Before the money shot

Once more into the breach....

Hi again. Twice in the same fortnight I’m back here writing some more personalised content. People are going to start thinking I’m not working and sitting at my computer too much…Truth is, I’m looking for a little escape tonight.

I’m at that stage in life where it seems like all I’m doing is working, then blessing the single day off I get (occasionally), so I can rest and get some house work completed, before again entering the fray the following day to rinse and repeat.

Combine that, with the typical problems we face as we get older. Trying to comfort parents as they age beyond capabilities of looking after themselves. Giving my daughter as much time as I can whilst at the same time feeling guilty that work always seems to take a forward seat to everything that’s far more important, not knowing how to change things due to pressures of this modern society.

But alas, lets forget about all that rubbish. Everyone has their dramas and mine aren’t anything special and the point of this unedited wall of text is to take the mind off the hamster wheel of life and chat about something on the only platform I have available for such purposes……

Ironic it’s only to talk about more work stuff huh?

What I thought I’d run through, is putting a few of my most memorable projects within the past stones throw of a memory I can still recollect. I’ve realised sitting here that all of us, including myself, just put up the “money shot” of photos that best portray the actual outcome of all the hard work and thought we put into what we do.

We’re all guilty of it. It’s great to see the final result and it’s what all the hard work is for. But since my fiance (calling her wife as of this Sunday, never thought that would happen), came on board, she’s started taking some photos of me in action doing some of these finishes and what goes into the whole process. So I thought I’d run through, in as much detail as my words will allow, the whole process of completing a single piece of work.

Maybe in this context, a few ill informed peoples might see why a certain piece or project cost’s so much, and why some contractors are more expensive than others, often by a long way.

The Long Grind

long grind gold coast
Concrete Colour Sealing Mermaid Waters

This project here, was for a lovely client at Mermaid Waters. After inspecting the project, I presented the client with two options for refurbishing their existing stamped concrete, that at some stage, someone thought was an intelligent idea to re-colour it with paint….instead of far more superior products.

PS….If anyone is reading this considering revamping their stamped concrete, for the love of airconditioning on a January afternoon, DON’T LISTEN TO BUNNINGS! They don’t know their ass hole from elbow. Paint is not your friend.

Back on track….

I half ass.ed.ly? (is that a word?), gave a price for what a cheap option would be for simply colour sealing what was there, making emphasis that this option would not work and I’m not interested in completing this. More just a forewarning of what they might run into from the cowboys.

The only option I gave that I said I would complete for them, is to hand grind off as much as possible of the existing paint, doing my absolute best through nothing but falling onto hands and knee’s, sweating cussing and cursing why I got in this industry to start with, leaving us with at least some traction for our new products and a chance of it only requiring at least small amounts of upkeep over a long period of time.

For this job, it was 300sqm+ all up. The final coatings you see in the second picture, the one that looks great and shiny and sexy and you think wow, I wish mine looked like that! Took me nearly 2 weeks to grind back by hand to prepare it. What a slog,

I hated it, but I also priced accordingly for it and have walked away from that project, paid in full and confident that my client’s project is the best that I could provide them.

Confidence in results, cost money. Combining this thought, with realising that most people in the world are quite intelligent and aren’t after a cheap job, see us busier than we’ve ever been.

Custom stamped installation

custom stamped concrete gold coast
custom stamped concrete gold coast

There are many different levels of concrete finishers.

There’s men and women who work all their life on three story walk ups, house slabs and stand behind a trowel machine for hours on end and can finish a concrete slab to mirror perfection without fail.

There’s men and women who can place and finish exposed aggregate to absolute perfection without a single stone out of place.

There’s also many pretenders who call themselves finishers, reaching out for top pay when times are good, only to find themselves out of work when it comes crunch time.

Then there’s finishers you talk to for completely custom installations. Finishers that foresee an outcome and know exactly what path needs to be followed to get there. From artistic design, to installation and completion, if you’re in talks for a custom concrete install, treat these people with the upmost respect because there’s many many years experience behind what they’re saying, and they will quite happily walk away from you if you barter pricing with them.

