Posts By: Nick Dancer

StrongTread Concrete Polishing – Essential System

Our StrongTread Essential System is a popular choice for its affordability to polish a new concrete floor. The mix of hybrid polishing steps provides a smooth finish that offers a mix of concrete aggregate exposure of Class A (cream) and Class B (light salt and pepper). There will be some inevitable inconsistencies on this floor that are dependent on the concrete placement and finishing.

Finish. A mixture of light aggregate (Class B)  and cream (Class A). Final depth is dependent upon current concrete condition. 

Sheen. Matte, Satin, High Sheen

Expected Variations. This finishing process will use resin-bonded honing diamonds to cut open the cap or top layer of the concrete, to expose small fines (aggregate) in the concrete. There is still some variation, and movement in these floors from underlying concrete tonalities. 

Color Options. Penetrating Dye or Reactive Stain. 

Available Surfaces. New, unsealed concrete floors that have been power troweled smooth. 

Limitations. This finish will be smoother than the modern, but may still highlight some concrete finishing marks or highlight low spots in the concrete. Concrete curing marks or blanket marks will still be visible. The floor must be protected well during construction. This polishing pass may not get out all scratches, or minor knicks in the concrete. 

Process. A wet hybrid-bonded honing pass, dry resin bonded polishing, concrete densification, subsequent polishing steps, and final stain guard. 

Why. An entry level full polished concrete floor that offers an affordable or minimal-type polishing process. 

See more of our systems here, in our magazine, The Process. 

When Should Concrete Polishing Take Place?

One of the most difficult parts of construction, and what’s separate the ok and the great general contractors is their ability to run a schedule for a project. In our experience, the best GC’s pick their sub-contractors at the beginning, make a schedule, and keep everyone updated through regular project meetings. 

One of the most common questions we get asked during the first part of planning is, “When do you polish concrete?”

Is it right after the concrete is poured? Is it before or after walls? What’s the hard and fast answer for when to polish?

 The real answer, much like the floors we install have a bit of variability; It depends. 

MOST of our work is going to be done AFTER drywall and the first coat of paint and primer. 

BEFORE the final coat of paint, cabinets, trim, and doors. 

But here are some exceptions. 

SOMETIMES we can do a bulk grinding pass BEFORE walls, and come back towards the end for final passes. Dependent on the project, and the final finish selected. 

SOMETIMES we can do all the work BEFORE walls are placed and the floor can be protected during construction. 

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There is also a difference between remodel work, with concrete that has been down for years and fully cured and new construction that has new curing concrete, as well as some climate variables. 

REMODEL WORK 

The concrete is already in place, the floors have been down for years, and we can polish and finish the floors – about whenever. We can polish the floors during the demolition phase, and then cover the floor with a protective board and construction can continue through the whole thing. We can also wait until after news walls are built a come in towards the end of construction. We also may do some bulk grinding and then come back towards the end for more of the finishing passes. 

It’s all dependent on project durations, scheduling, and availability for things like power, lights, and water, which is usually more readily available on remodeling projects. Remodel work gives us many options. We also may have other variables such as cut out’s or trench patching to take into consideration. 

NEW CONSTRUCTION 

New construction brings a bit more finesse to scheduling. The word ‘concrete’ is associated with site work, and those preliminary steps in the construction project. But we are finishing contractors just like drywall installers, painters, ceiling installers, and other flooring trades. Being finishers we need a few more amenities to do the best work. On new construction work we will typically need water, power, heat, and a ‘closed in building’ to get started on the finishing stages. 

Have cold temperatures outside and its raining? That cold and rain soak right into the concrete surface. For our best work we need the slab acclimated to an indoor type of environment and to be free of outside moisture. 

POLISHING TOO SOON. Sometimes it’s better to wait…

It would be ideal to be able to finish all the concrete flooring in its entirety before any walls go in on new construction. When the space is wide open, there is little edge and detail work. Everything seems to go faster and smoother until….

The end of the project. Here’s what we have seen from finishing a concrete floor in its early stages too soon. 

The Joints – The concrete has now acclimated to the enviroment. The HVAC is on and the moisture has drawn from the surface. The concrete has shrunk and the joints have opened. Every one of those joints we filled now has a bit more space in them than they had before leaving a gap between joint filler and the wall of joint. 

The Finish and Color  – All the moisture that left the slab had to come out some way and it usually evaporates through the surface. That brand-new shiny concrete floor finish is now dull – flat and hard to clean. The color which was vivid is not washed out. What gives? When that water came through the surface it also carried salts and minerals from the concrete through the finish, dulling or ‘eating away’ at the finish. 

How do we know all this? 

Because in our younger, more accommodating state, we did work when the GC wanted us to; Not what created the best product for the client. In our attempt to please, we said Yes, when we should have explained more, or said ‘Not Yet’; even though it would have made someone upset. 

In the end, we had to refinish our work, creating even more disruption, than simply waiting for the time to be right. 

 

We are not trying to be difficult to work with. We just have to put the end clients best interest first. They choose concrete floors for their beauty, for their durability, and their lifetime use.  We as the sub-contractor need to be experts in our field to lead everyone to the best finish. 

We share our experiences and set expectations so the general contractor, client, and end-user are all better for it. That’s how we help contribute to making win-win projects. 

In each project, it’s best to coordinate scheduling and process with your project manager. They will know the best process and plan for your specific project. Of course, you can also reach us at create@dancerconcrete.com with any questions about your project. 

Polished Concrete Floor Process

 

Many times we are told by clients, “I can’t believe how many steps there are to the concrete polishing process.” This video was done at The Summit in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The video captures some of the steps used to process a floor from being covered with carpet to a fully polished concrete floor.

The project was about 4,000 sq ft and took two weeks to complete.

