Whether you’re building a new home or improving upon your current dwelling, driveways make for important areas of renovation. Damaged driveways can provide an inconvenience and unnecessary stress on your vehicle’s tires, while a freshly paved driveway can greatly improve the curbside appeal of your home. But when it comes to driveways, there are choices to make. What material will hold up best over time? What will give you the best value for your dollar? If you’re considering either repairing your current driveway or installing a new one, we’re here to compare asphalt to concrete on a variety of levels in order to definitively determine which material is best suited for your situation.
Asphalt and concrete are the two most traditional driveway material options. Though they are similar in certain factors, they also have a number of differences that are important to consider before deciding which option is better suited for your home. While asphalt and concrete are both composed from the same general material, stone and sand, they differ considerably in appearance.
When it comes to aesthetics, there is no right or wrong choice. It is up to the homeowner to consider which option better suits the home. One key way that asphalt and concrete differ is the adhesive in asphalt is tar, while the adhesive in concrete is cement.
Asphalt (top) vs. Concrete (bottom)
Asphalt, therefore, has a distinct black tar appearance that makes the driveway appear as though it is an extension of the road. In contrast, concrete is a far lighter color that can be tinted, engraved, stamped, or designed in a multitude of ways. Asphalt design options are far more limited, with the installation process leaving little room for the design customization that concrete can offer. However, it is possible to add a tint to the asphalt finish to deviate from the standard black, though concrete provides a significantly higher amount of stain and design options. Overall, it can be helpful to consider what driveway style prevails in your neighborhood if you want your home to smoothly blend in rather than stand out. Consider the appearance of your neighborhood driveways when deciding upon your own selection.
Climate is an important factor to consider when it comes to choosing your building materials. You’re going to want to use materials that are best suited for your unique climate, especially if it veers on either end of the extreme weather spectrum. Cold and freezing winters can wreak havoc on concrete, causing it to crack and blemish with frequent frost. Another factor that cold climate homeowners have to consider is that the salt used to melt ice can leave concrete driveways tarnished. However, if you live in an area that doesn’t see regular snow and frost, these concerns aren’t likely something you’ll have to worry about.
In contrast, asphalt is known to have issues in extremely hot weather. The tar that is used as adhesive in asphalt can soften in the extreme heat of summer, leaving it tacky upon touch and opening the possibility for surface blemishes. Overall, concrete is better suited for warm temperature areas since it cracks in the cold, while asphalt is favored in cooler climates since it softens with high heat. Since climate plays such a big role in regulating the durability of your driveway, it’s important to consult a professional contractor before committing to either option.
Another factor that homeowners have to consider is the cost of installation. On average, concrete clocks in as the costlier option, with customization playing a factor in the overall bill. Asphalt, with its limited installation options, almost always provides a cheaper option for homeowners. On average, installing each square foot of asphalt will cost from between $2.50 to $4.00, while each square foot of concrete can average from $4.00 to $6.00. Factoring in stains, finishes, and detailing, a square foot of concrete could run as high as $15.00 or more. However, installation cost is only one part of the overall price equation. In addition to material, other factors that can aggravate overall project cost include the dimension of the driveway, any drainage features, design elements, and surrounding landscaping.
Maintenance and Care
Maintenance is a key factor that contributes to the lifetime cost of a driveway. While providing a cheaper installation option, asphalt is also more susceptible to wear than concrete. Roughly six months after installation, asphalt will require sealing, which will then need to occur every three to five years afterward.
On the other hand, sealing a concrete driveway is optional and will only need to occur one time. However, though asphalt is more prone to wear than concrete, it also is easier to repair. Asphalt cracks can easily be blended, while concrete repairs tend to stand out more in appearance.
When it comes to the lifespan of your driveway, asphalt driveways are estimated to last 20 years, while concrete driveways clock in at double with a 40-year lifespan estimate. However, these numbers can fluctuate based on the level of care. That means that proper preservation can extend these numbers, while failure to care for your driveway can drastically reduce them. Regular sealings can extend the lifespan of an asphalt driveway to 30 years, while concrete driveways are known to surpass 50 years with excellent care. Overall, asphalt proves to be the more high-maintenance option, especially in harsh climates.