This project here, is the peak of my knowledge and experience. This is literally 25 odd years doing what I do. Not only that, but also a direct piece of my artistic and creative side, attempting to show what I can do through sheer creation the only way I know how to do it.

This project here, (to get back on track and stop shamelessly plugging), is a very lengthy and challenging process throughout all it’s aspects.

Apart from all the quoting to get some estimate pricing’s down for our client, then the real challenges begin. After sitting down on several occasions and exchanging tens of emails shooting ideas past each other, we cam to a conclusion of what direction we wanted to head. Now this kind of design is like going to a tattoo artist. It’s ok to have a design that you want done, but the installer needs to be confident they can supply it. Asking for a Traditional Tattoo Artist to complete a Japanese Windbar theme will work of course, but you’d be better keeping things in line with Traditional, to make sure all angles have been covered.

I’ll just use point form to finish this off to give a general idea of what was involved, along with time frames involved for each section of installation. If I try explain each of them, fuck, we’ll be here all bloody night and to be fair, this is the last one I’ve got in me to share tonight.

  • Day 1 @ 9 hours work time: Onsite with machine and tipper. Dig out all areas and allow for correct heights and falls in sub-grade for tricky areas, especially top path section that has only 50mm~ fall over an 8m section in length. Remove hot water system and air conditioning unit. Smash out old plumbing section and remove asbestos, replace with new connections. Form first pour for day 2. Install all steel reinforcing and expansion requirements making sure all steel s chaired correctly. Remove excess spoil from site, clean up and go to Burleigh to hire equipment. Pick up hired stamp pads and off setting colour release powder for tomorrow.
  • Day 2 @ 7 hours work time: Onsite early to finalise prep of first pour. Concrete arrives that was booked a week in advance to allow enough time for the colour through oxide that is ordered. Placement of concrete by wheel barrow throughout. Concrete screeded and floated accordingly. Measure out pre-determined dimensions for new diamond and border installations, use string line to flick each install. As the concrete has gone off enough to get onto with a kick board, but not enough that it can’t be worked, hand install (without a straight edge guide), all the of intricate diamonds and borders throughout, roughing it up with a mag trowel. Then return to start and hand finish smooth with steel trowel. Return to start again to throw on release agent powder with full dust protection and PPE. Return to start again and stamp all of the concrete a the right time so as to not go too deep, but deep enough that the release agent is impregnated into the surface enough to allow for a two tone finish. Wash everything off, suck down a beer like it didn’t touch the sides (forget how much I swore throughout the install), then head home fucked to rest.
  • Day 3 @ 7 hours work time: Rinse and repeat day 2
  • Day 4 @ 7 hours work time: Rinse and repeat day 2
  • Day 5 @ 7 hours work time: Rinse and repeat day 2
  • Day 6 @ 3 hours work time: Attend site with high pressure washer and wash all concrete off removing excess release agent powder, along with cleaning walls and adjoining areas. Lightly apply hydro acid to stubborn spots to make sure everything is cleaned properly. Block everything off very thoroughly so no body can access for the next 3 weeks until it has cured and I can finish it off and protect it properly. Strictly warn client if they don’t treat it like a new born baby, I will return and bring hell with me….(lol).
  • Day 7 @ 8 hours work time: Quick blow off of all concrete (client kept it amazingly clean, you’re awesome). Mix up water based stain at the consistency I want for the application I’m working with. Apply to all borders and diamonds with a paint brush making emphasis for the toning that I’m after, not just solid black. Wait for stain to drain, apply three coats of high grade acrylic sealer throughout with a very light solvent mix at the end to make sure bubbles don’t pop up.
  • Day 8 @ who give a fuck at this stage: Take “money shot” photos to show all my friends and peers to brag about how good it it, even though very few of them know exactly the blood, sweat and tears that went into creating something like this.

As you can most likely imagine, this process was not cheap. Quite the opposite, some would probably fall over to find out how much the cost of 50sqm of custom concrete can be. But our client wanted something special and was prepared to pay a proven professional to not only supply it, but bring forth their own creativity and artistic flair for something completely unique, seen rarely, if anywhere, else in the world.

