Every project poses its own challenges, and it is up to the contractor to find the best solution. In some situations, the problem must be solved before the initial project can begin. Such was the case in a recent project for decorative contractor Jason Sawyers, owner of Innovative Concrete Concepts located in Salem, Ore. The project consisted of a 6,500-square-foot, freshly poured concrete patio for a home in Keizer, Ore.
Unlike other patio projects, a direct 12-foot drop-off existed in the desired location of the patio. Along with the drop-off, the home was located near the Willamette River requiring special considerations to be taken in regard to the floodplain. Before any work could begin on the patio, Sawyers and his crew installed a 10-foot retaining wall. The wall also helped increase the surface grade.
"A plan was drawn up with a retaining wall the length of the patio and a flight of steps down the center to a lower patio," Sawyers says. "The trick was keeping the patio high and flat enough so that it wouldn't have too many steps out of the house, but low enough to keep the view of the Willamette River for the living spaces."
After the height of the retaining wall was approved, Sawyers and his crew poured a cast-in-place retaining wall formed out of ¾ inch plywood. The retaining wall has one continuous 2-foot-deep footing spanning 10 feet across made out of conventional lumber. "After two weeks to cure, the wall was backfilled with CAD trucks using ¾ crushed rock compacted in lifts," Sawyers says. Then, brick masons applied a stone veneer.
Once the grade was set and the retaining wall was complete, Innovative Concrete's three--man crew began work on the two-level patio. The patio consisted of 13 stamped steps with a 5-foot run and a 20-foot rise leading from a large patio, near the kitchen, down to smaller patio with a fire pit. "We incorporated the steps in two different pours so that we were pouring part of the patio and half of the steps," Sawyers says. "For a small crew, the full flight of steps would have been difficult in the hot weather."
Low-voltage lighting was installed in each of the steps. "The lights were installed by first forming the steps," Sawyers says. "Then, the light boxes were drilled and threaded. A hole was drilled into the form so that a piece of thread rod could be put through with a washer and nut on the end. After that, the nut and rod were removed as the steps were stripped and stamped."
In order to present his client with the most accurate color choice, Sawyers poured four samples showing the available colors as well as the colors of the release agent. "The color charts available aren't very accurate because [the color of the concrete] changes depending upon what part of the country you are in," Sawyers says. "On a larger job like this one you can pour color samples."
The patio and steps were colored using Davis Colors Silversmoke with Brickform's light gray release agent and stamped with Stampcrete Seamless Slate texture stamps. "After one day to cure, the surface was washed to remove most of the release," Sawyers says. "After it was dry, we sealed it using Masco 25 percent acrylic sealer."
Sawyers also installed two NDS channel drains that were 2-inch by 12-foot drains on each side of the entrance to the steps. For additional decorative appeal, Sawyers placed and poured around two large boulders.