NOT ALL FLOORS ARE CREATED EQUAL

By Abigail Reuille 

When thinking about starting your upcoming flooring project, the first logical step is to gather a few different quotes from a few different companies. This allows you to understand your project more thoroughly, feel out the professionalism of each company, and to determine which numbers will work with your budget. We agree with all of this – discovering all of your options is always helpful and allows you to understand the full scope of your project.

What we disagree on is that all floors are created equal. When you get a quote from Dancer Concrete Design, we want you to understand that our chip epoxy broadcast floors are above the industry standard and beyond the floor you will receive if you were to choose a competitor. Our professional in-house craftsmen install top-quality, guaranteed floors. The chart below will prove that our products and chip epoxy floor installations are superior to the competition.

Breakdown of Products for a 1,000 SF Chip Epoxy Floor Project

Dancer Concrete
Design Broadcast
Competitors’ Broadcasts
Preparation Full preparation.
Completely preps the surface.
Grinding to scratch surface.
Leaves dark spots during prep.
Joint Fill Seamless options available. Joints left open.
Primer 5 Gallons. Penetrating epoxy. No primer. Primer and Body are one coat.
This can end up being problematic.
Body Coat 5 Gallons. 100% pigmented solids. 2.25 Gallons.
Chip Media 150 lbs. 500 standard blends
+ custom blends available.
75 lbs. 6-8 stock color options available.
Top Coat UV top coat. 8.5 Gallons. 5 Gallons.
Finishing Optional Urethane High-Wear
Topcoat. 2.5 Gallons.
N/A.

 


CONTROL JOINTS

By Nick Dancer and Abigail Reuille

What are control joints? How/with what do we fill them and why? These are common questions when starting your concrete flooring project, whether it be concrete polishing or epoxy floor coatings. First, control joints (sometimes called “contraction joints”) are planned, cut lines in the concrete that are cut soon after the concrete is initially poured. Their purpose is to control the cracking in the concrete slab as it shifts and settles. When concrete cures, some of the water used in pouring the concrete evaporates, causing some shrinking and cracking. With well-placed control joints, the cracking will hopefully occur along these joints. This will produce a more aesthetically-pleasing floor in the long run.

When finishing your concrete floor, unattended control joints can leave an unfinished appearance. We want your floor to look nice, perform in simple maintenance, and meet all expectations. To take care of this, we offer a few different options.

For epoxy floor coatings, filling the control joints will provide a completely seamless floor. This means water, dirt, and other debris will not enter the control joints and the control joint pattern will not be seen. Non-moving control joints (joints in a concrete floor that has already cured) will be over-filled with an epoxy resin, and then ground off before the rest of the floor is coated.

When polishing a concrete floor, filling the control joints will also result in seamlessness. The joints will not collect water, dirt, or other debris – but the joints will be visible. Because of this, different colors of joint filler are available to match either the natural hue of the concrete or a dye/stain that is chosen for the finished floor. A polyurea product is used, which has a fast cure time and proven color retention. The product is pumped into the open joint so that it overflows and is then shaved off. The rest of the polishing process then ensues.

Another method of filling control joints offered at Dancer Concrete Design is by using elastomeric joint sealants at cold joints. Cold joints are either where two different flooring types meet (tile meeting concrete) or where two different pours of concrete meet (newly poured concrete meets an older concrete slab). This elastomeric material has great heat and chemical resistance, and is able to perform well at low temperatures.

 

DancerConcreteDesign_ControlJoints


A CLEAN SOLUTION FOR A DIRTY JOB

By Nick Dancer and Abigail Reuille

When considering polished concrete or epoxy floor coatings as a flooring solution, clients may be concerned about the mess that may be left behind. This is a valid concern since clouds of dust commonly come to mind when thinking of concrete projects. The dust created through preparing, cutting and grinding concrete surfaces is unavoidable. It’s how we, at Dancer Concrete Design, control that dust that makes all the difference.

We think that dust control is a large part of a satisfactory project. To achieve this, we hook up our equipment to specialty vacuums created to handle concrete dust. These vacuums have purging systems that allow the vacuum to clean its filters of the fine concrete dust while continuing to perform. There are different vacuums used depending on the size and scope of each project.

