Every contractor knows that a good concrete guy (or gal) is worth their weight in gold. The same goes for pavers… the real pros can lay pavement like no one else. After all, not everyone has the skills or experience to work with concrete or pavement and consistently turn out a quality end result.
Sure, a work crew can always lay a slab or pave a lot themselves. If the mix isn’t right or enough care isn’t taken, though, the final piece won’t turn out nearly as nice or as strong as it would if done by someone with real experience.
Have you ever thought about filling that role yourself? Think about the concrete work you and your crew have done… is it up to snuff? Have you done any paving that seemed a step beyond what everyone else was doing?
If you think that you’re up to it, specializing in concrete or paving can go a long way to ensuring that you’re never lacking for work.
The Challenges of Concrete
Mixing concrete isn’t hard, but getting a great mix isn’t always easy. Beyond simply getting the mix right and avoiding overly wet (or dry) concrete, laying it and getting a nice smooth surface takes some real skill. Between building boxes and boundaries that don’t leak to putting patterns or textures in the surface, there’s a lot of work that goes into professional-quality concrete.
If you really want to make a name for yourself with a concrete specialization you’ll need to master shaping the concrete (whether the client wants sharp angles or smooth curves), getting the surface just right (including both texture and color) and ensuring that the moisture content is right so it can cure without cracking.
You’ll also need to learn to read the weather and adjust your mixes to account for high humidity or other conditions that can affect curing. The extra work you put into mastering these skills will make a big difference once other contractors see what you can do with a slab.
The Challenges of Paving
In some ways, paving is more forgiving than concrete. Unfortunately, there are still several ways a paving job can go wrong. If you try to work too fast or too slow then the pavement you put down could end up uneven and may collect water in spots when it rains. Even worse, some parts of the pavement can crumble and crack over time and leave the owner with troublesome potholes. This is why a good paving professional is a must-have for most contractors.
Paving requires you to know how to mix the pavement, the right amount of pavement to apply and how quickly you need to work it in order to get a nice smooth surface. While heavy equipment does most of the work, you and your crew still need to know how to operate the equipment as well as when (and how) to break out the shovels and other tools. The more work you put into learning how to properly handle pavement, the more impressive your paving work will be once all is said and done.
Is It the Specialty for You?
Concrete and paving both take skill, which means that there will be a lot of training in your future if you decide to focus on either (or both) of these specializations. If you’ve got the knack for it, though, there’s usually work available for good concrete workers and pavers.
Take the time to determine just how easily you could switch from your current work to one of these specializations, considering whether you’d find the work fulfilling if you had to do it as your primary specialization. If you think you’re up to the challenge, you may find your business taking off once you learn the ins and outs of the business.
What’s the most impressive concrete installation you’ve seen?