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Concrete Advice

Written by Karen Marley
Imagery by COURTESY OF STANDARD CONCRETE CO.

Concrete carries an elemental beauty whose presence asserts strength and the reassuring comfort of durability. Despite being made of stone, it’s very much alive with venation, pores, and a sense of movement that is unique to every piece. With these qualities, it’s no surprise that its popularity as a design material has soared over the last few years.
   Yet, ask anyone who has incorporated concrete into their home’s design and you’ll discover a surprising array of reviews. Eric Nagle knows why. He is the owner of Standard Concrete Co. and a craftsman who concentrates his artistic abilities and design build talents into high-performance concrete fabrication.
   “Concrete is handmade, and no two pieces are alike. As an artistic medium, its performance reflects its craftsmanship.” says Nagle. Here’s what you need to know about concrete.
informed expectations
   “Concrete is meant for the person picking it out,” explains Nagle.
   There are several dimensions to this statement. For starters, concrete is stone; a material of the Earth, which makes it beautifully unpredictable. Numerous variables affect the personality of each piece – the stone’s quarry, humidity on the day of production, and barometric pressure changes. Imperfections attributed to these variables give concrete its beauty.
   Second, Nagle explains there is a misperception that concrete is a durable, more affordable option. “It can be exceptionally durable if cared for and made well. The owner must be invested in its care,” he says.
   Finally, concrete, with its desired handsome elegance, sleek lines, and longevity, is not an inexpensive option. To get it, you’ll need a quality fabricator with specialized experience.

Craftsmanship
People wrongly believe they can add water to a pre-blended bag of concrete mix, pour it into a mold and have a countertop. This is a recipe for disappointment.
   High-performance concrete does not come from a bag. It’s a detailed cocktail of materials with additions such as glass fibers, specialized sealers, pigments, and more. Each shop’s proprietary mixture is different. Additionally, ratios are critical and vary depending on the intended use. Experience with these mixtures matters, so ask your fabricator about their knowledge base. Concrete is only as good as its protection and asking about your project’s sealers is also worth your time. A good fabricator enjoys answering these questions and having discussions about their process.

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