A small house built with sustainable concrete in Houston, something that Cross Construction Services can help build for your dream house.

Environmentally Friendly Benefits of Sustainable Concrete

Green building materials in the construction industry are becoming increasingly popular. The use of sustainable materials and recycled materials ensures resources are not depleted, so there will be sufficient building materials for future generations. One material that is quickly emerging and becoming a top choice for construction projects is sustainable concrete.

The Benefits of Using Concrete as a Sustainable Material

#1: Fully Recyclable

Used concrete is easy to recycle into aggregate materials that can be used for other purposes. For instance, when the aggregate is ground into a powder-like consistency, it can be used with cement to produce new concrete.

Other uses for concrete aggregate include using it as a base material for road construction, parking lots, and walls and protecting shorelines from erosion. Concrete can also be broken down into different sizes and shapes.

For example, concrete can be broken down into pebble-size pieces to be used in place of mulch or to give texture to concrete walkways, pool decks, patios, etc. Thus, concrete essentially can be recycled numerous times without losing its other excellent properties.

#2: Versatile/Adaptive Reuse

Concrete can be adapted to a wide range of surfaces, shapes, sizes, and forms when in a wet-mixed state that hardens into the desired output. The adaptability of concrete also allows it to be reused in various formats. For example, concrete office buildings can be converted into concrete apartment buildings to get further use out of existing buildings.

#3: Energy-Efficient

Concrete has the ability to insulate to help reduce the heating and cooling demands of buildings. If you have ever been in a basement in the summer, you know the basement is much cooler. This is thanks to the concrete foundation of the home.

Furthermore, concrete driveways, roads, and parking lots are energy-efficient. The energy required to maintain, repair, and construct concrete pavement is a fraction of that for asphalt pavement. Additionally, thanks to the light gray color of concrete, it reflects heat energy, keeping surfaces cooler.

#4: Lowest Carbon Foot

Concrete has the lowest carbon footprint compared to other building materials based on their life cycles. Since concrete is fully recyclable and reusable without change to the concrete structure, and thanks to modern concrete production methods, this benefit is one that potentially never ends.

#5: Emission-Free

Concrete’s emission environmental impact is zero. Once hardened and cured, concrete is inert, which means it does not give off gases, carbon dioxide, or VOCs (volatile organic compounds).

#6: Strong and Durable

Concrete is a rather strong material once it is fully cured. It is difficult to break concrete, making it very durable. Its lifespan lasts decades—often much longer than wood and other building materials.

#7: Low Maintenance

An added benefit concrete materials have is being low maintenance, thanks to their durability and strength. For instance, concrete driveways and parking lots are easy to maintain by sealing the concrete periodically and fixing any minor cracks.

#8: Produced Locally

Recycled eco-friendly concrete is often produced nearby by local businesses. Not only can you help support the local economy, but you can also help do your part in reducing your environmental impact. Additionally, since green concrete is made locally, it reduces shipping costs and any related emissions associated with shipping.

#9: Resilient

The strength and durability of concrete make it a relatively resilient building material. It will not rust, decay, rot, or burn. In addition, concrete is fire resistant, wind-resistant, and water-resistant. As a result, following earthquakes, hurricanes, and other natural weather events, concrete structures tend to remain standing while other structures built with different materials do not.

#10: Cost-Effective

Concrete structures, buildings, driveways, roads, and parking lots are more cost-effective than other building materials. Thanks to the durability, strength, long life span, low maintenance, and recyclability of concrete, it is an affordable and eco-friendly building material.

#11: Increases Rainwater Collection

Where pervious concrete is used for roadways and other surfaces exposed to rain, it makes it easier for the rainwater to pass directly through the porous concrete and directly into the ground. This reduces the need for excessive rainwater collection methods like flow-off channels, storm drains, etc.

#12: Promotes Recycling Other Building Materials

Steel is a common building material used with concrete construction for buildings, roads, and other structures. By recycling the concrete, it exposes the steel and makes it also possible to recycle and reuse the steel. Steel can be heated and remelted into liquid molten steel. The liquid molten steel can be poured into cast molds and made into new steel products.

Why Is Concrete Considered Sustainable?

A 2 story house built with sustainable concrete in Houston, something that Cross Construction Services can help build for your dream house.

Concrete is made using various raw materials that occur naturally in the environment or are by-products of other production methods that would otherwise end up in landfills.

The primary material used for the cement in concrete is limestone. Limestone is found just about anywhere in the world. It is one of the most abundant materials that can be recycled and reused.

The by-product materials used to make concrete include silica fume, blast furnace slag, and fly ash. These by-products come from manufacturing plants, power plants, and steel mills. Once used to make concrete, these materials can also continue to be reused and recycled to make new concrete or new concrete materials.

Sustainable concrete is an excellent material to use for a wide range of residential and commercial construction projects. To find out more about sustainable concrete for home renovation and improvement projects, new home construction, or commercial projects, please feel free to contact Cross Construction Services at 713-254-1703 today!

A high ceiling sunroom in Houston, something that Cross Construction Services can help build for your house.

The Benefits of a Sunroom or Patio Room

Do you like spending time outdoors, but the hot Texas summers make it difficult to enjoy your patio as much as you would like? One easy solution is to enclose the space and transform it into a sunroom or enclosed patio room. If you do not have a patio on your home, adding a sunroom or patio room is also a great option.

How does converting a patio into a sunroom give you more use out of your space?

Have you ever had to head indoors while enjoying your morning coffee because it started raining? Maybe the mosquitoes came out and were biting you everywhere? Have you gotten too hot and sweaty, so you retreated inside? By converting your patio into a sunroom for your home, you can continue to enjoy the outdoors and never have to worry about these types of problems.

You could even add ceiling fans or extend the ducts from your central air conditioning as part of your sunroom home improvement project. These optional upgrades help keep you cool in the summer, so you can relax outdoors for as long as you want.

How will a sunroom add value and curb appeal to your home?

