well as influence curing characteristics of poured cement, it’s important to select the appropriate cement product for its desired purpose, from the Sephaku Cement range, Sephaku 32 and Sephaku 42N are most ideally suited to home crafting and DIY cement based projects. Where both of these are general purpose, cost effective, normal strength cement products, Sephaku 42 and Sephaku 52 are more specialised products better suited to high-strength, extreme load bearing civil engineering and construction.
Tip 3: Blend Dry Ingredients First
As most bakers will know, before adding wet ingredients to dry, it’s always best to briefly blend dry ingredients together before adding the wet solution. Once your cement and aggregates have been measured, combine all of concrete crafting dry ingredients together including pigments, sand and other aggregates added in the mix.
Tip 4: Water Ratios and Consistency
There aren’t enough opportunities to stress the importance of achieving the ideal consistency of mixed cement. An intricate blend of science and art, the best advice is to use exact water to cement ratios as detailed on the specific product packaging. While your measurements are critical, another useful tip during the mixing process is to add water slowly, mixing well in-between additions. This allows greater control to continuously assess the consistency of the cement, being careful not to add more water than what is needed.
Tip 5: Let your Imagination Run Wild
Versatile, easy to work with and quick to cure, let your creativity run free when crafting with cement. Only limited by the ideas you have and the moulds used to create various shapes and figures, for more elaborate concrete craft ideas, think leaf stamped coasters, concrete garden orbs, hollow concrete geodes and even smiling stones.
Casting concrete from moulds is one of the most simple and satisfying home crafting options for DIY enthusiasts. Simple to measure and mix, mould and cure without too much fuss, there is no reason not to create your own cement based crafts using Sephaku Cement.
Where baking and cupcake making has become a favoured South Africa pastime, Sephaku Cement shows you how to make a homemade concrete cake stand and other concrete ideas to compliment your culinary crumbs, buns and cake creations! Paired with an interchangeable decorative base, this concrete cake stand completes every baked cake creation or cookie station at high teas across the country.
Serving cake on a stylish stand or replicating a sought after concrete centrepiece, when putting Sephaku 32 or Sephaku 42 to task to create concrete cakes stand, concrete centrepieces or a themed tablescape, see these simple steps to follow.
For the base of the stand you will need:
- Decorative “base” bowls (to stand upside down) that your concrete cake stand will be secured to - this is where the interchangeable element comes in to your concrete creation.
- A masonry drill
- 6 to 8 mm bolt (length will vary as described in text below)
- 2 x 6 or 8 mm hex nuts
- Black Marker
For the concrete platter you will need:
- Disposable plastic, aluminium loaf pans and pie tins or reusable silicone moulds of any shape, size and design, keeping in mind standard cake and loaf cake sizes. Where smaller moulds hide blemishes and imperfections, larger moulds will be better equipped to fit various cake sizes ranging from 24, 26, 28, 32 and 36 centimetres.
- Mark and drill a hole in the centre of the base of the decorative bowls being sure to use the same diameter drill bit as the bolts and nuts (6 or 8 mm). If drilling into ceramic bowls, a tip to prevent the base from chipping and cracking is to mark the centre with a cross made out of masking or painters tape.
- Next, drill the same diameter hole into the centre of your Concrete Cake Stand mould so that when the base and the mould come together the two are aligned, allowing the mould and the stand to be bolted together – which will be your next step.
- Take into account that the 6 or 8 mm hex bolt and nuts selected will need to stick about 3/4 into your cement mould and around 2 centimetres into the stand’s base so that while the bolt remains secured onto the concrete stand it can be removed and interchanged to a new base.
With the construct of your cake stand and mould prepared you can now proceed to mix your desired concrete/ mortar mix, pigmented or with coloured aggregate sand and the correct water/binder ratio.
Sephaku 32 or 42 N offer the ideal consistency when blending your craft cement mix. Both suited to general purpose use, Sephaku 32 offers a versatile, consistent and cost effective option while 42N is more serious strength cement suited to various home improvement and general purpose projects.
Following the below recipe mix and mould your Sephaku Cement concrete cake stand.
Depending on the desired colour intensity when blending your cement craft mix you can either use;
- Half a part of coloured aggregate or 5% pigment of your choice if normal aggregates are used to 1 part Cement (strongest mix)
- Equal parts of coloured aggregate or 5% pigment of your choice if normal aggregates are used to Cement (even stronger than the next mix)
- Two parts of coloured aggregate or 5% pigment of your choice if normal aggregates are used to 1 part Cement ( stronger mix)
- Three parts of coloured aggregate or 5% pigment of your choice if normal aggregates are used to 1 part Cement (strong mix)
Protected by a dust mask and gloves, blend the above dry ingredients, namely the coloured aggregate sand and Sephaku Cement together. Slowly add water, this being approximately 1 Tablespoon (15ml) of water for every approximately (60ml) sand and cement (combined volume) to the dry ingredients.
