Monthly Archives: June 2013

A Fresh New Look with Concrete Stain

Driveway with Concrete Stain

Driveway Stained with Silica Shield

Staining is a simple way to upgrade, enhance and enrich the appearance of many kinds of concrete products. Whether it be a tired old gray concrete slab (patio or driveway) or an existing retaining wall, paved area, or stonework; with concrete and masonry stain it is easy to give a fresh new look to your home. Though the process is simple below are five things to take into consideration before beginning your staining project. 

1. Choosing the Right Stain

First you want to evaluate the condition of the concrete, conditions of use of the area, application conditions and desired appearance. These will determine which type of stain you will use for your project.

RCP Block and Brick carries two types of stain: CAM Stain and Silica Shield. While products can be applied indoors and outdoors and are environmentally safe, the different aspects of your project will determine which one best suits your project.

CAM Stain Product CutsheetCAM Stain (Concrete and Masonry Stain) is a semi-transparent, water based modified acrylic that is easily applied with fewer restrictions than the Silica Shield. CAM Stain is ideal for staining an area that may have been previously sealed. It is not ideal for driveway applications as it does not have as good of a hot tire resistance as the Silica Shield. Fore more information on CAM Stain, click the product info thumbnail to the left.

Silica Shield Cut SheetSilica Shield is a water based, modified silicate stain that provides a highly transparent appearance. Silica Shield penetrate the concrete to make chemical bond with concrete, this is why it is NOT good to use on an area that has been previously sealed. It is recommended for use on driveways and other areas of high traffic due to the fact that is provides a great hot tire resistance than the CAM Stain.

If you have any questions, or need help determining which type of stain will work best for your application, please contact an RCP Block & Brick near you and we can help answer your questions!

2. Surface Preparation

Proper surface preparation is the most important thing to ensuring the successful application of a stain. Dirt, oil, grease, bond breaker, sealer, and paints will hinder the preparation and bonding of the stain, therefore these must be removed from the concrete before application of stain. An Etching Cleaner is recommended to open the pores of the concrete and to clean the surface. Dense concrete will require a strong solution while porous concrete will need a diluted solution. Scrub surface with a broom or brush and remove with a solution of baking soda to neutralize the surface.

3. Applying the Stain

Applying StainStain can be applied with a brush, roller, sponge, or sprayer. Practice applying the colors for your desired look on an inconspicuous area or on a cement board. Concrete should be minimum of 7 days old for Silica Shield and 3 days old for CAM Stain, but the longer water has to leave the new concrete the better. Do not apply stains in temperatures above 100 degrees F or below 45 degrees F. Applying in direct sunlight or on hot surfaces can cause rapid curing. Dampening the surface prior to applying stain will help hide brush or roller marks. Allow 24-48 hours for stain to cure before exposing to rain.

4. Suitable Surface Applications

  •             Concrete patios
  •             Artificial Rock
  •             Concrete Driveways
  •             Concrete Pavers
  •             Precast Concrete
  •             Garage Floors
  •             Concrete blocks- precision and split face
  •             Brick
  •             Clay Pavers
  •             Natural Rock (sandstone)
  •             Concrete Roof Tile

5. Maintenance & Removal of Stain

Routine cleaning and resealing will help extend the life and appearance of stained surfaces. Touch-ups are best done with CAM Stain. If removal of stain is required, stain can be removed after curing with a stripper, grinder, or sand blasting.

Using concrete and masonry stain to improved the look of your tired old concrete surfaces really is an easy project that anyone can handle. If you have any questions along the way, just give us a call… remember that we are here to help you get the job done right!

Outdoor Fire Pits: The Popular Backyard Summer Project

Enjoying Fire PitThere is nothing more enjoyable than adoring a beautiful summer sunset in your backyard with loved ones and a glass of wine or cold beer. But as the sun fades away so does the warm air. But what do you do when the night air turns chilly and you aren’t ready to wrap up your outdoor party? RCP Block and Brick’s Bella Vista custom fire pit kits can help. These simple yet aesthetic creations can transform your yard into an outdoor entertainment hot spot! There is no wonder outdoor fire pits have been one of the most popular back yard projects. Whether you are choosing from one of our preset designs or flexing your creative muscle with your own design, this addition guarantees your backyard will be the envy of all your friends and family.