One of the benefits gained with sunroom additions is they increase the value of your home. The newly enclosed space provides extra living space. While this extra space can be used as a sunroom or patio, it could also be used for a dining room, game room, or other purposes.

Another benefit of adding a sunroom is it enhances the overall appearance of your home. While the enclosure may not be easily seen from the street, it does add to the curb appeal of the house. Should you ever decide to sell your home, having a sunroom is extremely effective at attracting potential buyers.

What other benefits do I gain with a sunroom?

Sunrooms offer even more great benefits besides getting to enjoy your outdoor space year-round, increasing the value of your home, and adding to its curb appeal, including:

  • Increases Privacy – If you have nosy neighbors, an enclosed patio room offers added privacy.
  • Increases Square Footage – The total square footage for your home is increased, thanks to enclosing your patio.
  • Added Health Benefits – You do not have to worry as much about seasonal allergies. Your immune system also benefits from more exposure to natural sunlight.
  • Keep Pests Away – Your friends and family can enjoy spending time outdoors eating, watching the big game, or just relaxing and never have to retreat indoors because mosquitoes and other pests get out of control.
  • Grow Fresh Fruits, Vegetables, and Herbs Year-Round – Since it is easier to control the climate in an enclosed sunroom, you can have access to fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs whenever you want.
  • Never Have to Worry About the Weather – You do not have to worry if it starts raining or is a bit windy or too hot or too cold with an enclosed patio room.

What options do I have when adding a patio room onto my home?

There are several different designs of patio rooms and sunrooms you can choose from, such as:

  • Screen Enclosures – This type of patio room is enclosed using screens to keep bugs and pests away. Screen enclosures provide access to fresh air whenever you want.
  • Three Season Enclosures – This type of enclosure combines a screen enclosure with windows. The windows can be installed and removed depending on the time of the year and weather like on rainy days or hot summer days.
  • Four Season Enclosures – If you want to enjoy your new patio room or sunroom year-round, then you need a four season enclosure. This type of enclosure uses thermal-resistant and insulated windows to maintain interior temperatures better.
  • Heated and Cooled Enclosures – You can also heat and cool a four season enclosure since the windows are insulated.

How to Convert a Patio into a Sunroom or Patio Room

A sunroom next to a swimming pool in Houston, something that Cross Construction Services can help build for your house.

If you have an existing patio that is already covered, then converting it is fairly easy. You just need to have exterior framing installed, along with a door if you want access to your backyard from the patio room.

If your existing patio is not covered, the project will involve adding a roof over the patio with the proper supports and framing. If you need to add a sunroom onto your home, the project will involve a few more steps like pouring the concrete foundation for the sunroom.

Whether you are looking to enclose your existing patio, a traditional addition, or a completely new design, you can count on Cross Construction Services. We offer flexible patio designs to suit the unique needs of you and your family.

For further information or to request a free estimate for an enclosed patio or sunroom, please feel free to call us at 713-254-1703 today!

Interior of a modern apartment furnished

Tips for Adding a Sunroom to Your Property

A sunroom is a great option for homeowners who want a sun-filled space that is not only beautiful but functional as well. These rooms can be used as your home oasis for relaxing or entertaining guests. If you’re looking to add square footage to your home, a year-round sunroom is definitely worth considering.

While sunrooms cost less than other kinds of home additions, this doesn’t mean that you should make this decision lightly.  Here’s what you need to know before adding a sunroom so that you can stay on track and design a room that will benefit you and your family for years to come.

Know Your Budget

Sunroom additions can cost anywhere from $8,000 to $80,000. With such a broad range, it’s important for you to know exactly how much you have available to spend. This way, you can make tailored decisions that won’t send you over your budget.

There are many factors that influence the cost of a sunroom, including:

  • Size
  • Materials used
  • Type of sunroom
  • Features
  • Exterior and interior conditions

In general, the size, complexity, and building materials will have the biggest impact on the total cost of the sunroom. Most four-season rooms are designed to seamlessly become part of the home. This means that they not only blend internally but externally as well. This requires the sunroom to be built with the same materials as your home, including footers, insulation, siding, trim, and more.

Carefully Plan Out the Space

Take some time to think about how you will use your new sunroom addition. Do you want for a breakfast nook where you can read a book, sip coffee, and watch the sun come up? Is it a space for entertaining friends and family members during get-togethers?

Defining the intended space and vision for the room will allow you to make more informed decisions when choosing a size, materials, and other details.

You’ll also want to think about how big of a sunroom you want. The bigger the room, the more outdoor space you lose. A larger room may also cut into your home’s indoor space in order to make the room as usable as possible.

Sunrooms are cheaper than most additions, but you’ll want to make sure that every square foot you’re paying for will be used.

Choose the Right Placement

Most sunrooms are meant to be transitional. This means that they don’t impact the flow of your existing space. When having a sunroom addition installed, placement is crucial. You’ll want to choose a spot around your home that gets plenty of sun. If you want to use your sunroom for resting and relaxing, consider the view as well.

Choosing the wrong placement for your sunroom could be disastrous! Imagine spending tens of thousands of dollars to be stuck looking at your neighbor’s fence or getting little to no sun.

It’s also important to consider placement in terms of internal access. What room will you have to walk through in order to get to the sunroom? Most people access their rooms through the kitchen or living room, but this isn’t a requirement.

Unsure about placement? Ask the contractor for some ideas!

Pick the Right Materials

Most sunrooms are designed to flawlessly blend into your existing home, including siding and roof shingle colors, but this doesn’t have to always be the case!

There are many different materials that can be used to build a sunroom, including wood, vinyl, and aluminum. Wood creates a beautiful natural look but requires routine maintenance. On the other hand, vinyl and aluminum are much easier to care for.

You’ll also get to choose door and window materials. These items are most commonly made from glass, but vinyl and acrylic are also available options.

For extra privacy, consider screens. There are also pet-friendly screens that are durable and will keep you and your furry family members comfortable and safe.

