If you’re like me, you’ve ended up lost in the Pinterest universe looking at projects you could do to make your home better. Whether it’s a cute photo wall with a mashup of random picture frames from a Dollar store or a bike rack for your kids from an old pallet you manage to snag from behind a grocery store, the projects are endless.
And if you’re also like me, concrete projects intimidate you, regardless of how “easy” the instructions make it seem or how inexpensive concrete is. The thought of finding a concrete contractor for the littlest of concrete projects seems futile, too.
There’s no need for me to waste your time with all the “Nailed It” Pinterest memes, because we both know that’s how most projects end up, nowhere near the perfection and cuteness of everything that is shared on Pinterest.
With that, here are 5 ways you can make your home better with concrete, even if you don’t end up doing it all yourself.
#1 – Planters
The thought of spending hundreds of dollars for pots to put plants in that are likely to die often keeps me from wanting to get started in the first place. The only feasible option is the terra cotta pots that are burnt orange and round, but they don’t always fit where you want and the color can be pretty boring, too.
Thankfully, you can make planters of any size and shape with concrete. You can even color the concrete to match your home or other decorations.
This Old House has a great tutorial on making concrete planters and will allow you to grow (and kill) as many plants as you ever want.
#2 – Countertops
Granite is the gold-standard for beauty, ease of maintenance, but also carries the highest cost for countertops. And there are many alternatives, but most are still very costly. Thankfully, concrete is affordable and relatively easy to work with and can be very stylish for any home.
Like granite, it is obviously heavy, so be sure to factor in the weight and awkward size of most countertops if you need to create it somewhere other than where you’ll be installing it. DIY Network has a great tutorial going through the basics to make your first concrete countertop.
#3 – Retaining Walls
If you have any elevation changes around your property, using a retaining wall to add function as well as style could be a great option for you. Many are created with concrete blocks or bricks that you can get at your local home store and rely on the basics of gravity to hold the soil back from eroding, while also providing a stylish design.
Once you get over a few feet in height, you might need to build something a little more complex than a basic gravity retaining wall. In these cases, a concrete contractor could help with some of it, creating a deeper footing and setting up the foundation of a piling type retaining wall.
#4 – Patio
Most homes have a meager patio the builder provided during construction, but it doesn’t take much to expand them and create a separate living space outside that will be used a lot in temperate climates.
The easiest method to expand a patio is to lay large tiles or paving stones around the perimeter. Best of all, they can be purchased in phases, expanding the patio space as budget permits.
If you want more shade than a large patio umbrella, then building a post-frame is likely your best bet. Once you set the concrete footer for the posts, the sky’s the limit for your options, whether canvas, wood, or other cover materials.
And if you’re starting from scratch without a patio, having a concrete contractor lay the foundation for it might be the best move for you.
#5 – Walkways
The path to the front door from the driveway is often a bland concrete slab for most homes. Thankfully, there are options to spruce it up a bit without having to hire a concrete contractor to come out and replace it completely just to get something you like.
One option is to use concrete resurfacer, which does exactly what the name implies, adding a new surface over your existing concrete. There are many colors and finish options, so you should be able to do quite a bit without needing a professional’s help.
Another interesting design option is to replace your current walkway with uniform concrete pads that are spaced a few inches apart, allowing grass to grow between them. The pads are much smaller than a typical slab, such as 2 feet by 4 feet, allowing you to create them with basic forms and no need for internal reinforcement due to their small size.
If you do want to do something more than a simple resurfaces, stamping concrete opens up endless possibilities for styling your walkways. There are many DIY options, but this is often where a concrete contractor can come in to deliver a perfect upgrade to your home.