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Q & A

Answers to commonly asked questions from the experts on Thumbtack.

What is the best sealer to use on concrete?

Because unsealed concrete is porous, it readily absorbs liquids, leading to unsightly stains and freeze-and-thaw cycle damage. For this reason, it’s important to seal concrete that will see spills or outdoor weather.

The best option for garage floors and other high-traffic areas is epoxy, which forms a hard and extremely durable surface on top of concrete. Epoxy, acrylic, and polishes are often used on indoor floors, while acrylic-resin sealers and reactive penetrating sealers are used on outdoor surfaces to repel water and salt. Locate a concrete contractor in your area to help find the best solution.

What do paving contractors do?

Paving contractors can be hired to install a concrete or asphalt driveway at your home, office or property. They can also repave an asphalt or concrete driveway that has been damaged by time, weather or heavy loads. When you are looking for a driveway contractor, request quotes from at least three professionals who are in good standing and have great customer reviews. They should do a site visit and write you a bid, detailing the work involved, materials needed, approximate length of the project and estimated cost.

The site for your new driveway will determine costs and the work required for your contractor. First, the ground must be excavated to lay a clear path. This means removing any trees, bushes and stumps. Next, the driveway contractor will grade the area, making a level surface for the concrete or asphalt. To ensure proper drainage, driveway contractors should install a sub-base of compacted gravel (or similar) 4 inches-8 inches deep, depending on your soil type. Then the concrete or asphalt may be poured and smoothed over the top. Your driveway contractor should recommend an appropriate sealant for your climate and advise you on curing time. When hiring a paving contractor, check out our tips for smart hiring on Thumbtack.

How much does it cost to redo a concrete driveway?

 Here are some examples of average costs:

  • The national average cost to hire a concrete specialist is $2,750, but that price can vary greatly depending on the work needed to repair and resurface your concrete driveway, the square footage of the project, current costs of concrete, and regional labor rates.
  • Driveway contractors average $2-$3 per square foot to smooth and resurface your asphalt driveway.
  • Resurfacing concrete driveways averages $3-$10 per square foot. Pricing can depend on repairs needed, project size and geographic location.
  • Nationally, the average cost for resurfacing a 500-square-foot driveway ranges from $2,000 to $5,000.
  • Sealant for a concrete drive can cost $20-$80 per gallon.
  • Sealant for an asphalt drive averages 25 cents per square foot.

What is the best finish for concrete floors?

The best finish for concrete floors depends on your personal taste. An acid stain is a bold, varied look with lots of texture and the potential for earthy tones and a natural stone appearance. A water-based stain might not last as long as an acid stain, but it gives you the choice of many different colors. Epoxy is great for high-traffic areas, kitchens, bathrooms, basements and garages. It provides a glossy, damage-resistant, non-slip coating on your concrete floors. To find out which finish is the best for your concrete floors, contact a concrete contractor near you.

What can concrete contractors do?

Concrete contractors can build foundations, structures, driveways, concrete storm drains, raise or level concrete patios and much more. They can handle every step of the process, starting with framing the mold that the concrete is poured into. They then cut, assemble and tie together the rebar, giving the concrete its tensile strength. Finally, they pour the concrete in, mixing and conditioning it to ensure it cures properly. They will also take steps to ensure that no air pockets are trapped within it. 

If you have a project that requires the help of a concrete contractor, reach out to one today to get a price estimate.

Is it better to stain or paint concrete?

A concrete paint cover is typically opaque and covers up the color of the concrete. This means it provides significant protection to the concrete below. However, if it is improperly applied or subjected to heavy traffic, a painted concrete floor is likely to chip and peel. 

Epoxy and staining are two types of concrete floor sealer. Epoxy is a more durable but often more expensive option than a concrete stain. Epoxy forms a protective layer, while concrete stain is more decorative and requires more maintenance. Because epoxy can be more expensive than concrete stain, it is best used in high-traffic areas or in applications where low maintenance is desired.

A concrete stain, on the other hand, is quick to apply and can show off the textures of the concrete, but it does not provide a high degree of protection for the concrete against spills, salt, water and other contaminants. Staining concrete generally requires a dust mop, a pH-neutral cleaner and water to clean, while epoxy can cause resin buildup that necessitates the use of special detergents.

Find a concrete contractor near you for help selecting the right floor concrete sealer.

