Insider Secret No. 1
MYTH: The best concrete contractors do many different kinds of concrete work, from driveways to retaining walls to foundations to countertops.
Don’t be fooled by these “jack-of-all-trades” contractors. Concrete work, though appearing to be a simple, straightforward, skill, is in fact a very tricky medium in which to work. The best in the field specialize in one or two of the many varied types of concrete work.
When interviewing contractors for your concrete project, make sure to inquire about what type of concrete work they have the most experience. If they “do-it-all”, then this can be a quick and easy tip-off that they won’t have the level of expert knowledge you want for your project.
At Saint Louis Driveway, as the name suggests, we specialize in driveways. But to be more accurate, we specialize in outside, ground-level, concrete surfaces. These include driveways, sidewalks, patios, pool-decks, and exterior steps. That’s all we do, and by specializing in this small sub-set of possible concrete applications, we are very good at what we do.
TRUTH: The best concrete contractors specialize in one area. Saint Louis Driveway does only exterior concrete ground surfaces. We are the concrete driveway contractors of St. Louis.
Insider Secret No. 2
MYTH: All contractors must, and do, carry adequate liability insurance to protect their clients from potential financial disaster that can result from damage to your property or injury to workers on your property.
So, what does this mean to me?
When hiring a contractor and his team to do any type of construction project on your property, you open yourself up to two major types of financial risk. The first type is damage to your property.
Example: A worker, when backing up the concrete truck, accidentally backs into the corner of your home and demolishes two walls and part of your roof. An accident like this can easily result in tens of thousands of dollars of damage. If the contractor has no insurance, or has inadequate insurance to cover the damages, then you could be left responsible for the costs of repair.
The second type of risk is injury. If a worker injures himself on your property, and the company doesn’t have the proper insurance, then you could be held responsible for his medical bills, lost wages, and any additional damages that the lawyers and courts can add. This can be ruinous financially.
Make sure to check that your contractor has the right types of insurance, and the proper amounts to cover the worst case scenarios.
At Saint Louis Driveway, we take the care of your property and the safety of everyone who may be on the job-site very seriously. We educate our workers on proper job-site safety protocols, and we carry more insurance than the legal minimum so that you have the peace of mind to know that you are protected.
As part of any job we begin, you will be provided with a copy of our current insurance information.
TRUTH: Many contractors, especially the “lowest bid” bargain variety, do not carry adequate insurance to protect you. But Saint Louis Driveway does. We worry so you don’t have to.
Insider Secret No. 3
MYTH: The quality of the concrete is the only thing that really matters for how long your concrete project will last over the years.
Companies in the concrete trade, like all businesses, compete for jobs based on price as much as any other factor. Many consumers will select their contractor strictly based on the lowest price, making the very false assumption that all concrete driveways (patios, pool-decks, sidewalks) are created equal. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Disreputable contractors desperate to get any job they can will always try to submit the lowest bid in order to get the work. We see it all the time where the low-quality contractors submit a bid on which we know they would have to lose money if they did the job correctly. But these fellows aren’t planning to lose money.
What they are planning to do is cut all the corners in order to lower their costs to the point where they will make a profit. But a year or two later following the first cold winter, when your concrete driveway is riddled with cracks, is suffering from displacement issues, and just plain looks awful, your “low bid” contractor will be long gone like a cockroach after the lights are turned on. And when you call them up wanting it repaired, you’ll have learned the hard way how lowest price and best value are rarely the same thing in the construction field.
How can you tell when your concrete contractor is doing a bad job?
One area where the low-quality contractor will cut corners is in the tear-out and excavation phase. They will not remove enough dirt, they won’t compact the base dirt adequately or at all, and they won’t install a sufficiently thick (4-5 inches) gravel base.
They do all this knowing that most consumers don’t know the difference. Most consumers are happy when the job is over as long as what’s visible looks good. But it’s what’s under the concrete that matters if you want a concrete driveway that will last and look beautiful for years to come.
As Saint Louis Driveway, we always excavate more dirt, compact the base, spread a thick base of 4-5 inches of gravel, then compact the base again before pouring the concrete because we want you to have an exterior concrete surface that lasts for decades, not for a couple of seasons.
TRUTH: Proper excavation and preparation of the base is critical to a long-lasting exterior concrete surface. This is an area where “lowest bid” contractors will cut corners.
Insider Secret No. 4
MYTH: All concrete reinforcement is created equal. As long as you have some, you’re all good.
For a horizontal exterior concrete surface, high-quality, properly installed, wire mesh is usually the only acceptable choice if you want a driveway that will stand up to the brutally hot St. Louis summers and our bone chilling winters. An alternative of equal quality and value to wire mesh is the new generation of high quality, more durable, fiber mesh products that have come to the market recently. Saint Louis Driveway installers are trained experts at installing both of these reinforcement systems, and we know how to determine which is the superior choice for any given application; something most concrete contractors who don’t specialize in driveways cannot say.
