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Architectural Concrete Design
by Liz Hunter

…A Special Advertising Section from the pages of House & HomeStamp of approval: Trust in Architectural Concrete Design for a variety of decorative concrete projects around your home.When homeowners are thinking of ways to beautify their outdoors, whether a driveway, patio or pool deck, concrete is often an underestimated option. But one local company has been changing people’s minds about concrete for more than 20 years.Architectural Concrete Design (ACD) specializes in decorative stamped concrete, as well as stained concrete, exposed aggregate and other hardscape services. When it comes to stamped concrete, ACD president and CEO Chris McMahon says experience matters. After all, he was one of the first to offer stamped concrete on the East Coast in 1993 after working with the new medium in San Francisco. “I saw big potential for this type of product back here, and now we’ve become a staple in the industry,” he says.

ACD’s skills and experience have garnered them some high-profile projects, such as SugarHouse Casino, Plymouth Meeting Mall, Valley Forge Casino, and the Promenade Shops at Saucon Valley.

“We handle these big contracts with the same crews and technical expertise that we use in building our residential projects,” McMahon says. “Our presence and visibility in the residential market have made us stand out to these commercial opportunities.”

And it’s true. If major companies and even the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation are willing to trust ACD with their projects, homeowners should feel every confidence doing the same.

Stamped concrete has many uses around a home’s exterior. McMahon says it can mimic flagstone, brick, Belgian block and wood decking, but is more durable and affordable than the original. “It is the No. 1 surface to use around a pool because it is slip-resistant,” he says. “We can transform plain concrete to have a beachy feel with a sandy-looking surface, or we can simulate cracked earth, or a solid rock texture.”

ACD has its own line of stamps, some of which were used at the Harry Potter theme exhibit at Universal Studios in Orlando. Homeowners can choose from a wide array of stamp designs, as well as a large palette of colors that can be mixed and combined to create customized looks. Color selection is key in creating a natural and authentic appearance that will complement the client’s home.

“Other companies will apply the color all through the concrete, which is going to weaken the surface and cause it to lose texture and definition,” McMahon says. “We apply color into the surface and it acts like a porcelain coating, increasing the surface strength and durability. We wouldn’t be in this business for 22 years if we weren’t doing it correctly.”

The customer service aspect of ACD’s business is another element that sets them apart from others. After making contact, a designer will visit a homeowner’s property to find out what they have in mind, and create a design to review. Once a budget is established, design approved and contract finalized, the project is turned over to operations, where a dedicated operations manager will be helping see things through. “The residential process is quick. It typically takes one day to excavate, set forms and install stone base, one day to pour the concrete, then the concrete cures for three days before we detail and seal it,” says McMahon. “Most installations can be done in five working days. Once we start a job, we finish it. We don’t show up then leave for days on end. We’ve heard horror stories like that.”

Lines of communication are open at all times, he adds. “Each day the homeowner is introduced to the operations manager running the job, and they have constant access to the designer and me. I also personally inspect every job when it’s done,” McMahon says.

“The most important feedback we get from clients is how great our staff is,” he continues. “Our staff is not only the largest—with over 60 specialists including craftsmen, designers, customer service personnel and management—but it’s the most experienced in the entire area. ACD works a large geographic area, servicing all of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and most of Maryland on a daily basis. Our people take pride in what they do and every employee knows they work for the best, which is why they stay. We treat them right and the customers ultimately benefit from that relationship.”

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