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A Look At Vertical Deco-Concrete

 
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Old 10-31-2008, 09:44 AM   #1
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A Look At Vertical Deco-Concrete


Vertical Excellence Yields Vertical Profits


For those Concrete Artisans out there.

Anyone not aware of this new trend, look at my photo album for examples.

To most of you who are aggressive in the work place and keep in touch with the trends, there is no doubt that the latest buzz is vertical decorative concrete. Over the last decade I have watched the evolution of stamped concrete, acid staining, stenciled concrete and most recently vertical stamped concrete. There are great artisans in each of these fields but few who generate top dollar for their craft. Maybe the majority of those individuals just don’t perform in excellence, I can not say. But when it comes to decorative vertical concrete I can give you several perspectives on what it takes to be a success in the hand carved vertical concrete arena.
Perceived Value is Value!
Do not approach your clients from a per square foot price. Why? Because what in the market place will they compare you too? Cultured stone, cast stone, stone veneer for example. These are all per square foot price structures ranging from 12 – 50 dollars a square foot installed. If you allow your self to be labeled in that range you have just established your cap. Clients rarely start out by saying “I want to spend the most possible for your products.” That would be great but the truth is they will only part with their money if they see you adding more value in what you are doing than your competitor. Thus, you bring your client, by the hand, into the world of faux reality. There are no limitations to what you can create. Manufactured products are just not as diversified enough to cover the scope of “all things are possible”. When those products reach there limits we are just getting started.
Faux Reality
Faux reality is an oxymoron but they are two words that bring loads of cash to your bank account. If you are wondering how to make huge profits in this market, let there be no misunderstanding. If it doesn’t look real then people will not pay the real margins that you’re looking for. If what you are creating doesn’t look better than the out of the box products then guess what? You loose the sale. You must educate yourself on the methods, styles and techniques of vertical hand carved concrete. If you think you are going to buy a stamp set of a particular pattern that mimics real stone to generate top dollar in your market place, you are delusional. Will you sell some projects? Sure. But you have just entered into an arena where every other contractor on the block has the exact same stamp set or access to the exact same patterns that you do. Now tell me your client is so dumb that they will not discover this truth on their own. That path leads you and half a dozen other finishers to a lets duke-it-out for a bag of peanuts profit margin at best. If that’s where you want to live that’s fine but I’d rather be recognized for my differences than to blend in with the status quo of what’s offered in the industry.
Key Note – A Shift in their Thinking
You replace the five stamp styles on a sell sheet with unlimited design potential and I mean unlimited. For instance if you wanted a wall to look like a 100 piece stone puzzle so be it. Free hand it or throw it up on an overhead projector. After your wall mix has been applied, then carve away. In fact any design you can see, draw or find on the internet will work. That means the stone designs in multi million dollar estates, chateaus, and mansions are now at your fingertips and quite frankly, many times your over all projects will have a greater impact on regular folks not just those who live in the lap of luxury. You have the ability to create the look and feel of a rare mason executing a lost art right in the midst of their home. Remember perceived value is value. I could spend all day talking about the possibilities but it is your job to tap imagination until you turn your client on. The alternative is to settle for a stamp set or what ever comes out of a box.
To the Bat Cave Lets Go
I recall one client who was so enamored by the entire process and upon learning that anything was possible, she inquired about a hidden door. She said it was her dream to have a secret door in her house just like in the Batman shows she used to watch as a kid. Now I’m talking about a well to do full grown adult female living in a gorgeous home expressing to me her desire to have secret passage way. It took me by surprise! I blurted out “anything you want I will do”. Now you can just forget about a square foot price right about now. After listening and pondering on what it would take to fabricate this door I gave her two options. The elaborate secret door or the practical secret door and the difference was drastic. She settled for the lesser dollar door. I took me three days and you would have thought I had just given her a winning lottery ticket, 14 day vacation in Greece, paid off her mortgage and Oprah's private cell phone with a call anytime we will do lunch offer.
A Step Above the Rest
One of the biggest things that help me gain top dollar is tapping into the “hidden talents” of the client. The more involved they are in the creative process the better. Your job is to unlock ideas, innovations and dreams while giving them all the credit. You just helped them explore the artistic part of their life even if they think they don’t have one. This is done by asking them tons of questions about what they like, where they’ve been, where they would go if they could, what colors they like, and anything that relates to the creation of this new environment. You are fishing for threads of positive information that tap into a particular look or décor that you can execute. The more educated you are the more you can pull off. Once identified, refocus on the positive points of interest while creating their new Utopian environment. It is your job to take in all those pieces of data and represent it back to them as their vision. When done correctly it could be the difference between major profits.
Isn’t Bling Supposed to be Shinny?
It is a lot easier to ask for more money on a project when you have established the fact that you will be executing their vision while offering something that your competitor can not. Giving them a unique one-of-a-kind element that will no doubt be the talk of conversation for years to come is only one of the benefits they will enjoy in their new environment. The benefits by adding so much perceived value to your client’s home or business can not be estimated by just one sale. We all know that everyone who sees this new faux or elaborate textured wall will no doubt be inclined to question the owner as to where he purchased the materials or who did the work. And upon learning that the entire job was hand carved and sculpted only adds more mystery and intrigue. Clients appreciate their ultimate faux and are glad of their decision choosing you over the guy who was just going to glue something to the wall that he pulled out of a box. They spent a little more but the value to money ratio was higher than the rest of the competition.
Only If You Want Too
Now you don’t have to charge your client for all the perceived value you just added to their home. This just simply gives you a big edge over the competitors that offer the run of the mill. Only you know how much time and effort it will take to execute the new found dream. All the client knows is that you are the only one that can deliver the incredible and that gives you the edge when it comes time to negotiate.