Custom Gas Fire Pit - Country Manor Block

Custom Gas Fire Pit – Country Manor Block

With RCP Block & Brick’s versatile line of Bella Vista fire pit products, the size, shape, color, and style of your fire pit can vary as much as your imagination or you can simply stick with a pre-designed fire pit kit. By choosing a pre-designed fire pit kit, you just need to choose an available color in the style you want, and then bring the kit home. Simply stacking the block in a pre-designed pattern will be one of the easiest DIY projects you have ever done! Of course, if a bit more creativity and originality is more to your liking, you can use almost every style of Bella Vista landscape wall block, or standard concrete masonry wall block to build your fire pit. It is as easy as if you were building out of Legos! Just pick the block style and color, and start building! Using this method, you can customize your fire pit width, height, shape, and color to match your project area perfectly.

Fireglass and Firerock

Fireglass Beads and Fire Rock for Gas Burning Pits

Not only can you choose the style, size, and color of your fire pit; but you can even choose what kind of flame burns in the pit. By leaving the pit empty, in other words, just stacking and securing the outer block walls, you can have a wood burning fire pit. For a more decorative look with a controlled flame, use our gas fire pit accessories by running a gas line, include a gas burner and cover with attractive fill medium such as black and red lava rock or contemporary fire glass. The choice is really up to you. RCP Block & Brick does suggest both hiring a NFI Certified Technician when making any natural gas or propane connections for any fire pit, fireplace, or fire feature; and checking with your local building codes as they pertain to outdoor fire features before starting your project.

Fire pits are an inexpensive and easy way to upgrade any outdoor entertainment space.  RCP Block and Brick is your source for all of your fire pit needs. Our sales yards regularly stock the materials you need for constructing your new fire pit as well as all your fire pit accessories, including lava rock, fire glass, ring burners and “H” burners and gas connectors and valves. With a little work and maybe some help from a friend, a new Bella Vista fire pit will transform your yard into an entertaining oasis by this weekend!

If you have any questions along the way, or would like to discuss your outdoor fire pit idea, please contact an RCP Block & Brick near you and speak to one of our knowledgeable sales staff. We look forward to helping you with your next project!

Where It’s Made: Buying Products Made in America Better for the Economy and Environment

Made in AmericaIn an increasingly globalized world, products from all over the globe can be found in every consumer market in the United States. Reasons for importing products from around the world for consumption by American consumers can vary: some countries have a comparative advantage in producing specialized products, some developing producing countries have significantly lower labor and environmental standards, considerably lowering production costs allowing for a cheaper sale price.

A recent article released by San Diego News Room titled “Does It Matter Where Products Are Made” argues globalization has many negative effects. Two of the fastest growing industrial economies in the last 30 years are China and India, both countries known to have deplorable environmental and labor standards. Many products imported to the United States come from these nations, allowing for American consumers to purchase cheaper products but also hurting American producers, the environment, and in the bigger picture even American consumers.

San Diego News Room points out that the United States’ 200 years of developing its manufacturing sector has allowed us to make progress in the areas of worker safety, pollution prevention, and environmental protection. The article states that the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency in 1970, the enforcement of local, state, and federal environmental regulations, and trillions of dollars invested into clean technologies by the US government and US manufacturers has led to industries much better equipped to responsibly manufacture new products for consumption.  These strides taken by both the public and private sectors have led to major successes in limiting or reversing environmental degradation, as stated by San Diego News Room:

  • Pollutants that cause smog, acid rain, and lead poisoning have been reduced by 60 percent.
  • Vehicle emissions are 98 percent cleaner than in 1970.
  • Levels of lead in children’s blood decreased by 75 percent.
  • Increased safety of waterways and municipal water supplies.
Chinese Cement Plant

Pollution from cement plant in China.

The horrific and dangerous levels of pollution currently plaguing China and India show that producers and government officials in those nations care more about providing the world with cheap, dangerous products than the safety and wellbeing of their citizens and the global environment. San Diego News Room claims that since China has taken over the position of the world’s leading source of COand SO2 emissions, Japan, South Korea and areas in the Northwest United States have seen increased acid rain levels as a result of easterly trade winds coming from China.

Clean cement plan in America

TXI Midlothian Cement Plant has been awarded the 2012 Energy Star® certification for superior energy performance by the EPA.

Chinese cement companies account for 45 percent of global cement production and are held to lower environmental standards in the production of their cement. Not only are all of the concrete products produced by RCP Block and Brick produced in the United States under the stricter environmental standards, but also they are made with cement produced in the United States whose plants are operated with a smaller carbon footprint by American workers.

American consumers are becoming more aware of the issues of globalization everyday. Instead of filling American landfills with cheap foreign goods that harm the environment, we should consume cleaner, safer, and higher quality American made products that benefit our national and local economies and our neighbors who work hard to produce them.