Reinventing a Concrete Patio

Reinventing a Concrete Patio

A small pond liner in background


-Area before, midway through upgrade.  Old approx foot wide shelf made into 18 inch embedded monolith


-Created a shelf/tabletop to sit at outside and view garden and pond.



Tiled My Bathroom

I tiled the middle bathroom a while ago but never put the photo’s up.  This look is more in keeping with the rest of the house.  The floor was carpet put over not nice white tile.  Now it is quite the same as the sink, just size variations.  Made small tiles to get around buying relatively expensive bull-nose tiles on the backsplash top.






Working with my preexisting masonry back patio

I’m currently working with my preexisting masonry back patio to make it able to hold a vine covered arbor/pergola. I have added wall parts and removed others. A little pond and plant spot will be to its right but attached to it. It will help hide support for the walls that were not anchored properly, while making the whole area more attractive. Fireplace is not used as such if you were worried of…

-on a bright New Years eve in 70 degree weather.




Today was a day of cleaning up and waiting.

I made and poured all my homemade concrete for the fountain project yesterday. There was lots of carrying sand/gravel in buckets, using a hoe to mix in the cement with, mix it, get it over to the fountain space and shovel and bucket it into place. After such work, I have to monitor my lower back to avoid having it go out.

When your back is really out it can be weeks before it even seems to improve. Hard to stand or sit or get out of bed. Anyway. Seems I am OK, so I am still able to do stuff, like finish this project. There is a bit of curing time involved, since normal concrete is curred in 28 days. But I can go ahead with preparing the top for nice Morrish tiles.

I wanted to have a mono pour on this so there will be no seams to let water out, although there are some inside measures I could do to seal leaks as well. The floor is about 8 inches thick and reinforce by metal, as are the sides, so this fountain should last for a thousand years.

My Homemade Fountain Project-2

Here are the fountains forms just about ready for me to get the sand-gravel from the wash and add the cement to it. I still have to run a secret wire into it from behind for the pump. I have a small drain to make cleanup easier along the way. I am using recycled fense found on the curb in my neighborhood. I un-weave it and am using it as a wire mesh substitute. I intend to make this thing so tight that it will not likely ever leak.

This fountain holder is shaped this way to reflect the fountain gift received one Christmas. I have a couple re-bar pieces going around the circumference. In the corners I added an extra piece just in case. The base is actually thicker than the sides so it will never crack. To continue with overbuilding it, I’m also putting recycled fence in just to add a little more connectivity. On top of that, I’ll use a rather rich cement mixture for strong concrete.

I will add a couple wood cross supports in the inside just in case the weight of the walls press the inner forms sides in. As it sets up I’ll probably take them out so I can finish the bottom inside a bit. Those inner walls cant inward a bit for strength and ease of disassembly.

-and finally this with tile on top.  Late evening photo, colors a bit off, however, side colors are darker on finished fountain.


Next Concrete Project–fountain

Here is my latest home grown concrete project in motion. This is the initial phase, just getting the outside form started, it will have bevelled corners to match the gift fountain. I may match the color of the fountain to make the whole thing seem as one and much larger. Our small courtyard limits the size of the fountain, but it will be large enough to have a few goldfish in there. The outside width dimension of the fountain will be 6 feet, about 5 foot the other. I have not decided what cap to put on the fountain wall. Possibly a nice tile to sit on, or go with smooth finished concrete. The electrical will come through the wall I made like the hose does there.

I am going to mono-cast the fountain holding pond, so the inside will have a smaller beveled form which shrinks in just a little on the bottom for strength and to help with disassembling.


Eventually this courtyard and cat yard will have a smooth, stable floor, easy on bare feet and paws. Probably a stabilized home made adobe, to have an organic but clean feel.

this up front section is the inside dimension. Those overhanging boards will keep it level and balanced to the outer form. Now to put in lots of re-bar so it will not crack.

I poured the homemade concrete yesterday, and here is how that looked.

and finished at 8:15 pm. It was dark so this shot was a flash.


I chose not to do heavy duty settling of this mix in case I wanted a more natural stone look if we keep it plain. Normally you do lots of tapping of forms and some downward shoving of a stick or similar item to mix and settle. We do not receive freezing temperatures here that last throughout day, so I am not worried about ice expanding in the fissures.

Now comes the tile selection and surface changes.

Home Works–Planet Green + Steve Thomas

I saw Steve Thomas on Planet Green last evening. Planet Green is a cable/ satellite channel, 286 on Direct TV.

Steve was once the host of PBS’s “This Old House”, which is claimed to be the first big home improvement hit. Now there are many networks devoting much screen time to home improvement reality type shows.

Now I was a fan of This Old House, but not so much of Steve Thomas. In my construction days I had a run in with Steve which I will tell you about shortly. Anyway. I always thought of Steve Thomas as a kind of boastful character that was a bit full of himself. As host of the PBS show, he seemed to prance around and, more or less, seeming as the type to avoid doing much actual work. He just felt like one of those guys who showed they could talk up a subject, but not have the real hands on experience. This is a subjective impression based on character assessment type casting. Most of us have this kind of unconscious prejudice operating–first impressions and all. Generally, it is good to reassess such assessments.

The time he came to our job site, it seemed it was because the producers wanted him to at least give us a courtesy call. We were nearly two months into a major renovation and expansion when This Old House came to town. They wanted to track an improvement through the whole process, so we were not what they would cover at that point. He said they would have been interested if that job was going to be just starting.

Anyway. That day he came by, he announces on arrival that he had not slept much and was in a hurry, so we would not be doing any introductions and all that. So he went on to see the companies owner and made no contact with any of the rest of us, including no eye contact.

Well I did not care one way or the other. There are no media personality or movie stars I personally would go out of my way to meet. I did the work I was there to do. But many of the guys would come by and tell me what a jerk or whatever they thought he was. I thought he was who he is, behaving like I would expect. No disappointment to me. I frankly think it would have been quite an embarrassment to see the company I worked for, on display with its compulsive gambling owner. Perhaps the construction drama express would have arrived a decade sooner. Who knows.

But what of Steve Thomas Today? You may wonder?

He is great on his Renovation Nation show on Planet Green. He gets into the construction mix, and doesn’t mind complaining in a kind self effacing sort of way. His promotional energy is well spent on forwarding the construction technologies and innovations needed to conserve resources and help the environment out. His humor is allowed to come out and play more, which makes his presentation and character more interesting and dynamic. I like the guy who replaced him on This Old House, but Steve Thomas seems right in his element on Planet Green with his Renovation Nation experience.

So cheers to a job well done Steve!

Good to see you again.

Steve Thomas –

the bio: Emmy Award winning Steve Thomas has signed on with Planet Green to host Renovation Nation premiering June 4, 2008. He also consults on residential