What this created though was a completely focused installer with nothing on their mind but perfection. No cutting corners. No “close enough” attitude. Just giving literally everything they had into every aspect of the job. You don’t see that very often these days.

Where was I headed again?

I seem to start off all of these articles full of enthusiasm, with ideas flowing and popping around my head….only to forget the majority of them half way through and thinking fuck it, enough, what I was here for has been fulfilled.

I guess at the end of the day, if you as the client, are looking for something professional and you’re in turn talking to a professional about the outcome of your project, think about price last. The most successful projects I’ve taken on, that not only look the best but also the install went without much fault at all, were the ones where the profit margin reflected the effort I applied to it’s application.

If your concrete finisher, installer, artist? has nothing on his or her mind but providing you with quality and something truly unique in design, then that is exactly what you will receive. Don’t fill their heads with doubt, because it will reflect in their work.

If you’ve gotten this far, thanks for letting me vomit some text onto this site and trying to keep you interested for at least a little while. I guess I’m always in a constant battle with being in an industry which has a low reputation in general, but has artists who install some of the most amazing pieces of work, not talking about me here, some of the work I see from other professionals is truly inspiring…it really does resonate from the times when sculptures were looked upon with awe and admiration for the skill set, as opposed to the consumer driven Chinese market of modern times.

wtf walker concreting

It’s been a while

Been a while since I’ve a written up anything on here apart from reports on work completed.

Man, this year has been a slog. I’ve personally managed to work through personal problems that have only surfaced (or more to the point), been managed properly since I was a kid. I’ve seen people going out of business, workers selling all their tools screaming “I’m broke, help me help me!”, yet seen the same old true, good quality contractors getting busier and busier through these times of economic down turn.

For better or worse, here we all still are with our complaints and our happiness all completely contradicting each other as per what our own personal path is allowing us to follow. Ultimately, regardless of whether you’re broke or begging for JUST ONE SINGLE FUCKING DAY OFF, we’ll all be here when it’s done and forget about this very quickly, as everyone has done since the last economic downturn…..the GFC.

What a lot of people won’t know about me, is I started my business about 4 -5 years before the GFC started to take effect in the USA initially, of which I took not a lot of notice through being a little…unconditioned to what a downturn actually is. Before I knew it, green little me was nearly $100K in debt after some bad business transactions chasing the dragon and ultimately claiming bankruptcy. Fucking drag.

For all you lads / gals that are too young to have experienced that 1/100 years down turn, I forgive you for not knowing what you’re getting into, but to all the others who did experience this downturn and are now sitting here whinging because you have no work, no money, or someone is charging pennies for their services, or anything else, shame on you, learn your fucking lesson and stop the bullshit, you’re to blame. Prepare ffs. It’s not rocket science.

If you take the 2 seconds to realise, even in good times, these morons are charging pennies for their services. These tradespeople come and go as quick as it takes to put an ad in the Trading Post (yes, I’m that old school I remember when this was the only advertising really available), stop worrying about the “others”. Focus on yourself and your own growth within your chosen industry of expertise.

Here’s a few lessons in concreting to anyone who wants to listen to someone who has seen most of what the industry has to offer.

1: Get good at what you do.

  • Not pretending you’re good during good times, putting your hand out for top dollar as a concrete finisher when you couldn’t finish your 12 yo self in the shower with fucking soap. (We see straight away what you are, stop talking shit).
  • Take the time, even for free if the option comes available, to learn high skills in the trade. I offered a labourera few weeks back to help with barrowing, for $150 / 2 hours work, then, welcome to sit through me finishing some very high end work and asking any questions they wish…..he barrowed in, washed tools, got paid and fucking left. This is the finish I completed, quite literally, (without blowing my own horn), 20+ years of experience and knowledge, of which they simply walked away from and didn’t care to get more knowledge (to earn a better pay). I bet this guy will be complaining next down turn how he’s worth more money…..

