Want something that’s sturdy and will stand up to all kinds of weather? Concrete furniture has come a long way since the yabba-dabba-doo days.
A concrete couch may be a fun patio accessory to a die-hard Flintstone fan, but its heavy look and feel isn’t likely to start trending. Concrete furniture can be harsh. Municipalities often employ the economical material to make basic public seating. We’ve all seen the behemoth concrete benches outside the county courthouse. But the new way to use concrete is to combine it with another material. Wood, plastic, resin as well as living elements are integrated in the design to make contemporary outdoor furniture pieces with a beautiful art deco or modern flair.
The Basics: Concrete vs. Cement
In everyday language we use “concrete” and “cement” as synonyms, but they are two different substances. Concrete is the combination of cement and a sand and rock mix called “aggregate.” Cement is a powdery mineral mix made up of lime and clay. Cement and water act as the glue that binds the sand and rock aggregate. These elements of water, aggregate and cement make concrete. In mixing, a wet slurry is produced which can be poured into different molds. When the concrete dries, it produces a hard, durable surface that can last for decades.
There’s a bit of an art to concrete. Too much cement in the concrete mix can lead to shrinking and cracking in the final product. Too much water in the cement will lead to weak concrete that may crumble. Getting the right ratios is essential. Drying time and humidity also affect the final outcome. While DIY fans can find many good concrete mixes at garden supply stores, it’s vital to thoroughly research techniques before undertaking a large scale project.
Start small. Creating concrete accessories for your patio is a great way to practice your newly learned techniques. Coasters, planters and wine chillers are easy projects to start with and they can be done with kids. Make sure to always follow the concrete mix’s directions, wear gloves and use protective aprons.
The artistry in the concrete industry has risen to amazing heights over the past decade. Don’t limit your imagination to the stone ages. Dream up what contemporary concrete elements you can add to the patio today.