Generally, our team creates less dust than other construction trades on a project. If a situation presents itself where the maximum dust control is necessary, we offer these additional options:

  • Dust control package: An extra team member is on-site throughout the grinding processes to vacuum all dust left behind by the main grinder.
  • Hanging extra tape and plastic: This is popular in industrial settings where intricate machines require the utmost protection, as well as in residential settings where entire rooms can be closed off during the grinding processes to prevent any dust from entering.
  • Implementing air scrubbers: Air scrubbers collect any loose dust that may have escaped into the air.
  • Vacuuming floors at the end of the project instead of using microfibers.

With all the dust control efforts, there is always a chance of small amounts of dust during a project. This can be simply from walking across the floor and getting dust stuck to footwear. We do recommend a thorough cleaning of your space when we leave the job site, but we reassure you that our best efforts will be taken to control concrete dust.


Polished Concrete Slip Resistance

By Nick Dancer and Abigail Reuille

Polished concrete flooring looks beautiful in interior settings, is extremely durable, and is fully customizable. Although there are obvious benefits of polished concrete, a common concern about the flooring solution is the slip resistance – or perceived lack thereof. It is important to remember that while polished concrete is shiny, shine does not always constitute slipperiness.

Any hard surface flooring may be slippery when wet. While polished concrete is shiny, it is much less slippery than it seems to appear. Even when polished to a 1600-grit finish (super sheen and reflectivity), polished concrete flooring still can meet the ADA and OSHA slip coefficient recommendations.

A draw to polished concrete is that there is no topical surface on the finished floor – the sealers penetrate into the pores of the concrete, making the surface extremely durable. However, there are also options to add to the surface of the concrete to increase slip resistance. These options include urethane and epoxies where anti-slip grit can be added to ensure maximum traction when working in wet environments.

Here is an article that delves deeper into the slip resistance of polished concrete.


Colored Concrete

By Nick Dancer and Abigail Reuille

While the gray hues of natural concrete are certainly appealing, sometimes colored concrete is desired to fit the look a client is envisioning. Adding color to concrete that has already been poured and cured is an option that Dancer Concrete Design offers when polishing a concrete floor.

There are two different ways to add color to concrete – Penetrating Dyes and Reactive Stains – and each has its own unique set of benefits and reasons for use. It is important to clarify traffic patterns, stain resistance needs, and overall aesthetic of a space before selecting a coloring method.

Penetrating dyes are the more affordable coloring option of the two. These dyes penetrate the concrete surface much like wood stains penetrate wood. While some variation throughout the floor can be expected, dyes create a more uniform, vivid color throughout the floor. Dyes are typically chosen for their fast installation time, affordability, uniformity, and the bold coloring they produce. Keep in mind that penetrating dyes cannot be used outdoors and are more susceptible to discoloration than reactive stains.

Reactive stains contain mineral compounds that “react” with the cement in concrete, creating a marbled and unique coloring pattern in the floor. When applied, the stain appears as greenish yellow. After reacting with the cement, the color turns to a rich brown or leathery red. Because of this process, reactive stains are available in earthy tones with limited color options. Reactive stains offer a more permanent solution and most colors can be used outdoors. All reactive stains can be implemented indoors as well.

Whether a dye or stain is selected in the design process of planning a space, there is a concrete coloring method that can fit every situation and style. It is important to keep in mind the benefits of each, how the space will be used, and the overall desired design of the end environment.


Simple Design

By Alexis Dancer

What is good design? What is great design? What makes the difference between a good design and a great design? A great design appears to be simple at its completion because of the organization, process, and planning put into the design at the onset. I do not know what said this first, but they were brilliant. Design is an ongoing planning process that is put into play to create a functional space. The point of the design process is to take a jumbled knot and to turn it into a clean, straight line with just a few curves to add interest. 

Great design appears to be simple, but simple is not a popular adjective for American interiors. Everywhere we look there is just more stuff. More information, more advertising, and more clutter in our minds as well as in our homes. As with the items that we obtain, a building can also become over-cluttered in terms of design elements. There is something to be said about simple spaces or spaces that are simply designed well. Simple and great designs look beautiful yet continue to serve their purpose.