Yeah  yeah, guilty as charged. That was a shameless plug for a job I completed. But, I am more than willing to put my work in front of my peers and have it judged. Feel free to check the following link for what my fellow professionals have to say (if you’re a part of that FB page). https://www.facebook.com/groups/1992926050968709/

But I digress……

2: Forget the profit margin

  • This is the first part of contracting. Once this has been quoted on and price supplied to the client, apart from a few changes if needed for changes in scope of works, live and die by your price.
  • Under charge? Over charge? Whatever. It’s contracting, you win some you lose some. In the end, if you’re not a complete moron, you will end up ahead of the game, kind of like poker I suppose.
  • Once this price has been worked out, do you absolute best, as often as you can to provide good quality work. Structurally secure, quality finishing and basically as good as you can give your client who is paying you their hard earned savings. Yes, that’s right, your client has also earned their money as hard as you, respect that shit, or fuck off and go work at Maccas.

Fark. Too many brews on a Friday night.

………….You know what….My daughter just walked in the door after I’ve just finished another 70 hour week trying desperately to stay on top of our 3+ month forward work schedule. It’s been a big week and tomorrow is yet another work day and my family comes first as much as I can put them there, which is all too infrequent to be fair.

I didn’t get through anywhere near what I had in mind for this post, but if you haven’t got the gist of this shit by now, even through limited context, you’re probably well short of learning by using your ears anyway, try bashing your chest and throwing shit at the walls, see what sticks.

This industry, if you try hard enough, will drive you to alcoholism, put your Bipolar and ADHD into swirls of madness that seem uncontrollable…..but those few, brief moments of the year when everything comes together and you do something that honestly, few people in this world can do to perfection,  man it feels good…..beyond comprehension.

If you’re in this concrete game, regardless of what society tells you that you are, strive for perfection and show the world what it was once like to be a sculpture and create something from stone that other people stand back from and admire.

I’ll leave this (somewhat random and drunkenly abhorrent post), with some more shameless self promotion. Give us a call today for your higher end projects, we’re the real deal and I’ve got the fucking scars to prove it.

Concrete Colour Sealing Mermaid Waters
Warranty Repairs Jacobs Well
modern stone
minor stone
Epoxy Metallic Gold Coast
Custom Stone Resurfacing Gaven
Multi Tone Stain Stamped Tallai
Exposed Concrete Driveway Runaway Bay
Concrete Resurfacing Runaway Bay
Concrete Resurfacing Gold Coast
Concrete Colour Sealing Mermaid Waters

Major Concrete Revamp Mermaid Waters

Project Description

Location: Mermaid Waters
Project Size: 300sqm + 24sqm

Finishing off our major colour re-works project today, has been a long slog this one.

We got in early to prep and complete the metallic epoxy flooring, then settled in for the long hand grind of the remaining stamped concrete that was painted at some stage.

Now, there’s nothing particularly wrong with paint, expect it doesn’t work that well most of the time, and when we need to fix it up, it’s a damn nightmare.

We gave our client two options, firstly, just going over everything with a tint seal, which would see relatively frequent and larger fix ups as the existing paint continued to peel off over time, or, we can hand grind out the paint as much as possible, of which we wouldn’t get rid of all of it, but with the aim of removing as much as possible so that the touch ups are a lot more infrequent and of a much smaller scale over time.

Our client for this project was truly just one of those people who simply makes your day better by being around them. Such kind, considerate, hospitable people of which we will truly miss their company. As professionals, we are always striving to do the absolute best we can with the work that we output, and when we have clients like this, that process is all the simpler, even finding the extra reason to push that little bit harder for better results.

Thank you kindly for your business, we hope to run into you again soon.

