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.
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