To encourage simple design, let’s simplify our building materials. Concrete is an obvious choice as a building material for many different reasons: it can be molded and shaped to fit any mold, it can be poured for structural stability, and, in our modern world, it can now be polished to create a beautiful finished flooring material. Concrete can cover several square feet without needing a control joint or seam. Concrete can also be poured as an overlay for a uniquely seamless and clean look for a floor. This unique quality of concrete visually expands any space without obstructing the view to the rest of the interior elements. Concrete floors allow the interior to speak for itself. They appear to take nothing away from the design, yet add everything to it. Concrete floors can visually take up to 50 percent of a design, yet they seem to bow down to the rest of the space and let architectural elements and furniture speak for themselves.

Making a design simple may seem, well, simple. We may say, “Just don’t put anything in the room,” but a room is made for a purpose and for a certain function of work or life. So, for that reason we must add to the building shell. To decide how to design a space, let’s think about what Louis Sullivan said, “form follows function.” A space will be beautiful if it functions as it should. The beauty hides in the details. When a drawer closes with ease by way of soft-close glides, now that’s beauty. When a floor cleans up easy and looks great for years to come, that is also beautiful. Concrete is a simple building material that contributes to the structure of the building (the building’s function) as well as to the aesthetics of the finished space when it is polished. Partner all of these elements with concrete’s wide array of color stain options and polishing finish levels and you have one unique and well-designed building material option. Concrete can also save building owners from maintenance nightmares. Great design is more than just aesthetics, great design also takes maintenance, durability, and lifetime cost of materials into consideration.

Design is different than decorating in that, with design, we study the psychology, the function, and the importance of the spaces that we use. With decorating we simply build on to the aesthetics of a space or add to the base of the design sometimes beyond what is necessary for the space to function for our needs. Sometimes we think that we can enhance design through decoration, but the truth is that adding more clutter to a poorly designed space will add even more chaos. When elements in a space are kept simple and, at the same tines make sense to the function of the building, we can experience cohesive and easy living. By using concrete as a finish material, we can allow the rest of the interior to speak for itself and contribute to simple designs.


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.

 


Coloring Methods for Polished Concrete Floors

When choosing a color for your concrete project does not simply mean choosing between sienna and rust, or charcoal and slate blue. There are also options when it comes to how the color is applied; reactive stained concrete and dyed concrete.  So what’s the difference?

Reactive Stained Concrete
Reactive concrete stains work with the existing chemical makeup of the concrete to produce variegated coloring throughout the surface. This coloring method typically produces a marbleized appearance to the concrete surface and provides coloring to floor surfaces. Reactive stain is a permanent color, it’s UV stable (which means in can be used indoors or out) and each application is a unique one of a kind look.

Dyed Concrete
Dyes work the existing porosity of the concrete to penetrate into the surface layer of the concrete floor to color the surface. Dyes offer a more consistent and color matched look. This coloring method is very popular for interior concrete floor projects and commercial settings. This color option has a quicker install than reactive stain, getting you back on the floor sooner and it works very well when exposing aggregate in the concrete. Because it isn’t UV stable, this option is only possible for interior projects.

But don’t worry, you don’t need to be an expert. The Dancer Concrete team will work with you to determine not only the color, but also the best application to use for your space. And whether it’s a reactive stained concrete floor or a dyed concrete floor, we guarantee it will exceed your expectations!


How to Keep Epoxy From Failing

Should I Use an Additional Primer with My Seamless Floor?
 

Have you ever tried to paint a red wall the color white? If so, I hope you used a primer. If not, you probably started out with some standard paint and quickly realized that regular paint doesn’t cover that well. So you either dealt with your wall having a slight pinkish tint, or you made the trip to Lowe’s and bought yourself a quality primer. Even with our modernized paints that claim to be a primer/paint all-in-one and promise to cover all stains and all colors, there are still many situations where a base coat of KIltz really makes a positive difference in the final outcome. A quality primer at the beginning of a painting project truly makes a nicer finished product.

