Polished Concrete Coloring Methods

When it comes to adding color to your newly polished concrete floors, there are two options from which to choose – reactive stained concrete and dyed concrete. Below is the breakdown of each process and their pros and cons. Hopefully these descriptions can help you decide which option best fits your project.

Reactive Stained Concrete

Reactive concrete stains work with the existing chemicals of concrete to create variegated coloring throughout the floor. This typically produces a marbleized appearance.

Pros:

  • Permanent color. Does not fade
  • Can be used indoors & outdoors
  • Unique, one-of-a-kind finish

Cons:

  • Not a good solution if aggregate is exposed
  • One extra day of installation time
  • Variations & differences in finish must be anticipated

If you would like to see an example of a reactive stain project we completed at Joseph Decuis, click here.
Here is a residential project with reactive stained concrete and a custom logo.
To see our reactive stain color option, please click here.

Penetrating Concrete Dye

Dyes work with how porous concrete is naturally. They penetrate into the surface layer of the concrete floor to produce coloring. This method of coloring is popular in interior concrete floors and commercial projects.

Pros:

  • Affordable coloring option
  • Quicker installation
  • More consistent & reliable coloring
  • Works well with exposed aggregate

Cons:

  • Cannot be used on outdoor projects
  • Dyes can fade when surface is exposed to water long-term

Click here to view penetrating dyed concrete with a custom design at Ancilla College.
Here is a residential project where we used Midnight Black penetrating dye to color the floor.
To view our color options for dyed concrete floors, click here. 


Concrete Terminology

If this is your first time dealing with concrete, we may use some terms that you are unfamiliar with. Here is a breakdown of these terms and what we mean when we use them.

Aggregate – Grainy substances such as sand,  gravel, and crushed stone that are used in concrete. Aggregate is classified by size and grade. You can see our different levels of aggregate, as well as polishing options, by clicking here.

Curing – When concrete is protected from moisture-loss. This is done to keep moisture in the concrete to fully hydrate the cement particles. This process typically takes 30 days for full reaction. Because of curing, the concrete is much stronger and more permeable. Curing also helps to lessen cracking, which can impact durability.

Epoxy – An adhesive material, usually made from plastic, paint, or anything else made from synthetic thermosetting polymers that contain epoxide groups. Click here to learn more about our epoxy floor coatings. If you would like to see some photos of epoxy projects we have completed, please click here

Full Broadcast Epoxy – The floor is completely covered by flakes. The full coverage helps with slip resistance, durability, and gives the floor a designer look. Compare this to random broadcast epoxy, where there are specks of flakes in the concrete floor. Here is our brochure of different Full Broadcast Chip Epoxy options.

Grinding – The process of leveling and restoring a concrete floor. Grinding loosens any material that was on the original floor (such as paint), and creates a surface for the new concrete covering or a concrete polishing process.

Integral Coving – Extending the floor up the wall, like a baseboard. This helps keep mold/mildew or bacteria from getting under walls. This is a great option for rooms that get cleaned by a hose or for those who are looking for a seamless floor to wall transition. Click here to see a photo from one of our projects.

Sealing – Adding a protective layer to concrete to stop harmful substances from getting into concrete’s pores. This also protects against unwanted staining and mold/mildew buildup. Learn more about our processes here.

Shot-blasting – To strip a surface by shooting steel particles at it at a very high speed.

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) – Chemicals that evaporate at room temperature. Some VOCs have a strong odor, while some are undetectable. Odor level does not indicate inhalation risk. Dancer Concrete Design uses low-to-no VOC products whenever available.


Breath of Fresh Air

colored-concrete-floor

When concrete is initially poured a sealer is applied, after the finishing procedures, to help keep moisture in the concrete during the curing process. This sealer is typically called a cure-and-seal as it helps cure the concrete and provides some sealer benefits. Removing this prior to staining is essential for the stain to be able to react with the concrete surface. This sealer is applied when the concrete is fresh and still soft so it really locks-in to the surface. The only way to remove the sealer while maintaining the integrity of the concrete surface is to use a chemical that will break the bond. Most of these chemicals are very dangerous, flammable, and require the use or ventilation equipment, protective gloves, and special disposal methods.