Related: Do You Have a Sinking Driveway?
There are also a number of additional factors to consider. While both materials require time to cure before they are able to be driven on, concrete requires days, while asphalt only needs hours. While it is the more expensive option, concrete is also the more durable material. By nature, asphalt is softer and more susceptible to wear, though proper maintenance can easily balance this downside.
Asphalt also provides the possibility for resurfacing to leave the top of the driveway with a brand new coat. The same cannot be done for concrete, so the situation is more dire if it reaches extreme levels of disrepair.
Before you commit to either option, be sure to check that you are not violating any local building codes. Professional contractors will be able to assist in this area to ensure that there are not any specific guidelines that need to be followed. Additionally, if you live in a development, your Homeowner’s Association may have certain restrictions that you must abide to. Unfortunately, these restrictions can often be rigid, leaving little room for personal preference.
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The most common type of foundation damage is caused by water over-saturation of the soils surrounding the foundation. The expansive soils increase in volume as they come into contact with more water so they exert pressure on the foundation and create cracks which in turn allow water seepage into the foundation. Expansive soils are also known as clay soils and are usually found in coastal areas, that’s why most of Los Angeles is covered in clay soils. Foundation settling or sinking is when the soil under the foundation compacts and ends up forming spaces below the foundation which causing it to sink. If the water causes the soil under the foundation to swell, that will raise the foundation a little and then cause foundation settling when it dries up as it shrinks.
The weather has a big effect on the house foundation. One important aspect is humidity; it has a tendency to adversely affect foundation, which can cause it to weaken and deteriorate. Over time, this lowers the resistance of the concrete and lessens its stability. Early warning signs of foundation damage include foundation cracks, white powder, basement humidity, brittle joints in concrete foundation blocks, concrete falling off, exterior cracks, and bubbles in the foundation. Be sure to regularly inspect your foundation in order to pick up on warning signs. Addressing the issue early will prevent costly repairs in the future.
The most common type of foundation damage by storms is caused by water over-saturation of the soils surrounding the foundation. The expansive soils increase in volume as they come into contact with more water so they exert pressure on the foundation and create cracks which in turn allow water seepage into the foundation. Expansive soils are also known as clay soils and are usually found in coastal areas, that’s why most of Los Angeles is covered in clay soils. Foundation settling or sinking is when the soil under the foundation compacts and ends up forming spaces below the foundation which cause it to sink. If the storms flood and cause the soil under the foundation to swell, that will raise the foundation a little and then cause foundation settling when it dries up.
Time is a huge factor, all the reasons mentioned above are amplified as the time factor is taking into account. As mentioned before, the foundation process to newly built homes has evolved with time and nowadays the method of this process results in a stronger foundation that can endure for longer. The combination of all the reasons above shortens the lifespan of the house foundation and speed up the deterioration process.
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Los Angeles homeowners can now convert their garages into dwellings after the Senate Bill No. 1069 legalized garage conversions.
Garage conversions are a smart idea for homeowners. It allows them to use the space in the garage more efficiently and to increase the value of their properties. In order to convert your garage into a dwelling, you need to take the following steps :
Related: Different Uses For Converted Garage
Decide on Room Type
The first step in converting your garage is to research and decide what you want to convert it into. There are unlimited options of what you can convert your garage into. Some ideas are, a rental or just an extension of your house by adding an extra bedroom, gym, entertainment area, office or whatever you’d like.
Your budget is very critical when converting your garage. You can customize the space as much as you want or as much as your budget allows. A garage conversion is not expensive but the cost can increase depending on the features you add, such as bathrooms. Other factors like electrical wirings, plumbing, heating and cooling, ceiling and flooring can definitely add to the cost as well.
Related: Benefits Of Garage Conversions
Hire A Contractor
The final step to converting a garage into a dwelling is find a contractor to actually do the work. Hire a licensed and insured contractor to carry out the work, as they are trained and understand the regulations. They will be able to tell you what can and can’t be done. Professional contractors will also make sure that all the plumbing and electrical wiring is done without exposing the owners to any dangers.