Now let’s talk a little bit about my type of business and how we can best utilize primers for our installations.  When installing any type of floor over concrete the #1 thing that can cause problems is moisture passing through the slab. This causes problems such as failed adhesives, warped wood floors, or in my industry – peeling and flaking coatings. To prevent this from happening we always include an option for an additional moisture blocking primer. This priming system is a catalyzed product made to penetrate into the surface layer of the cement so excess moisture cannot pass through the concrete. This provides us the guarantee that our seamless floors continue to stay locked into the concrete surface.  Of course with this increased benefit, we also see an increase in price.  So how do you choose between using an additional moisture blocking primer, and how do you know if the added cost worth it for your project?

To answer these questions and also give you the ability to make the right decision, I have outlined some basic ways to make sure you get the best value for your project. Now these are the options we offer at my company, Dancer Concrete Design. These may not be applicable for all installers. We are very picky with the products we use and only choose products that are 100% solids (no fillers, no solvents) and contain NO-VOC’s.  We exclusively use NO-VOC products as I don’t particularly like wearing a mask while I work, and you should not have to leave your home because of the danger in a product.

Make sure you ask your installer what products they are putting down and ASK TO SEE REAL SAMPLES of the cured product. This will make sure the contractors and your expectations are consistent. 

When to Use an Additional Moisture Blocking Primer for Seamless Floor Installations

  • Concrete that has not been cured for 30 days and needs to be coated
  • Concrete that has moisture readings over 3 lbs per 10000 sq. ft.
    • Our primer will work on concrete with readings of up to 15 lbs per 1000 sq. ft.
    • You want the extra assurance or guarantee that your floor with not peel, chip, or delaminate from the surface.
    • Concrete with no under-slab vapor barrier installed
    • You just appreciate a job done in the best way possible
Previous coatings on this project were failing due to improper surface preparation or moisture issues. When installing this new system we incorporated a moisture blocking primer to prevent this from happening again. 

Thanks for reading this post. If you like what you read then get click happy with the share buttons below!

Nick Dancer


Polly Said What?

How to Choose Between Epoxy and Polyurea Seamless Flooring

When choosing to use a seamless flooring system in your mudroom, garage, or maybe your industrial facility you are going to hear the word ‘epoxy’ a lot. There are a plethora of options when choosing the type or brand of epoxy, but in simplest terms, epoxy is a cured component of taking two or more products, (resin and a catalyst, part A and part B) and by mixing the components you create a chemical reaction that results in a hard durable product.

Epoxy type floors have been sought after for their ability to make up the inherent weakness of concrete. This epoxy/concrete bond creates a much nicer product when concrete is subject to chemicals, water intrusion, or high wear. In the last few years a product called polyureas have been widely used as they have similar properties of epoxy with additional features such as UV resistance and faster cure times. Of course with this increased benefit ,we also see an increase in price; sometimes twice as much as a standard epoxy product.  So how do you choose between using an epoxy and a polyurea? Is the added cost worth it for your project?

To answer these questions and also give you the ability to make the right decision, I have outlined some basic ways to make sure you get the best value for your project. Now these are the options we offer at my company, Dancer Concrete Design. These may not be applicable for all installers. We are very picky with the products we use and only choose products that are 100% solids (no fillers, no solvents) and contain NO-VOC’s.  We exclusively use NO-VOC products as I don’t particularly like wearing a mask while I work, and you should not have to leave your home because of the danger in a product.

Make sure you ask your installer what products they are putting down and ASK TO SEE REAL SAMPLES of the cured product. This will make sure the contractors and your expectations are consistent. 

 Epoxy

  • More affordable solution
  • Very chemical resistant
  • Cure time between  2-4 days
  • Comes in clear and multiple colors
  • Will yellow when exposed to UV light
    • If outdoors can yellow within weeks
    • Indoor applications with windows (assuming windows have a UV film)  it may take 5 – 10 years to notice yellowing
When to Choose Epoxy

 Epoxy works great when budget concerns are of most importance or in an area where epoxy is being chose for its performance ability rather than a decorative flooring solution. Epoxy serves more of a purpose to protect the concrete from oil rather than having a decorative appeal.

Polyureas

  • Higher upfront cost – may be $0.40 – $1.00 sq. ft. higher depending on application type
  • Very chemical resistant
  • Faster cure time – 8 hours – 24 hours
  • Comes in clear and multiple colors
  • UV stable coating. Can be used outdoors. Will not yellow.
When to Choose Polyurea

Polyurea is the best offering for top coating seamless floors. Polyureas are sought after when the floor is being installed for a decorative look as well as for performance.