Steps
– Glue Removal
– Bulk Grinding
– Joint Fill and Patching
– Honing Steps
– Color Application (Gray Dye)
– Densification (Sealer)
– Polishing
– Stain Guards (Additional Sealers)
– Burnishing

If we can be of any help with your projects please feel free to reach out at www.dancerconcrete.com

Shot and edited by Owl Digital.

Leading Before You Are Ready.

It felt like spring. One of those first days I noticed the sounds of birds, and the sun had already lit up the sky by 7 am. Instead of driving the boys to the bus stop like I had done all winter, I decided based on the warm air to little boy energy ratio, it was best to walk to the bus stop — our first walk down of the year.

We seem to get to the bus stop early which usually give us time to watch youtube videos, rock out to Jordan Feliz’s, Down to The River,or when parking lots are covered in ice — do donuts in the van.

Simon Says
But today we are standing on the sidewalk when Clark, my 6 year old, mentions we should play Simon Says. Clark’s personality naturally leads to offer suggestions and then take charge, so he jumps in front of Charlie, who is 4 and I stand back to play the game.

Clark can play at a pretty high level. He’s a bit older than Charlie, but he also carries a particularity about rules and games. Charlie is not as serious of a person and a little goofy. He doesn’t care so much about doing it right. Fun and goofy are his number 1. So as Clark goes through each command, I follow through on each one, only doing ‘what Simon says.’ Charlie doesn’t seem to get the concept of only doing what Simon Says, he just does whatever he feels like doing, and it drives Clark crazy. Clark tries to correct Charlie; Charlie just smiles and continues to have his fun. As we continue with this, Charlie says he wants to be Simon for a little bit. He wants to the leader.

Clark is not down with this, and his thoughts flow right through his mouth and become words. “Charlie can’t be the leader; he doesn’t even know how to play!” I reckon with Clark to go along, and we will let Charlie lead, if not only just to process through to entertain him and give him a chance.

Charlie’s Turn
As we progress through Charlie being the leader, a more directed, attuned and conscious version of him comes out. It seems he does know a bit more about Simon Says than he led on. When he is Simon, he has to be more attentive; he brings his mind to the role. I help him, and in a few rounds, he has a better picture of the game by being the leader. As a player, his actions only really affected himself, but now he’s responsible for the whole game.

The same is true in working and leading. Sometimes someone might not seem ready to lead. They don’t seem to fully understand the game and seem unfit for the role. But what’s wrong with trying; With giving someone more responsibilities to see how it plays out?

(I’m not talking about blatant lack, I’m talking about where someone shows potential, but they don’t seem ‘fully’ ready.)

Let’s say Charlie just bombed being the leader. Who cares? We let him run his course, and then put Clark back in the role. If nothing else, it’s clear, that now might not be the time.

If I’m not willing to give Charlie the opportunity; when should I wait for Charlie to lead, until he’s 100% there, then give him a chance? By that time he will be so bored without having a turn, the game might not even seem fun.

I’m more for putting out opportunities and then letting people grow into them, rather than making sure everything is ‘just ever so right,’ and all the boxes are checked before moving forward.

I’m Going to Screw Up.
Sometime’s I move to fast, and people will say “I told you so,” they will say I’m too impulsive, too trusting. But to the ones I let blossom and grow into a role, I have a feeling those people; those underdogs, who were not 100% ready are grateful for the opportunity.

Our business will continue to be a place where you don’t have to wait for seniority to lead. You don’t have to be a certain age or have some sort degree. It will be a place of action. A place where people get chances, and we watch them step into new roles and more responsibilities, and if they’re not ready, we continue to nurture, and we try again.

This is part of how we try to ‘Make everything we touch, better.’

Our New Building

Since a building fire in October of 2017, we have felt in limbo for where we would settle down in a new shop and office. We looked at buying a building we were leasing, but when that fell through we started the design process for a new build and bought some land.

A Few Week’s Ago

We were all ready to go on building our new shop. Prints were submitted to the state, the tax abatement with the city was approved, it was ready to go once we finalized pricing. We needed to get things going so we could build before our lease expired, and the planning and design were moving fast. But then the final costs came in; and they were about 40% higher than our top dollar budget.

At first, I was pissed. Like really mad. I had plans. I had already told everyone I knew we were building. The contractor was on board, the architect was on board. We were IN the process. There had been so much work done by so many people up to this point. Now what were we going to do?

The best decision couldn’t be made in an I mode. So we removed our wants, looked at needs and what was truly the best decision for us long-term: what provided the best value to us, and what helped our team and customers?

Getting in over our head financially for a new building couldn’t make the cut. I’m no Warren Buffet, but from reading his shareholder letters for the last few years I knew he wouldn’t continue with the build. He would pause, and look for another way.

We were open to leasing for another year; finding something else. We didn’t know what the next ‘go forward’ plan was, but we had to pause the construction plan and wait for something else.

So What’s The Plan?

Through talking with the current owner of the building we currently lease, we chatted up an agreement for us to buy-out our lease and purchase the building. So for the 3rd time, we emerged into a purchase agreement for the building we have been leasing, and this time it went through, quick. Like nine days quick.

This Friday, Alexis and I closed on (purchased) the building we have been leasing. It is now 100% ours.

The Back and Forth

There is a part of me that feels like a dud for building up the excitement about building the new building; sharing back and forth with the team what our next home would look like. But the other side of me knows that things change and you need to adjust.

I will continue to move boldly, and make bold promises; that’s a strength and I don’t want to water myself or dilute myself just because sometimes perspectives change. As Craig Groeschel says, “Sometimes it’s right to be wrong.”

I have to unmake a promise to build the new building. Once all the information was presented, it’s right for our business to pass here and say “Yes” to buying our current building. It’s a better opportunity — for us, for right now.