Choose a Reputable Contractor

Installation of a glass roof for the terrace

Choosing the right contractor to build your sunroom addition is a must. Ideally, you want to hire a company that has years of experience in building sunrooms so you can have the peace of mind you’ll be completely satisfied with the end product.

Whether you’re looking for a single screen or want to be able to enjoy a three- or four-season sunroom, you can count on Cross Construction Services. We have a team of skilled contractors that knows the ins and outs of designing and constructing beautiful sunrooms.

Careful planning is key for any sunroom project. We work with clients to determine the best placement, design features, and materials to meet their needs. We also remain mindful of your budget so that you don’t spend a penny more than what you planned to spend.

We offer a variety of sunroom options, so, no matter your taste or budget, you can count on us to recommend the perfect addition for you. Cross Construction Services offers professional and competitively priced sunroom services. Our team can take on projects of all types and sizes.

Ready to discuss your sunroom project? Contact us today to schedule a free consultation!

4 Signs Your Driveway Needs Repairs

Concrete is an extremely durable material, with most surfaces lasting up to 50 years. However, because driveways are subject to the elements and regular use, it’s not uncommon for them to show wear and tear much sooner.

The longevity of a concrete driveway also depends on the type of concrete mix that was used, how it was installed, and whether or not the surface is properly maintained.

Have you looked at your driveway and noticed some signs of aging? Are you wondering when to replace a driveway? Keep reading to learn about the top four signs that your driveway is due for repair.

stone crack

1. Visible Cracks

Cracks are one of the tell-tale signs that your concrete driveway needs to be repaired. There are many factors that can cause concrete to crack and separate, including:

  • De-icing salt
  • Gas
  • Oil
  • Other chemicals/substances

In most cases, driveways have small cracks in them and these harmful substances penetrate and soak into the surface, which worsens the cracks by making them wider and longer.

Visible cracks are extremely common in areas with cold winter months. This is because when it snows or rains, the water seeps into the cracks and then expands. This not only causes cracks, but can worsen existing ones.

If you notice cracks when they first start to form, they may be small enough to be repaired, but long, deep, or wide cracks are more serious damage. In this case, a total driveway replacement may be needed. Large cracks can be patched, but this is a temporary fix.

2. Pitting or Potholes

Another common sign of a problematic driveway is pitting or potholes. Pits and potholes can form due to many reasons, including heavy cars that are routinely parked on the surface or even de-icing salt. Pits and potholes can also be caused by large pieces of hail.

Concrete, like all materials, does age and deteriorate over time, so these issues may also just be part of the surface’s lifespan.

Pits and potholes are not only eyesores, but they create tons of problems. These holes fill up with water, which causes puddles on your driveway. Pits and potholes also soak in water, which can impact the surface below the concrete. This can cause your driveway to crumble or even sink in some areas.

Pits and potholes can be repaired, but the fix is temporary and only buys you a little bit of time. The best option is to replace the concrete driveway entirely versus putting a bandaid on a larger problem.

3. Sunken Areas

Another sign you need to repair your driveway is if you notice sunken areas. Sinking concrete is often caused by drainage issues. Generally, your driveway should be sloped and graded so that water moves off of it and into the gutter or street.

If your driveway is improperly graded or has cracks, pits, and potholes, water isn’t able to properly drain. Instead, the water is absorbed by the foundation of the concrete, which causes the bottom layer to erode. When this happens, it’s common for these weakened areas to sink.

These sunken areas can be fixed by injecting products below the surface to lift the concrete. However, this doesn’t always work. A concrete driveway that is in poor condition should be replaced to prevent further sinking.

4. Drainage Issues

A driveway that’s in good shape shouldn’t experience any kind of drainage problems. Whether it’s raining cats and dogs or snowing, a healthy driveway should allow water to properly drain off the surface and into the street or gutter.

So, what do you do if your driveway retains water with resulting pooling or standing water? This is a sign that there are some underlying drainage issues.

Drainage problems can be caused by an uneven or improperly sloped driveway. When water sits on the surface, it weakens the area and increases the risk of cracks, pits, and potholes.

These issues can sometimes be fixed by installing inlets or curbing to better direct the water. Depending on the severity of the issue, the driveway may need to be replaced.

Male worker digging and drilling concrete roads

Contact Cross Construction Services

If your concrete driveway is showing any of these signs, chances are that you’re due for repair or replacement. Don’t let an aging driveway detract from the beauty of your home’s exterior! Now is the time to give your driveway the TLC it needs.

At Cross Construction Services, we have over 30 years of experience in driveway repair and replacement services. We offer free estimates and only use the highest quality concrete that is designed to withstand the test of time and the elements. With 3000 PSI concrete that is four inches thick, you can have the peace of mind that your driveway will last for years to come.

Interested in our services? If you’re in the Houston, Texas area, contact us today! You can reach our team at 713-254-1703.

Sources:

  1. https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/07/why-modern-mortar-crumbles-roman-concrete-lasts-millennia
  2. https://www.concretenetwork.com/concrete/concrete_driveways/repair.html
  3. https://www.landscapingnetwork.com/driveways/drainage.html

How to Prepare Your Outdoor Living Space for Spring

Cozy patio area with settees and table

After a long winter, spring is finally here! One of the best ways to welcome the warmer weather and longer days is by spending time sprucing up your home’s exterior. It’s been months since you’ve done much outdoors, so, chances are, your outdoor living space could use a little TLC and sprucing up.

Now is the time to breathe life back into your outdoor space. Check out our spring outdoor checklist to best prepare your patio or outdoor living space for the coming season!

Add Entertainment Elements

What good is a porch or deck if it’s not suitable for entertaining? If you’re like most people, just sitting outside can become quite boring pretty quickly! Get the most out of your outdoor space by adding entertainment elements. Some of the top items to consider include:

  • Outdoor furniture
  • A fire pit
  • Lighting
  • A grill

With all of these necessities, you’ll be even more excited about spending more time outdoors. Transforming your outdoor space into a relaxing, entertaining oasis is a must this spring!

