Monday, January 23, 2006

Advice Needed - Concrete

Tomorrow afternoon I have the first of three companies coming to give me a bid on replacing my top, front door step. If you remember from my past posts, the top step was torn out approximately 6 years ago and replaced with this fine wooden platform. The gaping hole left in the foundation (undiscovered until two months ago) has become a highway into my house for mice.

As soon as the weather is warm enough for concrete to cure, I want to be on some company's list.

What things do I need to look for? What should I ask about? Anything I need to specify in the contract with the concrete company?

From what I have been able to see, the top step stood separately from the remaining stairs. Is it possible to replace just this step?

There are a few mysterious clues to what the old step looked like. There are actual impressions in the stucco for what appeared to be hand rails. And near the foundation, it looks as if the top step was wider than the remaining stairs. Any ideas on what this looked like originally?

My neighbors have some old photos of my house and I hope to be able to get copies of them before any work takes place in order to replicate (if I can see it on the photos) what was originally there. I was told there was a little front entryway that was removed, but I don't remember seeing those on the old photos (its been 3 yrs since I saw them at a block party) and I don't think the entryway was original.

The other stairs are 80+ years old. I want the new step to blend in and not have that new grey concrete look. Can this be done?

How about patching the foundation. Do I need to have a carpenter out to make repairs first, or is sealing up the foundation wall enough? I have toyed with the idea of buying some copper mesh (StuffIt brand) and stuffing it in the space and then sealing it with some two part epoxy spray insulation. Is this crazy talk?

And last but not least, any ideas how much this should cost me? And for those in the Twin Cities any referrals for reliable concrete companies?


Mike said...

Sorry I can't give you twin cities prices, but I did our one car driveway and the 3 sidewalk squares that were at the bottom of it and paid $840. That included breaking up the old stuff and hauling it away.

As to making it match, I believe there was a post on the American Bungalow bulletin board not too long ago about how to ask for sand content, etc. so that the concrete matches the old stuff. I think the thread was one about driveways in the restoration section.

I hope this helps!

derek said...

$840 seems really cheap for a one car driveway. I would think just the concrete would be that much. They may not use a truck for just one step, it would probably be less than 20 bags of concrete. You could pressure wash the old steps to make them look a little newer. You might be able to have the concrete coloured to look like the old? If I was doing the step myself, I'd drill holes in to the existing, to attach rebar, so the 2 are tied together. There is a product for resurfacing concrete as well, that can be put on as thin as 1/8" to resurface the whole stair.

StuccoHouse said...

Hey, thanks guys for the help! I talked to the first company this afternoon and he's going to mail be a bid within the week. Checked the BBB and all looks ok there.

Mike - I was able to track down that AB thread. It pretty much mached what they guy told me today. They would tint the concrete and then add a sand top layer and some scattered tint to replicate wearing & patina. This guy uses a different company than mentioned at AB, but there seems to be some colors that are very close.

Derek - You are right about the truck. They plant that in the street and then wheelbarrow the materials up my front yard (not far).

Costs - Ah, to be in Iowa :-) I asked him for a ballpark on replacing the sidewalk on the side of my house (probably 20 ft) and it was just under $1,000 (with hauling out old materials). So, I'm thinking my front step will be up from that.

The concrete guy is going to price out a few add-ons (e.g. concrete type handrail base, decorative stamping, etc.) I'll post about these later to get opinions, I'm sure.

I'm still at a loss as to what to do about the hole in the foundation. This contractor suggested rigid foam board, wire hardware cloth & then the concrete.

They start working again when it reaches 50 degrees, so I've got some time to work on this.

Anyone with thoughts....feel free to comment!

Ron said...

Well, The pricing. If it is the front stairs, it appears that you are about 6-8 stairs above the street level. That is good for a couple of hundred $$ upcharge right there. My guess that depending upon coloring and what other stuff they are talking about you a probably looking at $1200-1500 depending on the design and the complexity of the forms needed. If you get into more complex forms the price could almost double quickly. As for the color. The concrete that is there is not colored, it is just old. Coloring and adding sand to the top will make it look DIFFERENT, but not old. The old concrete is dirty and the top layer of concrete has worn away. If you want old looking stairs, try doing the same thing. Wash the new stairs down with some weakened muriatic acid until it resembles wear, and then start working some dirt into it. I'll bet that in the long run, if you stay in the house for a number of years, the two will begin to look more similar than colored concrete.

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