What are the different types of flooring I can install in my home?

Here are four popular types of flooring you can install in your home. 

Solid wood flooring:

Solid wood flooring is made up of 100% wood, and has a very natural look and feel. It can add value to your home and. It can resist wear and tear, and be sanded and refinished multiple times. However, solid wood is susceptible to humidity and water damage. When it’s humid, solid wood could expand and if there’s a flood, it will be hard for the wood to return to its natural shape.

Laminate flooring:

Laminate wood flooring is an artificial product that mimics real wood flooring. Its core consists of fiberboard material, topped by an image print layer and sealed with a clear protective film. Laminate flooring is UV-resistant and less expensive than solid hardwood (approximately $3 to $7 per square foot to install). However, it also has a lower-quality feel, is unable to be sanded and refinished, has a lifespan of around 25 years and will invariably have a repeated print, according to Consumer Reports

A laminate hardwood floor is popular in living areas like dining rooms and kitchens. Their quality has improved dramatically in recent years, making them an attractive alternative to more expensive flooring types. Laminate flooring can also be scratch-prone, easy to clean and maintain, and resistant to moisture. 

Vinyl flooring:

Vinyl flooring is made completely out of PVC plastic and is an excellent option for moisture-prone areas like bathrooms and kitchens. It is durable, comfortable and inexpensive. Vinyl plank flooring and vinyl floor tiles can also imitate stone, tile and wood. However, it is fairly easy to spot vinyl flooring as synthetic. Install luxury vinyl plank and sheet vinyl flooring in areas where moisture is a concern.

Engineered wood flooring:

Engineered wood flooring often has a plywood-core substrate and a genuine hardwood veneer as its uppermost layer. Engineered wood floors are more impervious to humidity than regular hardwood, meaning that it’s less likely to expand, warp and buckle, according to Consumer Reports. However, it can dent easily. The best engineered hardwood has a thicker veneer, as well as a quality that allows it to be sanded down and refinished to increase its lifespan. It can be as durable as solid hardwood, and it’s often an affordable choice for many homeowners.

If you need help choosing the best flooring for your home, reach out to the top flooring companies near you.

How do I choose which type of flooring to install in my home?

If you’re ready to install new floors in your home -- or replace old flooring -- you’re probably wondering where to start. After all, there are many options to choose from: hardwood, vinyl, tile, laminate, linoleum and the list goes on. If you’re stuck on which type of flooring you should choose, start with learning the pros and cons of several popular options.

Engineered vs. Solid Wood Flooring:

Typically, engineered wood flooring is better than hardwood when it comes to humidity -- it’s less likely to expand. It’s also easier to install engineered wood, and it can be more moisture-resistant when compared to solid wood. Solid wood, on the other hand, can be more durable. Plus, you can refinish and sand it multiple times. If you have engineered wood, you’ll only be able to sand it maybe once or twice.

Hardwood vs. Laminate Wood Flooring:

Solid hardwood flooring is an authentic product — full-thickness, high-grade wood with all of its textures and imperfections. Wood floors add considerably more value to your home, with a 70% to 80% return on investment, according to Realtor.com. Unlike laminate floors, they can be repaired by sanding and refinishing. 

Laminate wood flooring is much more affordable than hardwood, as it is made from composite wood, an image of hardwood’s texture and a clear protective layer. It's resistant to both sunlight and moisture. While it’s harder to repair, hardwood laminate better resists scratches. 

Laminate vs. Vinyl Plank Flooring:

Laminate and vinyl floors are both synthetic products that imitate high-quality flooring materials like wood, stone and tile. Vinyl floors are made entirely from PVC plastic and may come as planks, tiles or sheets. They are inexpensive and waterproof. Vinyl plank flooring is a great choice for moist areas like bathrooms, kitchens and entryways, while laminate flooring is a good choice for living rooms, bedrooms and other non-wet areas. Vinyl flooring is also a bit easier to clean and maintain.

Laminate consists of a fiberboard core, a printed image layer and a clear protective film on top. Laminate floors are susceptible to damage if there is excess moisture. However, laminate flooring is superior to vinyl flooring in terms of its aesthetic quality, so you’ll have an easier time making your floor look like real stone, wood or ceramic. Laminate flooring is also more environmentally friendly than vinyl. 

If you need more help choosing flooring for your home, reach out to the top flooring companies near you.