Garden & Landscape

Spring is the season of new life and color! Spruce up your outdoor space by spending some time focused on your garden and landscape. Add seasonal flowers to your garden for a pop of color. You can even choose certain plants that attract bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies. Potted greenery can also be added to your deck or patio for a pop of color.

Once your garden is back in order, take a look at your lawn. Do you have dead spots from the cold winter weather? Want greener, lusher grass? If so, now is the time to put down some grass seed and fertilizer. In just a few weeks your landscape will look better than ever!

Knock Out Some Spring Cleaning

Men Cleaning Garden Cobble Stone Path.

Just as you spend time spring cleaning the inside of your home, you don’t want to forget about the exterior! Here are some items you’ll want to focus on when dealing with your home’s outdoor living space.

Check Your Fence

Inspect your fence for any needed repairs or upgrades. Spring is a good time to finally deal with that unbalanced gate or that rotting fence panel. Be sure that your fence is still sturdy, especially where your posts are. A shaky fence is a sign of an underlying problem!

Clean Out Gutters

Spring is the perfect time to clean your gutters and downspouts. Chances are, your home’s exterior plumbing is clogged with dead leaves, dirt, and other debris that built up during the winter months. Since spring can also bring random rain and showers, you’ll want to ensure that your gutters are clean and clear.

If you’re unable to clean your gutters and downspouts properly, consider hiring a professional to help. Clogged gutters can cause wall and ceiling damage. Trapped water can rot the surrounding wooden boards and let water into your home.

Check Your Patio

Do you have a concrete patio? If so, you know how harsh weather conditions can cause it to crack and chip. Winter can also cause built up mildew and other stains. Make sure that your patio is not only safe, but that it looks presentable for you and your guests.

If your patio needs new concrete, you can count on Cross Construction Services. We specialize in pouring 3000 PSI concrete with a 5½-sack mix four inches thick on patios and other surfaces. All work is up to city code and is brushed and picture framed, at no extra cost!

Interested in our services? Contact the team at Cross Construction Services today for a quote.

Understanding the Different Types of Pavers for Your Driveway

Boxwood in the garage driveway

Pavers are flat surfaces that are typically made of concrete, natural stone, and brick.

Property owners install pavers to elevate the functionality and aesthetics of their driveway. The materials paving stones contain emit a sense of natural beauty that’s multi-dimensional. Every paver color, texture, and size brings something new and exciting to the table.

Additional outdoor spaces that commonly utilize paving stones include:

  • Walkways
  • Patios
  • Pool decks
  • Fire pits

You won’t have to deal with your paving stones’ beauty fading quickly, as popular paver materials are incredibly durable.

One of the most durable and economical paver materials is concrete. Let’s take a closer look at why concrete pavers remain a popular choice for driveways everywhere.

Concrete Pavers

The dry concrete mix that concrete pavers consist of includes cement, gravel, sand, and pigments. After the mixing process, molds can then be created. A vibration allows the cement mix to compress and form a shape before curing.

Concrete paver pricing depends mostly on the product’s style and size.

Installing Concrete Pavers

Concrete paver installation requires a clear building site. Clearing room to install concrete pavers consists of removing pre-existing paving, loose soil, or grass in the building area. The foundation of concrete pavers is a compact gravel base that’s followed by a layer of sand. Installing edging will create a border for your pavers and keep them secure.

Once the stage is set, pavers can be set in place. All pavers in your building site must fit tightly together. Motorized plate compacts do an excellent job securing the pavers into the sand base. The joints between pavers will contain a sand filling that’s then compacted again to ensure a proper fit.

Concrete Paver Driveways

Concrete is one most common paver driveway surfaces due to its economic nature and long-lasting durability. Standard concrete paver designs include molding the concrete into a brick shape.

Molding concrete into brick shapes is about more than looks. Concrete bricks contain more strength than plain concrete slabs. It’s not unusual for concrete paver driveways to last up to fifty years. One of the biggest advantages of concrete bricks is the fact that they’re less expensive than traditional bricks.

Concrete Pavers vs. Poured Concrete

Concrete pavers will give you far more styles, patterns, shapes, and colors than poured concrete will. The style flexibility of poured concrete mostly consists of some stamping and staining methods.

If you have to remove or replace individual concrete pavers, you’ll be able to get the job done. Repairs are a common reason why concrete pavers might call for removal or replacement.

Poured concrete slabs don’t offer the same room for repairs that concrete pavers do. Any repairs you perform on a concrete slab will be permanently visible.

The positive news is that concrete pavers require small amounts of regular maintenance.

Concrete Paver Maintenance

gloved hands of a manuel worker laying outdoor paving slabs on a prepared base.

Routine concrete paver maintenance mostly consists of sweeping and rinsing the concrete area with a hose. Occasionally, weeds will sprout up between individual concrete pavers. Do your best to remove weeds quickly whenever they appear.

Everyone that owns a driveway made with concrete pavers wants their driveway’s surface to remain smooth. One way to do this is to apply a sealer regularly. There are several concrete cleaners available on the market that help you fight surface staining. We recommend that you consult with your concrete paver manufacturer for recommendations on concrete cleaning products.

In summary, concrete paver driveways:

  • Are constructed using molded concrete mixed with aggregate
  • Contain strong and durable characteristics
  • Utilize a sealing process to retain their color
  • Can be dyed to mimic the appearance of other materials like brick
  • Offer a wide range of styles, colors, and patterns
  • Interlocking concrete pavers utilize small gaps for water drainage

While concrete pavers remain a reliable choice for homeowners, other paver materials like natural stone and brick exist as additional options for your driveway.

Stone Pavers

Stone pavers, otherwise known as natural stone pavers, contain some inherent disadvantages compared to concrete pavers. Regarding price, stone pavers are more expensive than concrete pavers.

If you have the budget to accommodate stone pavers for your driveway, you might still want to consider concrete pavers. Natural stone pavers aren’t as resistant to the pressures that high-traffic areas like driveways contain. This doesn’t necessarily mean that stone pavers are fragile. Limestone pavers are known for their durability and are frequently used for edging.

