Author: Flenn Hall

How To Remove Spray Paint From Concrete

Unwanted spray paint in your concrete is not attractive to the overall look of your building or home. It may appear like a stain or dirt in which could mess up the quality of your concrete finish. Spray paint happens when the finishing coat is not complete, or there’s no finishing mask applied in the first place. It could also be a faded design in a paint project or simply an unwanted drift from a paint job. Regardless of the cause, removing such stain is quite time-consuming and laborious.  It could be easy if the spray paint is still fresh, but more often than not, it is not since spray paints dry up quickly. 

You can use basic soap and water to scrub the paint off, but in some cases, you will need chemicals to do the job for you. This article will show you how to successfully remove paint stains from your concrete. 

Method 1: Clean Using Soap and Water 

Using the materials that you can easily access at home – soap, water, and hard bristle brush scrub off the paint stain carefully but rigorously. This method is recommended if the stain is just small or light. It also won’t harm giving this a try first before resorting to other chemical solutions. This is a non- toxic,  safest, and most economical solution for removing paint spray from the concrete. However, this method uses the mildest solution therefore, it may take more work to remove the paint, and it may not remove everything. Since the concrete is porous and highly absorbent, once the paint dries up, it will be difficult for it to come off with just soap and water. But it’s always worth a try since this method is simple and free. You may need to apply and scrub several times. 

Adding some vinegar to your cleaning solution is also recommended since it is proven to clean a variety of surfaces. But be careful using vinegar in sealed concrete areas, because the acid from it could strip the seal coating. It’s better to test the vinegar first in a small spot to see how it reacts to specific paint stains before fully diluting the entire area on it. 

Materials Needed: 

  • Buckets of water 
  • Mild soap or detergent 
  • Garden hose (for outdoors) 
  • Stiff bristled brush 
  • Mop and bucket (for indoors) 
  • Protective gears like goggles, gloves, respirator and safety glasses) 
  • Warm water 
  • Versatile, absorbent paper towels 

Step-by-Step Instructions:

  1. Wear your protective gear before working. 
  2. Clean the area to remove any dust or dirt. 
  3. Prepare your cleaning agent. Pour warm water to two separate buckets then add some dish soap or detergent on the other one. 
  4. Wet the stained spot with warm water. 
  5. Apply the detergent solution using a brush. Scrub it using a circular movement. 
  6. Damp the spot with a clean paper towel. 
  7. Rinse with fresh water. You can use a garden hose if you’re outdoors. 
  8. Just keep on repeating the process until the stain is removed. 

Method 2: Use Any of the Following Removers – Aerosol, Trigger Sprayers, or Liquid Solutions.

If soap and water don’t work, you can use any graffiti remover. A graffiti remover has special ingredients that seep into surfaces and loosen the paint. They come in various forms – trigger sprayers, wipes, aerosol cans, pastes, liquid solutions, and sponges. Refer to the manufacturer’s instructions to find the most suitable for your needs. 

Generally, graffiti removers are inexpensive although they involve chemicals it’s not as strong as TSP or paint thinner. Every product or brand varies in strength, and some removers may not require you to scrub the stained area. Just blotting or wiping with a cloth or towel will be enough to remove the dirt. Bit since this remover is loaded with chemicals that require it to sit in for several minutes to a few hours for it to work, this could be time-consuming. 

If you’re any graffiti remover, take into consideration that if you apply it on a vertical surface, it will tend to drip down. Use a painter’s tape or plastic drop cloths to protect the bottom surface. 

Materials Needed:

  • Water bucket 
  • Warm water 
  • Scrub brush 
  • Graffiti remover 
  • Mop and bucket (for indoors) 
  • Garden hose (for outdoors)
  • Paper towels or disposable cloths 
  • Protective gears 

Step-by-Step Instructions:

  1. Wear your protective gear before working.
  2. Clean the spot to remove any dust or dirt. 
  3. Pour warm water into the empty bucket. 
  4. Read the manufacturer’s instruction on the graffiti remover and apply it accordingly. 
  5. Let it sit for a few minutes,m depending on the severity of the stain.
  6. Using a brush, scrub it in gently in circular movements. 
  7. Wipe the spot with a disposable cloth or paper towel. 
  8. Wash it with clean, warm water. You can run the garden hose if you’re outside. 
  9. Repeat this process until the paint is removed. 