Blend in the water slowly taking care not to add too much too quickly with the end result resembling a slightly dry but wet almost pourable consistency. Once mixed, pour the semi-fluid concrete/mortar mix into the concrete mould that has been sprayed with aerosol oil similar to “spray and cook”. Remember that the mould will be anchored to the interchangeable base and the curing cement will secure to the top of the 6 or 8 mm hex bolt and nut in place.
After allowing the casted mould to cure for at least 24 hours, unscrew the nut on the inside of the interchangeable base. The casting mould should be easy to remove from the cured cement revealing the surface and secured 6 or 8 mm hex bolt in place. If finish is slightly uneven, now is the time to put sand paper to the uneven spots to smoothen the surface. Replace the base and nut back in place on the underside of the interchangeable base to complete this cake stand casting mould project.
Sephaku Cement shares insights into the various types of Concrete Staircases, how these are installed and where each are best employed. As we approach the first change of the season for the year, these indoor days present the ideal opportunity to spend winter months landscaping and renovating outdoor entertainment areas and gardens. Offering a cost effective and durable installation to outdoor areas and gardens, from pathways to concrete stairs, edging and outdoor flooring, cement based outdoor projects offer some of the most simple ways to beautify the exterior of your home.
Offering years of service, concrete in the garden and outdoor entertainment area, concrete steps can be strategically placed to achieve garden landscaping goals or to offer a more functional passage from interior to exterior areas of your home. Styled, stained and finished in a variety of designs, colours and textures, concrete garden stairways installed for function or for aesthetics can take on any natural or contemporary design desired.
Constructed using one of a few methods, concrete stairs are typically built on a wooden frame in the shape of the desired step ascent or decline. Using the wooden framework to mould the desired stairway, concrete is poured into the stairway mould and allowed to set and cure. Once fully cured, the concrete staircase can be placed into landscaped gardens, filled in with foundations and packed with soil.
An alternative method to installing concrete steps and stair cases is by sculpting gardens to fit concrete treads. Also known as flat steps, concrete treads are placed on landscaped ground where garden soil is shaped to fit the “steps” of concrete slabs. A more rudimentary and intermitted stairway option, this concrete staircase essentially resembles stepping stones that are placed at an incline (or decline) and not as a uniform, continuous flight of concrete steps.
A third alternative to installing concrete stairways, typically fitted more for function than for aesthetics, is the installation of a prefabricated staircase complete with a made to fit handrail. These stairway units are usually mass manufactured and assembled off site but can be made to measure depending on the service provider employed. These staircases can also be cast as a flat "runway" styled incline more ideally suited to wheelchairs and prams.(Where some sort of anti-slip material or pattern should be employed)
Both wood moulded, poured concrete steps as well as concrete slab steps can be further decaled and beautified with a variety of designs, stencils and stains to suit a specific theme or colour palette. Stamped and stained to resemble cobbles, stones, bricks and even wood. Further scored and sponged with pigment and stains to resemble a more authentic appearance, specialists have also been known to add rock salt to poured concrete to create a pitted and more natural texture that also acts as a non-slip solution for outdoor (and sometimes wet) surfaces.
Whether installing a DIY staircase moulded by a wooden frame or making use of concrete flat steps, make sure to use a higher strength concrete in the garden. Both hard wearing and load bearing outdoor concrete staircases will not only be exposed to harsh outdoor conditions, they will also see years’ worth of foot traffic and load bearing duties. Sephaku 42N is a general purpose blended cement, extremely versatile and suited to a wide range of concrete, mortar and screed applications. As a more serious strength cements its ideal to more specialised structural concrete applications, Sephaku 42 is the perfect Portland Blended Cement solution for your outdoor staircase project.
With a simple mix of coloured sand, cement and water, Sephaku Cement shows you how easy it is to make contemporary concrete bowls to beautify your home. Concrete creations, whether being used in construction, garden landscaping or home décor and other concrete ideas, is prepared using Portland cement, sand or gravel aggregates and conservatively mixed with water. The recipe stays largely unchanged regardless of its use but where most variations come in is with the type of aggregates that are incorporated into the mix. As already explored in previous Sephaku Cement article inserts, for the purpose of decor, the best mix to make use of when making concrete crafts is with a selection of the finest granular aggregate available. The finer the sand used, the smoother the mix that ultimately results in an even textured finish to your craft, and as if the aggregate was the secret ingredient to creating the perfect concrete craft, add a splash of colour to the aggregate sand to breathe unique life into your design.