What's the best flooring for basements, kitchens and bathrooms?

When installing flooring in your home, keep in mind that some materials are better suited for certain rooms while others are not. Use this guide to help you make the best decision for your home.

Best Flooring for Basements

Basement flooring should be highly resistant to moisture, as many basements are below grade. Choosing the best flooring for basement spaces depends on what they’ll be used for. For example: 

  • An epoxy basement floor is a durable finish for concrete.
  • Vinyl basement flooring is generally waterproof or water-resistant. 
  • Laminate floors can be an affordable option, but they’re often not 100% waterproof.
  • Ceramic tile floors are also water-resistant. 

If your basement isn’t moist, carpet tiles are also an option — just make sure to use a moisture barrier.

Best Flooring for Kitchens

Kitchen flooring does more work than almost any floor in the house, so you’ll want to choose a durable floor. The following are among the best flooring types for kitchens:

  • Porcelain tiles can be fashionable, moisture-resistant, and cost less than stone or wood to install.
  • Vinyl flooring can withstand dents, is generally inexpensive and it’s easy to install.
  • Linoleum flooring can be durable, easy to maintain and affordable. 
  • Wood flooring could be damaged by dropped pots and pans, furniture and pets. However, hardwood and engineered wood floors in kitchen spaces are still popular among homeowners.

Best Flooring for Bathrooms

Bathroom flooring must withstand high moisture levels while also being comfortable on bare feet. Here are some of the best flooring options for bathrooms: 

  • Porcelain tiles are generally comfortable, waterproof, stylish and less costly than stone or wood. 
  • Vinyl flooring is waterproof, cost-effective and can imitate wood convincingly.
  • Natural stone can be expensive, but it’s typically hard and durable.

Reach out to a flooring installation and repair professional near you to see which type you should install in your home.

Does a concrete contractor need to enter my home?

If the concrete job is 100% outdoors, a concrete contractor will not need to enter your home. However, certain jobs may require a professional to enter your home, including pouring a slab floor or laying a foundation for a fireplace or other heavy object. 

If a contractor needs to see the inside of your home during the consultation, you can ask to video chat and share photos through email and text messages to reduce exposure. Put a plan in place as you talk to local concrete contractors.

