Stained concrete floors, decorative concrete countertops... the list of popular concrete applications continues to grow. And now, decorative concrete contractors can add another new service to their businesses: decorative concrete furniture.
Buddy Rhodes Concrete Products, of San Francisco, Calif.,began selling custom concrete furniture molds at the beginning of 2006. "I've been making custom designs for years, and they have always set my work apart from what others could do," says business owner Buddy Rhodes. "Now that I'm in the supply and education business, I'm trying to give my customers the tools they need to make things their competition can't."
Originally introduced at the World of Concrete in January, the designer line of molds was created for several reasons. First, Rhodes says, was demand — people had long been asking him to replicate some of his designs. "This was the most anticipated addition we've ever had to our product line," he says.
Second was fit. The furniture line complements the company's existing product line, which includes everything from sink molds to concrete countertop mix, which is also the right choice for the furniture molds.
Third was function — the molds are an efficient way to make concrete furniture. "We have a number of molds in the shop, each of which has made well over 100 pieces," says Rhodes. "Some of my original molds are over fifteen years old."
At present, the company offers five forms, including two sizes of round, decorative planters, drum stools with either a flat or rounded top, and a drum table. Rhodes says they also offer custom molds for customers that have specific design ideas, and that they are adding more molds to the product line in the near future.
The molds are gel-coated fiberglass. "Most of the molds are multiple pieces that bolt together," says Rhodes. "Our concrete mix is pressed to the inside of the mold. After 24 hours the mold is unbolted and pulled apart to reveal a unique work of art."
Rhodes says that while there is some additional work before each piece is ultimately finished, the mold can be put back in use right away for multiple unit projects. "You can have a finished product in five days."
The concrete can be cast in any of the styles and colors of the Buddy Rhodes line, and by creatively combining colors, styles and techniques, hundreds of unique looks can be created using the same mold. "I have yet to see a similar product," says Rhodes. "Our mold/mix combo is a positively unique way of fabricating concrete pieces. I like to think of it as constructing rather than pouring. Our mix is very much like clay."
"These products expand the portfolio of what a concrete contractor can offer, make, and sell. It's a new way of working with concrete."
The molds can be purchased through Buddy Rhodes distributors, who are listed on the company's Web site, or you can call the company directly.