Natural stone pavers are more appropriate for outdoor additions like pool decks due to their absorbent properties.

There’s no doubt that stone pavers hold a distinct natural beauty. The organic textures and colors that natural stone pavers possess communicate a striking aesthetic.

Brick Pavers

It’s common for homeowners to utilize brick pavers to supply their driveway with an elegant appearance. While concrete pavers offer more durability, brick pavers can still manage the traffic that a driveway presents.

Regarding maintenance, brick pavers have a higher likelihood of experiencing cracks and breaks than concrete pavers. The main downside of brick paver durability is that their surfaces call for routine sealing to fight stains. Additional brick paver maintenance practices mirror what concrete pavers call for. Brick paver owners often use pressure washers to keep the building material’s looks up to speed.

One disadvantage with brick pavers is that they offer fewer design options than concrete pavers and cost more on average.

When you’re able to dish out some extra bucks and exhibit proper maintenance practices, brick pavers can supply your driveway with a classic look that should last over 25 years.

Professional Concrete Paver Installation in Houston, Texas

Concrete pavers provide the durability and styling options that your driveway needs. For expert concrete paver consulting and installation in the Houston, Texas area, contact Cross Construction Services.

Our 30-plus years of concrete construction for concrete driveways help you achieve the results that you desire. Cross Construction Services strives to provide our customers with concrete paver solutions that are straightforward and economical.

When you’re ready to initiate your project, contact Cross Construction Services at 713-254-1703. Your project will start with one of our contractors visiting your location and offering a free consultation regarding your plans.

The Advantages of a Concrete Fire Pit

fire flame

When looking to improve your outdoor space, concrete fire pits can serve as a reliable option.

Concrete fire pits remain popular, thanks to their numerous advantages. We’re here to break down all of these distinct advantages so you can gain a better understanding of how a concrete fire pit will benefit your property.

Let’s begin by reflecting on what makes a concrete fire pit’s design special.

Benefit #1: Clean and Modern Design

Concrete fire pits fit effortlessly into a modern home’s overall appearance. Many homeowners use concrete fire pits as the central component of their outdoor entertainment space. Perfect for large or intimate gatherings, adding a concrete fire pit to your outdoor space is bound to attract positive attention.

While concrete presents more of a plain tone than other fire pit materials like brick, you can spice up the exterior of a concrete fire pit through tinting. The result of tinting a concrete fire pit will be an exterior that shies further away from the gray tone that concrete produces.

Benefit #2: Low Maintenance

burning fire bowl

One of the most significant perks that concrete fire pits offer is their low-maintenance nature. General concrete fire pit maintenance practices consist of you applying a mild soap formula with a rinsing to follow. You won’t have to worry about water negatively affecting your concrete fire pit, as concrete is resistant to water damage. Most of the time, cleaning won’t even be necessary.

Since UV rays won’t discolor your concrete fire pit’s original tone, you won’t need to use sealants and other protectant products.

While concrete fire pit cracking is rare, you can utilize a concrete patch to solve the problem if it does occur.1

Benefit #3: Concrete Durability

Concrete stands as one of the most durable materials out there. What this translates to is long-lasting satisfaction with your installation.

Facing harsh climates and varied weather conditions is a simple task for a concrete fire pit. When it comes to pests, concrete is pest-resistant, so you don’t have to dish out extra money for maintenance costs.

picture of a bonfire

When you opt for the durability that concrete fire pits provide, you’re simultaneously environmentally conscious. Durable materials like concrete have a positive ripple effect that results in the conservation of resources, a reduction of waste, and more.

The durability that concrete supplies makes fire pit reconstruction is a thing of the past. With proper care, a concrete fire pit can last a lifetime.

Benefit #4: Ease of Installation

Easy installation is always a perk when it comes to integrating new outdoor additions. Contractors can streamline the installation process by purchasing prefabricated concrete fire pit components.1 A few examples of these prefabricated components include concrete blocks and fire rings.

The three primary steps of installing a fire pit include:

  • Digging a fire pit
  • Installing the concrete fire ring
  • Installing pavers around the ring

If you’re looking for professional and affordable concrete fire pit installation in the Houston area, look no further than Cross Construction Services.

Choose Cross Construction to Support Your Concrete Fire Pit Needs

Our 30-plus years of concrete construction experience allows us to supply you with stress-free concrete fire pit installation. We’re available 24 hours a day and seven days a week so we can meet your needs on time.

Give us a call today at 713-254-1703 to begin the process of elevating your outdoor space with a concrete fire pit.

Sources:

  1. https://www.wise-geek.com/what-are-the-pros-and-cons-of-a-concrete-fire-pit.htm

Why Concrete Is the Right Choice for Your Patio’s Material

concrete patio stones

Property owners have plenty of choices when it comes to selecting a material for their patio. We’re here to unpack why concrete is the ideal patio material so you can make the most out of your property investment.

Let’s dive in.

Reason #1: Style Versatility

Patio materials like wood limit a homeowner’s ability to consider different styling options. Concrete patios offer a higher level of style versatility that allows you to acquire a final product that blends seamlessly with your overall space. If you were to select a patio material like wood, you’d find that it’s more difficult to be unique with your styling.

Choosing an adaptable material like concrete is going to make it easier for your patio to accommodate your backyard’s limitations through options like curves.

grunge wall

Color is a vital component of concrete patio designs. Methods like staining allow homeowners to install a wide variety of patio color options. Similar to color, pattern selections are going to play a central role in defining your patio. The refinement of coloring techniques and stamping tools has made patio varieties like poured-in-place concrete more dynamic than ever.1

The numerous styling options that concrete patios offer allow you to avoid owning a one-dimensional patio space. Instead, your patio will be uniquely yours.

You might be thinking that these concrete patio style perks come with a steep price tag. The positive news is that concrete is one of the more affordable options for a patio’s material. Next, we’re going to explain why this is the case.

