Homeowners - FAQ's

About Consolidated Concrete

What is ready mixed concrete?

Ready-mixed concrete is a combination of cement, rock, sand, and water. Also, concrete may contain mineral and/or chemical admixtures. These admixtures improve the properties of concrete.

Are the terms "concrete" and "cement" interchangeable?

No. Although often used interchangeably – even by some construction professionals – cement is not concrete, nor is concrete cement.

CEMENT is one of the basic ingredients used to make CONCRETE. When cement is mixed with other basic ingredients -- sand, gravel or crushed rock, and water-- the cement and water react to form a paste that glues the remaining ingredients into a rock-like mass which is known as concrete.

How should I prepare for hot weather?

Concrete will set-up much quicker in hot weather. Ask our dispatchers to add a set retarder to your load. Make sure you have enough people on site to place the concrete quickly. It is recommended that the sub-grade is dampened before placement begins. For more information see Hot Weather Concreting. (CIP 12)

How should I prepare for cold weather?

We recommend that when the temperature drops you use a set accelerator in your mixes. Also, pouring your concrete with a low slump will help increase your set times. When concrete is poured on a cold sub-grade set times also tend to be increased.

What do I need to know about colored concrete?

Extra care must be taken when placing colored concrete. It is important that the slump remains consistent throughout each load. Also, as with any concrete, you never want to introduce water to the drying surface. For more information, please see our concrete color chart.

Can I use deicer chemicals on my concrete?

The use of deicing chemicals during the first year of service is not recommended, especially if concrete is installed late in the year. Sand is an acceptable alternative anytime. Deicing chemicals used for snow and ice removal can cause and aggravate surface scaling. Therefore, careful use of these products with regard to amount and frequency of application is strongly advised. Remember deicers can also reach concrete surfaces other than by direct application -- for example, drippings from the under-carriage of vehicles.

During and after the concrete's second winter, deicing chemicals containing sodium chloride (common salt) or calcium chloride may be used cautiously.

NEVER use deicers containing ammonium sulfate or ammonium nitrate, as they will chemically attack and rapidly disintegrate concrete.

ALSO NOTE: common garden fertilizers often contain ammonium sulfate and/or ammonium nitrate, and can cause disintegration of your concrete. Avoid loading or cleaning your fertilizer spreader on your concrete slab and follow best-spreading practices by applying fertilizer around the perimeter of your lawn first, without crossing pavement, then run the spreader back and forth within the area bounded by your perimeter fertilizer run. This practice both ensures consistent fertilizer application around the edge of your lawn and, because the spreader never crosses pavement, minimizes the potential for fertilizer damage to your concrete.

What is slump and why is it important?

Slump is used as a measure of consistency of concrete, and is most often associated with the amount of water added to the concrete mix to increase ease of placement (the higher the slump, the wetter the mix).

The addition of water to increase slump beyond the design specification will result in reduced-strength potential for the concrete and possible surface deterioration. Quality contractors place concrete for exterior pavement applications at a moderate slump -- not more than 4 to 5-inches -- unless a water-reducing admixture is used.

Do I need to remove topsoil before placing concrete?

Yes. Topsoil and any other organic matter must be removed before placing concrete. Organic materials are unstable and unable to provide uniform support for concrete slabs. A properly prepared subgrade contains no organic material and is crucial to constructing a quality concrete pavement or slab on grade.

How should I prepare my sub-grade?

The sub-grade should be well compacted, uniform in depth, and well draining. Also, a fill of granular nature such as sand, rock or crushed base and dampen this base before placing concrete.

How far apart should I place my control joints?

We recommend that you place your control joints no more than 2 times in feet the thickness in inches of the slab. (4” slab 8’ joint spacing) These joints must be a minimum of ¼ the depth of the slab. (1” on 4” slab) Also, it is recommended that you attempt to design panels that are as square as possible. (Avoid exceeding 1.25 times square) For more information see Joints in Concrete Slabs on Grade. (CIP 6)

Should I use fibers in my concrete?

We recommend the use of fibers for reducing the possibility of plastic shrinkage cracks. Fibers are used only as secondary reinforcement. For more information see Synthetic Fibers for Concrete. (CIP 24)

What are reinforcing fibers (FIBERMESH®) and what benefits does it provide?

FIBERMESH® brand micro-reinforcement, when added to the concrete mix at the batch plant, creates a uniform system of millions of polypropylene fibers, which are formulated to address early-age cracking problems caused by water loss and shrinkage.

How can I avoid concrete cracks?

There are many different types of concrete cracks. Proper joint layout is critical in flatwork. Pouring concrete with a low-slump is also very important. Cracks can also be caused from external restraint. (Pouring a footing and slab concurrently) Cracks can occur in between two immovable obstructions. If felt or foam is not used between a house and a block wall it is likely that a crack will develop. Crazing cracks (web cracking) often will develop when concrete is poured with a high slump and/or bleed water or water was introduced to the surface of the drying concrete before final set. For more information see Crazing Concrete Surfaces. (CIP 3)

What is proper curing and why is it important for quality concrete?