Thanks for reading this post.

Nick Dancer


4 Steps for Staining Concrete

I have been around the decorative concrete industry for quite a while and have seen all the ways to color an existing concrete surface. It seems that most manufactures and installers are always looking for the quickest and cheapest way to color a floor. Constantly new products are brought to the market claiming to “mimic” the natural variegated coloring and flow that can only be achieved when staining concrete with a reactive (acid) stain. From my own experience and from chatting with a select group of top-notch installers all around the States I have found that there is still only one tried and true method for permanent coloring of exiting concrete.

The difference in installing a real reactive stained floor over some other acrylic stains or penetrating-only stains is that it takes much more time and experience to successfully complete the project. We always figure that an extra day on the project and a little bit more expense up front will deliver a more valuable and durable surface.

Below I share our steps for completing this process.

Thank you to Heidi Hundall with Runyon Surface Prep for working with us to develop this!

Click here to download the 4 Step Staining Process – Dancer Concrete


Back in Black

A Mid-Century Modern Home in Southwest Fort Wayne

Last week we completed a residential concrete polishing project in a mid-century modern home located in a woods on the southwest side of Fort Wayne. This concrete floor was original to the home as raw building products, such as metal and concrete, are staples in mid-century architecture. Mid-century modern is a style that can be seen in graphic design, interior design and architecture. This style generally depicts the developments in modern design at the time between 1933 and the mid 1950’s

When the home was initially built the concrete served not only a structural purpose for the floor but also was integrally colored black and sealed to serve as the finished floor.  Through the years this floor was eventually covered with carpet and long forgot about. When our client, Linda bought the home almost 20 years ago she knew she wanted to bring back the concrete floor. At the time, little was known about properly finishing the concrete so painting the surface seemed like the most logical solutoin. The floor had been painted multiple times in the last 20 years as the paint continued to peel and flake off the surface.

POLISH

Remove the paint and polish the concrete floor

Linda had found us online and thought we may have a better solution to her flooring problem than continuing to paint the surface.  When dealing with older concrete floors we have two options to finish the concrete. We can either work with the existing concrete and refinish the surface (similar to refinishing hardwood floors) or apply an overlay to the surface to cover up problems or rough areas. Since the concrete was in good shape we decided to try our hands at refinishing the concrete floors. This process involved removing the paint and polishing the concrete to a Level 1 – 400 grit finish. The polishing process required multiple passes and posed some challenges. These challenges included various heights of concrete floors and also a large amount of vertical concrete polishing. There was also no base trim in the space, so edge work and details took an additional 30 hours of labor. The floor was originally integrally colored black but we also included a black concrete dye in our process to help color patch spots and revitalize the original color.

The owner was very pleased with the results and we were happy to again bring back some life to a forgotten concrete floor and work in such a cool home.


How to Properly Stain a Concrete Floor

4 BASIC STEPS FOR SUCCESSFUL CONCRETE STAINING

This morning stopped by a local thrift store to check out the furniture and to see if I could find any nice antique pieces.  As I walked through the donated furniture section I noticed how age really showed the difference in the quality of the furniture items in the store. Items that were built well seemed to get better with age, while the cheaper furniture looked terrible after years of use. The wear and tear on the well-built items just seemed to add to the character of the furniture, but the older items looked worse with only as a simple scratch or scuff.  This little trip through the store had me thinking about how most of the items we as consumers purchase are at their best on the day of purchase and continue to  in value year after year until we end up throwing the item away and buying new.  Why do we now seem to accept disposable products as the norm?

The flooring industry operates in the same manner.  When you choose to install a carpet, laminate, VCT or another cheap flooring alternative then you choose the disposable route.  These items never age well and continue to look worse and worse until it’s time to rip them out and replace leaving piles of flooring in landfills.  It is flooring materials like real wood, stone and stained concrete floors that can develop a patina and character as they age which adds to their value instead of taking it away. Installing one of these flooring surfaces almost ensures a lifetime quality floor for your home.