Reason #2: Affordability

Two women sitting on sofa on outdoor backyard

Paving stones and wood are two common patio materials that are far more expensive than concrete patios. A typical wooden deck costs $33 per square foot, while concrete patios usually average $15 per square foot.2

While complementing your concrete patio’s design with additions like patterns comes at a cost, incorporating styling options on concrete patios is far more affordable than other materials like stone.

If you’re striving to create a patio space that resembles more expensive materials like stones at a fraction of the cost, concrete stenciling, stamping, engraving, and texturing are excellent options.

When looking to reduce the initial cost of installing a patio, concrete is a solid option.

Reason #3: Easy to Maintain

The solid surfaces of concrete patios require far less maintenance than alternative materials like masonry units. When your patio consists of materials like individual masonry units, additional maintenance practices like dealing with weeds are bound to crop up.

If you’re wondering how weeds can enter a patio, materials like paving stones contain sand-filled joints between units that can foster invasive plant growth.2 The aforementioned solid surfaces of concrete patios serve to prevent weeds from entering the picture.

Materials like wood will force you to stain and reseal to avoid cracking and splitting, which can be a real bummer. On the other hand, concrete patios allow you to perform maintenance yourself without special tools or equipment.

General concrete patio maintenance practices include:3

  • Surface rinsing with a garden hose
  • Using liquid dish soap and a push broom
  • Rising again to wash the soap away
  • One annual sealing

If you place value on environmental consciousness, keep reading!

Reason #4: Environmental Friendliness

Green building is becoming increasingly essential as time goes on. It’s vital that we sustainably construct buildings and homes so future generations can benefit.

Concrete is one of the world’s most environmentally friendly materials, thanks to its sustainability. Limestone, one of the earth’s most abundant minerals, is the primary raw material for the cement in concrete. Other materials manufacturers use to create concrete are silica fume, sly ash, and additional recyclable materials.4

The sustainability that concrete patios provide translates into long-lasting results. You can trust that your concrete patio will stand its ground against heat, rust, and rotting. It’s not uncommon for a concrete patio to last double or even triple the amount of time of other patio materials.

If you’re wondering how concrete patios withstand natural elements like heat, reflectivity is a primary factor.4 Light-colored concrete is going to attract less heat and reflect higher levels of solar radiation.

Hiring a company to address your concrete patio needs will simplify the entire building process. We understand that you’re looking for a patio contractor that can turn your vision into a reality. Let’s talk about how Cross Construction Services can help you accomplish that goal.

Why You Should Choose Cross Construction Services

Our 30-plus years serving Houston, Texas, and the surrounding Houston area help you accomplish your concrete patio goals by using our straightforward and economical knowledgeable approach.

Concrete patios aren’t limited to fully outdoor spaces. If you’re looking for patio room contractors, you’ve come to the right place. We build screened-in patios so you can enjoy the outdoors with additional protection from natural elements.

Durable and easy to maintain, concrete patios are a reliable and affordable choice. Contact Cross Construction Services today at 713-254-1703 to start building your ideal concrete patio.

Sources:

  1. https://www.concretenetwork.com/concrete-patio/benefits.html
  2. https://www.portaggregates.com/choose-concrete-patio-surface/
  3. https://www.concretenetwork.com/concrete-patio/maintenance.htm
  4. https://www.concretenetwork.com/concrete/greenbuildinginformation/

10 Cutting-Edge Concrete Construction Techniques for Your Next Project

If you’re just starting a new construction project or reading this article, you’ll probably be using concrete at some point soon. Thankfully, concrete construction has come a long way from pouring cement into wooden forms: From self-healing formulations to entirely 3D-printed constructions, you may be surprised to discover just how far concrete has come!

While there’s nothing wrong with keeping things simple, your project may benefit from adopting one of the following methods and techniques. Not only are many of these methods extremely cost- and time-effective, but they’re also surprisingly easy to implement—so much so that they might be substantially easier and less expensive to use for your project than traditional concrete construction methods.

As you’ll see shortly, some of these cutting-edge techniques don’t even involve concrete directly; in some cases, the improvements are all in the design process. Read on to find out more!

1. Augmented Reality

Augmented reality marketing concept for architecture

Augmented reality has not only become beneficial for concrete construction, but it’s also now widely used throughout the construction industry as a whole. With augmented reality, prototyping and planning have become leaner, less expensive, and more flexible than ever before.

What exactly is augmented reality, and how can it benefit you and your project—let alone one specifically involving concrete?

Augmented reality is similar to virtual reality, but instead it “augments” your field of vision with virtual structures—namely, your construction project. This process is usually performed using a smartphone or some other “smart device,” where software simulates how your structure will look by placing it into your camera view. This way, you can “view” your project through your camera lens without any need for physical prototyping.

While augmented reality may seem fairly high tech, there’s a good chance you’ve done most of the work already: If you’ve been planning your project “on paper,” you’ve likely used computer-assisted design (CAD) software to do so. With many augmented reality programs working in tandem with most major CAD software distributions, you can automatically convert your existing project plans into an immersive, or at least semi-immersive, augmented reality experience using a smart device.

2. 3D Printing and Modeling

As with augmented reality, 3D printing and modeling allow you to convert your designs into tangible prototypes—and, in some cases, build your entire structure or modular components directly using concrete 3D printing.

While building-scale 3D printing is still in development, conventional 3D printing can still help you design, prototype, and build many components of your project. In its most accessible form, resin-based 3D printing can be used to print scaled-down prototypes of your designs, which may grant a helpful perspective beyond simply imagining the design or viewing it through software.

Now, if you have access to concrete 3D printing technology, then certainly take advantage of it: Construction companies have achieved overwhelmingly positive results by simply 3D printing their concrete structures rather than dealing with form molds, setting times, and other drawbacks usually associated with conventional concrete construction.

Plus, with many concrete 3D-printed structures showing similar—if not superior—performance to factory-formed structures, 3D printing is set to become more commonplace in construction soon.

