What happens when two skilled craftsmen get together on a project? In the case of a new home built in 2022 in La Porte, Indiana, the results turned out spectacular.
Mike Belzowski, owner of Belzowski Woodwork & Design in Michigan City, Indiana, served as the project’s designer and contractor. And Troy Lemon of Cornerstone Decorative Concrete in Holland, Michigan, was in charge of the concrete patio. He created a 1,500-square-foot patio in the rear of the house, incorporating around 100 “stones” in six base colors.
Belzowski explains that the project’s house is both extremely energy efficient and built to look like an old farmhouse. As with any new construction, Lemon built the patio from the ground up.
Varying color and texture
“Troy has done several different projects for us over the years, “Belzowski says, usually involving staining and dyeing concrete. “About two years ago, he did a similar patio for us. He also did some repair work for some bluestone. (For that) he had to create some fake stones to match the area around a hot tub.”
For this concrete patio project, Lemon is less effusive. He said he simply drew a pattern on the surface. He then started with his base colors and tried to divide them equally to keep them evenly balanced.
“I bounced all over trying to keep my colors separated proportionately and then just kept shaping my rocks,” Lemon says. “Say that I’m doing a charcoal. I go through that and do one texture. Then, when I changed colors, it became a different rock, so I switched textures, too. In the end, I grouted it all.”
Despite the project’s size, he says he didn’t find it difficult to keep track of what he did and where. However, it sometimes took as many as four different colors to make some rocks look more layered and natural.
Product selection important
Lemon used Stone Edge Surfaces Stamp Mix from Mesa, Arizona-based Stone Edge Surfaces for the job. He says he had used other companies’ products previously, but had some problems with fine cracking. He also used Primer 100 from the same company.
“We didn’t have that problem with this job,” Lemon says. “It worked great, even when I used it under some challenging conditions with wind and sun. We really put it through some rigorous work.”
In addition, the weather was far from perfect when Lemon initially placed the concrete and waited for it to cure. It then took one-and-a-half to two weeks to complete the overlay.
“It was toward the end of the season, so Troy was definitely fighting the weather,” says Belzowski. “Still, it took no more than a couple of weeks of work spread over about a month.”
Attention to detail
The contractor adds that the clients had some definite ideas for the patio’s look. In particular, the wife wanted a walk-out space that opened off what Belzowski describes as, “a Hobbit door.” Subsequently, Lemon picked up some of the details the mason used to create the rounded opening. He also incorporated the colors used in stone portions of the foundation walls.
And, of course, for a project of this size and intricacy, the outdoor space contains a built-in grill and other amenities like that, he adds.
“This was a raised patio coming out of the house,” Lemon says. “Underneath, a big patio went around it, along with some steps going back to the other areas. We started out with concrete and then transitioned to wooden steps.”
The concrete patio features a circle in the center, Belzowski says, which Lemon came up with.
“He did a couple quick sketches, then drew it out on the concrete with chalk,” Belzowski says. “The homeowners liked it immediately.”
Despite the project’s size, Lemon worked alone — although he says he would hire helpers if he could find them. While concrete work is always physically demanding, he says, parts of this project were also tedious. Particularly when he worked to keep his colors separated.
“I mixed the mud and made all the rocks myself,” he says. “Then, I came back and layered antiquing agents over them. With some of the rocks, it would take a base color and three additional colors for a little more variation.”
In the end, though, it was all worthwhile. Both Belzowski and the clients were pleased.
“The clients love it,” says the contractor. “It looks great. Troy approaches his projects very artistically and is very knowledgeable with a wide range of various concrete products. I have no complaints.”
Looking for products for your next patio job?Offered by Concrete Decor Store
- Stamp Mix - 50 lb bag
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- Primer 100: Primer and Extreme Bonding Agent
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- Liquid Color Pigments - 32 oz
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