Everything Better.

We have a secret power in our business, it’s that for “Everything we touch, we try to make it better.” I have been sitting and waiting in our current building to do something. Now that we own it — we are going to make it nicer. We are going to do the work to make this building ours, to have a feeling of well done, one of good design, and beauty.

We still own the land and have a full set of construction documents and when/if we decide to build someday we are ready if that’s the best move.

We are going to keep making the best decisions at each moment in front of us, and right now that means…

A year and a half after that fire we are exactly where we are supposed to be. We have a new home, a building to call ours. It’s a place that people won’t believe when we tell them how crappy it was when we found it. We are taking something that looks dead and breathing new life into it. I believe the building, the industrial park, and that whole section of town is better for having us in this building.

Building Sketch by Alexis Dancer, ArtC

Joints in Polished Concrete Floors

Our work in polishing and staining concrete floors, puts us in the role of working with someone else’s crafted surface, a poured concrete floor. The concrete company has come and gone; they have done their work and during the finishing parts of a project it’s now our turn to go to work.

Much like there are framers and finish carpenters in wood construction, we are the finish carpenters of concrete. We work to help create the best space through modern flooring by using concrete as a finished surface. Instead of covering the structure of concrete with a flooring material that wears out and ends up in a landfill; we work with the existing structure to create a sustainable, long-term solution. One that should last the life of a structure.

Part of that work routinely puts us in a position to handle some of the joints in the concrete surface. Work that includes filling and sealing control and expansion joints in the concrete surface.

To most people, all these joints in the surface look the same, but because of different performance requirements in the long-term sustainability of our installation, they need to be approached a bit different.

Here we will learn about the difference between control and expansion joints, how to treat them, and what provides the best value for the client.

Control Joints

What are they? Control joints are joints placed by the concrete pouring crew as part of their installation process. This means that at the end of the day when they pour, or first thing the next morning they run a saw along the concrete to create a cut line. The purpose of this joint line is simply to impart a weakened plane in the concrete, so the concrete cracks, at that predetermined point. This process hides the inevitable cracks of concrete in a linear grid pattern.  You are controlling the cracking. Note that concrete still cracks, it’s just at the bottom of that joint.

Why fill them? Filled in control joints in polished and stained concrete floors provided an easier to clean surface. In wheeled traffic environments, the filler will act to protect the joint from future chipping or damage, and provide a smoother transition.

What do you fill them with? The most common filler for these is a two-part colored polyurea product. This is a semi-hard filler. With more hardness over flexibility. Metzger- McGuire Edge Pro 80 is a popular choice.

New construction concerns. In new construction, there are a lot of moving pieces. As concrete cures and the initial moisture is pulled from the surface, there will be shrinkage that occurs. The WIN is to wait as long as possible to fill these joints towards the end of the construction process. if you don’t, the joints may look good on installation day but will break away from the concrete when the building is conditioned and dried out.

Expansion Joints.

What are they? Expansion or cold joints are areas in a structure or slab that were poured at different times. Where two pieces of concrete come together or concrete and another material come together and meet. Expansion joints are more susceptible to moving over time. The concrete may curl at the ends of each pour, or most noticeably around column pads, where more shifting over time may be apparent.

Why fill them? Filling in expansion joints in polished and stained concrete floors provides an easier to clean surface and a smooth and finished joint where debris or dirt could gather. Note that flexible expansion joint filler does not protect the edge of the slab from damage.

What do you fill them with? In these types of joint, a more flexible (rubber type product) is recommended. These products have more flexibility and can maintain the performance longer in movement type situations. Products like NP1 and Dymonic 100 are common materials. These cure to a flexible rubber type feel.

Examples of Expansion Joints.

  • If a concrete company pours a 50’ x 50’ slab on day 1 and come back and pour another slab another 50’ x 50’ slab on day 2. That joint between the two different slabs is called an expansion joint.
  • If the column pads are poured for a building and then the slab is poured a few weeks later, the difference between these two pieces of concrete is also called an expansion joint.

Next Steps

We have found the best way to approach projects is having clear communication during bidding and submittals for what products will be used and where. When things like this are called out in specifications, and the polished concrete process is done in the right part of the schedule, the client gets the best product that continues to perform for years and years.

Note: Nothing we do, inherently changes the structure of the concrete surface. Joint Fill products cannot stop cracking, shifting, movement or any other common concrete concerns.

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Of course, reach out if we can serve or help with one of your projects. Our goal is to balance real-world practicality with good design through our installations, specifications, and recommendations. We are grateful for the role you allow us to play in your projects.

Want to schedule a Lunch and Learn for your team, or interested in specifications for an upcoming project? Click here for more information or send me an email at create@dancerconcrete.com

Make Time For Play

A key element in character development is the maturity to know when it’s time to be serious, and time to play. In our work, sometimes they can be mixed up; like when doing dyed a shuffleboard court or epoxy coated pickle board court. It won’t be any fun if our measurements are off, or we install the system wrong. But when we do it right, it’s a lot of fun to look at what we worked so diligently creating.

System:
StrongTread Polish with custom dyed Shuffleboard Court
& Treadwell Industrial ‘Monkey Grip Play’

Minimal Exposure (Cream – Class A) Polished Concrete

Hard. Dense. Beautiful. The cap or ‘cream’ finish on concrete displays the finishing and craftsmanship that goes into each concrete pour.  This type of finished floor is often desired for its no-nonsense simplicity and affordability, while other times it demands attention for its aesthetic flows of color and movement. Either way – our job is to enhance, protect, and make it a thing of beauty.

We have two ways to provide a Cream Finish – Class A Exposure Type Floor (See Guide), either with a polished concrete surface or a sealed concrete surface. Below we will explore both systems and the processes necessary to achieve each. Knowing the difference and making decisions based on that knowledge is critical to the finished product.

