Monday, January 28, 2013

Hardscape Cleaning Training for Contractors

Oftentimes, when your crew installs a paver patio or retaining wall, the process leads to a finished project with blemishes. Over the course of the installation the product picks up mud, dust and footprints. Some product may have efflorescence. We have found a way to properly clean hardscape products; helping them show their full color. We will be holding a series of classes geared towards providing contractors the proper training for hardscape surface cleaning. Co-sponsored by EaCoChem, the first two classes will take place at our Vancouver, Washington branch at 10:00 AM Friday, January 25th and again at 10:00 AM, February 22nd. Although nothing is scheduled as of yet, there will be additional sessions in other regions over the next couple of months. The course will be a hands-on demonstration of proper cleaning techniques and to promote post installation cleaning of hardscape products as an integral part of the total installation process. This class will take to the road over the next several weeks, so keep an eye out at your local branch or on line for the next class nearest to you. To RSVP to the class, please contact Fred Davis (, Bill Allen (, or Molly Brown (

Gary Zagelow
Commercial Sales

Friday, September 9, 2011

Two New Outdoor Living Space Packages from Mutual Materials

We in the Pacific Northwest take our outdoor activities to heart. Most of us grew up camping, fishing, skiing and playing all types of sports. Being outdoors is just a part of who we are. It is no surprise that the trend toward utilizing outdoor living spaces in our homes has grown steadily in the past few years. At first, it was something that most of us could only dream about, associated mainly with large, expensive homes. Fortunately, there have been products and services introduced in the market that allow homeowners to incorporate outdoor living spaces into their homes at a reasonable cost.

Mutual Materials has been at the forefront of developing outdoor living products for our Pacific Northwest customers. We recognize you want beautiful and functional products at a good price. Value is important, but so is convenience. With this in mind, we are pleased to bring to market two product packages that will help you enhance your backyard without breaking your budget or taking up all your free time.

Outdoor Fireplace Package
It doesn’t get any easier than this. For one price, you get a 36” outdoor fireplace installed at your home, with your choice of veneer. You select from a list of Slimbrick, Cultured Stone or Glacier Stone natural stone thin veneer options and we do the rest. Once you purchase one of these packages, a Mutual Materials’ contractor will contact you to set up a time to begin the installation process. We manage the project; you just sit back, relax and watch your backyard get transformed into an oasis. Please visit one of our local branches for more program details and pricing.

Paver Patio Kit
Mutual Materials pavers are a great way to make an instant, affordable upgrade to your home. Now you can visit any of our branch locations and purchase a kit that contains all the materials you need to install a 10’ x 10’ paver patio at your home. Simply choose from 3 different paver styles, with multiple color options, and we put together everything else you need. We deliver all the materials to your home and you install it yourself. If you don’t want to be a weekend warrior, we can put you in touch with one of our Preferred Contractor who will give you a labor estimate. Please visit one of our local branches or go to for more details.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Outdoor Fireplaces

There’s something magical about a roaring fire. Anyone who grew up in a home with a fireplace, or enjoyed camping trips with family and friends, knows that inviting, warming feeling a good fire provides. It should be no surprise that more and more homeowners are making outdoor fireplaces a focal point in their backyards. The popularity of outdoor living spaces continues to grow and having a beautifully veneered fireplace has become the cornerstone of most designs.

Mutual Materials has partnered with FireRock to offer a full line of outdoor and indoor pre-engineered fireplace and chimney systems that can meet any design options you envision. These kits allow the installer to construct and face a ready-to-use unit in as few as two days. Simply pick the size and type of unit you want and we will make sure you have all the things you need to complete your project.

Once you select your fireplace style, you will need to choose the type of veneer to face it with. This is the icing on the cake! You can choose a Mutual Materials’ Slim Brick to achieve that classic brick look, or if you like stone, we also offer both Cultured Stone and natural stone veneer products in many different shapes and colors. Nothing will light up your yard, and make the neighbors jealous, like an outdoor fireplace from Mutual Materials. To make your design dream a reality, visit us at

Rob Rosson

Monday, November 29, 2010

Offseason is a great time for a masonry or hardscape project

When our Northwest weather turns cold and wet, most of us start thinking about the usual winter activities- holiday shopping, skiing and warm weather vacations. Unfortunately, not many people think about doing a home improvement project, especially one on the exterior. The truth is the “off-season” in the construction industry is a great time to do a project for several reasons:

1. Many areas in the Northwest have mild winter climates, so most projects can be done without having to adjust for weather issues.

