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Milwaukee Concrete Construction FAQ

As an industry leading Milwaukee concrete construction company, we understand questions frequently arise. The field of concrete construction is complex and we don’t expect property owners to know every aspect of it. To better serve you, Dornbrook Construction has provided a list of commonly asked concrete questions paired with our expert answers. Check back often, as we will continuously be updating our Milwaukee concrete questions and answers.

When can you start my concrete construction project?

Our schedule is determined by two factors. First being the order in which a signed contract was received and secondly being the weather. We will give the customer an estimated time for starting the concrete job, but it could be subject to change due to unforeseen circumstances.

How long will my concrete job take?

The length of the project is determined by the scope of the project. We do not jump from job to job. When we start a job we will stay on it until it is completed.

Do I need to make a down payment?

We require a $200 deposit and the remaining balance due in full when the job is completed.

What types of payment do you accept?

We accept personal checks, money orders, and cashier’s checks. We do not accept credit cards.

Are you insured?

We are a fully insured and bonded concrete company in Milwaukee. Our coverage includes liability insurance, covering property damage and worker and public injuries, vehicle insurance and workers’ compensation insurance.

What will be the strength of my new concrete?

The proper mix should have minimum break strength of 4,000 pounds per square inch. This is obtained through a 6-bag mix or a 4,000 pound design mix.

How thick will my new concrete be?

Generally, a thickness of 4 or 5 inches is standard for most Wisconsin residential concrete applications unless unusual circumstances would be encountered. An example of this would be if a homeowner would have an unusually heavy vehicle where the concrete would be under more stress due to the heavy load, then proper thickness and slab design would need to be determined.

What is low-chert aggregate and what benefits do they provide?

To understand what low-chert aggregate is, we need to know a bit about concrete. Aggregates are the sand, gravel, or crushed stone added to portland cement to form concrete. The cement acts as a binder, and the aggregates help to give the concrete the material properties necessary for the application.

Chert is an aggregate found in some amount in most aggregate deposits used to produce concrete in Southeastern Wisconsin. Chert has inconsistent porosity - micro and macro pores - which leads to issues when it absorbs water and the water freezes. This type of weathering results in “pop-outs” which can range from aesthetic to more structural damage. 

Low-chert aggregate is designed to keep the amount of chert below a certain level to minimize pop-outs and especially structural issues. Typical low-chert concrete is 95-98% chert-free, providing you with longer-lasting, better-looking, and lower-maintenance concrete than higher chert options. Contact us for more information about how low-chert concrete can help you.

What is wire mesh reinforcement?

Wire mesh reinforcement consists of pieces of wire welded together to form a grid pattern.  Although concrete is an excellent building material and is extremely strong in compression, it has one limitation – concrete is weak in tension. By combining concrete with strong tension, we can create a composite which is greatly reinforced. Wire mesh is reactive. It only holds concrete together after it cracks, and only if placed properly. It does not prevent cracking.

How long must my new Milwaukee concrete driveway cure before I can drive on it?

For Southeastern Wisconsin, the American Concrete Institute and the American Concrete Pavement Association recommend a minimum of seven days following concrete placement before using a concrete driveway in Milwaukee.

How long must my patio, sidewalk, porch etc. cure before I can use it?

We recommend a minimum of 1-2 days before walking on new concrete and 7 days before placing any patio furniture or items on the newly poured concrete. It is also recommended waiting 7 days to do any landscaping or work around the new concrete.

How can I protect and maintain my concrete in Wisconsin’s climate?

Our weather region is considered severe; therefore, it is especially important for Wisconsin concrete driveways to be sealed. Concrete sealer is designed to prevent moisture from entering the concrete matrix, to assist in limiting surface deterioration due to cycles of freezing and thawing. It will also assist in protecting the new concrete from road salt which accumulates from vehicles. New concrete should air dry for 30 days prior to the application of a concrete sealer. Follow the manufacturer’s directions for application rates and intervals. These sealers can be purchased from your local concrete supplier.

Don't allow drain water to undermine your concrete and cause settlement cracks. Make sure all downspouts and gutters are properly functioning. Also, be sure the grade around your concrete allows for proper drainage of storm water run-off.

If wear shows in high traffic areas (as sometimes happens after five or more years), clean the surface and reseal for further protection. Your new concrete has been designed for normal residential vehicle traffic. Do no use your concrete for purposes other than what it was designed for, such as delivery vehicles as this may result in crack development.

Avoid placing door mats on new or existing concrete as they hold moisture against the concrete, which causes staining and possible surface defects.

Wet leaves left on a driveway will have a tendency to stain, so be prepared to clean your driveway often in fall.  Leaf stains can be cleaned away with a pressure washer (light pressure) or with hot water mixed with tri-sodium phosphate (one pound per gallon is recommended). Frequent cleaning keeps your new concrete looking good and does wonders to improve the curb appeal of your home.