All cream finished floors are going to showcase the character of the floor more than any others. If your affinity for polished concrete is rooted in the uniqueness and distinctiveness that it offers, you appreciate the trowel marks, low spots, and different color tonalities that are unique to each floor, look no further because this is the floor for you.

Sealed Concrete -via our systems StrongTread Cure, StrongTread Hardwear, or SealCreaft Clear Shine Saver.

In this process, we are simply cleaning the floor, prior to a sealer. We may use one of our polishing machines for the cleaning process as it can make easy work of messy spaces, but in this capacity, it is simply cleaning the surface, similar to a rotary floor machine or old school hands and knees scrubbing (if necessary, we will utilize this approach as well). The key thing to note is that in this type of application some high spots may be knocked down from the cleaning, but the floor, for the most part, keeps its texture from the initial pour. This also means that any low spots, sometimes in our trade called ‘cat faces’  or ‘ bird baths’, will still be prevalent. This may feel like rough spots, but remember this is just a cleaning process, not grinding.

  • No Grinding. Low spots or marks from early entry ‘soft cut’ saws may leave marks.

Polished Concrete – via our system StrongTread Polished Concrete.

In this process, we will be mechanically refining the surface with polishing machines. We will cut the floor in a way that will leave a majority of the cream on the surface while smoothing out various spots to create an even sheen. In areas where there might be a trowel ridge or low spot, we expect to expose some of the underlying aggregates. The reality is, maintaining 100% of the cream throughout a true polished concrete surface would be similar to crossing paths with a Polar Bear while hiking in the woods of Indiana – Exhilarating, Yes. Probability = slim to none.

  • The floor will be flat and smooth – to achieve this some areas may expose fine sands and light stone. Each floor has its own unique hardness, and texture. These qualities make each floor unique.

Polishing concrete is achieved by utilizing diamond abrasives to process and hone a concrete surface. With the most aggressive passes being performed first, they achieve the desired aggregate exposure and the finest grit is used last and will determine the sheen level. Several variables must be considered before final selections are made.

For new slabs, have your concrete placement contractor pour the slab as they normally would, but trowel the surface as if it were a commercial warehouse floor or garage floor. We want a dense cream or cap while eliminating ridges, but not so trowled that it leaves black marks or burns on the surface. You will also want to keep the surface protected during construction as chips, inevitable during construction will need to be patched and may result in small divots in the surface.

Please feel free to reference our Guide to Pouring for Polished Concrete or call us at 260.748.2252 or create@dancerconcrete.com

Similar to people, every floor has its intricacies. There are many variables associated with finishing an existing surface. We strive to prepare well, to design well, and then appreciate the uniqueness that each floor will bring.

Check out previous Cream Finished Projects Here

StrongTead Cure & StrongTread Hardwear

StrongTread Polished Concrete

Doing Crappy Work Feels Crappy. 

When I was 18 years old, I worked full-time in construction and started a business called Shiner. After work and on my weekends I worked on my side business detailing cars in my hometown. This business was like an 18-year old’s Lemonade stand. I made flyers and would stick them on peoples cars while they were in church, made T-shirts and hit up everyone I could about how I could detail their car. I started in my parent’s backyard and then moved into several rented spaces in town.

When you wax a car, there is an element of artistic timing; where you need to allow the wax to dry enough that it stays on, but not hard enough that you can’t buff it off. If it get’s too hard, you need to work really hard to get it off, as it dries milky white. On a white paint job, you can’t see this straight on, but rather only at the right angle. On darker colored paints it’s very apparent. In moments of weakness, in moments of wanting the reward of finishing the project sooner, I would allow these blemishes to stay on the white paint jobs. You could only see them at certain angles, and I could get away with it. Yes, a younger version of me wanted to do anything I could get away with anything.

But one time, while working on a white semi truck, I was doing the work for my cousin, who would not accept anything other than excellence. I knew he wanted the best, and if he found out it wasn’t the best, he would share his findings with me. That day I decided to do my best work on the white paint. I had to think through my timing better. I was waxing and buffing each piece of the vehicle one at a time. I would do the door, then the fender, then the bumper. Each time applying the wax, waiting a minute and then buffing that section. Each section was manageable and I would only move on to the next section when that piece was 100%. It actually didn’t take much more work, because the extra effort on that piece was actually only maybe a minute. I felt better about my work. I could stand next to my work and be proud of what I made. I was pouring myself into the work. My focus was on doing my best. This was a different feeling that before. I loved this feeling and the work I was making.

Before when I would do the work, not up to my best, I had a fear of being found out. “Were they going to notice the bad work? If they did, would they call it out? What excuse or lie could I tell to get out of this? Did I feel my best about my work?”  This actually sucked. Instead of taking the time to do my best, I heaped shame, guilt, and nervousness onto myself. I had to do so much extra activity hiding, so much more of myself was consumed with feeling less-than, because I was choosing easy and fast over my best.

It was in someone else having higher expectations for me that I needed to perform better. But what I found was that higher expectations actually served me. It brought the best out of me. I have lived both lives. One with my best work, and one with me holding back my best. Whether out of laziness, saying there was not enough time, or just not preparing well – I have done less than I was capable. I have also chosen to show up and do my best. I have made choices to do my best even when it took more time, more resources, or frustrated other people. And what I have found is my best work makes me feel the best. It feels good to do my best work. The goal is for me to finish my day, my week, and my life and to think – well done.

Is this writing my best work, is me leading our company my best work? You bet it is. I’m playing all out. I’m fighting complacency, I’m fighting the temptation to do less, or just get by with things. We all are. That’s why we need each other. And we need people who bring out our best; they challenge what we call good. They ask, “Is this your best work?” And if it’s not, we need to take that work back and do it until we can say it is.

