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  • Before photo of the cabin
  • Russ and Lorraine Buhr of K& B Concrete in front of their new work.
  • Russ and Lorraine handcarving.
  • Custom stamped doors.
  • Natural-looking outdoor kitchen.
  • Venetian plaster look on back wall.
  • Large build out rock section.
  • Stamped concrete beam.
  • Custom concrete stairs.
  • Finished boulders and rock work with color.

As Saskatchewan is known for, 'the land of the living skies' certainly applies from the view of Russell and Lorraine Buhr's lakeview cabin. We were fortunate to meet Russell and Lorraine, owners of K&B Concrete, several years ago during a concrete countertop class. Their existing stamped concrete business was well on its way at that time however, they felt they needed to expand their repertoire especially since the local clientele were asking for new innovative decorative finishes that they had heard of, or read about. Russ attended a few other classes shortly after the countertop class. It was apparent during their visits that they came to class for a very specific reason which was to help expand their business and gain additional market share. As a trainer, it is an awesome feeling when students apply what they have learned at class and bring it in to a real-world setting and more importantly, are making money with their new found skills which is the case with this group.

Recently, the Buhr's invited us to come to their location in Saskatoon, Canada and work with the team of K & B Concrete while teaching the art of boulder making in addition to custom handcarved vertical concrete. They figured it was time to offer yet one more innovative decorative application especially since this type of work was virtually unheard of in their market. The first challenge was finding a source for the material since shipping it from the states would mean huge duty costs not to mention the potential for the shipment being held up in customs for an extended period. After some research, we found that FossilCrete is located in Alberta, Canada which meant we were able to place the order and two days later, take delivery of the material.

How it was done
Although design and colors were important, a major concern was to take into account Canada's harsh winters which meant that their project needed to be constructed in a fashion that would withstand the harsh winter climate. All of the vertical surfaces receiving FossilCrete's vertical mix were pre-primed with Vertibond to seal off and waterproof the wall. Expanded metal lath was then applied as added reinforcement. A scratch coat was then applied over the metal lath. Once the scratch coat had hardened (the next day), one more application of bonding primer was applied and then it was time to apply the wall mix at an average thickness of 1-1/2" – 2" thick.

Shortly after the material was hung, the fun began with texturing and carving. On the areas where the structural columns support the overhead decking, we needed to leave a gap of ¾" between the stamped concrete deck and the vertically carved finish rock work. Russ mentioned that because of the deep frost they get annually, the deck could actually heave (be forced up) as much as an inch which was the reason for the gap. Lorraine and Russ had some fun ideas such as vertically stamping the cabinet doors in addition to an integrated countertop/sink complete with an elevated faucet coming out of what appeared as carved stone. Dave, Chad and Alex of K & B Concrete took to working with the mix quickly and mentioned they really enjoyed working with new materials and techniques and were eager to learn. They especially liked constructing the large concrete boulders. The back wall of the cabin received a distressed Venetian appearance which was achieved by having the wall look as if areas of plaster had chipped off exposing underlying stone. In addition, areas of the back wall were built out achieving different elevations and after the vertical mix was applied, these sections were hand carved giving the appearance of large slabs of stone.

All of the work was then colored using Nature's Palette (water-based stain) along with other water-based stain Russ had on hand. The boulders were also sealed with a matte water-based sealer to preserve a natural look. Another interesting feature of this project were the free-formed stairs. The Burh's mentioned they wanted the stairs to have a very organic look. This was achieved by free handing (no forms) a concrete base. Several days later, a cement mortar mix was applied to the concrete base and free handcarved making it look like huge slabs of rock that were inlaid. This was a busy week with 100 bags of vertical mix being applied in addition to some beautiful boulders and stairs being produced which really complemented their in-place stamped patio previously stamped with Paladiano's, Fractured Cypress Slate. All in all, this was a great project that was enhanced by having Russ's Mom (Ms. Rose) at the cabin making sure no one was hungry or thirsty in addition to keeping all of us in line. Great job to Russ, Lorraine, and the crew of K & B Concrete. A special thanks to Ms. Rose for your hospitality.

K&B Concrete
Russell Burh

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