Curing is the procedure for maintaining an acceptable moisture content and temperature profile in the concrete to ensure desired properties of the concrete are achieved. Testing demonstrates improper or lack of curing can cut the strength of a proper concrete mix by as much as 50%. The potential for concrete shrinkage, cracking, and dusting increases significantly when concrete is not cured correctly.

How long must my concrete driveway cure before I can drive on it?

The American Concrete Institute and the American Concrete Pavement Association recommend a minimum of seven days following concrete placement before using a concrete driveway. Other concrete industry educational and technical societies recommend anywhere from three-to-seven days after placement, depending on anticipated driveway loading factors and the concrete mix design used.

Consult with your concrete contractor regarding when you can place your new driveway in service.

How should I cure my concrete?

We recommend that you cure your concrete with a liquid membrane curing compound. The curing process should begin immediately after final finishing. (Colored concrete may require curing compound that is approved for application) For more information see Curing In-Place Concrete. (CIP 11)

What is concrete sealer and how often must it be applied?

While a curing compound acts to prevent moisture from leaving the concrete during initial stages of strength development, a concrete sealer is designed to prevent moisture from entering the concrete matrix, to assist in limiting surface deterioration due to cycles of freezing and thawing. New concrete should air dry for 30 days prior to the application of a concrete sealer. Follow the manufacturer’s directions for application rates and intervals. Many sealer applications are effective for a two-year period. For more information, please see our Acryl Pen product data sheet and Acryl Pen color chart.

How do I order concrete?

Concrete is ordered by volume, expressed in cubic yards required to completely fill project forms. To avoid potential scheduling conflicts, ordering ready-mixed concrete from Consolidated Concrete must be done by calling Consolidated Concrete. For contact information, see the Contact Us page.

Before you call, measure your project and create a scale drawing, including the actual dimensions. Be prepared to share the following information with us:

How much concrete do I need?

Ready-mixed concrete is sold by the cubic yard. If you can determine the area of your concrete project (length x width for rectangular projects) and know the thickness of the slab, you can determine how much concrete you need.

When can I get concrete?

Normal delivery hours are Monday through Friday, 7:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Saturdays, 7:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. during construction season (April 1-December 15), 7:00 a.m. to noon during the off-season. Saturday hours are seasonal in nature and subject to the number of confirmed orders received. Holidays hours are determined on a case-by-case basis. Some flexibility in these hours is permitted in some cases with advance notice.

Is advance notice needed?

Advance notice is strongly recommended to permit scheduling of vehicles needed to deliver the concrete to the job site and to allow for batching, loading, and mixing times prior to departure for the job site. A 24-hour window is a reasonable time frame during the construction season.

Is there a cancellation policy?

Orders may be cancelled, for weather related reasons only, a minimum of two hours prior to scheduled delivery time.

How much does conrete cost?

The base cost is dependent on the type of mix design used for the particular project application involved. Additional costs for minimum loads, waiting times, and sales tax will also be included in the total charge. The customer service rep will provide cost information, based on your specific project situation.

What is a minimum load charge?

For loads of less than seven (7) yards, there are minimum load charges, which vary, depending on quantity of concrete ordered and the distance from the ready-mix plant to your project site. The customer service rep will provide minimum load charge cost information, based on your specific project situation.

What payment options are available?

Payment is due at the time of delivery (COD). COD payment may be made by cash or credit card. Credit cards need to be verified by the dispatch office before Consolidated Concrete will ship your order.

Will Consolidated Concrete place the concrete for me?

No. Placing the concrete for your project is your (or your concrete contractor's) responsibility. Consolidated Concrete's role in successful concrete projects is to produce, deliver, and discharge the specified concrete mix for your project, in a safe and timely manner.

Consolidated Concrete drivers are licensed (CDL), skilled delivery professionals, and the company's ongoing investments in driver training do help homeowners (or their concrete contractors) save placement time.

Do I need a concrete contractor?

Placing and finishing ready-mixed concrete is not rocket science, but it is also not easy.

Placing and finishing concrete requires knowledge about concrete and the fundamentals of good concreting practices. It requires skill with both basic tools – including hammers, tape measures, chalk lines, saws, and a hose – and specialized concrete tools, including come-alongs, a straightedge, a concrete edger, a bullfloat, a hand float, and a groover (jointer), to name a few. If organization, planning, and project management skills are not your strong suit, you would best be served by hiring a construction professional for your concrete project.