Foundation Underpinning Retrofit with Piers
The foundation of your home is essential in providing the strength and stability of your dwelling. It creates a safe and comfortable space for your family to reside.
However, the foundation can wear over time. Whether it’s due to climate conditions, an old building, or other factors, foundation damage can both jeopardize the occupants and threaten the property value. This is where foundation underpinning can salvage a home.
What is an Underpinning Retrofit?
Foundation underpinning is a repair process that expands a building’s foundation in order to provide stability. Underpinning involves placing a solid foundation below ground level in order to secure the structure of the home.
How Do I Know My House Needs One?
It’s fairly easy to determine if your home is in need of underpinning. If the foundation of your home is significantly imbalanced, an underpinning retrofit will be needed to restore the structural integrity of the dwelling.
Foundation underpinning retrofits are achieved through a technique known as piering, a process of installing concrete or steel pilings in the ground in order to support the foundation. This is a large project that requires the use of heavy machinery. There are three types of piers typically used in the process in order to level the foundation.
Concrete piers are designed for use in highly-compressed areas in order to create a new foundation level. Since the piers are commonly between two and three feet of length, they are often installed via tunneling. Due to their length, concrete piers are known to be a less expensive piering material. However, the lessened cost comes with a catch. Since concrete piers are only driven into the ground in a relatively short way, they will likely shift over time due to soil pressure. Concrete piers should stay in place for up to 20 years, but another foundation retrofit might be needed in the future.
In contrast, steel piers are a more expensive option that can be driven into the ground all the way down to the bedrock. Steel piers should guarantee a secure foundation for the duration of the home’s life. Steel piers are believed to create a new foundation level in a more effective and permanent way than concrete piers. However, because steel piers are much longer, they will take more time and effort to be installed. Steel piers are the difference between putting a long-term bandaid over a problem and curing it for good.
The third pier option is helical piers. Like steel piers, helical piers can be drilled up to the bedrock. However, the shape of helical piers sets them apart from the other two options.
Helical piers have ridges on them similar to a screw. This makes them much easier to drill into the ground, and they take up far less space within the ground. For these reasons, helical piers have become to go-to pier choice of many contractors. However, you should always consult a foundation expert before selecting a pier. A professional will evaluate the situation and tell you which choice will be best for your specific repair.
Are you concerned about the foundation of your home? Do you need an expert’s opinion?
Call California Foundation Works to schedule a free foundation inspection and estimate.
When Is Foundation Replacement Necessary?
When it comes to protecting the investment value of your home, it’s essential to maintain the integrity of your house’s foundation. If the foundation has been compromised, the selling value of the house will drastically drop.
In addition, it can be dangerous for residents to live in a home with an unstable foundation. In less severe cases, damaged areas of foundation can be repaired. However, this won’t cover severe cases of foundation damage. Though it is a costlier solution, full foundation replacement is necessary in severe cases of foundation corruption. How do you know if your home falls in this category? Read on to discover the situations in which foundation replacement is necessary.
Related: Foundation Replacement
Signs Replacement Is Necessary
Though full wall or foundation replacement may be more expensive than simple repairs, it will provide a lasting solution to your foundation issues that will be sure to secure your property value. What are signs that replacement is inevitable? If you can pull pieces of mortar out of the wall or if the mortar is eroded to the extent that it has become chalky and flaky, a wall replacement is likely necessary. A replacement is also needed if pieces of the foundation block are protruding or there is considerable foundation block displacement. Other signs of replacement include the wall tipping or bowing beyond the point of recovery, holes in the foundation material, and twisted foundation blocks that have caused cracks or displacement in the corner of the walls. Additionally, if pieces have begun to fall away from the wall, it is likely time for a wall upgrade.
Why Is Replacement Needed?
Extreme home renovations can seem like an overwhelming task for the average homeowner, but our professional contractors can evaluate the situation and provide custom solutions. Foundation replacement is often needed in older buildings since material guidelines used to be more slack. Homes built in the earlier part of the 19th century are more susceptible to foundation decay and damage. Many of these foundations have deteriorated past the point of salvation. However, foundation deterioration is not an issue exclusive to older buildings. The poured concrete that is typically used in newer house construction can also provide foundation failure. The construction of a new concrete wall by contracted professionals can ensure that the foundation is up to code to guarantee lasting foundation stability.
