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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.

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 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.

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.

Is it worth it to hire a professional flooring specialist?

Unless you have plenty of experience installing the type of floor you want, it is worth it to hire a professional flooring specialist. 

The first reason is tools — pros have them, and they know how to use them. Without the proper experience, there is a high risk of injury with nail guns and power saws. A good pro also works quickly, saving you time that you could spend doing other things. 

Finally, a pro gets you past options paralysis by helping you decide the best flooring for different rooms and areas of the home.

To get started on your flooring project, contact the best flooring contractors near you today.

How do you find the best concrete contractor?

To find the best concrete contractors in your area, start by comparing concrete contractor reviews and ratings, which can give you insight into the quality of work you can expect from potential concrete contractors. When reading reviews, pay attention to details about how long the project took and whether the customer had any disputes with the contractors. The reviews often contain photos of past work, but if you don’t see any reviews, ask the contractor to share photographs of concrete floors, driveways and other projects they’ve worked on. Look for details such as clean edges and a lack of cracking. And finally, if a concrete license is required in your state, ask to see the contractor’s credentials. 

How can I find out if a concrete contractor is considered an essential COVID-19 service provider?

In order to know if a concrete contractor is considered an essential COVID-19 service provider in your city or state, you’ll need to visit your city or state’s official government website.

Another helpful resource is CISA’s website, which includes a guide to Identifying Critical Infrastructure During COVID-19 that provides information on a national level. This guideline presents 16 categories of critical infrastructure sectors, which can help in determining whether concrete contractors are currently considered essential service providers. Some, but not all, jurisdictions follow CISA’s definitions of critical infrastructure. 

Why you should hire a concrete contractor

Whether you want to lay a new basement floor, repair your driveway, install a patio or build a retaining wall in your backyard, hire a concrete contractor who can repair or install new cement and concrete. Let the pros take care of the compacting, leveling, pouring, and buffing — you just enjoy it afterward. Take a look at the best local concrete contractors and companies below, view their profiles and contact a pro to get pricing and discuss next steps.

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