Trucks and backhoes have been visiting Kerry Court this month, digging up a lot of dirt to install "exposed aggregate concrete".  

Last week they  completed the driveway pour: today they make expansion cuts and next week comes the acrylic sealer.  We took a long time to select  this material after visiting many flawed alternatives based on coloured asphalt or patterned concrete.  Our initial Village theme was red brick herringbone walk and driveways but our house ruined the cul de sac with ugly cheap black asphalt. After 24 years of frost heave and weeds taking their toll it was time to re-consider.  White concrete doesn't  look in keeping with the 1840's theme of Heritage Village and stamped concrete wears badly.

The exposed aggregate technique is relatively rare in this area.  We visited one large country driveway in Virgil, and a couple of suburban driveways in Font Hill before contracting with Rick Danyliw of Surface Masters, St. Catharines.  The concrete is made with pea gravel rather than crushed limestone.  After smoothing out the wet cement, it is sprayed with a chemical retardant that prevents the top millimeter surface from hardening. Then after one day of hardening a high-power water wash is used to remove the top layer, to partially expose the pea gravel.  The result is a pleasing pebble-texture that is safer for seniors to walk on than glossy stamped concrete and has greater resistance to salt damage, compared white concrete.

The project had it's rough moments - especially when the excavation crew tried to short-change us with only  6 " of gravel base.  The prime contractor caught them - and made them re-do the excavation. We contracted for an 18" excavation depth to allow 12" of gravel and  6" of concrete (industry standard is 5").  The walk way got 5" compared to industry standard 4 ".  If you want a solid concrete driveway that lasts 25+ years, the extra inches matter, to prevent ground heave, cracks and allow drainage.

Fluorescent paint on water main in the centre of our driveway didn't stop the back-hoe operator from breaking the valve.  That required a visit from town engineers and  a new excavation (by hand) for a hole 5 feet deep, to  attach a new valve.  They repacked the hole with gravel and, at my request, added rebar supports in the overlying cement. Fortunately, the fix was not on my bill.

The crew got better as the work shifted to the surface finishing.  Like artists on a canvas, they worked the trowels until just right. Once the power wash removed the white crust, the wet aggregate "glittered" in bright sun, and my faith in their talents was restored. Care was taken during the cut and seal. The weather cooperated - just wet and cool enough to help  cure - not freezing - then a dry spell for application of  the penetrating sealant. The final  look will require a semi-gloss surface sealant to be applied next fall.

Drawbacks to this method are the month of cure time and the big mess it makes when the top layer is removed.  Make sure they clean up the solids and power-wash to the sewer.  I had to scoop up two wheelbarrows full of fine sticky mud - and power wash the neighbour's drive to make things right.  A contract hold-back would have been wise (like my wife told me!).  I thank our neighbours who endured the mess - and loaned us car parking spots.

Read more at Our Village Blogs


3 MacLean COURT, St. Catharines

We recently decided to install a concrete driveway to our new home. Looking for a custom concrete contractor we called Surface Masters Concrete.

Our first consultation with Surface Masters Concrete provided the concrete surface choices for our driveway. Choices included plain coloured concrete, stamped coloured concrete, or exposed aggregate coloured concrete.

The construction process was explained in great detail from excavation and base stone installation to concrete surface finishing, and concrete sealing application.

After much thought we decided to contract Surface Masters Concrete to install an exposed aggregate coloured concrete driveway to our new home.

We are very pleased with the final appearance which is drawing many positive comments from our friends and neighbours. The company was professional in all stages of creating this unique exposed aggregate concrete driveway. We were provided with help in determining the best stone/cement combination to enhance the colour scheme of our home. The work was accomplished proffesionally and attention to details was superb. We are very staisfied customers.

-- Rich and Anne



32 Cherry Ridge Drive, Fenwick

We decided to complete the landscaping at our new home and contracted Surface Masters Concrete and a complete landscape design build was presented to us.

We felt comfortable with Surface Masters concrete and knew we were in good hands with such a large and complex design build. The driveway was installed with custom coloured concrete, borders of the custom concrete driveway were installed in coloured exposed aggregate concrete.

Surface Masters Landscaping, a division of Surface Masters Concrete installed a stone garden wall around the parameter of our custom concrete driveway, as well as stone garden wall was installed around all landscaping beds. Surface Masters Landscaping also installed a stone overlay to our existing concrete entrance.

We are very pleased with the team at Surface Masters Concrete and Surface Masters Landscaping. The custom concrete and stone hardscaping compliments the stone work on our house. We have received many positive comments from friends and neighbours.

-- Mike and Karen


35 Spring Garden blvd., St. Catharines

The house addition and renovations are complete.

The landscaping and stone hardscaping being such a huge project, we wanted a contractor that could handle such a large design build for our landscape needs. Coming highly recommended we contracted Surface Masters Landscaping a division of Surface Masters Concrete.

The hardscaping design including stone retaining walls, a three tier stone and interlock paver entrance, a driveway widened and interlock stone pavers installed. A walkway was also installed with interlock stone pavers.

Surface Masters Landscaping installed stone and interlock pavers that complimented the stonework on our house. The work was handled professionally, efficiently, and in a timely manner. We are very satisfied, thank you Surface Masters Landscaping!

-- Brian, Sally, and Kim