No matter how severe your foundation decline is, rest easy knowing that experts can help.
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Major home repairs, such as foundation replacement, are a process that no homeowner enjoys. However, in some cases, they are necessary in order to protect the structural integrity of the home. Fortunately, with the right contractors, foundation replacement can become a manageable task utilized to protect both your property value and the residents of the dwelling.
Foundation Damage Signs
Foundation damage isn’t an issue that appears suddenly. There are a number of initial warning signs that homeowners can be on the lookout for in order to monitor the structural security of their home. The most common signs of foundation damage are sagging or sloping floors, cracks in floors or ceilings, gaps between the floors and walls, doors or windows that stick and have trouble opening or closing, and walls that are beginning to warp, lean, or bow.
Replace or Repair?
Fortunately, most forms of foundation damage can be repaired with professional help. However, there are some extreme cases of foundation destruction that call for a replacement.
How do you determine if the foundation should be repaired or replaced? In cases of severe deterioration, the more cost-effective solution is sometimes to replace the foundation. In special cases, it is more expensive to repair severely damaged foundation than it would be to replace it entirely.
Foundation replacement in Southern California homes is often the result of extreme weather, such as soil erosion as a result of flooding or high magnitude earthquakes. Soil plays a major role in foundation damage. When the soil beneath a home sinks or settles, the home can experience a movement known as foundation settlement. Expansive soil can also lead to bowing and buckling of walls.
Related: Types of House Foundations
Signs of Replacement
A professional inspection is the only way to be completely sure a foundation replacement is needed. Some types of foundation damage are not clear to the naked eye. However, there are some general signs that replacement is needed.
Signs that point to a foundation replacement include excessive or large cracks, sinking or shearing in the foundation due to the soil base, hollow spaces in the foundation, and lengthy exposure to water or moisture. Issues with the original foundation that call for replacement include unsound building materials, low-quality concrete, not allowing the foundation to cure long enough, and the usage of unreinforced materials.
The replacement process is unique for each dwelling, taking as little as one week to several weeks to repair. Foundations that are crumbling or porous will not be able to resist earthquakes of high magnitude. The brick or stone masonry will need to be strengthened in order to fortify the dwelling.
When foundation replacement is needed, heavy equipment is used to expose the foundation by excavating the soil around the home. Temporary supports are then used to “jack up” the house so that the slab floor and foundation walls can be taken out.
The house will be lowered back into place after the new foundation has been built. The soil will then be replaced and other exterior details, such as porches or walkways, can be restored to their original place.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make as a homeowner is to ignore signs of foundation damage. The problems will only worsen over time, leading to a more expensive and invasive repair in the future. Don’t hesitate to contact a professional if you spot any signs of foundation damage.
Related: Insurance and Foundation Damage
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Your Home Is Your Fortress
Los Angeles homeowners may have secured themselves a coveted piece of real estate, but there are some unsavory realities to contend with as homeowners. Frequent seismic zone activity and soil foundation settlement are two major issues that homeowners in Los Angeles face when protecting their property value.
Floor leveling is key to maintaining the structural integrity of your dwelling. Fortunately, you can stay vigilant in order to seek out early warning signs and determine the issue in advance to get your foundation and leveling problems taken care of early on.
Foundation settlement signs
Foundation settlement leads to a building structure becoming sloped. The most frequent signs of this predicament include uneven floors, cracks in ceilings and walls, and windows and doors having difficulty closing or opening with ease. Other signs include bumps in the floor and floors that squeak and are noisy to walk on.
To rectify the problem, professional floor leveling is needed. Floor leveling is used to restore buildings to their original position after the house has began to sink or the foundation shows signs of shifting. Though the process is delicate, with expert help it is possible to restore most buildings to their original position.
Related: House Leveling & Construction
Floor leveling process
Professional house leveling commonly uses a jack or a lift to raise the home to its proper level, while correcting the cause of the misalignment in order to prevent future issues. In order to secure the home, beams are attached to jacks under the house in a process called shoring. The careful raising of the hydraulic jacks will prevent damage to the building over time while also avoiding damage to the home’s interior.