Site excavation, subgrade preparation, and building and setting concrete forms are not easy tasks for most do-it-yourselfers. Placing and finishing concrete is hard work. Concrete is heavy – about 150 pounds per cubic foot – and difficult to place, consolidate, strike off, level, and finish. Timing of many finishing operations is crucial and best learned through experience. Mistakes in timing may prove critical. As the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association's Finishing Concrete Flatwork publication points out, "Any finishing operations undertaken while the concrete slab is still "bleeding" will result in problems for the finished slab, such as scaling, cracking, delamination, dusting, or concrete blisters." Bleeding characteristics for concrete can vary, based on mix design, subgrade preparation, and weather conditions, and can often challenge experienced contractors.

Yet for some do-it-yourselfers, the hard work and high-degree of skill, management, and adventure required to complete a successful concrete project provides a unique sense of satisfaction. If this describes you, and you can muster enough friends to safely and efficiently transfer concrete from the ready-mix truck into preset, well-braced forms, go for it.

How can I find a reputable concrete contractor?

Consolidated Concrete works with reputable residential concrete contractors across Nebraska and Iowa daily and can help you find contractor candidates for your concrete project.

Are do-it-yourself resources available?

Yes. Many good resources – including the Homeowners Guide to Successful Concrete Projects, an authoritative report produced by Consolidated Concrete – are available for do-it-yourselfers. Two especially good printed resources are ACI International's Slabs on Grade and the Portland Cement Association's The Homeowner’s Guide to Building with Concrete, Brick and Stone. You can also find useful online information by visiting our Concrete Links Informational page.

Where can I rent or purchase concrete finishing tools?

For most homeowners, purchasing tools is not practical, unless you contemplate numerous concrete projects at your home or are planning on helping friends with their concrete projects.

Many rental yards and do-it-yourself centers carry professional-grade placing and finishing tools and equipment. A good yard or center will know what tools your project will require.

Homeowners may also need to rent tools and equipment for site excavation and subgrade preparation.

How big and how heavy is the ready-mix truck?

The empty weight of a Consolidated Concrete transit mixer with typical levels of fuel and water is around 36,000 pounds, and will double in weight with a full 10-yard concrete load. The height of our vehicles can be up to 14 feet; the width of our vehicles is 9.6-feet, mirror to mirror.

Will the truck fit in my backyard?

Only if the driver determines the situation is safe, with the additional requirement of a signed waiver of release by the homeowner for all movement past the curb line. Our driver will take the following factors into consideration:

How far do the concrete chutes reach?

The chute systems on Consolidated Concrete vehicles typically reach up to 18 feet.

Do I need a concrete pump or conveyor?

For most homeowner concrete projects, the truck chutes and/or use of a wheelbarrow or concrete buggy will be sufficient for unloading and placing the concrete. The need for a concrete conveyor or concrete pump will be dictated by your particular job site circumstances. There is a separate charge for these types of material-placement services. Consolidated Concrete works with the best concrete pumping/conveyor service contractors and is happy to provide recommendations and contact information for you.

How much time do I have to unload the truck?

Concrete is a perishable product, and most specifications require it be discharged on the job site within 90 minutes or 300 revolutions of the truck barrel, after the addition of water to the concrete mix at the batch plant. Allowable unloading time at the job site is 10 minutes per yard. Thus, an 8-cubic yard load of concrete would be expected to be unloaded in 80 minutes or less. Charges in excess of allowable times are $80 per hour.

How long do I have to work with the concrete?

There is no typical or specific time frame for working with in-place concrete, due to the many variables involved, such as mix design, ambient temperature, wind velocity, and placement location (indoors/outside), to name a few. For these, and reasons stated above, the use of a qualified concrete contractor is highly recommended, unless you and members of your placing and finishing team have prior experience in placing and finishing concrete.

What finish should be used for a sidewalk, patio, or driveway?

Brooming of the concrete surface provides a safe, attractive, non-slip surface for exterior concrete flatwork. Broom finishes are created by pulling a special dampened, stiff-bristle concrete texturing broom across freshly floated concrete, and can be applied in many ways, including straight, curved, and wavy lines.

Most broom finishes for concrete sidewalks and driveways are straight-line textures broomed at right angles to the anticipated traffic direction. Broom finishes are not incorporated into most decorative concrete finishes.

What decorative finishes are available?

Advances in concrete mix design and in forming and finishing technologies permit concrete to take on almost any shape, pattern, color, or texture, in both exterior and interior applications, resulting in special finishes for concrete pavements and slabs limited only by your imagination and the skill of your concrete contractor.

Through the use of specialized concrete forms, stains, stamps, dyes, colored pigments, surface retarders, texture patterns, decorative aggregates, or epoxy overlays, experienced decorative concrete contractors command an artist’s pallet full of special finishes for providing durable decorative concrete options for homeowners.

