I got started in the decorative concrete industry in the early 1980s. In the past 25 years, this subset of the much larger concrete industry has been growing—recently exponentially. As decorative concrete contractors have become more and more technically sophisticated, decorative concrete has become the sexy face of the industry. Both cement manufacturers and ready-mix producers have recognized this and jumped on the decorative bandwagon. The benefit is a potentially more profitable concrete. And the ultimate customers, the general public, are all for it.
Recently, though, the public seems more and more interested in honesty—concrete for concrete's sake. Appreciation of concrete for its form and visual weight, for its interesting and often serendipitous quirks of color and texture, has increased. I think that the concrete industry and decorative concrete contractors are at a crossroads. They should look and listen to their customers and recognize the true values. Concrete does have many benefits, and it can look like lots of great things, but just because it can, doesn't mean it should. Decorative concrete contractors should temper technical sophistication with sensitivity and design sophistication. The concrete industry should be providing concrete that is application appropriate, as visually honest as possible, and is in no way superfluous.
Read more highlights from 50 Years of Concrete Construction Progress.