3. Pre-Cast Foundations

corner of brick wall with clouds behind

We know what you might be thinking and, unfortunately, it’s not quite practical to form a concrete foundation in a factory and then transport it somewhere—at least, not all at once that is.

Here, a “pre-cast” foundation is built using some number of pre-cast modules. These modules can range in size from cinderblocks to larger, modular components. The latter has now become a favored concrete construction method. In any case, using modular components to build your foundation offers far greater flexibility than traditional poured-concrete construction methods.

The benefits aren’t just limited to flexibility in design: By using the right techniques and materials, precast foundations are far less prone to structural errors and easier to repair or insulate. Of course, assembling pre-cast modules is somewhat more involved than simply pouring the foundation—but at least you won’t have to deal with building forms and pouring messy cement!

4. Pre-Cast Flat-Panel Modules

Foundations aren’t the only major structures that can benefit from pre-cast modules: Floors, walls, and other large sections can, too. With many of these components now made in controlled factory settings, it’s now possible to achieve the flexibility of modular construction with the strength of concrete—all without the mess of pouring concrete at the job site.

Also known as “cross-wall construction,” using pre-cast flat-panel modules is quickly becoming a popular construction choice for concrete buildings. Manufacturing panels in a controlled setting not only lends new flexibility to concrete construction but makes it much easier for construction teams to adhere to specifications while significantly shortening project times.

5. 3D Volumetric Construction

3D volumetric construction combines the speed and flexibility of modular construction with the design capabilities of 3D printing and other forms of additive manufacturing. The result is completely pre-fabricated, 3D concrete modules, such as individual units in a concrete apartment building. Where pre-cast foundations and flat-panel modules still require major assembly at the job site, 3D volumetric construction reduces major onsite assembly to—quite literally—stacking blocks together.

Of course, like pre-cast foundations and flat panels, 3D volumetric construction requires off-site facilities for producing the modules. While utilizing such facilities may come with additional overhead, the increased flexibility, control over design, and adherence to specifications are often worth any additional investment.

6. Self-Healing Concrete

Self-healing concrete is finally starting to take shape in the construction world. While concrete has been around since ancient Rome, even the most modern formulations are still prone to cracking and degrading over time. As a result, regular concrete repair remains a crucial part of concrete maintenance—but maybe not for much longer!

By mixing beneficial colonies of bacteria directly into the concrete, self-healing concrete becomes capable of automatically filling cracks, gaps, and other damage as they form. While this technology is still relatively new, it’s already delivering promising results and could potentially reduce—if not eliminate—many routine concrete repair tasks in the near future.

7. Raised-Access Flooring

Concrete has also become a preferred material for raised-access flooring, where concrete panels are suspended above the ground using specially-made hardware. With this extra space, it’s possible to run HVAC, electrical wiring, and other utilities below the floor—or, in other words, completely out of sight. Plus, with concrete as the primary material, raised-access flooring is both durable and inexpensive.

In addition to providing extra space for utilities, raised-access flooring can also help improve the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of the utilities themselves. For example, raised-access flooring allows underfloor air distribution, an efficient and low-energy alternative to many conventional HVAC systems.

8. Insulating Concrete Formwork (ICF)

Insulating concrete formwork (ICF) uses hollow polystyrene “bricks” to rapidly construct forms for foundations, walls, and other concrete structures. After stacking, the bricks are filled with pre-mixed concrete, resulting in a thick wall with an insulative exterior.

Speed and flexibility are the primary benefits of using ICF in a construction project. Since the polystyrene forms are small and lightweight, they’re quick and easy to stack into almost any arrangement with only a few people. In most cases, a small team of builders can assemble and pour entire foundations or exterior walls in a single day!

While concrete already has good insulative properties, the extra insulation provided by the polystyrene forms makes for a “one-step” construction solution. Since the form itself becomes part of the structure, rather than being removed after setting, construction teams no longer have to spend valuable time building and setting up temporary forms. Plus, drywall and exterior siding can be directly affixed to the polystyrene.

9. Thin-Joint Masonry

Men hands while constructing beams of building

A modern approach to traditional masonry techniques, thin-joint masonry utilizes small, thin layers of mortar to secure concrete blocks and bricks. Where traditional methods of mortaring would use thick layers, setting times could quickly become an issue—especially where large amounts were required. With thin-joint masonry, setting times are massively reduced, with the side effect of cost- and time-savings from using less mortar.

The results of thin-joint masonry also lend to a more modern aesthetic, where blocks or bricks will have only a fine seam between them.

10. Kinetic Footfall Energy Capture

While it’s still an emerging technology, kinetic footfall energy capture is already showing promise as a viable form of alternative energy for buildings with high foot traffic. By embedding kinetic sensors into concrete floors, kinetic footfall energy captures and stores the energy from footsteps. This captured energy, combined with that from other passive energy sources, can help supplement the building’s energy needs.

Finding the Right Construction Team

No matter the type of concrete construction you use, hiring the right construction team is one of the best ways to guarantee great results. For more information on our concrete construction services, call our team at 713-254-1703.

Historic Building Materials and Methods

While many of today’s building materials and methods may seem new, their origins are often older than we think: From Roman concrete to ancient Egyptian plywood, human history is rich with fascinating examples of innovative building materials and construction techniques, many of which continue to inspire modern advancements in materials science and engineering.

Curiously, despite being markedly simpler than most modern building materials, many historic building materials are extremely durable—sometimes more so than their modern counterparts. In many cases, historic buildings have withstood the test of time to last centuries to millennia.

Before we can consider the materials themselves, however, we’ll first need to understand why— and where—certain materials came to be.

Building Local: Regional Influences on Construction Techniques

old wooden construction with fence

Despite their ancient origins, many modern building materials—at least as we know them—are still a far cry from anything our ancestors knew. Before the 20th century, most people were limited to what was either on hand or available nearby. This limitation partially influenced many of the regional building styles and preferences still employed today, such as the timber construction common throughout heavily forested North America.