Versatile, consistent and cost effective, Sephaku 32 is a general purpose, normal strength blended cement perfect for home and DIY projects that offers lasting durability. Best put to task by Wheel Barrow Builders and Home DIY Enthusiasts, to follow Sephaku Cement lays out, in easy to follow steps, the process to making your own coloured contemporary crafts using Sephaku 32.
What you will need:
- Disposable and preferably plastic bowls resembling the ideal shape to mould your coloured craft in
- A measuring cup and 1 tablespoon for measuring.
- Dust mask and protective gloves
- A disposable mixing bowl
- 1 Bag of Sephaku 32 or Sephaku 42N
- Coloured craft sand
- “Spray and Cook” / aerosol oil
- Water to mix
An important safety tip to adhere to when mixing cement is to always use a dust mask and protective gloves (and clothing). Not only is it harmful to inhale the powdery cement particles, keep in mind that cement is alkali and reactive and gives off heat during hydration which can burn your skin.
Depending on the desired colour intensity when blending your cement craft mix you can use either use;
- Half a part of coloured aggregate to 1 part of Cement
- Equal parts of coloured aggregate to part Cement
- Two parts of coloured aggregate to 1 part Cement
- Three parts of coloured aggregate to 1 part Cement
Blend one of the above options with 1 Tablespoon (15ml) of water for approximately every 60ml sand and cement (combined volume).
Mixing Made Easy
Protected by your dust mask, blend the dry ingredients, namely the coloured aggregate sand and Portland cement measurements together. Slowly add accurate water amount, blending the mix slowly, taking your time during this process prevents the mix from resulting in a too wet and runny consistency. For the ideal texture, your coloured concrete/mortar mix should resemble a slightly dry but soggy ball similar to that of thick porridge.
Ready, Mould, Set
Spray the inside of one and the outside of the other of your disposable cement moulds using “Spray and Cook” or any spray on oil product. This will assist in the separation of the disposable bowls once the concrete has cured. Once prepared, fill the concrete mould (sprayed on the inside with the aerosol oil) with your "stiff peak" cement mix. Now press the second bowl (oiled on the outside) into the centre of the cement and secure in place with a weight being careful not to press this too far down. Allow to cure for 24 hours following which carefully separate the inside mould and then the outer concrete mould to reveal your coloured concrete creation! Complete your craft’s finish with sand paper on rough edges and by sealing the concrete which will improve its overall appearance and prevent efflorescence, a powdery masonry salt seepage should your creation come into contact with moisture.
Although made using the same ingredients, Sephaku Cement explains the different recipes followed to create poured concrete walls and walls made with concrete blocks. Differences between poured concrete walls and walls erected using concrete blocks begin with the very basic construct of the two variants.
Pros and Cons of Poured Concrete Walls
Where poured concrete walls are constructed using semi-fluid concrete poured into pre-built forms, these poured concrete creations harden to form one solid and uniform partition. When installing a poured concrete wall, as a starting point, building a concrete wall from scratch using a semi-fluid concrete mix requires a framework to mould the shape of the wall before the project has even begun. This means that before the Portland cement and aggregate can even be mixed, a fairly labour intensive process to create a mould to cast the wall must be built before mixing and pouring the concrete. Over and above the work needed in preparation of casting a poured concrete wall, the placing and compaction is of the utmost importance for durability and longevity of the structure and the curing process required for the fluid concrete mix can also be a time consuming process.
The time required for the concrete to adequately cure is that which must not be neglected in order to ensure the poured concrete project results in a steadfast concrete construct complete with an efficient load bearing capacity. While a poured concrete wall may seemingly require added effort, a monolithic concrete wall boasts a far more impressive load bearing capacity than its "Brick-like" concrete cousin construct. It also offers a versatile solution made to form a diverse range of shapes, curves, bevelled and decorative frameworks. Poured concrete walls are also known to leak far less than concrete blocks but do run a greater risk to encounter freeze-thaw and other types of cracks and fissures as a result of the unbroken, continuous concrete structure.
Benefits and Features of Concrete Blocked Walls
Concrete walls erected using concrete blocks are made of concrete masonry units (CMU's) that are joined together with mortar to create a similar walled structure with the same type of patterns resembled in brick masonry. Pieced together to form its very own form of concrete masonry brickwork, concrete blocks are cost effective and time conscious, which means little to no long-term maintenance. Concrete block walls also naturally keep temperatures cool in the summer and warm in the winter as a result of their thermal mass, making these the most ideal materials to use when building a home. Not as aesthetically pleasing to the eye as poured concrete walls that offer a smooth and uniform appearance, once erected walls built using concrete blocks are usually plastered with mortar or rhyolite after and later painted to add a finishing touch.
Whether installing a uniform, poured concrete wall or building a walled construct using concrete masonry units, concrete offers a cost effective and long standing solution free from various vulnerabilities that other walled solutions are at risk to.