In order to ensure for lasting structural success, the foundation is upgraded to meet current codes. As the jacks are raised to lift the building, new piers and posts are added to secure the adjustment and support the newly leveled floor. In order to ensure a structurally sound completion in your home leveling project, expert help is needed.
Related: The Foundation Leveling Process
Securing Your Dwelling
Floor leveling isn’t just a suggested step for homes that are experiencing foundation shift or sinking: it is a necessary solution. Homes that are experiencing shifting or sinking can pose major safety threats to all residents. In fact, in some areas upgrades are mandated.
Additionally, Los Angeles homeowners cannot afford to be lax about their foundation care. Due to unpredictable and severe weather and seismic activity, it is entirely plausible that sinking or shifting homes might entirely slide off their foundation or collapse during natural disasters.
Ignoring foundation issues will only exacerbate the symptoms and lead to an even costlier repair down the line. If not properly addressed, the structure of the home could be damaged beyond repair, causing the investment value of the home to sharply plummet. Overall, floor leveling is needed to both improve the quality of the living space and expose and address underlying foundation problems.
Are You Experiencing Sloping floors? Leveling Issues?
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Solutions To Seismic Safety
A number of solutions can be ideal for houses susceptible to earthquakes, especially if they are located in hillside areas. A combination of earthquake retrofitting solutions including mudsill bolting, plywood shear bracing, and Simpson mudsill plates might be ideal for houses located in earthquake danger zones.
Foundation bolting involves adding bolts between the concrete home foundation and the wooden framing of the house. This typically consists of adding bolts through the sill, the piece of wood that lies on top of the foundation. Foundation bolting is ideal for houses that have weakened or spaced out bolts or which do not have bolts in the first place. Bolt strength depends on placement and installation of bolts, taking into consideration factors such as foundation condition and bolt load stress. If your house is not bolted to the slab, it will be susceptible to earthquakes. This is a big issue for Los Angeles homeowners and houses in areas prone to earthquakes.
Related: Benefits of Foundation Bolting
Types of Bolts
The two types of bolts typically used for foundation bolting are expansion bolts and epoxy-set bolts. Also known as mechanical foundation anchor bolts, expansion foundation bolts are the basic bolt type used in earthquake retrofitting. Since expansion foundation bolts need to be strengthened by concrete to work, they tend to be used in houses with newer foundation. On the other hand, epoxy-set foundation bolts are ideal for older homes that have weaker concrete. They are also ideal for powerful earthquakes that can cause the house to uplift. These types of anchors tend to be longer so that they can be inserted deeper, which is important if there is an additional base frame.
Related: Property Retrofitting
Cripple Wall Bracing
The main source of earthquake failure is cripple wall collapse. Cripple walls refer to the short wood-framed walls that can be found in the crawl space sub-area. They can run from several inches to several feet in length and often collapse as a result of the main floor dropping. To keep the cripple wall from collapsing during an earthquake, it needs to be stiffened or braced. You can brace the wall by adding structural grade plywood to the wall frame to stiffen the wall. For ideal seismic protection, all sides of the house need to be braced with plywood. However, it is unnecessary to over-brace the house.
Related: How will i know if i need retrofitting ?
Some houses will also need additional brackets to anchor the shear walls. Foundation holdown brackets are designed to resist the wall from lifting or rolling in the wake of an earthquake. Installation of these brackets is typically done with deeper set bolts to provide better resistance. Lastly, not all house have cripple walls, so other solutions need to be explored. Simpson Strong-Tie Retrofit Connectors can be connected between the mudsill and rim joist. Similarly, Angle Iron Struts can be used to connect the floor joists to the foundation. All these solutions are designed to provide an anchor to the house.
Contact a professional foundation contractor if you are a Los Angeles homeowner and have concerns about the integrity of your home’s foundation.
Call California Foundation Works at 323-418-2239 to schedule a free foundation inspection and estimate.
Concrete is a widely used construction material that is trusted and has been around for many years. Not only is concrete durable even when exposed to extreme climate or abrasion, but it is also easy to decorate due to its neutral color. Decorative concrete is popular amongst homeowners and business owners for their driveways, patios, sidewalks and pool decks because of how easy it is to mimic any surface without spending a lot of money or taking too long to install. Concrete can be decorated by either coloring it, stamping it or by using epoxy coating.