While European settlers were not strangers to using timber for construction, North American colonies gave them unprecedented access to swarths of old-growth timber—certainly more than they ever had in Western Europe. As a result, timber was the most viable building material not only for homes and buildings but also for furniture, ships, and other things.

Other parts of the world yield their specific regional building materials, and a quick look at the surrounding landscape is often enough to see why a certain region might prefer a certain material: In towns along the dry, rocky coast of the Mediterranean, for example, the vast majority of buildings use the surrounding stone and clay as building materials rather than the few trees suitable for lumber.

Early humans were even more limited, especially in the thousands of years predating the construction of permanent shelters. In most regions throughout the world, early humans were largely nomadic and took shelter either in natural features such as caves or, in later years, portable shelters usually made from animal hide and branches.

Though modern society no longer faces these limitations, their influence remains: Even in North America, for example, more homes are built from wood than anywhere else in the world.

Building Materials and Methods Throughout Time

gray concrete stairs

Building materials have undergone dramatic evolutions throughout human history: Where our earliest ancestors were once limited to natural materials such as tree branches and animal hides, their descendants would go on to make gradual improvements over successive generations.

However, these improvements often came slowly, with many materials being used the same way for several generations, if not longer. Most of the building materials we know today—at least in the forms we know them—weren’t available until the 19th and 20th centuries!

As a result, many of the building materials and methods we’ll explore are much “closer to nature” than those we’re used to today. However, the materials themselves—along with the building methods that made them practical—are more fascinating than many might think.

Wood: Sticks to Lumber

Plentiful, easy to work with, and extremely durable, wood has been used for shelter, tools, and fuel since the dawn of man—and it continues to get plenty of use to this day.

Despite its prevalence throughout human history, however, wood has undergone some of the greatest evolution of any other building material. Where our earliest ancestors might have used tree branches and sticks to fashion simple shelters, we now benefit from a wide variety of wood-based construction materials, including milled lumber, plywood, and countless methods for joinery and carpentry.

Some of the earliest permanent—or, more accurately, semi-permanent—wood shelters were those constructed throughout forested regions around the dawn of civilization. While once largely nomadic, humans started to build these permanent settlements with the onset of agriculture and trade, often using wood as a primary construction material.

Many of these early wood structures resembled the tipis and log cabins we continue to associate with natural or traditional building materials. Viking longhouses, for example, utilized timber framing filled with a mixture of mud and moss for insulation—though they certainly weren’t the first.

Timber framing is largely responsible for the spread of wood construction throughout the world, providing structures with then-newfound levels of versatility and strength. Some of the earliest timber frame structures date to the Neolithic era, with most examples utilizing some sort of insulative “filling” between the frames, such as mud.

With the right carpentry, timber also presented several other advantages. Many traditional Japanese buildings, for example, utilized timber framing connected with complex joinery. By factoring in the grain of the wood and its changes between the seasons, Japanese carpenters were able to build frames that automatically adjusted with seasonal changes. Combined with natural earthquake resistance, many traditional Japanese wood structures have been standing for centuries.

Earth: Mud and Cob

In regions where wood wasn’t widely available, mud, clay, and cob—a durable mixture of clay and straw—were the most viable alternatives. However, these materials weren’t just alternatives to wood; in many respects, they were superior.

Where timber-framed structures were often difficult to insulate and ran the risk of catching fire, mud- and clay-based buildings were naturally insulative and fire-resistant. Plus, the material was much easier to get; those in clay-rich regions had all the material they needed—literally!—under their feet.

These benefits made clay and mud some of the most popular building materials in both the ancient world and recent history. One of the most striking examples is the city of Shibam Hadramawt in Yemen, where multi-story mudbrick “skyscrapers” have stood for centuries.

Stone and Masonry

In addition to wood and mud, stones were another important construction material. However, stone was more than just a building material for early humans: For a long time, it was also an essential tool.

Before the development of metal-tipped tools and weapons, sharpened stones were used for various tasks. Flint, for example, became ideal for knives and arrows due to the naturally razor-sharp shards it formed when chipped. Similarly, larger stones could be chipped and sharpened to prepare axes and other sharp objects.

These stone tools were largely responsible for allowing humans to build structures out of wood and mud. With axes, for example, it was possible to fell trees and cut them to size. These capabilities only increased with the advent of metal tools, which also helped make stones themselves into a suitable building material.

Stone structures are among the most historically impressive in the world—and some of the longest-lasting. From the limestone Acropolis of Ancient Greece to the towering Great Pyramids of Giza, stone is responsible for some of history’s most significant structures.

Concrete

Pantheon's large circular dome unique in Roman architecture

Combining the flexibility of mud and clay with the strength and durability of stone, concrete may seem like a relatively new invention—even though its origins are rooted over two thousand years ago.

The Ancient Romans were among the most notable early users of concrete. Discovering that the addition of volcanic ash helped concrete set underwater, the Romans used concrete for a wide variety of construction projects: From aqueducts to Rome’s Colosseum, concrete was largely responsible for many of Ancient Rome’s most significant buildings.

Among the most impressive Roman concrete structures is the Pantheon. Complete in 128 CE, the Pantheon remains the largest unreinforced concrete dome in the world—even after almost two thousand years! This impressive longevity has made Roman concrete the inspiration for many modern blends of concrete, with the particular formula for Roman concrete having been largely lost to history.

Today, concrete continues to benefit structures with its durability, strength, and flexibility. Where structures previously required intricate construction techniques to achieve dramatic and novel shapes, concrete can be cast and molded into nearly any form. As a result, concrete remains as popular as it was in Ancient Rome, with the vast majority of new construction using it for everything from foundations to superstructures.

Building Materials Today: Which Is Best?

While many historic building materials and methods are certainly impressive, we’ve come a long way since the times of our ancestors. However, while many modern materials are vastly different from their historic predecessors, concrete has remained one of the most cost-effective construction materials throughout its multi-millennia lifespan

While you might not be building the next Pantheon, concrete can still provide your driveways and patios with the same durability. For more information on our concrete construction services, contact our team at 713-254-1703.