Can I use deicer chemicals on my concrete?

The use of deicing chemicals during the first year of service is not recommended, especially if concrete is installed late in the year.  Sand is an acceptable alternative anytime. De-icing chemicals used for snow and ice removal can cause and aggravate surface scaling. Therefore, judicious use of these products with regard to amount and frequency of application is strongly advised. Remember deicers can also reach concrete surfaces other than by direct application — for example, drippings from the under-carriage of vehicles.

NEVER use rock salt on your concrete.

During and after the concrete’s second winter, deicing chemicals containing sodium chloride (common salt) or calcium chloride may be used judiciously.

NEVER use deicers containing ammonium sulfate or ammonium nitrate, as they will chemically attack and rapidly disintegrate concrete.

ALSO NOTE: common garden fertilizers often contain ammonium sulfate and/or ammonium nitrate, and can cause disintegration of your concrete. Avoid loading or cleaning your fertilizer spreader on your concrete slab and follow best-spreading practices by applying fertilizer around the periphery of your lawn first, without crossing pavement, then run the spreader back and forth within the area bounded by your perimeter fertilizer run. This practice both ensures consistent fertilizer application around the edge of your lawn and, because the spreader never crosses pavement, minimizes the potential for fertilizer damage to your concrete.

Does my concrete come with a warranty?

We do offer a warranty against any major defects in workmanship and materials.  Dornbrook Construction uses only the best materials along with quality workmanship to give our customers a high quality job. We also use reputable ready-mix companies which stand behind their product and warrant their concrete to be free from major manufacturer defects.

How do you remove stains from a concrete driveway?

There are many methods for removing driveway stains. Start by using a pressure washer and give your entire driveway a deep cleaning. Most of the time, a pressure washer will end up removing all stains.  Additional spot removal includes chemical and water methods. Small spills or spots can be removed with a brush and a strong detergent.  For harder to remove stains, a more aggressive method is done by using a concrete cleaner or degreaser.  To achieve maximum results, it’s important to try and remove stains right after they occur.

What if my driveway has cracks?

Driveway cracks can occur for many reasons. From poor installation, weather and water damage to every day foot and car traffic, your driveway takes a lot of abuse. Water being the most common cause for driveway cracks, it’s inevitable a repair or replacement will be needed at some point. If you're concerned about cracks in your driveway, Dornbrook Construction will evaluate the situation to determine the best driveway repair solution.

What is the difference between cement and concrete?

Although cement and concrete are often used interchangeably, it’s important to know that cement is not concrete and concrete is not cement. Cement is one of the basic ingredients used to make concrete. When mixed with other ingredients including sand, gravel and water, it reacts and makes a rock like form known as concrete.

Do I need to add a concrete sealer and if so, how often?

Exterior concrete subject to freeze and thaw is required to be sealed. Concrete is porous and if not sealed or not sealed properly any liquid which becomes absorbed will expand when frozen causing corrosion and even cracks. Sealer will also extend the look of your concrete by resisting stains, dust and abrasion.

Is concrete or asphalt better for a driveway?

Many residential and commercial property owners prefer concrete over asphalt. Concrete lasts longer than asphalt therefore offering more for your money. For more information on the right driveway installation for your home read additional information on concrete driveways vs. asphalt driveways and contact our driveway installation specialists today for a free quote.

Are there different kinds of concrete?

Yes. Concrete is made to order and can vary in strength, workability and durability. Be sure to discuss all options available with your concrete construction contractor.

Does concrete come with a warranty?

Along with being fully insured and bonded, Dornbrook Constructions concrete projects are protected by a limited warranty against defects in workmanship.

What accreditations should I look for when hiring concrete contractors?

With any business, you want to be sure you’re getting the absolute best. When it comes to concrete construction projects, there are several forms of accreditation to look for to ensure you’re working with a reliable company.

Some of the accreditations of Dornbrook Construction:


  • Better Business Bureau (BBB) accredited business with an A+ rating
  • American Concrete Institute (ACI) Certified Concrete Flatwork Finisher and Technician
  • Dwelling Contractor Certified through the state of Wisconsin Department of Licensing and Regulation
  • Member of National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI)


Our company is a registered business in the state of Wisconsin and has Concrete Contractor Licenses for both the city of Milwaukee and the city of Wauwatosa. We are also a Licensed Home Improvement Contractors with the city of Milwaukee. Our jobs are fully insured and bonded, protecting you from liability and property damage.

What should I do if I see cracks in my concrete driveway, sidewalk, or patio?

Depending on the type of crack, your concrete might be fine for years to come. One of the benefits of concrete is its exceptional strength and durability. Cracks less than ¼ inch in size are usually superficial and can be hidden with some minor repairs.

Is concrete a good idea for a parking lot?