The staining of concrete adds any color or design of your choice to the generic grey color of concrete without compromising its durability. Concrete stains come in two different types, namely, acid based and water based. Acid-based stains will chemically react to permanently alter the color of the concrete such that it won’t be able to fade because the acid penetrates the concrete. Unlike acid-based stains, water-based stains come in a wide variety of colors and can also be mixed to come up with your desired color.
Another method of decorating the concrete on your property is by stamping it. Stamping concrete involves the imprint of patterns on concrete to mimic patterns such as stone, brick or wood. Stamped concrete is very popular because of the unlimited number of designs that can be achieved from the stamp templates. Stamped concrete is also considerably lower in cost compared to the actual cost of stones or bricks.
An epoxy coat is a coat of resinous materials that are applied on concrete to protect the concrete or for aesthetics, hence they come in different colors or they are just clear. Epoxy coatings can be decorative and are also wear resistant, hence they are very common in garages, warehouses and factories.
Contact a professional concrete contractor if you want to add decorative concrete to your property.
Call California Foundation Works to schedule a free concrete Inspection and Estimate.
Why Foundation Is Damaged?
Foundation damage is a serious and costly problem for homeowners all over the country but it does affect certain regions the most. Unlike other regions, most of the Los Angeles neighborhoods are susceptible to foundation damage because of a combination of factors such as the poor drainage and types of expansive soil. Los Angeles Homeowners should get foundation inspections to prevent any underlying problems from getting worse.
Los Angeles has been in a drought for a couple of years until recently when it received massive rain, and this is problematic for many house foundations in Los Angeles. During the drought, the clay soil around the house foundations lost most of their moisture hence the soil shrank and then after receiving rain the soil expands, therefore, pushing against the foundation and eventually cracking it. Foundation inspections will prevent this problem from getting worse once it’s detected early.
Tremors and Earthquakes
Most of Los Angeles residents are aware of the San Andreas fault running below their house foundation but they forget about the hundreds of low-intensity tremors and earthquakes that this area experiences on a daily basis. As a homeowner, you might not be able to see or notice any damage from these tremors and earthquakes but your foundation will be gradually damaged over time if certain precautions won’t be made to maintain it properly.
The type of soil that a house is built on is very important because clay soils which can also be referred to as expansive soils because of their nature to expand and then shrink in the year cycle. This tendency to expand and shrink is what causes damage to the foundation by pushing against it or shrinking and leaving spaces around the foundation which causes it to settle.
Related : Types of House Foundations
Contact a professional foundation contractor if you are a Los Angeles homeowner and haven’t yet had your foundation inspected.
Call California Foundation Works to schedule a free foundation inspection and estimate.
Landscaping Can Cause Trouble
Everybody wants to have an inviting home with beautiful curb appeal, but in the process of doing that you might end up damaging your foundation. Careful consideration has to be taken when it comes to landscaping in regards to foundation. However there are three main ways in which landscaping affects your foundation negatively.
Trees and Shrubs Too Close To Your Foundation
Plants are almost always an essential addition to your home when it comes to improving its curb appeal. Choosing the wrong kinds of plants or planting them too close to your foundation can be problematic hence the need to carefully choose the location and type of plant. Plants that have roots that grow horizontally instead of vertically will have their roots drying up all the moisture that surrounds the foundation and in some instances even penetrate the foundation walls, therefore, causing damage.
Having a well-functioning drainage system should be a priority whenever you think of improving your landscape. In the efforts of making the exterior of a home beautiful, homeowners tend to forget about the drainage system and this is bound to damage the foundation. Plant beds should slope away from the foundation and as a rule of thumb, water should always flow away from the house not towards it.
Related : Foundation Damage Caused by Trees
Not Watering Plants Frequently
The plants and trees that are closest to your foundation need to be sufficiently watered. They need a steady supply of water to encourage the vertical growth of roots. In order to retain soil moisture, the soil needs to be well mulched so that any foundation problems are prevented.