Method 3: Apply Paint Thinner, Stripper, or TSP.

Paint thinner and strippers, from the terms itself, are used to penetrate and loosen off thin paint on different surfaces like concrete. These are forms of solvents that can dissolve substances like paint. Paint thinner is a kind of solvent, similar to other types, which can remove paint-like stains like xylene, methyl ethyl ketone (MEK), acetone, turpentine, naphtha, and denatured alcohol. On the other hand, paint strippers are also known to remove paint stains although the formulation is different from the thinner. 

Lastly, TSP or trisodium phosphate works like a paint stripper. It comes in both powder and liquid form. 

Using these materials won’t break your bank. They are relatively affordable and available to your local hardware stores. However, solvents are flammable, so better keep them away from any heat sources or candles. They can also burn skin upon contact. Thus, wearing protective gear like thick gloves is inevitable. TSP, on the other hand, comes with non-caustic (won’t burn skin) options if you want to avoid skin injuries. 

Materials Needed:

  • Paint thinner or stripper or TSP 
  • Clean, disposable cloth 
  • Protective gears 
  • Stiff brush 
  • 1- gallon bucket
  • 5-gallon bucket 
  • Warm water 
  • Garden hose (for outdoors) 
  • Mop (for indoors) 

Step-by-Step Instructions for Thinner or Stripper: 

  1. Wear your protective gear before working. 
  2. Clean the specific spot to remove any dust or dirt. 
  3. Carefully apply the thinner or stripper to the stained spot. Make sure to follow the instructions on the product label. 
  4. Using a clean, disposable cloth, wipe the spot after application. 
  5. Keep on applying and wiping until the last residue of the stain is gone. 

Step-by-Step Instructions for TSP: 

  1. Wear your protective gear before working. 
  2. Clean the specific spot to remove any dust or dirt. 
  3. Read the instructions on the product label and follow the directions for diluting TSP in warm water. 
  4. Using a brush, apply the TSP solution to the stained spot. You can also scrub it and let it work for 20 minutes before totally scrubbing. 
  5. Rinse the area with warm water. 
  6. Keep on repeating the process until the stain is fully removed. 
  7. Clean the work area. 

There are other ways to remove the spray paint on your concrete. Some may resort to using a power washer, sandblaster,  and angle grinder. But the methods enumerated above are ideal for paint sprays as they could easily come off using lighter substances. 

How to Stucco a Block Wall

Concrete block wall and Portland cement-based plaster or stucco are very complementary since they are both made from the same primary ingredients. Therefore, if properly done, a concrete block wall can be a great base framework for the stucco. 

A concrete block must have an open or rough texture to apply stucco. This opening or coarseness allows the stucco to interlock with the exterior of the concrete block providing a mechanical key bond. 

A mechanical bond refers to the entanglement in space among multiple component parts. It means that there can be no separation without distorting or breaking chemical bonds between atoms.  

Some concrete blocks have a smooth surface texture. This type of concrete block has an inadequate mechanical bond for the stucco to clutch. But if the suction bond can be developed, it can still be considered a great base framework for stucco installation. 

A suction bond refers to the permanent bond created by the absorption of another agent’s element. For example, if you are laying bricks and those bricks, due to their porous characteristic, absorb water quickly. It is this suction that absorbs the mortar into a brick. Therefore, creating a permanent bond between them. Likewise, in the case of stucco and concrete block wall, suction bond refers to the absorption of water and Portland cement from the mortar into the surface of the block. This occurrence caused a bonding effect at the interface of the stucco and the block wall. 

In a block wall that is to receive the stucco, the intersections are cut flush with the block. In order to prevent the reduction of mechanical keying needed for a good bond, sponging or floating of mortar joints is considered a prohibited practice. As defined in ACI 530 Chapter 3, the walls must be aligned properly to ward off large variations in stucco thickness and plane tolerances.  The should be tidy and free from any form oil, efflorescence, mortar drippings, loose block, roof tar, etc. The wall must be checked for suitability before plastering. You should address cracks or voids in the mortar joints before applying the stucco. 