Powered by Dangote Cement, Sephaku Cement continues to evolve the South African cement industry offering a range of state-of-the art quality cement products equally committed to having a positive impact on environmental management efficiencies as they are on cost, sustainability and quality.
With close to nine summer months on the South African climate calendar, Sephaku Cement shares top tips on how to install a concrete Pool Deck as your next DIY home improvement project.
Where poolside pastimes are a firm favourite amongst many South Africans, keeping pool decks and outdoor entertainment areas in pristine shape is a priority to many homeowners. Under the harsh African sun, wooden decks, brickwork and tiles can weather, tarnish and spoil from extended exposure to the elements. While you might assume installing a concrete pool deck to replace former installations is an expensive and labour intensive home improvement project, on the contrary.
To follow Sephaku Cement shares a step by step installation process on how to fit a classy concrete pool deck.
Made to last a lifetime and withstand even the most contrasting weather conditions, a cement based pool deck is one of the more common-sense fittings to transform your poolside appearance into something to be envied.
Ideally installed around in-ground, dug out and those swimming pools that is built below the ground level. Concrete pool decks and outdoor entertainment areas need only be maintained annually depending on conditions and exposure to fluctuating elements. What’s more, concrete pool decking can be accented in an array of colour stains, finishes, stamps and decals to echo any theme and colour palette.
- Step 1: Measure the Poolside Surface Area
Critical in determining materials needed, whether placing concrete decking on top of existing pool decking or excavating the area surrounding the pool to place your concrete decking, be sure to take accurate measurements.
As a start, measure the pool’s perimeter (that being the pools itself), and then the border breadth of the decking and don’t forget to take into account the depth at which the decking will be placed. With your measurements in hand, take a look at the Sephaku Cement concrete calculator to determine the amount of cement and other materials required. We suggest for a deck, being exposed to the elements, that you choose a higher MPa mix design,
- Step 2: Place a Frame
Prepare a frame to guide the extent of the area where you plan on placing the concrete pool decking. Take into account the placement of control joints or planned breaks on the surface to help guide inevitable cracks either beneath or on the surface of the decking. Remember you will need an outer frame marking the outside border of the decking as well as a frame for the inner border making use of timber boards and nails to secure it in place. The planks / boards used must be securely fixed as you don’t want the concrete, which is heavier than you imagine, start pushing the sides out of position.
- Step 3: Prepare and Pour
Prepare the bed or "foundation” of the concrete decking using sand spread evenly over the compacted ground inside of your frame. Once satisfied that the surface is level and smoothed over, after carefully mixing your concrete, pour the prepared concrete mix into the frame paying close attention to so do evenly resulting in a level decking surface. Be sure to remove air bubbles and pockets by hammering the wooden frame using a rubber mallet all the way around the circumference of the decking and prodding with a stick to ensure most air bubbles are expelled as good as possible from the poured concrete.
- Step 4: Texturize
Once poured, an important consideration for poolside decking is to texturize the circumference of the concrete deck which will help to prevent swimmers from slipping while enjoying the pool. Action this step just before the concrete has fully cured. Using a push broom, "sweep” the surface of the decking creating fine textured lines for more grip. It is during this phase than many may opt to stamp or etch the surface of the decking to create decorative decals while at the same time adding a planned and predictable texturized outcome.
- Step 5: Sealing
Once fully cured, carefully remove the wooden frame and using fine sand paper, rub over any bulbs and barbs hanging to the border of the decking. Seal with a damp proof sealant to preserve the surface and prevent premature weathering and damage.
Sephaku Cement shows steps to create concrete rubber moulds to cast future concrete creations over and over again. It’s no surprise that craftsmen, creators and art or sculpture enthusiasts are making use of concrete more and more to create concrete décor, statues and arty ornaments. Once having mastered the basics of creating concrete forms using single use plastic containers or ice trays and other precast moulds, you may just be ready to take your concrete creations one step further. With your favourite form in hands, from an ornament, vase, pot, bowl or sculpture see how to create rubber moulds to be used to create your next concrete masterpiece, on repeat.
To create a durable rubber mould to create concrete designs you will need:
- Sealing Agent
- Leak-Proof Container
- Release Agent (that works on latex)
- Pourable Mould Rubber
- Razor Blade
- Step One:
With the desired model item in hand, seal the surface of the item with the sealing agent, coating the surface with two layers of sealant. Be sure to allow each layer of sealant to dry between coats which will make sure that the models form is not manipulated by the layers of sealant. Haste is not on your side with this step whereby applying one thick layer of sealant will create bubbles and run lines influencing the shape of the original mould. Rather apply two thin layers taking time and having patience to ensure an accurate replica is created.