2. In the areas with colder climates, contractors can use cold weather techniques that allow them to work in most situations.

3. Supply and demand dynamics work in your favor, as most contractors are eager to find projects during the winter months. The added competition can translate into overall cost savings for the homeowner.

4. There is a good chance your project will start sooner and take less time. With fewer jobs on their schedule, most contractors should have little or no lead-time and will not be trying to juggle multiple projects.

5. Your construction project will not disrupt your spring and summer activities. You can enjoy your new patio or outdoor fireplace as soon as the good weather arrives.

If you are interested in doing a home improvement project, and need a reliable mason or hardscape contractor, please visit our website at and click on “Connect with a Preferred Contractor”. Happy Holidays!

Rob Rosson
Residential Sales Manager

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Backyard Transformation, Part Two

Mutual Materials has been at it again, transforming a backyard. This time with a new retaining wall, complete with stairs! We videotaped the project to walk through the steps necessary to create a retaining wall project in your own backyard.

A picture of the yard before the project:

And a couple of pictures after:

As always, if your project is too daunting to undertake on your own or if your interest level in backyard improvement only extends to choosing wall colors, please consider using one of our Preferred Contractors. To find our more about Mutual Materials products or our Preferred Contractor program please visit our website at:

Be sure to look for our videos coming up on YouTube, our Facebook page and the Mutual Materials website in coming weeks.


Kendall Anderegg
Vice President, Sales and Distribution

Monday, October 25, 2010

Sustainable Masonry

This past weekend, The Masonry Society ( held its annual meeting in Bellevue, Washington. TMS is a professional, technical, and educational association dedicated to the advancement of knowledge of masonry materials, design and construction. Engineers, architects, contractors, educators, manufacturers and other interested parties participated in the four-day forum.

My involvement with the meeting was to present one manufacturer’s viewpoint on sustainable manufacturing of masonry products. While we still have a long way to go, some of Mutual Materials’ many noteworthy “green” accomplishments are:

1. Incorporating variable speed drive motors in manufacturing operations.
2. Replacing older motors with higher efficiency models that use less energy.
3. Innovative kiln firing systems that modulate energy input according to
demand, resulting in fuel savings.
4. Using best management practices at plants and yards to manage stormwater.
5. Reforestation of clay mining properties.
6. Use of clean-burning propane fuel in our forklift fleet to minimize emissions.
7. Mutual’s multiple manufacturing locations reduce long-haul trucking of
materials, saving fuel.
8. New product developments, like permeable interlocking concrete pavers(PICPs)
that help support low impact development strategies for our customers.
9. Recycling 100% of the waste water from grinding and press operations.
10. Recycling concrete product plant waste into usable products.

It is important to note that being a responsible corporate citizen when it comes to sustainable manufacturing processes can also be profitable. Many of the initiatives listed also resulted in cost savings as well as helping to conserve resources and protect our famous Pacific Northwest environment. So, when evaluating the cost of incorporating sustainable practices, don’t forget about the other “green” payback….cash!

Rick Crooks
Director of Business Development

Monday, August 23, 2010

New Retail Activity - A Sign of Improving Economy or Anomaly?

Recently we have seen a mini-wave of new construction in the retail sector over and above the Walmart's and Winco's of the world who, with lots of cash, are funding their own re-positioning in the marketplace. We are talking small to medium-sized shopping centers, with grocery store anchors and supporting retail buildings.

Developers currently engaged in retail construction are convinced the demand is there, and interestingly enough, are not having a hard time finding tenants. There seems to be a variety of new national chains and local small businesses eager to take advantage of new digs, especially if they are located in trendy areas. The difficulty continues to be in the financing arena. Lower appraisals and tougher lending standards continue to plague developers in their efforts to get projects off the ground. A much higher equity position means the developer has to be in the project for the long run, eliminating those that traditionally build and sell.

It is our hope that this recent up-tick will be a sign of things to come. Similar to Wall Street, someone has to break the ice, and no one wants to be the last one in. Downturns in the past have shown that once the momentum shifts to forward, that others jump on board to take advantage of the lower land and construction costs. And once the developers understand that their return is on a longer cycle, they will find the means to work through the financing issues. Finally, as the banks confidence in private development returns, lending practices might loosen up. It just takes time for folks to adjust to a new environment and new rules. But it is a fact that if developers are not building, they are not making any money. So there is plenty of motivation to get this part of the economy back up and running again.