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  • A cast-in-place concrete overlay, stamped with a fieldstone pattern and a decorative medallion, completely restored this failing concrete pool deck without the need for replacement. A decorative concrete curb alongside the deck retains a garden bed.
  • The concrete pool deck and patio before resurfacing exhibited extensive cracking and settlement. Unique Concrete's unbonded concrete overlay is heavily reinforced with steel and synthetic fibers to prevent delamination.
  • A sheer-decent waterfall, installed to mask the noise of street traffic, was faced with cultured stone. This feature also hides the electrical junction box for the pool light, as well as a serving as a seat wall.
  • A view of the newly restored patio. All of the impressions that define the pattern were filled with grout, replicating the look of a real stone pavement.

The challengeThese Lake Hiawatha, N.J., homeowners wanted to give their 25+-year-old concrete pool deck and patio a complete makeover and install a new surface that would be both decorative and durable. The existing concrete was in bad shape. Around the pool, the concrete had cracked and settled extensively. This settling had also resulted in ice damage to the existing concrete coping due to poor drainage and created an uneven surface that became a tripping hazard. The patio area, which had some minor cracking, was also in need of a facelift. Rather than demolish and replace the existing pool deck and patio, the homeowners decided to save money by resurfacing it with a decorative concrete overlay.

“Our method of resurfacing allowed the homeowners to enjoy a new look and save at least $5,000 by not having to demo and recycle the existing concrete,” says Barry Fisher of Unique Concrete, a company that specializes in decorative patterned concrete and concrete resurfacing.

Design goalsBecause of the curved design of the pool, the pattern choices for the new overlay were limited to random shapes. The homeowner chose a fieldstone pattern for both the patio and pool deck as well as a medallion design to serve as focal point. To mask the noise of a busy street adjacent to the property, the homeowner designed a sheer-descent waterfall that would double as a seat wall. This was built in the spot where an old diving board was removed.

Secrets to successUnique Concrete completely covered the existing concrete on both the deck and patio with their cast-in-place concrete resurfacing system. “Our resurfacing process and our new construction process have the same finished look. The difference comes in the additional reinforcement in the structural slab for resurfacing applications. We guarantee it will never delaminate. For this type of project, we did not want to bond to the existing concrete because it showed signs of failure that could affect the performance of our product. We therefore poured an unbonded concrete overlay,” says Todd Fisher.

In order to do this, Unique Concrete pours the overlay at minimum thickness of 1½ inch to allow for installation of reinforcement, which on this project consisted of steel wire mesh, 2¼ -inch polypropylene fibers, and PVA synthetic fibers. “We also add an internal water repellent to our mix to further strengthen the concrete and help it resist the destructive forces of water in a freeze-thaw climate,” says Todd.

The four-man crew began by reproducing the look of the existing pool coping, which they accomplished by pouring a 1½-inch thickness of integrally colored concrete on top of the original coping, using a slightly darker color than the rest of the pool deck and patio. Next, they poured the reinforced, unbonded concrete structural slab, integrally coloring it with a honeycomb-colored pigment. A tinted densifier matching the integral color was also applied.

The entire surface was then stamped with Unique Concrete’s fieldstone pattern. “Our process utilizes the old cookie-cutter style of stamping tools. This creates individual units that not only have a more realistic look than concrete stamped with mats, but also function as a crack control system. All of the impressions that are placed in the concrete to define the pattern are actually grouted. This process does not involve a simulated or faux grout joint that relies on a superficial stain for a color difference,” says Todd.

Unique Concrete also designed the medallion pattern used as the focal point in the new pool deck. They currently offer four standard medallion designs, but are able to make custom designs.

The overlay surface was textured with a knockdown finish to establish peaks and valleys that would minimize heat transmission to bare feet on hot days and provide a slip-resistant surface. To eliminate any sharp edges that would be uncomfortable for barefoot traffic, the surface was rubbed with a grindstone. Finally, the impressions that define the pattern were grouted using Unique Concrete’s proprietary mix design. “Our grout is available in any color. However, we have seen a trend towards a more natural look with an uncolored grout. With an uncolored grout, our stamped concrete is sometimes confused with a real stone,” says Todd. After grouting, the entire surface was sealed with a solvent-based cure-and-seal.

To alleviate the drainage problems, Unique Concrete installed a French drain system along the perimeter of the patio and corrected the pitch of the patio by pouring the overlay to a depth ranging from 3 inches down to 1½ inch. They also poured concrete steps coming out of the house to replace the existing wood steps.

An economical alternativeTodd says that Unique Concrete has created a niche with its resurfacing process, keeping the company busy even during the recent economic downturn. “There is a lot of failed or unattractive concrete out there that needs not only a facelift, but has failed to a point that it is unsafe or has other problems, such as poor drainage. Resurfacing is not only a cost-effective alternative to demolition and repouring, but also offers a very aesthetically pleasing solution,” he says.

Material suppliersIntegral pigments: Chaotic Pigments
Pattern stamps: Unique Concrete
Concrete sealer: Kingdom Products

ContractorUnique Concrete, West Milford, N.J.
(973) 703-1789

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