The Bond

Before applying the scratch coat, determine the bond sufficiency. You should not process if the bond is questionable. You may consider the other options available: 

  • Dash‐Bond Coat – this provides a mechanical bond for succeeding plaster. It is composed of a thick slurry of Portland cement and fine sands with enough water. 
  • Bonding Agents – since there are several variations of this material in the market, it is important to identify the right bonding agent to be used. Some are integrally combined into the stucco mortar while some are surface applied to the block prior to the application of the scratch coat. 
  • Metal Plaster Base Assembly – for this application, it is recommended to have a paper backed, self‐furring metal lath properly anchored to the wall. The reason for this is for the paper is to ensure that there is a uniform un-bonded condition and that the stucco is not sticking to the block which causes cracking. 

Control Joints

One of the greatest benefits of using block for a base is that it just needs to be connected at the control joints in the base wall with the correctly bonded stucco. 

If a metal plaster base is applied over a block wall, the same thing must be applied with frame construction.

Different Bases

Differences in the bases will cause the stucco to crack if walls where block construction adjoins another type of construction. As a precaution, it is recommended to have the control joint at the juncture of the block and frame walls. In this way, the crack will be hidden and pre-aligned.

The Mix

The stucco mix refers to the properties of the aggregates and materials available in each location. The most important characteristic of a stucco mix is its utility. Adhesiveness is important in order for it to stick on the trowel from the hawk to the wall. Plasticity is also important to make troweling easy. But above all, the mix should bond properly with the block. 

A minimum of five minutes of mixing time after adding the final ingredient is sufficient to achieve a proper bond. 

Coats and Thickness

For block wall construction, provisions for either a two‐coat or three‐coat application was contained in ASTM C 926, “Installation of Portland Cement-Based Plaster”. 

Application

To ensure mechanical key and section bond, stucco should be applied with adequate pressure to push the material into the surface of the block. It’s not enough to just spread it on the wall. Also, in order to achieve the preferred thickness of the coat, sufficient substance should be applied. For the scratch coat, sufficient thickness is very important because it is prone to bond failure and “dry out”. 

Curing

Curing is important in any stucco work. There are no definite codes and standards regarding proper curing. Generally, there must be “sufficient moisture and time between coats”. In most cases, moist curing like a fog mist applied several times a day for the first two or three days should be sufficient. It is not allowed for the stucco to dry out during this stage. 

How To Make Concrete Powder

Concrete is a construction material that comprises a mixture of both fine and coarse materials such as aggregates, water, and Portland cement. The cement binds the elements together to form a paste that will solidify and harden over time through a chemical reaction called hydration. The solid product that resembles a rock mass is called the concrete. Looking at the process of how concrete is formed, we can say that concrete, on the initial stage of the mixing process, is plastic and malleable. But when it hardens, it becomes strong and durable, and that makes it great building material for houses, buildings, driveways, and roads. 

If you’re planning to do some construction or renovation in your home, backyard, or building, concrete is an inevitable ingredient in your building project. You can buy a bag of concrete mix in your local hardware store, or you can make your do-it-yourself concrete mix. To create your concrete pre-mixed, you need to purchase cement and combine it with other materials such as water, sand, gravel, or other forms of aggregates. You can also make your limestone cement. Regardless if this do-it-yourself project is new to you, creating your concrete is an easy task provided that you have the proper tools and materials. 

Before we start creating your own concrete powder, let’s go over some definitions first: 

  • Cement is a pulverized limestone, oyster, freshwater seashells that undergo a heating process to remove the CO2. This acts as a binder as it adheres to other materials like aggregates and water. 
  • Concrete, as mentioned above, is a combination of cement, water, and aggregates such as sand or gravel that hardens over time. 
  • Mortar is a mixture of water, cement, sand, and lime that acts like a paste that binds building block materials that dry over time. 

Now let’s make your concrete powder. If you don’t want to buy a ready-mixed bag of cement, you can also make your own by using a limestone. 

How to make limestone cement

  1. Buy or look for limestone in your backyard. You can tell if the stone you find is limestone if it crackles or cracks when you soak it in vinegar. If you cannot find one in your property, then buying online, in a hardware store, or any home and gardening centers are your next option. 