- Step Two:
Using a leak proof container (plastic is usually your best bet) such as an old Tupperware, bucket or bowl, with the same sealing agent, seal the surface of the container.
- Step Three:
Follow this step by applying a release agent to the sides of the container as well as the model mould. The release agent needs to work on latex and polysulphide materials for best results and will assist with releasing the rubber mould from both the container as well as the model item.
- Step Four:
Typically made up of a powder and a liquid agent, using a disposable container, mix up the pourable mould rubber by adding the powder and liquid together. Ensure that the mixture is blended well with slow and steady mixing (rigorous mixing may result in air bubbles which will influence the smoothness of the mould).
- Step Five:
Pour a few centimetres of the rubber mix into the "host container" to form a base for the model item to sit on without touching the bottom of the container. Wait a few moments for the base rubber to set slightly, forming a skin on the surface. Place the item to be cast onto the rubber base, gently pressing it down but not allowing it to touch the bottom of the container. Once placed in the centre, pour the remaining rubber mix around the item to be cast covering it completely in the rubber mix.
- Step Six:
Having allowed the rubber mould to set for a minimum of 24 hours, it’s time to remove the rubber from the host container as well as the item cast to reveal the concrete mould. Slide the rubber "block", still containing the cast item from the "host container". Using a razor blade or scalpel like knife, with great care, cut the mould in half creating two parts to the mould. Gently remove the cast item to reveal the perfect rubber mould to re-create duplicates of the original model item.
This mould is perfectly suited to casting concrete décor and ornaments, making use of the original “host container when putting the two halves back together again.
Sephaku Cement weighs up the pros and cons of installing concrete sinks. With Homemakers Expos and interior decor trade shows lining up to rollout in the weeks and months to come, interior design and DIY home improvement enthusiasts gear up to discover the latest trends in design and home décor. Set to remain a firm favourite as a 2019 interior décor trend, we continue to see concrete being incorporated in some of the most affluent of homes throughout South Africa. Extending beyond flooring, fire place fittings and the more obvious of applications, this year we see cement based applications taking shape in kitchens and bathrooms with stunning bath and basin concrete installations as well as concrete countertops.
As typical bathroom and kitchen décor trends move away from mainstream porcelain and steel fittings, we see concrete cameo as feature basin and bath fittings creating a contemporary appeal, freshening up the ordinary.
Pros of Installing a Concrete Bathroom Basin or Kitchen Sink
- Made to fit with a one-of-a-kind design that you have never seen before basin and concrete countertop offers a unique and inimitable installation that can be customised in infinite ways to suit your theme, colour palette and design requirements. From stains to decals, etching stamping and even polishing, concrete sinks create a matchless appeal to home bathroom and kitchen renovations.
- Another benefit attributed by concrete’s made-to-fit construct, designs can be engineered as a seamless design anointed to countertops, feature walls, light fittings and faucet fittings. Where many more modern home interiors look to achieve an unbroken flow of fittings in a harmonious continuum of form and function, concrete is the perfect material to mould around every design dream board.
- With careful design and guidance by a specialist, concrete items can be made a little less heavy (special aggregates and higher strength) and therefore won’t necessitate so much attention to support and or floor reinforcing.
Cons of Concrete Sinks
- A little more vulnerable to chips, cracks and blemishes, Concrete kitchen sinks and bathroom basins will need regular maintenance and sometimes repairs to hard wearing surfaces (especially in the kitchen). With regular dam proofing and applying a sealant every few months, although not a taxing task, it is one that will need to be added to your to do list more frequently than the typical sink installation.
- As strong and as steadfast in nature, so too are concrete sinks and basins dense and extremely heavy. As a result, floating sinks engineered out of concrete and concrete countertops will need added load bearing support to secure the installation. As much as concrete countertops will need to be reinforced, flooring will also need to be a consideration when fitting a concrete sink to be sure that all surfaces impacted by the weight of the concrete can withstand the load.
- While materials used to create your concrete kitchen sink or bathroom basin are affordable, because of the added engineering, the special reinforcement and custom design, concrete sinks can be a little more costly home improvement to fit.
In review of the list of positive and negative characteristics of concrete sinks and bathroom basins, it’s apparent that the cons seemingly outweigh the pros of concrete sink installations. While this might be so, taking into account the various considerations, we still think a concrete sink is well worth the effort and investment that results in a fitting built to last a lifetime while adding gorgeous aesthetics to any home!
With our concrete creative appetites wet following former Sephaku blog posts showcasing concrete Christmas gifts and Concrete Décor ideas, Sephaku Cement continues to explore endless DIY gift ideas made from concrete. With a little help from Sephaku 32, mixed with 2 parts sand to 1 part cement and just a little less than 1 part water to blend the ideal DIY concrete mortar mix, let the creativity flow!
