Our Whatcom County concrete installation team occasionally gets asked questions about concrete. In no particular order, here are a few recent questions and answers.

What is the difference between concrete and cement? The two terms are often conflated, but cement is actually an ingredient of concrete. Portland cement, as it’s called, is combined with water to make a paste that blends with sand and rock to form concrete. Through the process of hydration, the cement, water and aggregate harden into the solid construction material we know and love. Cement itself is formed from a chemical combination of calcium, silicon, aluminum, iron and other ingredients.

Pervious concrete installation at the Anacortes ferry terminal.

Does pervious concrete really work? You bet it does. Custom Concrete has been installing pervious concrete in Whatcom and Skagit counties for years now, and we’ve seen first-hand how it acts both as a solid surface for walking and driving but also as a porous surface that lets water filter right into the ground below. It’s a pretty cool technology, actually — not only does pervious concrete prevent runoff, but it helps filter out pollutants that would otherwise enter the water system.

Why does concrete crack? There are a lot of reasons that concrete could crack. Initially, it could be because the concrete dries too quickly, there’s too much water in the mix or expansion joints weren’t installed properly. That’s why it’s important to hire an experienced concrete contractor who knows just the right amount of water for the type of concrete being mixed and how to pour the concrete to avoid cracking. Over time, tree roots could grow under the concrete and push up, resulting in stress on the concrete and eventual cracking. Settling in the ground underneath the concrete also can result in cracks if the concrete settles unevenly.

What are the yellow dots on the sidewalk? Those are called truncated domes, and they’re there to warn people with limited vision of the intersection between the sidewalk and the street. These flat-topped domes, meant to be detectable by canes or underfoot, are a requirement of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and they help keep people in our Whatcom County community safe.

How do you get the red brick pattern on traffic circles? Those are cool looking, aren’t they? They’re formed by using special pattern stamps on colored concrete. In addition to those brick or cobblestone patterns, Custom Concrete Contracting also can do a number of other designs on patios, driveways and the like.

Custom Concrete Contracting employs a crew of experienced, professional concrete contractors who can help get your job done right, the first time. We’re hiring, too, so please reach out to us if you’re looking for a great, family-wage career.