Retaining Wall Ideas

Did you know retaining walls are for more than restraining soil and preventing erosion? It’s true, retaining walls have a main function, but they also have many uses. People often have walls installed solely for aesthetics.

It’s nice to have something for a home that is pleasing to the eye and makes a positive difference in the landscape.

One of the most underused retaining wall ideas is the shorter type. These walls are not tall, some as low as 2-3 ft. The idea is to accent a stone stairway and showcase some plants at the top of the wall. These shorter walls still have function without being enormous. You might see them along the side of a home to add some charm!

If you have ever had your car all cleaned up only to run through a muddy spot in your driveway, you know it is not funny. This can happen when heavy rains wash mud and debris down a slope to part of your driveway. You can either give up having a clean car or have a retaining wall installed. The wall will keep the dirt away from your driveway and your shiny wheels. You’ll have a clean driveway, a beautiful wall, and a spiffy vehicle.

Another terrific use of a retaining wall is to lead pedestrians to an entrance of some sort. Next time you notice an entryway to a library, apartment complex, or business take a look to see what led up to the entryway. Chances are the designers put a wall in as a “runway” for the eyes. Without you even knowing it, a fancy wall lured you somewhere to do business or check out a book.

Have you ever run out of seats at a backyard cookout? What if you had extra seats without having to store a pile of chairs when not using them? A retaining wall that keeps the backyard easy to manage can also include a lovely bench across the patio edges. This is a great way to get the most out of a retaining wall. If you are already in the market for one, then get all the use out of the investment possible.

A simple use of a retaining wall for esthetics only is to partially enclose a patio. This gives the hangout area some borders. It also makes the patio feel cozy and welcoming. And that’s what you want your family and guests to feel when they come over. This is a case where a retaining wall is put in with no function in mind and everyone is happy.

Thinking about putting a retaining wall in front of your property or in the backyard? Call us today at 215-919-6600 and set up an appointment for a free estimate!

This last good idea will save a lot of weed whacking and possible injury. A retaining wall along a steep bank will make mowing the lawn easy. Imagine not having to trim a 40-ft long bank or risk flipping a mower on top of yourself. Plus, a nice stone retaining wall in front of a lush field of turf will make the path to your cookout even better.

Call us today at 215-919-6600 for more ideas on retaining walls for your home or business.

Concrete vs Asphalt Driveways

Picking out a new car and deciding on what type driveway you need are similar choices. Both are long term decisions that you have to live with for years. The options with automobiles are too numerous to count. With driveways there are two main options: concrete or asphalt.

What’s the difference, you might ask? Let’s start with the material…

Concrete and asphalt are not totally different. Both have sand and rock in them. However, the difference is the binder. Concrete’s binder comes from limestone, while asphalt’s binder is made from crude oil.

Both the limestone and crude oil will produce a hard surface that allows residential cars and heavy vehicles to drive on.

Once we get past the makeup of these two types of driveways, then we can break down the key pros and cons.

Why are most streets and highways paved with asphalt? It is less expensive to use asphalt. The same holds true on small residential driveways. If you are working on a strict budget then asphalt is the way to go.

Although concrete costs more than asphalt, it tends to last longer. More specifically, concrete can last up to 20-30 years. Asphalt driveways would need to be patched up to seal cracks, they would need to be re-sealed, and they might eventually have to be repaved.

cracks in concrete

Concrete can develop cracks also. But when a trusted professional does the job, cracks are much more rare than with asphalt. One thing that we like to let our customers know in the winter is that putting salt on concrete is damaging. Read our post on why you shouldn’t put salt on your concrete!

Other issues that might be more problematic on concrete are:

  • Oil stains
  • Grime that is hidden on asphalt is visible on concrete
  • Having to wait a few days before using a new driveway

A huge plus that puts concrete above asphalt is the trend of decorative concrete driveways. There isn’t much you can do to dress up a blacktop driveway. But with concrete there are a ton of options. Most of which are Instagram worthy and make visitors envious of your hard surfaces.

stamped concrete

An even bigger wow-factor comes into play with stamped concrete, which allows for driveway decoration. Stamping comes with many colors and patterns so it often makes it hard for homeowners to choose a favorite!

To summarize, there are some differences between concrete and asphalt. If you are looking for something inexpensive and quick, we would recommend getting an asphalt driveway. If you are working with a higher budget or want to add a personal touch to your driveway, then concrete is the way to go!

Check out more examples of driveway projects that we have done!

Now, you wouldn’t buy that new car or truck without a test drive. So we also suggest that you schedule an appointment today, and get a quote on both types of driveways for your home or business. Call us at 215-919-6600 or send us a message!

Simple Concrete Terminology

I find it easier to go into a home improvement project if I know a little about the tools or products involved. So this article should help those out there who are looking to start a concrete project.

Less confusion is a great thing when it comes to any task. Here are some basic terms that are related to the process itself:

  • Pouring – this is the literal term for how concrete is put in place. On a micro-scale it can be poured from a bucket or wheel barrel. On large sites it is poured out of a big truck with the spinning tank everyone can recognize.
  • Finishing relates to the smoothing out of the concrete after it is in place. This is done with various tools depending on the stage of the finishing. The end result is a nice hard surface that began as a lumpy mix of sand, stone, cement, and water.
  • Curing begins after the concrete finishing ends. In layman terms it is the process that new concrete goes through to attain its long term strength.

working on concreteWhile we are soaking up concrete knowledge, how about some fun facts?

  1. Concrete is the most widely used material in the world, according to Wikipedia. This makes sense because building projects need long-lasting materials and concrete has stood the test of time.
  2. That test started back in the 14th century. That’s how far back researchers found evidence of its use. The Great Pyramids would be in better shape had concrete been available back in the days of King Tut!

Moving forward with our concrete terminology:

  • The term “slab” confuses some folks. A slab is a strip of concrete laid as a single unjointed piece. Slabs are used for foundations, small patios, and grill/hot tub areas.concrete slab
  • One term that is often associated with patios, driveways, and walkways is “stamped concrete.” This is a process that enhances concrete surfaces. Concrete craftsmen use special techniques and tools to create a textured look before the concrete dries. This can be a less expensive way to create a nice patio without using bricks, pavers, or other stones.
  • So what’s the difference between stamped concrete and stained concrete? Most homeowners can guess that staining is a way to change the color of their concrete, which is correct. Staining is a good idea for a fresh look on an old walkway or pool area. Staining is for decorative use, but did you know that it will also seal and protect your concrete surfaces?stained concrete
  • Did you know that cement is not the same as concrete? As a kid, I didn’t know this was the case. However, as any construction person knows, cement is an ingredient that goes into the creation of concrete. The other three materials needed to mix in are water, sand, and stone (usually gravel).

Hopefully you are more familiar with concrete terminology at this point and it helps you when you start a project using this versatile building material. You wouldn’t go shopping for a boat without knowing some keywords like outboard, deck, or hull. Information is power!

If you have a concrete project in mind, please give us a call today and schedule an appointment. Call us at 215-919-6600 or send us a message here!