Once you’ve hired a concrete contractor for your next project (after getting references and checking out their qualifications, of course) there are a few things you should know right off the bat to get the project off to a good start. Often these issues remain unspoken and are just never discussed. By bringing them up with your contractor and putting everything out on the table, you’ll establish a better working relationship and get the results you expect. In turn, your contractor will have the peace of mind that his work will be appreciated and that you’ll understand what it takes to achieve the best results. So before your project begins, be sure to meet with your contractor and give him the opportunity to tell you these five things he wants you to know.

1. Ask me for a sample or mockup.

To avoid any unexpected surprises, ask me for a mockup made with the same materials, tools and techniques I plan to use on your project. Also come visit my showroom, where I have on display small-scale samples of the patterns, colors, and techniques I specialize in..

2. Don’t be afraid to request something outrageous.

Do you have something really over the top in mind for your concrete floor or countertop? Maybe you want an unusual color scheme or a wild geometric design, like this concrete overlay with more than 200 hand-cut and stained circles. Don’t be afraid to share your ideas. I love the chance to be creative.

3. Expect (and embrace) imperfection.

Concrete is not a manufactured product that comes off an assembly line, so some minor imperfections are to be expected. In fact, many people are lured to decorative concrete because these imperfections give my work character, such as the mottled colors of a stained floor or the organic look of a concrete countertop. See Whats So Unique About Stained Concrete?

4. My work will take some time.

Because of the hand craftsmanship involved, my decorative concrete installations often take several days or longer to complete, depending on the complexity of the project. To create a custom concrete countertop, for example, I will need to make templates, build the form, place and cure the concrete, add color or stain, and then polish and seal the surface. All this takes time, but your patience will be rewarded. See How Concrete Countertops Are Made.

5. Don’t neglect to maintain your concrete.

Concrete is extremely durable, and I can seal it to make it stain-proof and weather resistant, but that doesn’t mean it’s care-free. Regular cleaning and a little TLC will keep it looking great for many years to come. Get these how-to tips for maintaining concrete floors, slabs, and countertops.