Yes! Properly sealed and maintained concrete parking lots can last for decades. They are easy to maintain and are less likely to develop the problems common to asphalt driveways. Using decorative concrete for your parking lot is an excellent way to show your customers you care about your commercial property.

What is driveway buckling?

Another common Wisconsin problem, driveway heaving is caused by freezing underneath your driveway followed by a rapid thaw and more freezing. Freezing water expands in the soil below your driveway. This pushes up against the concrete, leading to an uneven surface. When the soil thaws and settles, the driveway is at risk of cracking when settling back down.

How can I prevent damage to my concrete driveway and sidewalk?

The main source of concrete damage in Wisconsin is from the freeze-thaw cycle. Salt causes snow and ice to thaw quickly, and the water has no place to go but down into your concrete. This water then freezes in or below the concrete, leading to cracking or surface issues. By using sand instead of salt, you can prevent freeze-thaw damage.

For driveways, heavy vehicles or equipment might cause damage over extended periods of time. Try to limit these types of vehicles in order to protect your concrete.

Natural landscaping like tree roots and water features may also cause damage to concrete depending on their location. While your options with an existing driveway or sidewalk are limited, new construction can be made to avoid these hazards. 

What causes cracks in my driveway?

In Wisconsin, driveway damage is usually the result of water freezing and expanding in small cracks, leading to larger ones. Rapid changes from hot to cold with lots of moisture from rain or snow cause the most problems for driveways. Smaller cracks may be the result of age or poor installation for where two separate pieces of driveway meet. This is especially noticeable at the edges of your driveway.

If you have a commercial driveway with heavy traffic, this might also cause a weak driveway to degrade faster over time.

What causes cracks in my sidewalk?

Unlike driveways, the concrete of sidewalks, pathways, and patios rarely deal with heavy traffic. Yet cracks still occur, causing your concrete to look old and worn down. Underground tree roots and water are the main cause of cracks in sidewalks. Water will freeze and thaw, causing concrete to crack while tree roots grow under the soil and are strong enough to make concrete crack.

How long will my new concrete last?

The lifespan of concrete will depend on how it is used. Concrete is able to last for over 30 years in Wisconsin, though heavy traffic and extreme weather conditions may cause cracks and raised slabs to eventually appear. Concrete roads created by the Romans are still in existence at 2,000 years old!

Some factors may cause your concrete to age faster. Using rock salt or deicers with ammonium sulfate or nitrate can cause concrete to weaken prematurely. If you have a commercial parking lot with a lot of delivery trucks coming in day in and day out, you will likely experience issues with the concrete earlier than the concrete sidewalk on the side of your home.

How do I maintain my concrete driveway?

To keep your concrete driveways and other flatwork in good shape, regular maintenance is recommended. Clean your concrete at least once a year with a pressure washer to remove accumulated dirt from the surface.

Use a sealer as directed, clean up liquid spills from oil and gas, and be aware of weight limits on vehicles. If there are extreme changes in temperature or severe weather, check up on your concrete to prevent cracks from forming. Repeated thawing and freezing can cause surface issues and raise slabs.

How do I maintain my interior concrete floors?

Interior concrete maintenance is somewhat easier than with outdoor driveways or sidewalks. Concrete floors inside usually only deal with foot traffic, meaning damage from weight is less likely to occur. Using a decorative epoxy floor coating will help your concrete maintain its appearance for longer.

Is concrete a good idea for a driveway?

Yes, concrete makes for incredibly durable driveways. While some prefer using asphalt, concrete has a longer lifespan and has less maintenance. There are also more ways to customize your home or business with decorative concrete than with asphalt or gravel.

Is there a difference between interior and exterior concrete maintenance?

Yes, there is a difference between maintain interior and exterior concrete flatwork. Your exterior driveways, parking lots, and sidewalks will most likely need more care due to their exposure to temperature and weather. However, interior concrete used in an industrial setting may require more maintenance from heavy equipment or traffic.

If you are not sure how to best maintain your concrete, contact Dornbrook’s concrete contractors for advice today.

What is machine base foundation installation?

Dornbrook Construction installs reinforced concrete to act as machine base foundations. These concrete areas provide many advantages to industrial sites by reducing machine vibrations, protecting floor integrity, and creating a flat and balanced work surface.

Why does my industrial facility need machine base foundations? Won’t regular concrete flooring be enough?

Normal concrete flooring can handle a lot of wear and tear, but the forces exerted by heavy machinery require extra care. Without reinforcement, the concrete around the machine could crack or buckle over time. Our base foundations include laid rebar to evenly distribute the machine’s weight.

If the floor under your machine is no longer level, the machine may no longer work correctly.  

Will I be able to move my machinery if it is placed on a reinforced base foundation?

Before moving any machinery, contact Dornbrook contractors to have a new machine base foundation installed.