Some of the special finishes available include: exposed aggregate finishes, colored concrete finishes, stamped concrete finishes, engraved concrete finishes, stained concrete surfaces, and sawed and pattern-grooved concrete finishes.

How can I protect and maintain my concrete?

Frequent cleaning keeps your new concrete looking good and does wonders to improve the curb appeal of your home. By keeping your concrete clean by frequent sweeping and occasional hosing, you can also significantly reduce fall risks to family and guests.

Wet leaves left on a driveway will have a tendency to stain, so be prepared to clean your driveway often in fall. Leaf stains can be cleaned away with a pressure washer (light pressure) or with hot water mixed with tri-sodium phosphate (one pound per gallon is recommended).

What is a construction lien? (What you don't know could cost you thousands!)

Construction liens exist to provide collection rights to contractors and material suppliers who supply construction services or materials for improvements to real property. Waiver-of-lien forms provide protection for homeowners who pay their home improvement bills.

With a construction lien, the concrete supplier or concrete contractor has the right to serve the homeowner with notice of lien and to record it as part of the county land-title records, should payment not be made for materials or services provided. A lien is a claim of partial ownership of your home. If the construction lien is not paid, the material supplier or contractor can commence court proceedings to foreclose the lien and sell the property in payment of the obligation.

A waiver-of-lien form provides a homeowner proof that subcontractors and material suppliers have been paid and relinquish their right to serve the homeowner with a notice to place a lien the home. The example that follows explains why lien waivers are important to homeowners:

Mr. Jones signed a contract with ABC Contractors for the construction of an addition to his home. When the work was done, Jones paid the contracted price and started enjoying his new addition. A month later, he received a "Notice of Intent to File Claim for Lien" in the mail from the lumberyard where ABC Contractors obtained building materials. What happened? Although Jones had paid his bill, ABC Contractors did not pay the lumberyard. The law allows a subcontractor or supplier of materials to place a lien on the property where the work was done, if the contractor doesn't pay his bills. This can happen even if the homeowner has paid the contract in full.

To protect against similar circumstances, contact legal counsel.

What insurance issues need to be addressed for my project?

You are best served by hiring a concrete contractor who has proper insurance coverage, including liability insurance covering property damage and worker and public injuries, vehicle insurance, and workers' compensation insurance. Homeowners should get written proof of these policies. Once you start thinking in earnest about your concrete project, contact your insurance agent regarding necessary safeguards.

Does my concrete come with a warranty?

Consolidated Concrete stands behind its quality products and warrants its concrete shall be free from manufacturing defect at time of delivery.

For every project it supplies, Consolidated Concrete shall secure satisfactory materials, combine them in proper proportions, mix them into a homogeneous product, and deliver the mixture to the job site in a safe and timely manner. Materials will meet the requirements of their respective specifications.

In the absence of a project specification, ASTM C-94, Standard Specification for Ready-Mixed Concrete, will prevail.

Consolidated Concrete is not responsible for site work and subgrade preparation, movement of the concrete into the forms, placement and consolidation, finishing operations, and adequate protection and curing to assure that the newly-placed concrete achieves its quality potential.

Nor is Consolidated Concrete responsible for ordering the proper concrete mix, though our customer service reps and technical personnel welcome the opportunity to work with customers and provide proven performance-mix options, based on the specific project application.

Conflict Resolution Policy

In the rare event when you, the homeowner, have a problem with an installed concrete project using concrete provided by Consolidated Concrete, the following steps are required to insure a timely response to your concerns:

1) Educate yourself. Knowledge is a powerful ally for homeowners trying to resolve concrete project installation problems. Slab surface defects and other concrete problems can be related to deficiencies in materials, project design, placing and finishing practices, weather, improper maintenance, or combinations of the above. Basic reference information can be found in the exterior concrete guidelines on this web site.

2) Contact your builder (new construction) or the contractor you hired to install the concrete, as he/she has the contractual relationship with you. Bypassing this step could lead to delays in resolving your problem, which may involve only a simple remedy or explanation to address your concerns.

Note: If you installed the concrete yourself, please contact Aaron Luth of Consolidated Concrete.

3) Work with Consolidated Concrete's Quality Control Team:

  1. Quality Control Personnel from Consolidated Concrete will determine if the problem is concrete mix related, to include job site visit, if required.
  2. A recommendation to correct the problem will then be suggested, in consultation with the builder or concrete contractor.

4) Following consensus agreement by all parties as to recommended remedy, corrective action will be initiated, consistent with sound construction practices related to timing of any needed repair work.

Consolidated Concrete stands behind its quality products and warrants its concrete shall be free from manufacturing defect at time of delivery, but Consolidated Concrete cannot warrant in-place concrete against cosmetic and surface defects, structural cracking, crumbling, blistering, corrosion, or any other problem not involving manufacturing defects in the concrete as supplied by Consolidated Concrete to the job site.