Who Can Do This
There is nothing keeping any of you from this arena of art. Only your desire to walk through its door remains. I’m also not special. Before starting my company 10 years ago I was a restaurant owner and in the software industry. I never though I would be doing what I am doing today. Needless to say, it is still a step by step process just like any other faux you have learned and once the principals are learned there are no limits to what can be achieved. Decorative concrete is not just flat work. A colleague told me there are four times as many walls as floors and he is right. Zig Ziglar once said you don’t have to be great to start but you do have to start to be great.

So let the adventures begin.
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Old 10-31-2008, 09:53 AM   #2
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Re: A Look At Vertical Deco-Concrete


Yep.. and wait till it cracks.

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Old 01-13-2009, 02:49 PM   #3
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Re: A Look At Vertical Deco-Concrete


Hey 6string have you researched vertical concrete overlay mixes? just curious.
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Old 01-15-2009, 05:32 PM   #4
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Re: A Look At Vertical Deco-Concrete


The problem with vertical stamping is not really about performance because must polymer modified materials used in these applications are very good, the problem is about cost, at $14-$22/sf not many people will pick vertical stamping over cultured stone, which definetely looks better; there's a market for it(like everything), but is not something you can sell everywhere, it just won't happen; nowadays customers are educating themselves and is becoming harder to sell what we want and here and there we find some of them that truly believe they know more then us .
Even if vertical stamping alone won't make you rich, it will definetely give you advantage over the competition, since is a fairly new technique and not many guys are doing it.
Regards!
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Old 01-15-2009, 07:44 PM   #5
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Re: A Look At Vertical Deco-Concrete


Quote:
Originally Posted by CR2 View Post
The problem with vertical stamping is not really about performance because must polymer modified materials used in these applications are very good, the problem is about cost, at $14-$22/sf not many people will pick vertical stamping over cultured stone, which definetely looks better; there's a market for it(like everything), but is not something you can sell everywhere, it just won't happen; nowadays customers are educating themselves and is becoming harder to sell what we want and here and there we find some of them that truly believe they know more then us .
Even if vertical stamping alone won't make you rich, it will definetely give you advantage over the competition, since is a fairly new technique and not many guys are doing it.
Regards!


My price range for vertical range form $6-14 a sq ft. For instance a brick pattern would be $6 a sq ft because it only takes a 1/4" of material. It cost me around 2.50 a sq ft in materials. The price goes up with doing more custom textures and ledge stone or drystack look stones, obviously that takes more material and more time to carve out.
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Old 02-01-2009, 01:40 PM   #6
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Re: A Look At Vertical Deco-Concrete


Quote:
Originally Posted by 6stringmason View Post
Yep.. and wait till it cracks.
Control joints. No different than stamping a driveway or walk way with strategicaly placed control joints. Not to mention, overlay materials (poly. epoxies etc...) are designed to resist cracking.
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Old 02-03-2009, 09:19 PM   #7
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Re: A Look At Vertical Deco-Concrete


Quote:
Originally Posted by SWAY79 View Post
Control joints. No different than stamping a driveway or walk way with strategicaly placed control joints. Not to mention, overlay materials (poly. epoxies etc...) are designed to resist cracking.
Alright, that may be, but realize many of these guys are saying you can lay it right on the outside of the structure. Even if its just osb. One rep I talked to said his product didnt even need any type of moisture barrier. Just put it right on up the osb.

So you mean to tell me that you wouldnt worry about putting this on the outside of your home without it cracking? Even with unsightly control joints?

And yeah doubleaction, I've researched them quite abit. Unfortunately in my area it would be too far and too few in between jobs to make it worth while for me to venture into.
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Old 02-07-2009, 12:41 PM   #8
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Re: A Look At Vertical Deco-Concrete


Not trying to bust your balls 6strings i was just wondering. I wish i had your countertop skills. Very nice work. I want to try and pour one for a vanity i am building for my house.
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Old 02-08-2009, 07:58 AM   #9
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Re: A Look At Vertical Deco-Concrete


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Not trying to bust your balls 6strings i was just wondering. I wish i had your countertop skills. Very nice work. I want to try and pour one for a vanity i am building for my house.
Hey no problem at all double! I wasn't offended in the least by your post. Just simply countering your statement with one of my own.

I thanks for the compliment. If you have any questions feel free to pm me about the tops and process.
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Old 02-08-2009, 04:56 PM   #10
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Re: A Look At Vertical Deco-Concrete


Thanks, I have read a lot about concrete counter tops but i know it something you just have to practice to get good. What would you suggest to use for a mix for a beginner?

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