A visit to the Concreate show house in Fourways, Johannesburg, gives building industry professionals as well as homeowners the chance to see for themselves the many different ways in which concrete can be used and finished.
The show house was established in September last year as an interactive hub that showcases applications of a number of concrete and concrete-related products as well as offering design, production, treatment and finishing services using these products. Training courses are also in the pipeline, to extend the skilled use of the different products.
Johan van Staden is the hands-on creative manager at Concreate. He has worked with the various products and systems on show and knows how and where they can be put to best use.
In his view, the Buddy Rhodes concrete mixes, which are brought in from the USA, are the best available for crafting customised concrete furniture and other items – anything from benches, loungers and chairs to worktops, tables, countertops and basins. There are plenty of examples to be seen at the show house and customised products have been commissioned and supplied for projects such as the Constitutional Court building in Johannesburg as well as various hotels and private homes.
All items are handmade in the workshop – on the same site as the show house – where van Staden works with a small team of artisans. He highlights some of the key advantages of the Buddy Rhodes system: it’s easy to work with, lighter in weight than conventional concrete and easier to form. It does not crack and the moulds used to make different items can be relatively light. It is also quick curing which allows for quick turnaround times. Mixes are available in different colours and multiple finishing options range through colour – including a ‘bone white’ finish that is popular with architects and interior designers, texture and stone effects, among others.
Specialised products from Weber, the Saint-Gobain company, are also on display at the show house. These include its Colour Silk cementitious wall coatings, self-levelling floor screed systems – ideal for industrial floors, and selected DuroStone and DuroColour flooring systems which can be applied plain or patterned, smoothly finished or polished to a high gloss.
Hannes Kahts, production manager at Concreate, says the Colour Silk wall coatings are integrally coloured and can be trowelled directly onto wood-floated plaster on interior walls. They provide a long-lasting, textured wall finish – offering an attractive alternative to the more traditional finishing and painting products.
Concreate also provides specialised finishing, grinding and polishing services for concrete floors. It works with the company Concrete Laser Flooring, for example, to install high accuracy industrial and warehouse floors – and to manage floor grinding and polishing contracts which are done using sophisticated Swedish HTC equipment that is distributed in South Africa by Superb Flooring Systems, a Pan Mixers SA company. Van Staden explains that different HTC machines are used to ensure super-smooth precision-levelled concrete floors which can be polished to a high gloss finish, showing off the aggregate in the concrete. The machines are best used on large expanses of flooring where a good-looking, hard-wearing, minimal maintenance floor finish is required.
These are just some of the products and services available through Concreate. Director, Peter Norton, says, “Even though the show house has been open for only a few months, it has generated considerable interest from around the country which has resulted in a number of projects already being implemented.” Norton anticipates growing demand for the products and services available, simply because they bring out the best in concrete in so many varied applications.