While we already know how to make concrete planters, tripod tables, cubes and even checkers boards, as we explore more creative but equally as simple designs, to follow see a few of our favourite concrete gift ideas.
Using a cost effective bag of Sephaku Cement (Sephaku 32 or Sephaku 42) available at your leading home depot’s and builders outlets, measure mix and pour/mould your way to hand crafted concrete gifts.
- Marbled Concrete Designs
Using any design desired, DIY Marbled Mortar/Concrete offers a stunning spin on your concrete gift's finish. To DIY dye marbled concrete, simply mix up your base cement mix, blending the dry ingredients first and adding water measurements slowly, so as not to add too much water. When your wet cement mix resembles thick yoghurt, remove a small amount (the volume to be dyed) of mortar mix into a separate container. Add the pigment dye to the smaller quantity of the separated mortar mix and blend well. For lighter tones only add a small amount of pigment and for deeper hues and a more striking marbled appearance add more pigment. Once the pigmented mortar mix is blended well, reintroduce it to the base mix and slowly combine the two coloured mixes together, taking care not to blend the mix too well or the marbled effect will be lost. Once satisfied with the marbled swirls in your mortar mix pour into desired moulds and allow curing for at least 24 hours or longer if possible.
- Concrete Ring Cones
Possibly the simplest design we've ever made, concrete ring cones offer a modern spin on jewellery keepsakes and make for the sweetest gift for young and old! Offering a more weighty solution to other ceramic and clay materials, using your basic cement mortar mix, simply pour your mortar mix into a cone shape of cardboard and allow curing for 24 hours. Once set, remove the card cone mould and smooth out any barbs with fine sandpaper. Add character by dipping the tip of the cone into different coloured pastel paints or even add a little gold leaf for a glamourous shimmer!
- Antique Wall Art
Equally as easy to create, using a discarded plastic or cardboard tray (A5 or even A4 depending on how large you want the design to be), pour concrete mortar mix into the tray and allow for a few hours of curing to take place. Before the cement has completely cured, using an old piece for costume jewellery, gently press the piece into the semi-cured still softish mortar creating a "fossilized" look allowing the costume jewellery to slightly sink into the cement tray. Instead of costume jewellery other semi submerged items that create beautiful wall hanging art include sentimental shells collected on your last beach vacation, smoothed pebbles, gemstones, pressed flowers and dried leaves or even sentimental keepsakes such as a baby’s rattle or favourite toy, or even Lego designs, action figures or marbles for a fun kids bedroom motif.
With a number of concrete ideas for home improvement projects, let your interior décor vision boards come to life with the help of Sephaku Cement. As we become entrenched in the New Year the prospects for home improvements, remodelling and renovations become clearer as budgets are renewed and your threshold for construction inconvenience is restored.
Attributed to its strength, affordability and heavy-duty durability, what was once reserved for industrial or civil engineering and factory fittings, today concrete installations and décor applications have made their way into the hearts and onto project plans of interior designers and home improvement specialists. Easy to work with, versatile by way of colour, finish and form and accessible to even the most rigid budget, cement based home improvement projects offer much to be desired. Not only by way of its load bearing strength and undeniable affordability but incorporating concrete focal points and fully functioning features brings a simplistic and unforced sophistication into any home.
Combined with organic and untreated materials such as wood, natural stone and other naturally occurring matter (crushed shells, quartz and gems or marble etc.); concrete creates a minimalist and tranquil ambiance that translates into an unperturbed and effortless elegance. On the contrary shaped by sharp angles, pounced lines and strong, bold fixtures, contemporary concrete interior design boasts an avant-garde industrial décor trend found in sun-flooded lofts or open plan studios.
- Or You-tube: How to make concrete counter tops
- DIY Pete
From concrete floors to kitchen countertops, bathroom vanities and fireplace fittings find our favourite concrete décor ideas for every home improvement project, resulting in some of the most modern minimalist interiors.
- Concrete Kitchen Tops
Installed as one seamless pouring process, concrete counter tops can take shape around just about any angle or curve and can even be installed to a kitchen where the concrete countertop and kitchen basin are fitted as a single unit. Stained, stamped or etched with elegant designs, concrete countertops can also lend its hand to creating a striking focal point to any kitchen. Concrete countertops are also not limited to applications limited within the kitchen but can be incorporated into bars and pubs, outside entertainment areas, dining room table tops, coffee tables and any workspace surface imaginable.
- Concrete Fireplace Fittings
Offering a welcomed design alternative to the typical brick cladded or cobble stone fireplace, creating a prominent centre piece to a lounge remodelling project, concrete fireplace fittings are not only aesthetically appealing but fulfil the ideal function. Wonderfully fire-resistant and naturally retains its heat, cement based fire places can be installed as a pre-cast option or made to fit, stained, embellished and even stamped to with brick or cobbled cladding offering an affordable lookalike to more authentic and costly fittings.
