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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.

The Look

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.

Consider:

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