What You Should Know

Concrete Contractors Battle CreekThank you for considering Two Ducks Concrete for your residential concrete project! We look forward to working with you.

The following is important information that may be helpful during the bidding and concrete construction process. For more information, or to request a quote from our concrete contractors in Battle Creek MI, call (269) 963-6263.

What You Should Know About Our Services

Learn about the following topics below:

Concrete Mix

Our concrete contractors in Battle Creek use a six-bag limestone mix for exterior concrete. There are six 94-pound bags of cement (powder) in every cubic yard of concrete, which results in a strong creamy mix that’s easy to finish.

Limestone is used as the aggregate in the concrete mix because it doesn’t absorb moisture as readily as less dense stones, reducing the risk of popping. Less dense stones would absorb moisture, freeze in cold temperatures, expand, and pop the surface layer of finished concrete.

We use a six-bag limestone mix in all exterior work, including garages and pole barns. However, since basement floors have an ambient temperature that stays above freezing, we use an alternate mix design.

Control and Expansion Joints

Control joints are either saw-cut or groove-tooled into the concrete. We do this to place the joints in such a way as to allow the concrete to crack in the joint, remaining unseen. For example, 4” thick concrete joints are typically placed on approximately 10’ centers and 6” thick concrete joints on 15’ centers.

Our concrete contractors in Battle Creek MI do their best to place the joints to avoid random cracks. However, random cracks will occasionally occur when the force exceeds the strength of the concrete. Heavy loads will also crack your concrete driveway, stamped concrete patio, or another paved surface.

Most cracks are caused by upward pressure from frost. The moisture trapped in soil expands as it freezes, building tremendous upwards pressure from below. Areas with heavy expansive soil (like clay) are the worst since clay holds more moisture than sand or gravel. Once clay freezes, it expands and pushes up on the concrete, potentially cracking your concrete.

If you have heavy clay, we will offer to remove it and replace it with 4” to 8” of granular fill under the new concrete. Random cracks, though unsightly, do not affect the structural integrity of the slab. No one in the concrete business (us included) can guarantee your concrete will not crack.

Expansion joints consist of 1/2” wide semi-rigid material that allows the concrete to expand and contract with temperature changes. It also prevents concrete from bonding to structures, such as building foundations. Foundations, being below the frost line, will not move when the ground freezes. Slabs on grade must be allowed to move with any ground movement. Usually, concrete slabs heave when the ground freezes and settle back into place once the weather warms.

If a slab on grade is not allowed to move, upward pressure from frost will typically crack the concrete two to three feet from the foundation. In situations where the concrete cannot be allowed to heave, we will pin the concrete to the foundation and place a control joint two to three feet from the foundation to make it crack where it will anyway.

Reinforcement

Fiber Mesh: Unless directed otherwise, we include wire and fiber mesh in all of our work. (Fiber mesh only in basement floors.) Fiber mesh is polypropylene fibers, approximately 1” long and about the diameter of coarse dog hair. (Think short pieces of fishing line). Fiber mesh basically consists of adding 1 to 1 ½ lb. of fibers to each cubic yard of concrete. It is put in the ready-mix truck at batching.

Fiber mesh is a great deterrent to random cracking. However, once the concrete cracks, fiber mesh does nothing to hold the concrete together. One pound of fishing line cannot be expected to reinforce 4,000 lbs. (one cubic yard) of concrete. We typically place saw-cut control joints in the concrete to make it crack in the joint. Over time and several freeze-thaw cycles, the concrete is likely to separate at the joints if no other reinforcement is used. In driveways with fiber mesh only, we have seen as much as 5/8” separation within 5 years.

Wire Mesh: In all of our work, other than basement floors, we include wire mesh. Typically, in 4” concrete, we use 6x6x10 woven wire mesh. That means 6”x6” squares by 10 gauge wire diameters. Wire mesh aids in the prevention of random cracks, but, more importantly, keeps the concrete together when it does crack. (Remember, we cut joints in the concrete so it will crack.) The concrete can move up and down with freeze-thaw cycles but it cannot separate or shift.

Below is an example of what happens when exterior concrete is poured without wire mesh reinforcement. The two photos show a small concrete patio that was poured in 1998 – only 14 years ago when the house was built. As the photos clearly show, the concrete has shifted and settled to a point where the patio is unusable.

Concrete Reinforcement Battle Creek MI
Battle Creek MI Concrete Reinforcement

The current owners say that their concrete patio has been like that for a number of years. We provided a quote to remove and replace the concrete patio for $3,151. At the time of original placement, it would have only cost $29 for wire mesh. Wire mesh would have prevented this.

License and Insurance

All contractors are required to have a Residential Builders license and carry liability insurance. If they have employees, they are also required to carry workers’ compensation. While most people claim to be licensed and insured, some of our competitors pay their employees in cash or as a subcontractor to get around having to carry workers’ compensation. It’s important to understand that workers’ compensation is based on payroll receipts. If contractors pay their employees in cash or as a subcontractor, then they cannot have workers’ compensation as they have no payroll.

If an uninsured worker is injured on your property, you may be liable for their injuries. They probably have liability insurance so they can say they are “licensed and insured,” but in reality, the workers may not be insured. All general contractors and all commercial jobs require a copy of our workers’ compensation and will annually have us send them a current copy for their file. It is not unreasonable to ask your contractor to provide you with a copy of their license and workers’ compensation. You will be protecting yourself.

Sealer

Nearly all of our work will include one coat of sealer. There are a number of sealers on the market. Most common are “water based” and “oil based.” Water-based sealer is very inexpensive. We tried it many years ago. In our opinion, we might as well just spray water in the concrete. We just cannot see any advantage to water-based sealer. We only use a water-based sealer when the concrete is to be covered with tile or epoxy.

We exclusively use an oil-based sealer to cure and seal your concrete. Once applied, your concrete will have a thin membrane cover that slows down evaporation, thus slowing down the drying time and curing. The sealer will penetrate the pores at the surface of the concrete, preventing moisture penetration and sealing your concrete.

Contract

The contract is extremely important. Nearly all disputes arise from verbal agreements never put into writing. To be a contract, it must be in writing and signed by both you and your concrete contractor. Keep your copy on file. Your contract should clearly spell out exactly what is included in the scope of work, such as size, thickness, reinforcement, warranty, contract amount, and pay schedule.

Payment Schedule

For smaller jobs, we typically require payment upon completion. For larger jobs, we may require a deposit at the start or after the first pour, with the remaining balance due upon completion. For jobs lasting several weeks or months, we require progressive payments.

The terms should always be clearly spelled out on the contract. Normally, we do not accept nor do we recommend advance payments. The only exception is if we have to order materials in advance. We have all heard about the so-called contractor, who after receiving a large advance, left town, never to be seen again.

The final payment is typically due upon completion. Never pay any concrete contractor in full until the work is entirely completed. If paid in full before the work is completed, there will be no incentive for the contractor to finish the work or take care of any potential problems.

Do not allow yourself to be pressured into paying in full before the work is completed. Also, do not be afraid to ask questions or to make changes prior to signing the contract. After all, you’re the boss. A good contract protects both you and your concrete contractor.

About Us

Since we began in 1978 in the Calhoun County area, more than 20 concrete construction companies have come and gone. Most did not last five years. A percentage of our business is replacing their inferior work. Of those in the concrete business in 1978, we are the only concrete company in Battle Creek MI still standing. The rest are gone. Enough said.

Custom Decorative Concrete in the Battle Creek area!
Hire Two Ducks Concrete for your paving needs

Digital Marketing & Website by Web Traffic Partners