2. Using a sledgehammer, crush the limestone into 3-inch pieces. Some companies use mechanical crushers or hammer mills to convenience since they are mass-producing materials. But if you will just use the materials in your home repair, then a sledgehammer will do the job for you. 

3. Preheat your kiln and put your limestone there under 2,700 Fahrenheit (1482.2 C). Wait for 3 to four hours before switching the heat off. You can use a high-temperature kiln thermometer to check the temperature of the kiln. Since the kiln is emitting harmful gas, don’t forget to wear your goggles and respirator for protection.  

4. Remove the limestone out of the kiln. Let it cool for one to two hours. Use a fan to speed up the cooling process. Once it cools, disintegrate the pieces of each limestone. Make sure to wear thick gloves when crumbling up the limestones. 

5. Place the limestones to a wheelbarrow, then using a shovel, break up the limestone into smaller pieces until it looks like fine dust. 

How to make a concrete powder out of limestone cement

Now that we have our DIY cement, it’s time to make our concrete powder. 

  1. Get your all-purpose sand, either coarse of fine, from a hardware store or online. If you have a spare of sands in your backyard, you can use that. Combine two parts of the sand to one part of cement. You can mix the two using a wheelbarrow and a shovel, but if you have access to a concrete mixer, that will work better. If you are trying to mix, more than 80 lbs (36.28 k), it is advisable to use a concrete mixer for accuracy and efficiency. Make sure to follow the 2:1 ratio when adding materials. 
  1. Add four parts of your aggregates such as gravel or crushed brick to the mixture. In this case, you should follow the ratio of 4:1 – 4 parts of gravel for every one part of the cement mixture. These aggregate materials play a vital role in holding the concrete together once it dries. If you prefer a smoother finish, you can opt for smaller or finer pieces of gravel. Continue mixing until everything is well incorporated. 

Once all the dry materials are properly mixed, you can now add some water to make your concrete, or you can simply set aside these dry materials for future use. This is now your do-it-yourself concrete powder. 

How To Fix Stucco Cracks

How To Fix Stucco Cracks

Stuccoed walls and ceilings in your home give you and your guests an impression of style. It is quite popular since it is low-maintenance and gives a wonderful texture to places. Your stuccoed home might be as pretty as it is, but you may have some problems. You may notice some cracks after some time. Repairing them as fast as you can, will make sure that you will take care of it effectively. To know how, here are some repair tips.

Inspect

Look at the crack and use a scraper to enlarge it a bit. That will help you to know how serious it is. If it is only on the surface and is narrow, then it will be easy to repair it. 

Possible Causes

Knowing the possible reasons as to why these cracks appear is essential. Some are if the plaster used was not mixed correctly, the position of your house, or if it did not cure properly. Another might be because of vibrations if you have on-going home renovations, such as installing or repairing sheetrock. Make sure to do that first before doing the brown coat on your stucco project. If the crack is narrow, then it won’t affect the structural integrity of your home. 

Repair

When the house is cool during the morning, it is easier to repair cracks. The fractures will be more visible. It is because of your house “contracting” due to the temperature. When you try to do the work when the sun is out, it will be hot and your house will “expand,” which will make the cracks come together.

Clean the wall before you fix it. Pressure-washing it will get rid of dirt and will make the paint adhere easily. There are many great stucco products you can purchase to fill in the cracks. You may do caulking or spackling. You may also paint over the tinier cracks that the paint may fill. Using three coats of Plascon Micatex paint is ideal because it is textured and water-based. 

In repairing larger cracks, you may use caulking or concrete sealers like Sashco Mor-Flexx. It is textured and may be used for exteriors or interiors. Squeeze the sealer following the cracks. Rub it using your finger to make sure you filled it. Then, clean up the excess in the area, if you do not want to end up with a different color when painting over it. Let it dry and you will be ready to paint. 

When painting over the repaired cracks, use a roller for larger parts of the wall, and a brush to fill in the gaps or around the edges. Make sure to cover furniture, floor, or pavement with cloth, and mask door and window frames with painter’s tape. You may do another coat to better hide the cracks.

If you are afraid to do things yourself, you may call a repairman, but be ready for repair costs. Generally, cracks are easy to repair, so if you are doing it alone, make sure that you use the right materials to keep your stucco pretty and crack-free.

