How to protect adjacent areas while stamping concrete
Use a little soap! Many of us who use color hardeners and powdered antiquing release agents have learned the hard way that these products can stain walls or other adjacent structures. Even concrete splatters can cause stains, and can be one of the biggest headaches for a contractor. An otherwise profitable job can become a nightmare of extra work if your crew has to spend an extra day or two cleaning up. There are several ways to avoid these problems, but in my opinion the best way is to use a mixture of water and laundry soap (either liquid or powder).
If using powdered soap, mix it in a high enough concentration that it feels slimy. If using liquid soap, mix it just thin enough to be applicable with a pump up garden sprayer. Simply apply this solution to the surrounding walls, windows, doors, abutting concrete, or asphalt prior to pouring the concrete. Either spray it on or use a paint roller if you choose to use powdered soap. The solution dries on the surfaces, leaving a soap film such as you may inadvertently get in your shower or bathtub. This film acts as a very effective bond breaker. When you go back to the job to clean and seal, any color hardener, release agent, or even concrete splatters wash right off with a hose and soft brush. No chipping or wire brushes are required. This also works great on anodized aluminum storefronts.
Of course, you can always tape up plastic sheeting or paper, but the tape often comes loose and the plastic falls into the pour. Even a slight breeze can make working with plastic or paper an ordeal. Falling plastic can cause big problems when stamping, such as marring and discoloring the surface, not to mention disposal issues after the job is complete. On a recent job, we applied a soap solution to a porous limestone wall cap. During the job, we tracked a lot of charcoal powdered release agent all over the cap. After we were done stamping, the limestone was completely black. It washed off easily the next day and you would have never known it was there at all. We've used this system for many years on everything from EFIS, to brick, to vinyl or aluminum siding.
For a quick, effective barrier, nothing is simpler or cheaper than soap and water.
Steve VandeWater ArtistiCrete LLC, Noblesville IN www.4greatconcrete.com
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