- Concrete Bathrooms
From concrete floors to feature walls, shower surfaces, bathtubs, basin and vanities, with its innate love of water, concrete bathrooms are far from cold and clinical. Think Japanese splash spas, or seamless floor to wall bathtubs and basins. Polished, stained, or detailed to reflect your desired theme, concrete offers the ideal function and form for an every day beautiful bathroom!
With an endless variety of colours, designs and finishes, utilising water based stains to enhance decorative concrete features have further reaching advantages than that which meets the eye. With the promise of low odour, reduced or no volatile organic compounds (VOC’s), a user-friendly application and a simple clean up once applied, benefits to making use of water based stains advantage both the contractor, the client as well as the environment.
To follow, see why Sephaku Cement recommends making use of water-based concrete stains and the benefits to this method of decorative concrete staining.
- With a striking aesthetic appeal, the finished look to water-based concrete stains is the more obvious benefit for selecting water based concrete staining when enhancing concrete installations. With an abundance of colours and finishes to choose from - marble to mottle or a wood grained stain, pigmented in muted tones of stone, rust or sandalwood alternative options such as applying a more pronounced stain in moss green or azure blue is equally available in water based stains. Whichever finish you opt to select, water based concrete staining leaves little to the imagination by way of colour selection and finish.
- With little to no VOC's present, water based concrete stains provide a far lower environmental impact application. Made up of organic chemicals characterised by a high vapour pressure, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) see a large volume of molecules (with a lower boiling point) evaporate which can have a long term toxic effect on the atmosphere, the immediate environment as well as those in close proximity to the area in which high VOC’s are applied. Making use of water based concrete stain applications minimises exposure (by contractors and their clients) to VOC’s resulting in a more environmentally friendly and healthier decorative concrete installation.
- Cleaning up after water based concrete stain application is a synch compared to acid based or other pigmentation methods. Prior to sealing recently stained concrete, when pigmented with an acid application a very specific and detailed process must be followed not only to ensure no residue of the acid stain remains on the concrete as well as the appropriate disposal of acid stain waste. When staining concrete installations with water based products, clean-up is effortless and speedier to complete.
- Another benefit to making use of water based concrete stains is the promise of a longer lasting colour and quality. When using water based stains for decorative concrete installations, because the product takes longer to evaporate (unlike acid stains and the high volume of VOC's) the stain has a longer time to sit on the concrete leaving a longer lasting mark and more intense hue. As a result of a deeper colour, water based stained concrete maintains its colour for longer and with minimal discolouration, colour characteristics won’t fade or radically change as a result of exposure to harsh UV rays.
As awareness to environmental risks and concerns continue to raise alarm bells, a growing number of homeowners and businesses (and contractors) opt for a greener or environmentally conscious method to construction, renovations, installations and decorative concrete applications. Where water based staining offers an equally if not more aesthetic appeal to decorative concrete, many are finding more reasons to opt for water based staining techniques compared to others.
Believed by some to conjure healing, tranquillity and transcendence, unwind to the sounds of your new concrete water feature with the help of Sephaku Cement. Some say it’s because our bodies are comprised of 70% water and having evolved from water dwelling creatures, where a select few say it’s because the sound mimics the womb, and where Feng Shui fundamentalists say that water symbolises wealth and prosperity, others simply attribute the appeal of running water to the sensory satisfaction achieved through white noise. Regardless from where it may stem, it’s hard to find any individual that is not drawn to a body of water and further soothed by the monotonous sound of its babbling trickle.
Further to the calming characteristics of a newly installed water feature in your home or place of work, concrete fountains, pre-cast water features, or cascading bubbles spouting over concrete cobbles create an aesthetic allure to outdoor landscaping or interior design.
To follow find some of Sephaku Cement’s favourite concrete water feature inspirations that can be installed as an easy DIY home Improvement project or with the help of a garden landscaper to expertly position, install and maintain your new “pool of calm”.
- Go Geyser Gold
For young families with little children or clumsy pets that may be at risk of falling into a pool styled fountain, a concrete pit filled with smooth pebbles (a great disguise to hide the water pump) and a geyser type fountain offers a safe and affordable option for the water feature novice. Either sink your concrete pit to lie flush with the ground to form a naturally styled geyser appeal, or for a more modern contemporary charm, have your pit sit above the surface to form a “bowl” of babbling pebbled tranquillity.
