With driveways and garages the walkways and foyers of East Valley homes, more people are finding ways to improve upon those "same-old" slabs.
Two popular choices are garage floor coating and stamped concrete. Garage floor coating can spruce up oiled or stained surfaces in the garage. Stamped concrete can replace the sterile gray strips that lead into the home.
The transformation of these utilitarian places into aesthetically pleasing spaces is not just doable, but desirable. As Bill Norton of The Sharper Edge in Chandler notes, people here want the same aesthetics on the outside that they have on the inside.
Jane Guild didn’t have a stick of furniture in her new north Scottsdale home, but she did have a new garage floor.
"The garage is really an extension of your home here," said Guild, who splits time between Arizona and Minnesota. "It’s the first thing people see."
With the installation of oak cabinets planned shortly after the epoxy/ silicone application, Guild estimated her husband’s new "office " would be in shape — to the tune of $5,000 — before the inside of the house.
"In Minnesota, you don’t see this," Guild said.
And Northerners probably never will. Rob Hanson, operations manager of Garage Floor Coatings, said the Valley’s dry, hot conditions are ideal for the coating, as the material does not adhere to surfaces in humid climes. The company is the largest in the state, with two crews transforming 15 to 20 garages a day.
"Everyone goes through the garage here," Hanson said. People want that space to be nice, a transition into the home.
Many hobbyists also spend time in their garages, like Richard Sallquist of Tempe.
"We’ve seen the flooring in some of our neighbors’ garages, and it looks good," said his wife, Louis. In addition to the look, the Sallquists like that the garage floor will no longer stain and that insects will be sealed out.
"There is no doubt it’s a luxury," Hanson said. But at a cost of $650 to $700 for a twocar garage and $1,000 for a three-car garage, it’s an expense many people don’t mind paying — especially when there’s a lifetime warranty attached.
When Hanson moved to the Valley eight years ago from Montreal, he was amazed at the amount of concrete. He also recognized that garages were more than a place to park the car. So Garage Floor Coatings was born.
Starting with acid, ammonia and commercial floor machines, Garage Floor Coatings make the floor contaminant-free — a better surface for the following application.
Industrial epoxy is then floated on the floor quickly, as workers have 10 minutes to handle the material.
The next day, a crew returns to patch and apply an elastomeric silicone seal.
"People never have to worry about termites, crickets or spiders" coming in through cracks in the garage, Hanson said. In a week’s time, cars can once again be parked there.
Fourteen years ago, Bill and Alan Norton recognized a need for concrete edging in landscaping.
Today their company, The Sharper Edge in Chandler, concentrates on stamped decorative concrete. Often it is used in patios, walkways and pool decks. But it also has been used in driveways, either as the drive itself or as edging. Cost is $6.25 per square foot or, when used as edging, $3.50 per linear foot. The company said it will do 1,000 jobs in the Valley this year.
"It is more durable than stone," Bill Norton said. And it doesn’t break away from mortar, as bricks sometimes do.
In creating a stamped driveway, old concrete is removed and a three-quarterinch slab poured. This provides sufficient thickness for the stamping. With 20 different colors, the company has 12 different flatwork styles, including London Cobble and Herringtone Brick, and nine edging styles, like Mexican Tile.
The flatwork is particularly dramatic in circular driveways with edging generally used to dress up straight slabs.
"It is very easy to take care of," Norton said. And it ties in nicely with the home — a bit of inside style, outside.
The Sharper Edge: (480) 539-6566 or www.thesharperedge.com (AZ license No. 155416) Garage Floor Coatings: (602) 579-2628 or http://www.garagefloorcoating.com (AZ license No. 143148) Registrar of Contractors: (602) 542-1525 or http://www.rc.state.az.us/