When I do work. I want to know its useful. It’s a thing of beauty. It’s my best. It’s a job well done.

Can you say the same?

People Are Unique and Different

Building an Amazing Company 
People make great organizations.
Try to imagine Thomas Edison inventing the lightbulb. Hundreds, maybe thousands of failed attempts, to get the filament just right. Do you imagine a man with crazy hair, working by candlelight in a small shop, secluded, drawings, scribbles, and the previous failed attempts strewed across a messy shop? The genius in his studio. The mastermind in his own place. Secluded, locked away to hone in on his most intimate knowledge.
Well, that’s not true at all. Instead, imagine 100’s of people in a government funded-state of the art facility each contributing a piece to this electrical puzzle piece to come to a solution that then bore Edison’s name. Yes, Edison was a man of many talents, but it was in the power of a team, the power of an organization that brought to life the many inventions. No matter, how smart, competent, a person is – they are limited in their abilities without others.
We have about 16 people who are putting in the work to make our organization tick along. And guess what; we are all unique, different, and contribute in different ways, and are here for various reasons. We see things differently, we work differently, we are entirely different and unique. If you are on our team, I picked you because of this. I want us to share similar values and work towards a mission together, but I fully expect your unique perspective and difference. One of the primary roles of my responsibility is to take this talent, this ability and meld it together in a way that we play your strengths and we are a better whole than just the sum of its parts. I believe in a synergy where 1+1 does not equal two but can equal three, four or five.
“Each human being is born as something new, something that never existed before….Each person has a unique way of seeing, hearing, touching, tasting, and thinking. Each has his or her own unique potential – capabilities and limitations Each can be significant, thinking, aware, and creative being – a productive person, a winner.” – Muriel James and Dorthy Jongeward in Born To Win.

We are not moving towards touchy feely – kumbayah. I show up to work, to do work. I save my cuddles and kisses for my wife and children (see above). Work is to achieve a goal and work towards a mission. I expect the same from my team. I want to care about one another and extend grace and empathy to one another,  a spirit of caring is mandatory, but that doesn’t mean we can’t disagree or have some conflict. I expect in any worthy pursuit we should stand up for what’s best and we may disagree on that. But remember, it should be about a disagreement for what’s best for the organization, not a personal preference.

By the end of 2020, I envision we have a 38 person organization who are growing as a result of working with our company. We have a culture of accountability, caring, and results. The people on our team like the responsibilities and freedoms that come with our culture. As a team, we are born to thrive. Each person takes ownership of their accountabilities and knows how it serves the whole and drives us towards our mission and purpose.

I believe in the power of a team. I believe in the power of our organization and the goals we can accomplish together. I think we have people playing strengths that are abundantly more positioned to thrive than I could in that same role.  A team of people with all of our uniqueness, weirdness, and differences is what make great organizations thrive. Same values, different perspectives, on a journey together. Th

The Balance of Safety and Cleaning – Using GRIT in Coatings

We want it all from our floors; low maintenance, aesthetically pleasing, safe, durable, and cost effective. That is what makes great design; being able to blend these factors in a way that you can find the perfect balance for your project. This post is to discuss two factors that seem to be in a constant back and forth; safety and the ability to maintain the floor effectively. This post will specifically talk about our DCD Tread GRIP product and what you expect when you use this on your projects.

What it is: Our DCD Tread GRIP is a fine-micronized powder that can be added into catalyzed urethane products (less than 5 mils), to aid in the slip resistance of the surface.

How is it used? The powder is mixed with the catalyzed urethane prior to application. DCD Tread GRIP is only available in a Satin/Matte Finish. The product is then rolled onto the floor during the final application process. Available additive in clear, decorative, and solid color systems.

Where can is be used? We recommend the GRIP additive in areas where there will be water on the floor on a regular basis. This may include showers, light-duty prep kitchens, and areas where clients are concerned about the slip-resistance of the space. This floor additive is recommended for rubber-soled foot traffic and rubber-wheeled traffic.

Cleaning. The DCD Tread GRIP has a grippy feel to it. The product ‘catches’ and prevents slips. That same science will also want to grab dirt, debris, and marks. This floor is smooth enough to be able to be mopped but for the most effective cleaning a soft bristle push broom and wet vacuum will do a more thorough job. For larger spaces an auto scrubber fitted with a soft-bristle head will be the most effective.

Limitations – The clear version is not recommended in heavy-duty kitchens applications with a frying line, commercial dish washing operation, or with boiling water. For these installs see our Treadwell Decorative Sand, Treadwell Shop, or Treadwell Mortar.

Coefficient of Friction: Testing by a third party, using a calibrated tribometer produced a result of .69 using a leather sole. The same testing using a rubber sole produced results greater than 1.0. Yes we need to add this as well – We are not a testing company, and these results were produced in a controlled manner. Your job-site conditions, and installation is unique. If these specific measurements are of upmost importance, we recommend 3rd-party testing to confirm this on a on-site sample prior to installation. 

Other Safety Finishes:

  • DCD – StrongTread Traction. A grip aided conditioning process for polished concrete floors.
  • DCD – Tough GRIT. A sand broadcast method used in our Treadwell Industrial, Treadwell Shop,  Treadwell Decorative Sand, and Mortar installations. Leaves a rougher sand finish application. Cleaning to be done with scrub brush and squeege. Can be combined with GRIP as needed.

For samples, specification, or questions about your project please reach out at create@dancerconcrete.com.

 

Resistance

Day In. Day Out. Do The Work.
Steady, Effective, Simple, Strategies before Scale.

In any noble calling, any goal towards a more fruitful future, any time we set a pace for something to be accomplished, we will encounter ‘resistance.’ Anything that is positive must have an accompanying negative charge. Any hero needs its enemy – it’s the balance. Resistance is that negative charge against your good works; it’s anything that keeps you from your most authentic purpose.