How to Stucco a Wall

How to Stucco a Wall

Enhancing the beauty of your home might be a priority for you. Since we stay at home and people sometimes come as guests, we surely want to give them a good impression. Because of that, stucco may appeal to you. It is popular since it is low maintenance, water-proof, long-lasting, and gives homes a timeless appeal. It will surely give your house a textured look that will make it stand up. You can use it in different materials like brick, wood, cement, and others. Here is a guide to help you with your stucco home projects.

 Process

When you are applying stucco on wood, make sure to cover it with building paper and attach metal latches for structure support. You will apply three layers: scratch coat, brown coat, and finish or color coat. 

You have to do your project on days with low wind and the right temperature (50F to 60F). Temperature will affect your work, like how it will quickly dry out if the weather is too hot. Do not continue it if you see that the weather forecast for several days is too hot or cold.

Preparation

For bricks and cement walls, you only need to fix cracks and thoroughly wash it. You also need to make sure that it is wet before applying the scratch coat. For plywood, you have to cover it with two layers of building paper, and attach them with staples or roofing nails. You also need trim accessories and galvanized lath or netting. Sometimes, you also need to apply some bonding agents, depending on the material.

Application

Make sure that you get the right consistency when mixing. For the scratch coat, mix 1 part cement material (with lime) and 2 1/4 to 4 parts plaster sand. If you are applying stucco to bricks or cement, you may skip this step. Directly apply it using a square trowel held at a 45-degree angle. Spread it evenly with 3/8-inch thickness. Keep the surface moist as it cures for 24 to 48 hours. 

Mix 1 part cement (with lime) and 3 to 5 parts sand for the brown coat. Layer it to 3/8-inch thickness. Make sure to do a smooth surface, so fill gaps or voids. Let it dry for a while, then you may use a sponge masonry float to smooth the surface. Allow it to cure for 24 to 48 hours, keeping it moist as it does. For cement and bricks, the brown coat is the first coat. Evenly apply it until it reaches a 3/8-inch thickness.

For the final or color coat, you will need to mix 1 part cement and 1 1/2 to 3 parts sand. You may add a stucco colorant to give it a hue. Use techniques like knife swaths to achieve the texture you want. If you want to make sure that you will do a seamless job, you may use a texture roller. Make sure to dampen the surface as it cures, so you won’t have cracks on the surface. 

Stucco is great for your home; it will surely help it look new and upgraded for several years to come.

How to Paint Stucco

How to Paint Stucco

Painting stucco may be a difficult task to do. This is because stucco is made of powdered limestone or cement that is mixed with sand and water until it meets a mortar-like consistency which makes it have an uneven texture; thus, difficult to paint. But stucco is a great alternative as a home exterior because of its durability making it last for a long time. With that said, painting stucco can be worth all your time, patience, and concentration as long as you do it the right way. And that is why here we are.

Before we start the step-by-step guide, here is the list of tools that you might need in the whole process:

  • Putty Knife
  • Painter’s Tape
  • Masonry Primer
  • Masonry Paint
  • Roller Grid
  • Large-nap paint roller
  • Paintbrush

Here is the step-by-step guide of how to paint stucco:

1. Let it Rest

In case your stucco is just recently applied, give it enough time (At least 2 months) to dry fully before you start making any improvements. By doing so, the stucco will be able to be stable before painting it. It’s best to avoid touching it. If you live in an area where it frequently rains, you should consider giving it additional 1-2 weeks to dry. 

2. Inspect 

Once it’s dry, check for any imperfections. Imperfections may be stained, crumbled, or peeled spots of the stucco. Note any of these to repair it later. In case the imperfection/s is minimal, put on a visible mark to avoid forgetting it. 

3. Repair 

After inspecting the stucco, repair the flawed areas. For the small cracks, you can fill it by running the tip of the caulk gun loaded with elastomeric caulk along the crack. For larger cracks, remove any loose debris with a putty knife first before filling it with a dry stucco repair product that may be mixed with water, depending on the direction of the package. 

4. Pressure-wash

To completely clean the stucco, pressure-wash it after a month or half of the repair. This will remove all the dust, grime, mold, and other dirt that has build-up on the stucco. Just make sure to avoid directing it to other surfaces like windows and make sure to lower the pressure setting. 

