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Although concrete is probably the best construction material known to man, and is relatively trouble-free, there are some limitations you should be aware of. Concrete is a very hard and durable material but can be chipped or broken when dropped or struck with a hard object. The use of proper padding and good judgement when handling and transporting is necessary, as well as a safe and stable ultimate location. The most common but least recognized problem is water absorption and the subsequent freezing of concrete that contains a lot of moisture. We use chemicals that reduce this risk but it is virtually impossible to produce concrete that is totally waterproof. Before freezing weather begins you should empty any item that potentially holds water and ideally store it indoors. Heated storage is not necessary, just prevent water from collecting. Pumps should be removed and cleaned and stored in a heated location in case there is water inside. The other method of winterizing is to drain all water and remove pump and cover the entire piece with burlap and then poly. The burlap will help absorb moisture and the poly will prevent water from reaching the piece. When preparing a location for a concrete piece, you should provide adequate water drainage at ground level. The best method is to place the piece on a bed of coarse gravel or a stepping stone. This allows a limited amount of air to circulate under the concrete and will reduce trapped moisture. The worst situation is to allow water to collect at the base as the concrete will absorb moisture and potentially create problems. The surface of the concrete does not require paint if you prefer the natural stone look. Ideally, natural concrete should be treated with a concrete sealer every second year for maximum protection. Sealer will temporarily darken the surface but will return to natural color when dry.
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