It’s a natural law. It’s a test from the universe to make sure we are worthy, able, and strong enough to reach the goal.

I encountered the resistance this morning. It said “You don’t need to wake up to write this. Just send what you already have. Sleep in. Take it easy. Who are you to talk about resistance? Pick up the toys in the middle room, make your bed, stay on Instagram. You are a fraud. Steven Pressfield has already talked about resistance. You just wanted to write Steven Pressfield’s name, so you sound well read.”

Resistance wants us to do anything other than the work. It wants to bring you down, keep you small, and keep you distracted.

Resistance can come in many forms. Resistance finds its way into our lives through fear and can occur as the fear of criticism, the fear of failure, not feeling good enough, not feeling worthy enough, and the fear of being overwhelmed. Resistance also works by trying to distract us; it wants us to take our focus off our work towards our most true purpose. It steals our attention and time through social norms, family, and friends’ expectations. Social media can be resistance. Your iPhone is almost certainly resistance. Perfection can be resistance. Others expectations are resistance. Religion can be resistance. Resistance labels things ‘bad’. You can’t do that – you will be a ‘bad’ – father, spouse, leader, follower, Christian, friend, son.

Resistance wants to pull you to the extremes because it knows you will waste a lot of energy. Resistance says “You don’t need to eat healthy today. Do what you want – treat yourself – you work hard. Then you can do a 3-day juice cleanse.” Resistance knows this won’t work – that this extreme will pull you off balance. Resistance wants you to waste energy. It wants you to be distracted and keep you from moving towards the goal.

Sometimes the people closest to us, unconsciously are the resistance and will try to keep us from our purpose. Anytime someone says, “I just don’t want to see you get hurt or fail.” That is the resistance. People are comfortable with who you are right now. They don’t want you to change. They may say, “I liked it when we did this,” or “You used to be so…” Others may say they want the best for you, but unconsciously they distract you. Some don’t want you to be more enlightened, more conscious, more anything, other than who you have been.

If you find yourself criticizing someone else, you are their resistance. This is resistance’s dirty trick into your life as well. Anytime we criticize, we share our own fear of criticism.

Resistance says it can’t be this good. Resistance thrives on drama, trouble, victimhood, procrastination. Resistance says, “Let’s put it off for tomorrow.”

The bolder the pursuit – the stronger the resistance. The closer you get to achieving your work – the stronger the resistance. You can’t escape it; you must name it, recognize it and defeat it.

You CAN defeat it. You overcome it by showing up and doing the work. You win over resistance by winning the day, winning the moment. Resistance must be beat each day. Day in, day out, you do the work. The WORK beats resistance.

Trenching Through Polished Concrete

Ever walk into a remodeled space with polished concrete and notice all the plumbing trenches throughout the space? Those 12″ – 16″  paths of concrete with cut extensions running through the floor? When done poorly, these trenches trap extra dirt, look very different than the surrounding surface, and may not polish like the other parts of the original floor.

If you are polishing concrete in a remodeled commercial space with added plumbing, this may be an inevitable process you can’t avoid, but like most things in life, you can accept it as-is; embrace it as the story of the concrete; an industrial vibe; an accent; the inevitable process of construction –  or if this is not your jam you can always head in the direction of an overlay and change it as you see fit.

Check out our overlays and how we have brought a brand new concrete surface to projects through cement-based overlays HERE.

If the trenches are going to stay here are a few tips to help make sure they polish well and finish strong.

  • When pouring with traditional concrete, it’s best to wait 3 weeks to polish these patch concrete spots. The use of Type 3 Portland in some specialty bagged products allow us to polish in 24 hours if needed.
  • There will always be a small gap between the patch and the existing concrete. This should be filled with a cement grout coat or cut and filled with a joint fill (client preference).
  • The use of a penetrating concrete dye can help bring continuity to the interior space. For example, imagine two pieces of wood, one piece is pine (very light and yellow colored) next to a piece of cherry (very red in nature). They look very different. If we take an oak (brownish) colored stain to both pieces, they both take the stain a bit different because they have different porosity. The stain is transparent allowing the natural hues of the wood species to reflect through – yet they both look a bit more similar than before. Same thing with different pours of concrete. Don’t think ‘match’ (concrete is a terrible fit), think ‘blend.’

Of course, and as always, if we can serve with one of your projects please email us at create@dancerconcrete.com.

 

Coating Epoxy Floors – Epoxies and Urethanes 

Have you ever tried using a combo shampoo/conditioner? You know the product that claims to be able to shampoo and condition all in one step; saving you time, money and be the cure-all for your hair cleansing needs? Well maybe if you have a crew cut this is a great fit, but anyone with longer hair, who has tried this method, knows it doesn’t work. The product, rather than being good at anything, kind of stinks at both. It neither cleans that well nor conditions the hair. For the best results you shampoo and then condition. It’s a two-step process.

The same is true in epoxy floor systems. Some claim that epoxy is the best top coat, some say urethane is the best, and yet some marketing claims that their new poly, -aspartic or -urea, is 10X stronger and does the work of both. (Whenever I see this, I always think of the elixirs of the early 1900’s.)

In our commercial epoxy broadcast systems, we double topcoat our floors. Yes, a double topcoat. We coat with epoxy, wait and then coat over the systems again with a urethane.

