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our mason dog ask mason
Our lab, “Parker’s Masonry Lee Brown,” or as we call her, Mason, is an expert on all things brick, block, stone and concrete. Mason, and her little brother Ranger, specialize in digging up flower beds and excavating around our foundation. However, she’s taken time out of her busy schedule of napping and eating to answer your frequently asked questions.
1. My flagstone patio is stained and looks green. How can I clean it?
2. Do I need to spray my concrete drive with some kind of sealer to protect it every year?
3. What is the difference between cement and concrete?
4. Why are the fronts of my bricks falling off?
5. Can I safely use salt to prevent ice buildup on my concrete and masonry stairs?
6. Why does concrete crack?
7. What do we need to do to maintain the exterior of our brick home?
8. The surface of my concrete drive is flaking off. What’s the deal?
9. Which is better, cultured stone or real stone?
 

My flagstone patio is stained and looks green. How can I clean it?
There are many chemicals and cleaners made for cleaning stone, but the best way to clean your flagstone is with a simple 50/50 mixture of Clorox bleach and water. Apply the mixture to your stone, give it a good scrub, and then hose it off. Remember to wear eye protection and old clothes for this job! back to top>

Do I need to spray my concrete drive with some kind of sealer to protect it every year?
Yes! It is a good idea to seal your concrete driveway yearly in order to prolong the life of the concrete surface. We recommend purchasing a concrete sealer from a concrete supply company in your area. You should also invest in a quality concrete sprayer. This initial investment will pay for itself over the lifetime of your driveway. You can also apply sealer to small areas with a paint roller, but this is back-breaking work. back to top>

What is the difference between cement and concrete?
Many people use the words “cement” and “concrete” to mean the same thing, but cement is actually an ingredient of concrete. Concrete is a mixture of aggregates (gravel, sand, crushed stone) and paste. The paste is a mixture of water and portland cement. Portland cement is not a brand name, but the generic term for the type of cement used in virtually all concrete. Cement comprises from 10 to 15 percent of the concrete mix, by volume. Through a process called hydration, the cement and water harden and bind the aggregates into a rock-like mass. This hardening process continues for years, so that your concrete gets stronger as it gets older. Therefore, there is no such thing as a cement sidewalk. Impress your friends with your concrete expertise! back to top>

Why are the fronts of my bricks falling off?
This process is known as spalding and is usually seen when a crack in the chimney crown or cement wash allows water to penetrate, freeze, and crack your brick. A professional masonry contractor like Parker Masonry should evaluate your chimney and make a recommendation for repair. back to top>

our dog mason Can I safely use salt to prevent ice buildup on my concrete and masonry stairs?
There are many types of ice melts available, and all of them tend to damage concrete and masonry. Although no one likes it tracked into their house, the best alternative for the life of your masonry is plain old sand. Keep in mind that Parker Masonry can always come repair your salt damaged stairs, but it might take a team of doctors to fix grandma’s back when she slips down your steps. Safety is no accident! back to top>

Why does concrete crack?
Concrete, like all other materials, will slightly change in volume when it dries out. Concrete shrinks about 1/16 of an inch in every 10 feet. This is the reason that contractors put joints in concrete drives, walks and floors – so as the concrete changes due to shrinkage, it will crack in a neat, straight line at the joint. Sometimes cracks can form long after the concrete is poured due to winter freezing and thaw. Grandpa always used to say that you can’t pour flat concrete on a round Earth and not expect it to crack. back to top>

What do we need to do to maintain the exterior of our brick home?
You are lucky to live in a brick home, as brick is one of the most durable building materials, requiring very little maintenance. In order to keep your brick looking like new, you should do the following:

1. Check your mortar joints for signs of cracking or crumbling mortar. Have any bad joints replaced by a professional. This process is called tuck-pointing, and prevents moisture penetration.

2. Don’t cover or fill the small vertical spaces between your bricks at the lower part of your foundation. These are weep holes and reduce the chances of moisture or condensation damaging your brickwork.

3. Don’t allow your flower beds or mulch to cover brick at ground level. Again this is all about preventing moisture penetration.

4. Maintain good roof drainage. Poor roof drainage can damage your masonry. If you notice moss or darkened brick, check your gutters and eaves troughs on your roof to make sure they are not blocked or damaged. It’s easy to keep your brick home looking beautiful for generations to come. back to top>

The surface of my concrete drive is flaking off. What’s the deal?
What’s happening to your concrete is known as “spalding.” Concrete spalding is a common occurrence, especially on exterior surfaces that are exposed to freeze and thaw cycles. There are many causes such as improper finishing and curing methods. Simple repairs can be done to fill the void and prevent further deterioration. It is best to contact a professional, but once your concrete has spalded, it can not be repaired to look the same. Sometimes the best alternative is to tear it out and pour new concrete. back to top>

Which is better, cultured stone or real stone?
Whenever possible, we recommend the use of real stone. Real stone is more durable, and often just looks a lot better. Cultured stone can fade, discolor and chips more easily than the real stuff. The advantage of cultured stone is that it is easier to lay, and should save you money in labor charges. If you must use cultured stone, be sure to choose a style of stone that is native to your area, or your project will end up looking “odd” and out of place. back to top>

 
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Parker Masonry and Construction located in Auburn Township
10538 Washington Street • Chagrin Falls, Ohio 44023 • 440.543.1096

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