Project Photos

Mermaid Before After Tint Seal Concrete
Concrete Colour Sealing Mermaid Waters
Concrete Colour Sealing Mermaid Waters
Concrete Colour Sealing Mermaid Waters
Concrete Colour Sealing Mermaid Waters
Concrete Colour Sealing Mermaid Waters
Concrete Colour Sealing Mermaid Waters
Concrete Colour Sealing Mermaid Waters
Concrete Colour Sealing Mermaid Waters
Concrete Colour Sealing Mermaid Waters
Concrete Colour Sealing Mermaid Waters
Concrete Colour Sealing Mermaid Waters
Concrete Colour Sealing Mermaid Waters
Concrete Colour Sealing Mermaid Waters
Concrete Colour Sealing Mermaid Waters
Concrete Colour Sealing Mermaid Waters
Concrete Colour Sealing Mermaid Waters
Concrete Colour Sealing Mermaid Waters
Concrete Colour Sealing Mermaid Waters
Concrete Colour Sealing Mermaid Waters
Concrete Colour Sealing Mermaid Waters
Concrete Colour Sealing Mermaid Waters
Concrete Colour Sealing Mermaid Waters
Concrete Colour Sealing Mermaid Waters
Concrete Colour Sealing Mermaid Waters
Concrete Colour Sealing Mermaid Waters
Concrete Colour Sealing Mermaid Waters
Concrete Colour Sealing Mermaid Waters
Concrete Colour Sealing Mermaid Waters
Concrete Colour Sealing Mermaid Waters
Concrete Colour Sealing Mermaid Waters
Concrete Colour Sealing Mermaid Waters
Concrete Colour Sealing Mermaid Waters
Concrete Colour Sealing Mermaid Waters
Concrete Colour Sealing Mermaid Waters
Concrete Colour Sealing Mermaid Waters
Decorative Resurfacing Molendinar

Finishing Off Decorative Works Molendinar

Project Description

Location: Molendinar
Project Size: 85sqm

Just the last stage of our larger, custom decorative project out at Molendinar completed today. Resurfacing of the carport and driveway to match roughly the custom stamped and stained concrete we installed a few weeks ago.

Colours Used: White base with Blue Mountain main, Midnight Blue borders with Midnight Blue and Natural flecking.

Project Photos

Decorative Resurfacing Molendinar
Decorative Resurfacing Molendinar
Decorative Resurfacing Molendinar
Decorative Resurfacing Molendinar
Decorative Resurfacing Molendinar
Decorative Resurfacing Molendinar
Decorative Resurfacing Molendinar

My Concrete Finishing Pièce de Résistance

Project Description

Location: Ashmore
Project Size: 170sqm

Plain concrete installation for swim spa structural base smooth finish.

Plain concrete installation for rear step downs and side path with stipple finishing.

Seamless stamped concrete installation with hand detailed border and internal diamonds in Platinum colour oxide with Titanium power release, finished with water based Midnight stained borders and diamonds and full acrylic sealing.

No need for anymore words, please enjoy my art.

Project Photos

Concrete and Resurfacing Bethania

Drive and Entrance Refurbishment

Project Description

Location: Bethania
Project Size: 70sqm

Installation of new concrete pathway and entrance and full resurfacing of those areas along with driveway section.

Colours Used
River Sand main colour with Silver Birch, White and Fossil flecking and a single, White 12mm taped line for boundary edges.

Before and After Concrete Resurfacing Bethania

Project Photos

Plain Concrete Installation Bethania
Plain Concrete Installation Bethania
Concrete and Resurfacing Bethania
Concrete and Resurfacing Bethania
Concrete and Resurfacing Bethania
Concrete and Resurfacing Bethania
Warranty Repairs Jacobs Well

Warranty Works

Project Description

Location: Jacobs Well
Project Size: 60sqm

“You can’t accept your wins if you can’t wear your losses.” – Me 2019

I’m a big believer that business is all about the ups and downs. We work the hardest of making sure that the up’s are much more frequent than the downs, but of course, the downs are never that far away. The main thing, is that working just as hard on the downs as we do on the ups, turns those downs also into ups. I swear that just sounded like “Cat in the Hat” reading that back to myself….

This project here is a project we got under way around October 2018. A package deal for our clients with installation of side paths and driveway in plain grey concrete, then returning to decorative resurfacing or overlay the concrete to something pretty and fancy for this up market area in Jacobs Well.