5. Let it Dry

After pressure-washing the stucco, wait patiently for it to dry completely. 

By doing all of that, you are already done prepping the stucco for the paint. The following things are what you should do next:

1. Pick the Right Masonry Paint

In choosing the right masonry paint, not only you have to choose your preferred color but also consider which masonry paint can comply with all the conditions and needs of the surface you are painting. You can find masonry paint at your local hardware store, home improvement center, and even at the aisles of superstores. 

2. Mask the Unwanted Areas

Use the painter’s tape to mask off all the unwanted areas such as door frames, window ledges, and more. Make sure to put drop cloth or tarp in case the stucco is connected with a walkway and such. 

3. Pour the Paint in a Large Bucket

Find a bucket to put your paint where your rollers can be accommodated. Just pour enough paint to avoid wasting it. 

4. Paint

This is the fun part. Use the rollers and glide it back and forth onto the stucco. Overlap and use vertical and horizontal strokes to ensure optimum coverage. 

5. Fill any gaps

With a paintbrush, carefully fill any areas that you might have missed and areas that are hard to reach. 

6. Let it Dry

The drying time may vary depending on the brand of your paint. In case you want to apply a second layer, do it the next day to make sure it’s fully dry. 

7. Apply the Second Coat

Stucco is a great holder of paint and that is why even a single coat may satisfy you. But in case you want to apply another, make sure to keep it thin to avoid covering the natural texture of the stucco. 

8. Let it Dry and Cure

The second coat will most likely dry just within a day but it may take a whole month to cure completely. Within these times, make sure to avoid touching the surface to avoid unwanted fingerprints and smudges. 

Though these look a bit tiresome, it surely is worth all your time, money, and effort. If this is done successfully you can expect long-lasting, durable protection that will not let your stucco experience any scratches, moisture, and temperature-related damage for years. 

Draft Landscape Supply – The Pros and Cons of Their Services

Home Garden Landscape

As a customer of one of the most popular landscape supply sites, I have always found it to be an informative resource. However, I recently found myself wondering about the content that is published and whether or not I should continue to use them. Let’s take a look at their benefits and drawbacks.

The primary benefit of any online landscape supply website is that they allow customers to purchase items at discounted prices. That is the reason many turn to these sites when they are seeking ideas for their yard. They also enable you to save money on hard to find products. You will find that most of the products you find at these sites can be purchased through your local retailer.

One of the most common products they carry is a coffee table. It may be common but if you do not know how to assemble one then it can be rather challenging. This gives you an idea as to what to expect when you begin to assemble one.

Now that you have an idea of what to expect, it is a good idea to do some research on the different models of tables you might consider purchasing. If you plan on completing the project yourself then it is best to try to obtain one with a price tag as low as possible.

Now, let’s say you are not that handy and want to look into purchasing a coffee table. Of course, when you do this, you will have to make a decision about the type of material to use. If you choose a vinyl table, you might find it to be somewhat durable but it is also very susceptible to damage.

On the other hand, if you choose wood, you will have to invest in a patio umbrella to keep it protected from the elements. The problem with this is that it will cause the table to become dirty very quickly and will require frequent cleanings.

Even when choosing a material for your outdoor table, you have to consider the value of your patio as well. If you do not like having dirt, trash, and debris cluttering up your front yard, then you will need to invest in a material that will handle the mess you would expect.

These materials also come in a variety of styles and sizes. It is up to you to decide which design is going to work best for your needs. Once you have decided what style of table you want, you need to find out what type of surface it will need to be laid on.

A standard garden table that is on the ground level is going to work well but you could use it on the second level or in a higher spot. Of course, if you decide that you do not want a table on the ground level, it will make sense to purchase one with a foot or more of height to it.

Once you have the right type of table, you will also want to make sure that you have the right type of table legs. When considering this, you have to keep in mind that there are two types of legs.

The first type of legs is the wood ones that hang down from the legs and are used in lieu of a chair, and in some cases, even a table. They are strong and are built to withstand some heavy weights.

The second type of legs that you need to look for are those that are constructed to go up on a wall behind the outdoor table. They are not only stylish, but they also offer you the ability to raise the table so that you can sit in it and relax during the afternoon.

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