When done well reactive stained concrete floors produce a floor that rivals the best in the high-end flooring market.  At my company Dancer Concrete Design our concrete staining process consists of 4 basic steps that need to be taken to produce a nicely finished stained concrete floor. Here I will explain these 4 steps and show you picture of our team following this process for a project in Indianapolis.

PREP

Remove any sealer, paint, or bond breakers

This process is all about cleaning the concrete surface and preparing for subsequent polishing steps. The prep step typically involves removing contamination or bond breakers from the concrete surface such as paints, glues, mastics, sealers, drywall mud, removing rough trowel marks, etc. We complete this step by purely mechanical methods such as grinding or scraping. For this step we use a 3 head concrete polisher fitted with diamond abrasives for our preparation process. This step removes anything that is on the surface and leaves a bare concrete floor. We also maintain clean working environments while we work by hooking all of our equipment up to specialty concrete vacuum systems.

This picture shows how important proper preparation is. The left side is concrete that has been sealed. The right side is after our preparation pass. This pass removes sealer and other contamination from the surface.

POLISH

Mechanically refine and smooth the concrete floor

After preparing the concrete floor we move on to polishing the concrete surface. If we are dealing with brand new concrete, free of sealers or contamination, we can skip the prep stage and start with the polishing stage. This polishing process uses additional diamond abrasive passes to refine the concrete floor and continues to make it smoother and smoother. This process is very similar to sanding a wood floor as we continue to move on to higher and higher grits to get a smooth surface free of scratches. When using a reactive stain on a concrete floor we found that the 200 grit level leaves a surface free of scratches and provides a soft satin canvas for coloring.  We also provide options of 400 or 800 grit finishes that will add gloss and additional depth to the concrete.

The polishing process mechanically polishes the concrete to the desired shine. This must be done on the main section as well as the edges.

STAIN

Impart a permanent color into the concrete surface

Now it’s time for the fun part…Staining! After all that hard laborious work of cleaning the concrete we finally get to add the stain.  Reactive staining works by using a reactive solution that’s imparts mineral salts into the concrete. These minerals permanently change the color and produce floors with variegated and marbleized coloring that brings a soft and subtle touch of organic color to a space.

Reactive concrete staining provides a permanent and variegated coloring effect to the concrete surface.

SEAL

Protect and enhance the surface

The sealer chooses for your stained concrete floor will greatly impact the depth of color and how the floor performs long-term.  Our sealing system consists of a two-step process using a concrete densifier and stain guard application. The densifier works by penetrating into the porous concrete and increases abrasion resistance by 400% and decreases the permeability of the surface. A stain guard is then applied and burnished to provide additional shine and stain protection. This sealing system is very resistant to scratches, scuffs, and stains, creating a surface that is very durable and easy to keep looking great.

The finished product results in a floor that looks good the day of install, as well as continuing to gain character and patina over time.


Exposing Stained and Polished Concrete

A LOOK DEEPER INTO POLISHED CONCRETE FLOORING

When choosing to polish concrete there are many options to make sure the floor looks and performs to your standards. Some of these options include deciding on the final polishing grit or shine of the floor, or choosing what color will look just right in the space. One of the features that I have seen overlooked in these design decisions is the aggregate exposure of the finished floor, or how deep the grinding phase of the concrete will go into the concrete. This decision can have a big impact on the final look of the space as extensive grinding can remove the surface layer of the floor exposing the inner workings of the concrete.

Choosing the depth of the polish determines the aggregate exposure of the final finished floor. The choice to expose the aggregate in polishing in purely a cosmetic choice, but aggregates role in the structural concrete is key for strength.   Here’s a quick rundown of aggregate and its role in concrete – In its basic state concrete is made up of cement powder, small aggregate, large aggregate and water. The aggregate is typically a locally mined sand and rock. The concrete gets strength by the cement powder and water acting as a glue that holds all of this very hard and strong stone and sand in a fixed place.

In a typical concrete floor you would never see the aggregate. The finishing process involved with new concrete flooring pushes the aggregate into the concrete mix allowing the cement paste and water (cream) to rise to the surface so finishing can proceed and produce a nice smooth floor.  When choosing to grind deep into the concrete we remove this cream layer resulting in exposing the aggregate (stone and sand) in the concrete. Let’s take a look at the 3 different exposure levels.

