During a recent webcast, Associated General Contractors economist Ken Simonson listed the things pushing the construction economy forward and also some of the headwinds. On the positive side was the shale oil boom, which continues despite the drop in oil prices; the Panama Canal expansion which generates construction of ports, bridges, highways, and warehouses; and the continuing boom in multifamily and mixed-use construction. On the negative side is the continuing slowness of government spending on transportation and other infrastructure; the trend toward consumers buying online instead of in stores; and the shrinking size of office space per employee, partly due to working offsite.

Reduce the Air?

Recently, I asked readers whether reducing the air content for concrete with color hardener is a safe practice in areas susceptible to freeze-thaw damage. One reason in favor is that the air can reduce the bleed water so much that wetting out the hardener is difficult, but Steve Vandewater’s response seemed to represent the consensus: “I stamped with color hardener for over 18 years in Indiana with a lot of freeze-thaw cycles. I always poured full air and had zero issues other than once or twice where the hardener was a little difficult to work in, usually on breezy days with low humidity. I think cutting back the air is asking for trouble, and I see the effects of this repeatedly now that I work for a ready mix company.”

Buyer’s Guide Revised

This year’s buyer’s guide represents a significant change from previous years. Recognizing that concrete contractors need more than just a simple list of manufacturers of a specific product, we decided to focus on only those categories that seem most relevant to your needs and then to give you a bit more information. For example, if you check out saws, you’ll see that we have indicated what type of saw each manufacturer supplies (handheld, walk-behind, etc.) and then have provided a list of recent or classic CC articles on the topic and conclude the section with some recent related product releases. Let us know if you find this more useful and what we can do to make it better next year.