Curb appeal is concrete


Like many homeowners, I am preoccupied and obsessed with beauty.

The type that is on the curb.

Increasing curb appeal tends to yield return on investment, but it also satiates human desire for beauty and perfection. What is the saying...the things you own will own you?

I myself am obsessed with modernization of house elements, and concrete is no different.

So how do you get concrete up to speed? 

Clean it

It doesn't matter if you want to paint it to look pretty. It must be clean first.

Sometimes you can stop at the cleaning phase, because the unearthed concrete from dirt, soil, moss, fungi, and bugs is just plain gorgeous.

I love the different shades of concrete out there, but I couldn't tell what shade my concrete siding was.

I decided to get a 2300 psi pressure washer that was electric, because it was on the more affordable end and more environmentally friendly than a gas pressure washer. But ultimately, I needed more that 25 feet of extension in order to reach concrete that needed desperate cleaning. While technically I could have gotten a 50 feet extension cord, if you go more than 25 feet and greater than 12 gauge on an extension cord with most electric pressure washers, you could run the risk of electrocution.

I also made sure the kids were nowhere around me, just in case there was some accidental spray back to the electrical power cord.

Which brings us to safety first. If you are spraying aggregate concrete, those micropebbles can flick out into your eye. Even if you are spraying straight flat concrete, the dirt that has hardened over the years can come at you like a stone. I can't think of anything worse than going to urgent care (especially with the traffic), so I wore safety glasses.

I ended up scrubbing a fair amount of the concrete with a standard sidewalk or broom brush that I found randomly at the Home Depot cleaning aisle. Results were still not good enough, so my neighbor graciously let me borrow his gas pressure washer which did the tail ends of concrete justice.

Stain it

Home Depot has excellent content marketing on their products, because they run a monopoly on selling home improvement tools and ingredients. I first look at their site and then drizzle out to other influencers and DIYers. My rough understanding is that there is paint, more heavy duty paint, expensive paint, resurfacers, and stains.

A concrete stain just intuitively sat well with me, more durable, more of a one way door. When I arrived at the store (since I didn't plan it out earlier on their website where everything literally can be ordered and placed into a locker for me), they were all out. All of out of a resurfacer too, which was my next go to.

Whether she knew it or not, the customer associate at the paint section sold me on the most expensive paint, or epoxy. Think car showroom flooring. I'm going to experiment with epoxy on a wall and pray that I don't need multiple coats in order to keep my cost down.

Number it

After concrete is cleaned and painted (or not since cleaning is most important), the way that most homes give themselves the ultra modern boost is to have ultra modern house numbers. The larger the number, the better. Stands out. Usually in a metal finish, which makes sense if you are into modern design. There are some riffs on this, like marble stone, which I found at CB2 (the modern version of Crate & Barrell), but for the most part the number were no larger than 4-6", which makes you suffer the tradeoff of cuteness versus size.

I went with size. I ordered randomly on Amazon and could not believe the price tag in the shopping cart. Really good floating modern numbers fashioned in aluminium, galvanized steel, or nickel could be hundreds of dollars for the standard 3-4 numbers.

The larger the number, the higher the price. Ultimately, many retailers stick to the 4"-6" letters because there likely is more of a market for it. They leave the larger numbers to the builders and manufacturers. This ranges from 12" to 15".

I did find an independent retailer who has the perfect name for domain expertise (this is where being uncreative with your business name equals ultimate success) who made what I thought were the best numbers for the price. It still cost a lot of money, but my goal is to save the templating they will provide and work on cutting out the numbers on galvanized steel sheets that are roughly $7 for 12" with tools that I will need to learn about. Stay tuned.

If you clean it, stain or paint it, and number it with floating numbers in vertical (if by the porch) or horizontal (if more on the outside of the property) fashion, it is going to look fresh and modern. No one is going to notice it, the perfect concrete with metal on it, in the same level of detail that you will. But the feeling will be imbued, the one of modern curb appeal, and it won't be glaringly obvious.

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