Option 1 – Cream Finish

This finish level polishes the top layer of the concrete. This is the most affordable option and also provides the most color movement and shifting when using concrete dyes or stains to color the concrete. This will show some of the tooling marks from the finishing process of pouring the concrete. This finished floor has a lot of movement and shifting in the surface.

Option 2 – Light Exposure

This finish level exposes the sand and small parts of the larger aggregate. When using aggressive diamond abrasives to remove a glue or sealer from the concrete this is typically the finish unless deeper grinding is wanted. When staining this type of floor a more monochromatic color will be achieved.

Option 3 – Heavy Exposure

This finish level fully exposes the larger aggregate in the concrete. This gives the concrete a terrazzo type look. This finish is typically the most expensive as it involves extensive grinding at the beginning part of the concrete polishing project.  When grinding this deep, a grouting process; used to fill air voids in the concrete, is also recommended.

LOCAL FLAVOR

One of the most unique aspects of concrete flooring is that every floor will have its own unique look. This is very true when exposing the aggregate in the concrete. Different regions all have rocks that are natural to the area. For example concrete made in Utah may contain granite as the main aggregate, while concrete made in Florida may contain softer aggregate such as seashells. When pouring a new concrete floor or using a self-leveling overlay material, decorative aggregate such as marble chips, or glass chips can also be broadcast into the wet concrete mix so these are exposed during the polishing process for a customized look.


Night Owls

WHOOO DID THIS AMAZING POLISHED CONCRETE FLOOR?

I happen to be a morning person, a very early morning person.  I have a pretty consistent morning routine that includes a 4:30 wake-up call followed by drinking coffee, reading, working out, sorting through emails, checking Facebook, and then heading off to work.  In my line of business my morning routine doesn’t always line up with the client’s timeline of having contractors in their space.  Sometimes we have to work around the client’s business hours and change our schedule around by working third shift.  This was the case with our recent concrete polishing project at Connolly’s Do It Best in Fort Wayne.  Our crew did not shy away from the challenge of providing a quality project on the client’s schedule while keeping a clean environment for the client’s open business hours.

Removing the old flooring required hours of manual removal. To make this process faster we had a crew of 4 remove the floor and started the polishing right behind.

QUALITY

The client’s designer approached our company after recognizing that they needed a high end floor that would be consistent with the new upscale offerings of their Benjamin Moore Paint line.  The designer knew that a large percentage of the design and feel of a space is determined by the floor, and that the existing VCT tile and laminate floor was not going to make the cut for the high quality look the client desired. This well designed and color enhanced floor will catch the eye of those who want to purchase the best products available on Connolly’s shelves.  This rebranded department will soon have several remodeled parts at its completion, but we had the honor of providing the first key piece to this high end store remodel.  After discussing options and making an on-site sample, a final finish of a Level 3 -1600 grit shine was chosen. The floor was also dyed the colors Midnight Black and Sand in a predetermined flow to bring movement and color variation to the space.

Working with details might just be our specialty. We have a crew of trained craftsman than can make sure all areas are polished.

SCHEDULE + CLEANLINESS

Since our work had to be completed at night while the store was closed we rearranged our sleep habits to become nocturnal, creatures of the night, or night owls.  The work to be completed for this project was broken into two sections to keep store operations flowing during daytime hours. Our entire process was to remove the existing floor and make 8 passes with the concrete polisher to achieve the Level 3 Shine.  We completed each section in two nights and the floor was able to be put into full use by opening of the fifth day.

With the store being open during the day we took extra precautions to maintain a clean environment for customers to shop.  One of the challenges in grinding and polishing concrete is that the process generates large amounts of dust and debris. This was not a problem for us as we have made extensive investments in top of the line concrete vacuum systems to keep the air clean and to minimize dust exposure to other areas. This entire project was able to be completed without masking off or placing barriers to other parts of the store.

The proper vacuums make all the difference in making sure the area stays dust free. Here we have the large polisher making the initial cut on the concrete surface.. As you can see the dust generated is contained during this process.

This entire project was the result of hard work and dedication from our experienced and dedicated team who worked through long hours at night to make sure this project was a success. We finished Thursday night/Friday morning allowing us the weekend to catch up on our sleep and put my morning routine back in action.