The 1st Topcoat 
After a broadcast, the floor needs a topcoat to encapsulate the chip or sand media and offer a way to ‘seal’ the floor. The tried and true method of a UV-stable, 100% solids epoxy seems to offer the best in this area. 100% solids fill in the voids, offers additional build and can provide a nice clean installation. Urethanes are not recommended here because they are applied in thinner applications. Whereas an epoxy may be installed in a coat of 12-16 mils and maintain that thickness when cured, a urethane will need to be installed somewhere 3-6 mils and after curing be 2-4 mils thick. This can ‘look’ good at installation but fails to offer the needed impact resistant, and the ability of the floor to be protected against a possible dig into the floor. The epoxy ‘locks’ the floor together, wherein the urethane just offers a protective film. The long-term consequence of only using a urethane is that in time the broadcast media can break free and start to disintegrate or peel away from the floor system.

If the floor is not exposed to commercial traffic flow, or if someone wants to cut the budget, you can finish the floor here. Leaving only the 100% solids epoxy body coat. The long-term downfall here is the floor can wear traffic patterns where there is heavy traffic; think front door, entrance to a kitchen, or bathroom foyers. The floor is also limited in its finish options. A gloss finish is the only available option with 100% solids.

The 2nd Topcoat 
This is where urethane can shine, literally, if you choose a gloss finish, or can also mute a floor to a satin finish, or even add some slip-resistance in a wet area like a wash bay or shower. Urethanes are best applied in thinner coats 4-6 mils. When built on top of an epoxy floor, urethanes offer a coating that is less scuff and scratch resistant. Urethanes by nature are also more UV stable and can provide a protective film to the long-term color stability of the floor. Most of all, they just add long-term durability and more selective finish options for your application.

So next time the marketing world tells you that you can shampoo/condition in one step, or sell you a paint that is a primer/paint all-in-one. Just ask, is this really the most effective way to proceed? Does this actually produce the results I want?

Of course, if we can help with one of your projects, or you have more questions, need samples. or want to chat epoxy, please reach out. We are here to help and are grateful to be part of your project.

Polishing Vertical Surfaces

Polished concrete offers a refined clarity to a floor. Unlike a sheen from a topical sealer, it’s more like a polished stone. As the concrete floor is polished there may be some other areas that catch our eye; how about that accent wall or the face of the steps, can those be finished and polished as well, just like the floor?

Yes. Most vertical surfaces can be polished, just like the floor. There are a few variables, at play that might help with the decision, or help offer a plan of action if this is an option.

With vertical surfaces, the concrete placed can be poured into forms and then pulled the next day or later. This process typically leaves ‘bug holes’ or voids in the concrete. If looking for an exposed stone look, this may be more difficult. The form marks will also leave impressions that when polished will expose a variety of stone exposure. If you are pouring new concrete to be polished the best solution is to wipe the wall, during the pour. In this process (not all schedules or timelines will allow for this), you would remove the form when pouring and hand trowel the concrete. This creates a denser surface and a more uniform consistency. Another option is to use a melamine or laminate type liner on the inside of the wall form and add the use of a superplasticizer into the concrete. This allows for a more dense and smooth surface to then be polished.

In either way, polishing vertical surfaces will require the use of several hand tools with a variety of pads and applicators. The process to polish this vertical surface will take a bit more time, patience and attention to detail but is possible in most instances. In an area where the concrete is not in the best condition to polish the existing concrete, an overlay can be used create a thin layer of new concrete to be worked and finished, much like the floor.

Of course, if we can help with questions or planning aroud vertical surfaces for your project, please email us at create@dancerconcrete.com or by phone at 260.748.2252

Cold Weather Concrete Pouring for Polished Floors

As winter approaches, construction continues. Projects even with the best intentions of ‘getting closed up’ before winter sometimes still need concrete poured for floors that will be polished. When pouring concrete in freezing type conditions it’s important to keep them warm enough to allow the curing process to continue.

Why does concrete need a blanket?

Concrete is made with water and as you can guess in winter/freezing conditions the water will want to freeze. During the placement phase, concrete can be warmed up with hot water or have accelerators mixed in with the concrete that heats up the mixture, but once placed and the initial reaction dissipates the concrete is exposed to the conditions. Blanketing concrete is a common practice in which insulated blankets are placed over a fresh slab to keep the warmth of this initial reaction to stay longer, and keep the concrete processing through its typical 28-day curing cycle. If concrete freezes, the curing process stops, and will not start back up. This means that if concrete freezes early in its placement it won’t reach its full potential for hardness or durability.

Blankets and Polished Concrete Floors.

Blankets perform a structural purpose of keeping concrete hard, dense, and strong; but what about aesthetics? In polished and stained concrete flooring, the durability of the concrete is an advantage of concrete flooring, but we also need the new floor to be aesthetically pleasing. The drawback on blanketing concrete is that the insulated blankets keep all moisture from the curing process under the blanket, (really good for hard concrete) but this moisture then pools and follows the crinkles in the insulated blanket and can cause some unsightly marking, that becomes a permanent part of the concrete.

What to do?

Some initial steps by the placement contractor may help prevent blanket mark staining. These include:

  • Waiting as long as possible to blanket the concrete
  • If possible getting through the first night without the blankets
  • I have heard of a curing paper that can be used that will not leave markings. The process is to install this film- then the blankets. I am not aware of any successful projects or the added cost for this. Please email me if you have information on this.

If blanket marks do appear, there may be some remedies such as:

  • Grinding through the blankets marks. This will expose more aggregate in the concrete.
  • Using a dye or stain to accent the markings, adding to a ‘movement’ look (if desired)

Notes

  • Every concrete slab and condition will react differently to these markings.
  • An on-site sample can show how marks will affect final finish or remove marks.
  • The General Contractor, Owner, Architect, Concrete Contractor, and Concrete Polisher should all be involved in discussions around the blanket process, and how it might affect polishing process and pricing.

Of course, if we can help with a polishing project feel free to call us at 260-748-2252 or email at create @danceroncrete.com.

