Tagged: polished concrete

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. 


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’

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.


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.


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.