A corner-cutting contractor looking reduce his expenses will often use a low quality fiber mesh instead of the more durable and higher quality wire meshes and the new generation high quality fiber meshes. These first generation lower quality fiber mesh products are both weaker than wire mesh and the new, higher performing fiber mesh products, but also will often compromise the finish of the concrete.
Other problems often seen with poorly prepared reinforcement is when the contractor fails to take the time necessary to install the reinforcement at the proper depth (too low or too high makes for weaker concrete which is subject to more cracking), or they simply fail to use enough reinforcing material to do an adequate job. Once again, these cost-cutting measures sabotage the durability of your concrete driveway.
You can rest assured any job completed by Saint Louis Driveway will have the best possible reinforcement system, ensuring your driveway will be up to the challenge of surviving the wild swings of the St. Louis weather seasons, from our 100+ degree August days to those sub-zero January nights that we all love so much.
TRUTH: Concrete reinforcement is not all the same. If you want your concrete driveway to last for years, make sure your concrete contractor uses the best.
Insider Secret No. 5
MYTH: Size doesn’t matter (in this case, thickness).
Yes, we know this hardly qualifies as a secret, but it’s worth mentioning because disreputable contractors are famous for short-pouring their concrete because they know that two or three or four years down the line, when your driveway or patio has turned into something resembling the Moon’s surface, that they will be long gone, probably down in Florida running the same scam on other innocent consumers.
At Saint Louis Driveway, you can know two things with full confidence.
First, we always pour our concrete at industry-leading depths to insure quality and durability for years to come. And second, the founders of Saint Louis Driveway are born and raised in St. Louis. Our family and friends live here. We go to church here. Our kids probably play little league with yours.
We have nothing without our reputation, so quality and your satisfaction are our only priority. Our business does well year after year only by making each customer so satisfied that they would hire us again, and recommend us to their friends and neighbors.
TRUTH: Size does matter. For satisfaction that lasts, don’t get short-changed on size.
Insider Secret No. 6
MYTH: It’s not your contractor’s job to clean up. You should expect to do some cleaning up after your contractor has finished and left. That’s just normal.
Too often, workers finish the primary aspect of a job, and are then so eager to get their money and move on that they fail to clean up the mess that is invariably a part of any construction project.
Clean up is part of the job of every respectable, and respectful, concrete driveway contractor. It’s not okay for clean-up responsibilities to be left to you, the customer. Request any contractor who you are considering hiring to explain in detail what procedures they have for cleaning up and repairing any damage that’s been done to lawns, landscaping, streets, etc.
At Saint Louis Driveway, we are not finished, nor do we expect final payment, until everything has been cleaned up, lawns repaired, and streets cleaned.
TRUTH: Contractors who are committed to professionalism, from the moment the job starts to long after the job is finished, will leave the worksite cleaner than they found it.
Insider Secret No. 7
MYTH: Concrete sealer is just some unnecessary up-charge that concrete contractors use to squeeze a little more money of out me.
MYTH (said another way): The concrete driveway contractor who tells me not to worry about sealer is being nice and saving me money.
Always make sure to verify that sealing is included in any bid you receive. And if the contractor tries to convince you that sealer isn’t necessary, nicely thank them for their time, and send them away, because that is not the person you want working on your property.
At Saint Louis Driveway, sealer is always included in the scope of work. We insist on sealing all new concrete installations because sealer protects against the harsh St. Louis weather, protects against snow-melting salt, improves durability, and keeps your concrete’s color from fading much longer than without.
TIP: Sealer must be applied at least one week after the concrete has been poured. The concrete needs this time to properly dry and set so that the sealer fully bonds with the concrete. Applying the sealer too soon reduces its effectiveness considerably.
TRUTH: Concrete sealer is the single best thing you can do to protect your investment and keep your driveway looking beautiful each season, year after year.
Concrete is the premier material for driveways, patios, sidewalks, and pool-decks. It lasts longer than any other choice, can be molded and shaped into any design, can be colored and texturized in order to produce an unlimited number of creative looks, and it enhances both the value and utility of your property for years to come.
As long as your concrete project is completed by a high-quality team, you can look forward to years of enjoyment and value.
We hope this information will help in your process of selecting a concrete contractor and having a successful project.
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The founders of Saint Louis Driveway are born and raised in St. Louis. Our family and friends live here. We go to church here. Our kids probably play little league with yours. We have nothing without our reputation, so quality and your satisfaction are our only priority.
We stand behind our work 100%. No job is finished until you are totally satisfied. Our business does well year after year only by making each client so satisfied that they would hire us again, and recommend us to their family, friends and neighbors. We only accomplish this by completing your project perfectly to your satisfaction.
We are proud members with an excellent rating with the Better Business Bureau, and are happy to supply references upon request.