Nick

The Modern Office

The way we work is changing how office spaces are designed. It seems that offices are being design to be more open to be more collaborative, more transparent, and feeling more like a place to hang out, than just work. Gone are the days of cloth cubicles and carpet installed from wall to wall. Now you may see a lowered natural wood panel, or frosted glass being use to separate space for privacy while still achieving a much more collaborative work-space.

One of the other upgrades in newer offices is the use of the existing concrete floors as a finished material. This may be used in a common space, a hallway, or even a private office.

Unless noted on your furniture manufactures specifications the casters at the bottom of your chairs are probably plastic. With the weight of a person and being abraded over the same surface day in and day out – this may be the hardest worn traffic pattern a floor may every see. We have known this for years and those clear plastic mats were used to protect the floor underneath and keep the chair moving smoothly in and out. But with a new office remodel, the aesthetics of one of those mats just don’t fit the bill.

One of the best ways to keep the chair gliding smoothly and keep the floor from pre-maturely wearing is the use of rubber wheeled casters. These rubber wheels are much softer than their plastic counterpart, and allow you to use your office chair with no need for one of those plastic floor mats. Other than concrete – these rubber casters also work on Carpet and other hard surface flooring.

Amazon carries a variety of style and brands. Get the stock look of a standard caster or if you are feeling a bit adventurous switch out for the roller blade wheel style.

Rubber Casters

 

 

Get a GRIP on it!

One of the biggest concerns of our clients is a slip-resistant surface.  When we use urethane for the flooring treatment, there are several options available to create a slip-resistant finish.  The information below is for smooth coatings such as a clear urethane sealer or a tinted urethane sealer as part of an epoxy floor coating. For information about slip resistance on polished concrete floors, click here.

The grit used in our final urethanes is a fine grade aluminum oxide additive. This additive is mixed integrally with the catalyzed urethane resulting in a fully encapsulated mixture for long-term durability.  This grit offers better traction than a standard finish and is a must in wet areas such as a shower, kitchen, or a wash area. The grip additive is ideal for areas that are subject to the constant presence of liquids such as showers but isn’t always suitable for areas that have brief spills such as garages and locker rooms.

The grit additive seems like it would be a good fit to use for most slip-resistant surface applications, ie. safety requirements. It will, however, retain dirt as opposed to a surface that does not have the slip resistant application.  The floor surface is smooth enough to mop and clean but may need some additional cleanings or a more aggressive method (such as spraying, or scrubbing) to achieve a pristine look. The grit additive is only available in the Satin finish but once mixed and applied it will have a more matte appearance.

When deciding whether or not to use the grip or not, it’s best to have our design team review with you and assess the liquids used in the area and the safety standards that are required or essential to you. Physical samples of each option are available during this review.  The finishes available in a urethane sealed system include Gloss, Satin, Satin w/ Grip (matte sheen).

Summary of Grip Additive in Urethane Topcoats

  • Increased Safety and Slip Coefficient
  • A must for wet areas
  • Can track dirt and require more aggressive cleaning methods such as scrubbing with a rotary scrubber or manual deck brush.
  • Satin w/ Grip (matte sheen)
  • Other grip options are available in epoxy systems such as sand broadcast.
  • No cost upgrade

Polished Concrete in Commercial Bathrooms

Authentic polished concrete is known for its long term durability and is a popular choice in high-traffic consumer areas such as corridors, multi-purpose spaces and retail. Its durability lies in the inherent strength of the concrete as a building material plus a refined surface through mechanical polishing and an application of a sealing system. Polished concretes durability comes from the products used in the sealing process – a concrete densifier and a stain guard. These products penetrate into the open pore structure of the concrete leaving either a very thin film (just a few microns) to a non-visible surface film of the sealer. This allows the surface to be very abrasion resistant and eliminates the need of the stripping and waxing cycle. In addition, it will offer the ability to refine or re-polish the floor years into the future, giving the floor a brand new look at a much more affordable cost. This eliminates having to remove and replace another flooring material.

Polished concrete will age differently in bathrooms and areas prone to more spills. Polished concrete is still considered a porous surface and can be affected by standing water or high acidic liquids such as urine. These can etch the surface affecting the sealer and profiling the surface to continue to allow stains.

When designing this area you may want to create a sense of continuity by continuing the floor from hall or open space into the bathrooms.  When we work in this type of environment we recommend a urethane sealed concrete floor as opposed to a polished concrete floor. The urethane sealing system is a two-coat process of a water-based epoxy primer and high-wear catalyzed urethane topcoat. This topcoat can also utilize an anti-slip additive that will aid in slip resistance. This urethane sealing system, although very strong, does not have the same abrasion resistance you will see in a full polished concrete floor. Typically, stain resistance is more important in and area as a bathroom. The transition leading into the bathroom is typically completed at a saw joint leading into it and it can easily be hidden under the door with no need for a transition strip. To the general-purpose user of the area a difference in appearance is likely to go unnoticed.  The urethane sealer is compatible with natural colored, dyed, and reactive stain coloring methods as well. Unlike polishing, when using a urethane sealer, it is very important to check the relative humidity of the concrete.

An alternative choice would be to leave the bathrooms polished.  Should this option be chosen, additional maintenance or urinal pads may be required to keep the floor in a ‘like-new’ condition. You also can choose to leave the floor as is and allow the floor to develop a worn-patina look. Many restaurants and park departments allow this patina to develop.  You might notice should at a few older Chipotle’s they bring the polish directly into their restrooms.  However, most have since moved to a high-strength urethane mortar system with integral cove.

As in most facades of construction there are many options available. The final decision involves choosing the right floor, balancing client’s expectations, budget constraints and construction schedules.

Should you have any questions or need help with the best choice for your concrete bathroom finished floor, please email me at nickdancer@dancerconcrete.com.

Breath of Fresh Air

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.