- Oriental De-Stress
Begin by digging a trench to fit your pond and be sure to line the edges with landscape fabric or weed guard. Sink your cement basin of any size or dimension (accounting for enough depth to conceal the water pump) and using smooth pebbles of various sizes and desired colours, encrust the circumference of the pond by stacking the smooth stones and pebbles around a bamboo water feature that tips and taps as it fills and empties of water. For an even more authentic finish, surround the feature with delicate bonsai bowls and depending on the size (and more specifically the depth of basin) pull out all the stops and fill your water feature with a few Koi Fish.
- Tiers of Joy
Available as a pre-cast concrete water feature or alternatively you could create the same effect with 3 posts varying in size, stack the concrete posts from largest to smallest to form a tiered tower. Using a circulating water pump to create the water flow, stand the pots at varied levels (shortest and biggest to tallest and smallest) standing one inside the other and creating height by making use of discarded planter bricks. With the pump in place, fill the pots with decorative stones and pebbles to support the pots above while adding to the look of the water feature.
Whether using Sephaku Cement to create the ideal water feature foundations or to form one-of a kind ponds, hollows and bowls, common across the full product range, Sephaku Cement guarantees only the most pure grade original Portland cement blended with the finest quality extenders designated to enhance performance and curing characteristics. Sealed with the Sephaku stamp of quality assurance and fit for purpose compliance, each bag of Sephaku Cement adheres to industry leading standards certification, scientifically formulated to deliver controlled performance and consistent quality.
The new year rolls out its red carpet to an exciting new line-up of decor trends, interior design features and some super easy Do It Yourself concrete decor ideas. Designed to last a lifetime, concrete based DIY décor projects are not only affordable to attempt and extremely fulfilling to complete, concrete and cement based crafts add an effortless, minimalist and modern charm to every interior.
What’s more, with many New Year resolutions dedicating time to starting a new hobby, DIY Concrete Décor not only sees the addition of one of a kind focal features to add to your home, but is a terrific way to alleviate stress, focus your thoughts on what your hands are busy with and get lost in a world of concrete creativity!
As a starting point, the ideal concrete craft mix sees a basic blend of sand, water and cement made up of 2 parts sand to 1 part cement and 1 part (or typically a little less) water commonly called - mortar mix as there is no stone in the mixture. Begin by blending the dry ingredients (cement and sand) together prior to adding the water. When adding the water do so slowly, adding a little at a time mixing well between additions. When adding the water slowly, continuously check the consistency of the mix, making sure not to add too much water too soon. The ideal consistency to work with when creating concrete crafts would be similar to thick yoghurt or soft peak egg whites. Once blended you can begin creating various concrete decor designs.
To get your creative concrete juices flowing, to follow see Sephaku Cements favourite DIY concrete décor ideas; affordable, easy to execute, and on trend with 2019 concrete décor.
- Tripod Planter Stand
In a modern blend of nature and industrial design, making use of a single use plastic container and a 20mm hardwood dowel stick cut into three to create a tripod, pour your basic mortar mix into the single use plastic mould or bucket, agitating the mixture to remove as many air bubbles as possible. Just before the seat of the concrete stool has set, press the three legs of the tripod in the desired position which can later be reinforced with glue should the dowel legs not remain securely in place. Once cured remove the mould and using fine sandpaper smooth out any rough areas of the planter stand or cement seat of the planter stand. Later you can paint the legs or even the cement seat if desired to align with colour schemes or liven up the concrete.
- Concrete Checkers Board
Not only a fun game to play, but when applied with precision, this concrete craft project can create an elegant coffee table piece. Using a square plastic sheet pour your cement/mortar mix to form the base of a cement checkers board, once again agitating the mortar to ensure all air bubbles are removed. To note, just before the board has fully cured using a ruler, mark the checkers grid (eight by eight) where the playing pieces will be moved.
Using “X” and “O” silicone or plastic ice trays (you will need to make 12 pieces of each shape), grease the moulds with “spray ‘n cook” or sunflower oil which will help the set mortar pieces to be removed from the moulds once cured. Once lined with oil pour your blended mortar craft mix into the prepared trays and allow setting and hardening. Once both the board and the pieces are cured, paint the board and the applicable pieces in alternating colours to create the contrasting grid and player one and player two pieces.
- Restore Damaged Table Tops
From unsightly water marks to scratches, grazes and dents or cracks, revive a tired and damaged wooden table top with a concrete coating. Simply apply your craft mortar mix (you may want to add a little more water to make the mix "paintable") and using a sponge roller apply the cement “paint” coat by coat allowing each layer to cure in-between applications. Not only will this mask age marks and damage to wooden furniture but add a modern concrete-chic appearance to outdated pieces of furniture.
Ideal for home DIY and décor craft projects, Sephaku 32 delivers professional quality at an affordable cost, versatile, consistent and sealed with the Sephaku stamp of quality assurance. For more information on Sephaku 32 or to review the full Sephaku Cement product range visit SephakuCement.co.za