The time came to install the concrete and a brief look at the weather had Mr Weather Man predicting 20% chance of 1-5mm of rain. Having been in this industry for 20+ years, a little rain here and there is certainly nothing that frightens us, especially considering we’re resurfacing later. At worst, it will just cool the afternoon down a bit on an already scorching days work.

However, as we got to final finishing, a big purple headed monster flew over the mountains with bright red eyes and horns of fire and instead of the 1-5mm of rain which would have seen my lovely niece in her gumboots splashing around, we were getting spears of pure evil pelted from the heavens at near horizontal angles seeing us racing for cover behind the other side of the house praying that the wall didn’t fall down.

10 minutes. That’s all it was, but it was enough to wash all the surface off our newly installed concrete and saw me kicking construction hats down the street swearing at Thor and his horrible temper that he just threw my way.

But, we are professionals and the show must go on.

We returned in November to start resurfacing works. I took to the concrete with my grinders, hoping to remove any unwanted wash that was sitting on the surface and wouldn’t prevent a solid bond of our new resurfacing products. I then acid cleaned the bejingles out of it and pressure washed everything off until I had nothing but pure stone to contact bond to when resurfacing.

After completing the resurfacing and taking all precautions I could, I walked away knowing that my years of experience has again gotten us out of a tricky situation….or so I thought.

Our client here got back in touch with us April this year, about 4-5 months after we finished work there. They just let us know that there were two cracks in the concrete that they would like me to look at.

Now one of these cracks, was just an unfortunate, non-structural crack that was only a hairline and being held together nicely by the steel reinforcing. Sucks that it’s there, but nothing more could be done. However, the bottom crack, was right next to the joint and looked pretty shitty. After some closer inspection, I could see that it was another control area that had basically gotten some unwanted materials in there, and, over the past 4-5 months, had began to let go in a straight line, more installation error than faulty product.

Now I had two choices here, licencing and warranty terms only dictate that I need to repair the damaged area, which would have been a pretty easy process considering it was only a small area, but I wanted to go the extra mile here and grind off the entire surface of the concrete and resurface again for two reasons.

Firstly, I wanted to make sure there weren’t any other areas underneath our resurfacing that I had missed in the original process that would fail later on down the track for our clients. I want our clients to have a long lasting solution for their concrete, not just a pretty coating that comes off if you step on it too hard.

Secondly, I know that if I just grind back and repair and resurfacing that particular section, in the position where it is, the new colour I put next to the old colour is going to look different. Over time, the two colours would blend back to each other, but these are good clients here and I want them to have the job they paid for.

So after a few days swearing and kicking behind the floor grinder, dragging my ageing ass over the concrete to hand grind the remaining bits, repairing areas, acid and pressure cleaning again, double base coating with modified product for fullness, then finally re-spraying, our clients again have their beautiful driveway back to pristine condition and not only looking fantastic, but I also modified the products that I used making them stronger and more effective…..lets see this little sucker let go now, I dare you.

Now, we’re only a small operation, literally me, my wife and the odd sub-contractor. Finding time to complete warranty works, especially with what was required here, is very difficult. I explained to our clients here to please be patient, gave them an outline of what I would be completing whilst asking them to be patient about the overall time frame. We finished their respray over a 3 week period, leaving them full access on the driveway throughout the duration except for the last 2 days (yesterday and today), when the final coatings went down.

If you’re reading this Geoff & Val, thank you for your patience  in waiting for repairs, along with you respect and trust that we are professionals and only want the best results for you, along with you overall business. It was a pleasure working with you.

Colours Used
White base with Natural main colour, Blue Mountain borders and control inserts with White and Blue Mountain Flecking

Project Photos

Warranty Repairs Jacobs Well
Warranty Repairs Jacobs Well
Warranty Repairs Jacobs Well
Warranty Repairs Jacobs Well
Warranty Repairs Jacobs Well
Warranty Repairs Jacobs Well
Warranty Repairs Jacobs Well
Warranty Repairs Jacobs Well
Warranty Repairs Jacobs Well