Reviews for Ashburn concrete contractors
Neal G.
Concrete maybe “ok”, but contractor has not returned to finish job. Didnt come back when agreed to blowout the garage, to wet new surface down for strength, nor to cleanup over-wash onto existing floor, leaving permanent stain.
Residential Property Maintenance LLC,Residential Property Maintenance LLC,
Thumbtack Customer
Hugh did an amazing job. I hired him to finish a job started by another contractor and never finished. He finished the project in one day and it looks better than I ever dreamed possible. I highly recommend this company and Hugh for any of your concrete needs.
Better Concrete and DesignBetter Concrete and Design
Tony B.
I am deeply grateful I came across Carlos. The work his team done was impressive. So impressive, it makes the rest of my concrete look bad. That’s why the wife and I decided him and his team will be replacing our entire side walk and patios around our house next month. I admired his meticulous nature. It may have been two sets of stairs to a concrete contractor but he treated me and my job as if it was a structure foundation downtown, that’s his background. He treated my job with the utmost of personal care and detail. He even put in step lights. Whenever family or friends need concrete work, I won’t hesitate to refer his company.
East Supreme Concrete LLCEast Supreme Concrete LLC
Monika I.
Ted did a Phenomenal job on my front entry steps and pathway - it needed a lot of work such as fixing the cracks, replacing the old concrete and pouring of new foundation - the end result really gives the house a big makeover and a new and bright look to the entry way - would definitely recommend him! His estimate was very reasonable compared to other contractors!
A Better Concrete Restoration,LLCA Better Concrete Restoration,LLC
Alex H.
I was thoroughly impressed with the work that Bobby and his crew did for me. I had concrete poured for a second driveway, a side walkway around my house, an extended patio and two steps in the garage put in. Bobby provided and excellent and detailed bid, which was very reasonably priced. I obtained several bids and had a set of requirements for our concrete specs and the level professionalism & skill of our hired contractor, Bobby's company met all of these expectations from the get-go. I asked a lot of questions, and Bobby was great about hearing me out, listening and providing his recommendations. From all the contractors I saw, A3 Custom Concrete was the best and Bobby knew what he was doing. For the actual work, Bobby promised a high quality standard for his work and that of his staff. We had some bad weather earlier in the week and Bobby made sure to do the work on a day that was conducive to the job. He made sure to go over the work with me prior to getting started to confirm my expectations and the extent of the work. From there, his crew went right to work at prepping the worksite, making sure everything was level, well-formed, compacted and had appropriate the amount of base and rebar reinforcement. He followed up the second day with pouring concrete and I have to tell you the concrete was exceptionally poured and the edging was properly finished to an even standard. A previous contractor who did concrete work at our place last year did a horrible job at pouring and had an uneven thickness of concrete and you could see exposed edges. But, with Bobby's work you could easily see how well the work was done and how concrete SHOULD be poured. I had concerns about drainage around my house, so to resolve this, Bobby rerouted gutters under my walkway and made sure water would drain away from the house. Bobby was on-site throughout the job to oversee the project and his crew did a great job of cleaning up and finishing on time. I was SO happy with the completed work, I even gave his contact info to friends and family. My neighbors complemented the work repeatedly! I would use his company again and even encourage others to do so. His price is really unbeatable, all while maintaining a high level of quality and workmanship.
A3 Custom ConcreteA3 Custom Concrete
Chelsea R.
Our failing retaining wall was originally constructed with railroad ties (yikes!) and we knew upon the purchase of our home that we would need it to be completely remodeled. Instead of hiring a costly landscaping company, we opted for the ease of a concrete contractor, and that's where Rigo and his crew came in. Their quote was among the most reasonable, but that's not the only reason we hired them. They treated us with care and respect from the first email to the last handshake. Even with the wet and unpredictable weather, Rigo and his crew made sure the job got done correctly and within a great time frame. We will definitely be hiring Diamond Concrete and Fencing again for another project.
Diamond Concrete & FencingDiamond Concrete & Fencing
Joshua Mile G.
For anyone looking for a great contractor look no further. I own Green Bean’s Organic Ideas, I was working alongside another company who completely dropped the ball and left me in a huge bind. I reached out to Ron, he immediately replied and listen to my issues. Not only did he come in and complete the job within an extremely tight time-line, his work and professionalisms, knowledge, and insight into options to make the job a success saved the project. I’m not only recommending him, I’ll also be using his services for all my future projects that requires concrete work.
Locke ConcreteLocke Concrete
Vi M.
I contracted with Better Concrete last summer to fix cracking concrete on my home’s front porch. A day after work began in July 2018, business owner Hugh Tran determined that a new skim-coat over the brick porch wasn't going to work and that the steps would have to be entirely repoured – essentially doubling the price of the project. I agreed to the complete porch/steps redo with the understanding that all cracks and leveling (to address pooling water) would be remedied for the new amount – thousands of dollars -- and that two sidewalks would be fixed as well. Work was completed by the end of July. Two weeks later, I began noticing large cracks on the surface of the porch. Hugh came out, and advised waiting until spring – when settling had ceased – to make the fixes. That was wise, as more cracking of the porch and the sidewalks now had occurred. (See photos.) Fast forward to June 2019. Hugh inspected the porch, but instead of doing the promised fixes and honoring his one-year warranty, he insisted it would cost hundreds of dollars more to remedy because “cracks were not covered.” A good contractor stands behind his work, especially after being informed right away of the problem. Repeated attempts to get Hugh to make this right were met with the same response: More money. I feel gouged by Better Concrete, after paying thousands of dollars for work that seems substandard. I cannot recommend this business to anyone.
Better Concrete and DesignBetter Concrete and Design
Mike M.
Quality work, punctual, responsive, and an overall professional contractor. We have a 100+ foot long driveway and the original 1942 concrete needed replacing. Even with the shorter January days, Bobby and his crew did the entire demo and pour in 3 days. It was impressive enough that the site manager of the new home under construction across the street (with 30 years experience) complimented Bobby and his crew on how well they worked together and the quality of the work. That's a much better compliment than I can give! Bobby was very responsive, answering my texts or calls at all times. Even now, one week after the project has been completed, Bobby is responsive and wants to walk the site with me to follow up and address any concerns. Thank you Bobby, and A3, for a job that exceeded expectations. Mike
A3 Custom ConcreteA3 Custom Concrete
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