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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.

Is a concrete floor cheaper than wood?

Yes, concrete floors are generally more affordable than hardwood floors. Generally, a concrete floor costs between $2 and $15 per square foot, while hardwood floors cost between $12 and $20 per square foot, according to Floor Critics. While concrete requires preparation and pouring, its ease of finishing makes it a very affordable flooring option. Choose between finishes like acid stains, epoxy and more. While hardwood is not cheap flooring, it offers warmth and durability with infrequent maintenance.

If you're stuck between installing wood floors or concrete floors, reach out to a flooring installation professional near you

What do concrete contractors do?

Hire concrete contractor services for projects such as concrete foundations, concrete driveways, slab floors and other concrete work. A concrete contractor builds structures from concrete, often handling every step of the process from mixing ingredients to building the retaining structure to pouring and settling the mix. This individual or team supervises delivery and pouring to ensure that it’s done correctly. Many states require concrete contractors to have a license.

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 concrete 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.

What are the disadvantages of vinyl flooring?

The disadvantages of vinyl flooring are worth considering for homeowners. Vinyl flooring is difficult to repair if it tears or scratches because you cannot refinish it. And while it imitates more expensive products, it is still usually easy to spot vinyl flooring. This means it might not add to the value of a house, as most buyers would prefer to remove vinyl flooring and replace it with something of a higher quality. Low-quality vinyl flooring is also susceptible to fading and discoloration from sunlight.

For more information on the disadvantages -- and advantages -- of vinyl flooring, reach out to a flooring installation company near you.

What you need to know about concrete contractors.

Who delivers concrete near me?

Whether you’re building a retaining wall, installing a driveway or building a concrete patio, having your concrete delivered by a professional can make the job much easier. Search "concrete delivery" on Thumbtack to find concrete suppliers near you. Be sure to read reviews from past customers and get multiple quotes before you make your decision.

Bulk concrete delivery services may also install concrete, so think about all the services you may need before you begin your search.

Who sells concrete near me?

Depending on where you live, there may be multiple concrete services that deliver and sell concrete that's ready to install. If your project requires a large volume of concrete, consider hiring a concrete contractor near you. They will have the equipment and know-how to help with your concrete project. 

Should I use cement or concrete?

It's easy to confuse cement and concrete. Concrete actually contains cement. Cement, when mixed with water, creates a paste that dries to create a rock-hard surface. Concrete, on the other hand, is cement mixed with sand and gravel. 

Your project’s details will help you decide whether to use cement or concrete. Concrete is usually more durable than cement and is typically used for bigger projects. You might opt for cement if your project is smaller. Consult the pros before making a decision about which material to use.

Is it hard to pour concrete?

Concrete may be easy to work with — if you have experience pouring — but installing a larger project (like a patio or retaining wall) is a bit more challenging. If you decide to DIY a concrete project, be sure to budget plenty of time and prepare the site properly. It’s also wise to order extra concrete in case you make a mistake.

In most cases, it's best to leave concrete pouring to the pros. They have the expertise and equipment to get the job done right. 

Is it cheaper to pour your own concrete?

Concrete pricing varies depending on where you live, whether you need short-load or ready-mix delivery and the product's pounds-per-square inch strength. 

Why you should hire a concrete contractor.

While it may seem like it would be less expensive to pour your own concrete, it's important to compare DIY costs and the cost of hiring a pro. Before you opt for DIY, consult local concrete pros to get quotes. You may find that it's not much more expensive to have a professional handle your concrete project. Be sure to ask about concrete costs, delivery fees and extras like stamping, coloring and special finishes. 

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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