We don’t like that, and our clients wouldn’t like that either. We want their home environment to be safe and comfortable during the entire process. The way we handle the removal of the cure-and-seal is to use a specialty soybean based cleaning solution that is manufactured for us right here in Fort Wayne. The product has a fresh cut orange smell and is safe to use in enclosed spaces with limited ventilation like a basement. There are other ways to cure concrete such as using curing paper or soaking the concrete in water. If you are planning to stain your new concrete please inform your concrete contractor to not use a cure and seal on the surface.


Polished Concrete for Planet Fitness

Planet Fitness is one of the fastest growing fitness chains and has opened over 600 locations across the US! One of their most recent openings was for their second Fort Wayne location at the corner of Stellhorn and Maplecrest Rd. This project was very similar to the others except this project had one very different aspect, the main entry floor was going to be polished concrete. The Planet Fitness brand is bold and direct with colors, patterns, and design being very consistent in every location. This floor was going to be very customized for Planet Fitness by using a custom blended yellow concrete dye and 3 – 12′ x 12′ gear logos in the space.

This floor was previously covered with a black mastic and carpet glue but we had taken on similar challenges and knew we could make this floor shine. With this project being a fast-track construction project we had only a short amount of time to complete the work so additional walls could be built on the floor. With our advanced equipment and skilled craftsman we had this floor turned around on time. Planet Fitness is now open and can be found online at http://www.planetfitness.com/

Even though this floor looks pretty rough we knew we had the ability to transform it into a great finished surface.

Custom samples were made on site to confirm final color choice.

To stay on track we worked longer days. Here you can see we did some patch work so it could cure overnight and be ground down the next morning.

Our large concrete polisher works well in an open space such as this. Using 6 rotating heads it creates one of the best polishes available.

Open for Business.

Polished Concrete Floor completed by Dancer Concrete Design of Fort Wayne, Indiana.

 


Protecting Your Polished Concrete Floor

Our last blog post focused on the different options you have to add color to your concrete floor. But after all that hard work is done, your floor needs to be protected. There are two basic options: penetrating polish sealer and topical sealer.

Polished Concrete Floor Sealer

Polished concrete floors have become very popular in the last few years for their extreme durability and benefits. Polishing a concrete floor is very similar to re-finishing a wood floor as you start with a low grit abrasive to “sand” the concrete floor. We progressively polish the surface with abrasives until a smooth or reflective surface is present. The floor is then typically sealed with a concrete densifier and penetrating stain guard treatment.

These products soak into the pores of the concrete and create a harder denser surface. This creates one of the most durable and scratch resistant floors that can be installed. You can see these type of sealers in action in warehouses, and places such as Costco, Kroger, and Menards.

These sealers can also be used along with stains, dyes, and higher level diamond abrasives to offer colorful, high-end floor treatments that can offer finishes from soft satin sheens up to a mirror shine.

Pros

  • Very durable & scratch resistant
  • Long-term – Low Maintenance Floor for Industrial and Commercial Clients
  • Various Finish Levels
  • Offers a breathable floor that will not trap moisture or peel over time
  • Great for residential basements

Cons

  • Porous surface
  • Not good for chemical spill areas or outdoors
  • Not good for areas exposed to de-icing salts or garages

Sealed Concrete

Sealed concrete involves applying a sealer to the surface of the concrete. This type of sealer forms a membrane topically on the concrete (as opposed to penetrating in the porous concrete). This sealer then provides all the protection to the concrete floor. There are various types of topical sealers and these include acrylics, epoxies, and urethanes.

Pros

  • Great chemical and salt resistance
  • Great protection for cement-based overlays

Cons

  • Hard to repair or recoat
  • Can scratch easily
  • Can trap moisture
  • Can peel or delaminate if not properly applied

To learn more about how to keep these coatings from failing, peeling or trapping moisture check out our article here.