- Polished Concrete
- Stained Concrete
- Epoxy Floors
- Terrazzo Refinishing
- Surface Preparation
- Garage Floors
- Kitchen Countertops
- And Much More
Elimination of Dusting From Efflorescence
In ordinary unpolished concrete, tiny particles of dust are pushed to the surface through an upward force called hydrostatic pressure, resulting in efflorescence. Efflorescence leads to dusting, which forces epoxies off of the surface of concrete floors, and costly maintenance can quickly cut into your bottom line. On the other hand, polished concrete eliminates this dusting, thereby minimizing maintenance costs over unpolished concrete.
A Stain-Resistant Surface
By densifying and sealing the surface, polished concrete transforms a porous concrete floor into a tightened floor that is dense enough to repel water, oil, and other contaminants, preventing them from penetrating the surface.
Improved Reflectivity and Ambient Lighting
The reflective properties of a polished concrete floor maximize lighting in facilities. Improved ambient lighting reduces the cost of energy bills, increases safety, and casts your facility in the best possible light.
Increased Slip Resistance
Polished concrete, though shiny on the surface, does not create a slippery floor. In fact, the benefits of mechanically grinding and flattening the floor ultimately increase the coefficient of friction when compared to ordinary concrete. Polished concrete often exceeds OSHA standards for floors (ASTM C 1028).
Most floor systems, including tile and linoleum, require aggressive scrubbing to maintain a sanitary environment and clean appearance. Polished concrete surfaces are tightly compacted to reduce the development of stains. At the same time, they do not require any waxing or stripping treatments to maintain their sheen.
Polished concrete delivers ROI by significantly reducing energy and maintenance costs through reflectivity that improves ambient lighting, reduction in upkeep (such as waxing), and reduced tire wear for specialized applications.
Polished concrete not only utilizes existing concrete surfaces to eliminate the need for additional materials such as coverings/coatings and move toward sustainable building; it also typically contains no volatile organic compounds (VOCs), making it friendly for any U.S. Green Building Council LEED project.
Improved Condition for Old Floors (Mechanical Polish Only)
As concrete ages, surface stress, delamination, curled cold joints, and other problems can arise. Mechanically grinding the floor removes the top surface of the old concrete and polishing then strengthens it, increasing its impact and abrasion resistance.
Reduced Tire Wear (Mechanical Polish)
The rough, uneven texture of natural concrete causes tires to abrade, increasing wear and tear over time. A polished concrete floor system levels the joints and makes the entire surface smooth, preventing abrasion.
No Production/Plant Shutdowns (Mechanical Polish)
Dry-mechanically polished concrete can be put into service immediately after the process is complete. Due to the cleanliness of the process and the lack of toxic or hazardous chemicals, floors can often be commissioned as soon as the project is completed.
The process of polishing concrete requires specialized equipment for grinding and honing the surface. Concrete polishing machines vary in size and weight. There are hand grinders for small areas and edges. There are walk-behind machines that typically range from 300 to over 1,000 lbs. Both hand tools and our walk-behind concrete polishing machines have attached high-volume vacuums. The result is a dustless system. The polishing process includes going back and forth over the surface in numerous steps, sort of like cutting your lawn.
Step 1: Concrete Grinding –
The grinding process uses course diamond blades that cut through the top layer. Rock Armor will start the grinding process with the appropriate grit depending on the surface. Frequently, we use course diamonds to remove carpet glue, mastic, paint or epoxy coatings. These will range from 25 to 80 grit.
This level of grinding can also be part of a floor preparation system if you are considering a self-leveling concrete overlay or epoxy coating. This grinding level will also expose the aggregate in the concrete. This grinding level removes the top layer of approximately 1/32 to 1/16th inch though it is possible to remove more of the surface.
Step 2: Finer Grinding –
The second step is to use a finer diamond-grinding blade. This may be 80-100 grit. This step is the smoothing process. At this level, you will notice cracks, blemishes and imperfections in the concrete.
During this step, options include staining the concrete in a decorative color and then sealing the floor with an epoxy or urethane. This is the grind and seal process that has become very popular in recent years.
Step 3: Honing the Surface –
In the third step, Rock Armor would use a diamond pad with a 200 grit. The floor appearance will improve but still without a shine.
Step 4: Densifying The Surface –
A 400 grit diamond polishing pad is used along with a liquid densifier. If you recall from the top of this page, I explained about the curing process of concrete and porous characteristics.
Porous air holes will break the light reflectivity of the polish process. The solution is to apply a liquid densifier. A densifier creates a chemical reaction in concrete reducing the size of air holes (reducing porosity) providing more surface area for the final polishing steps. It also enhances the strength of the cement surface.
Step 5: Final Polishing Steps –
After application of the densifier, the final polishing steps commences with the options for a 400, 800, 1500 and 3,000 grit. If you want a matte finish, the process uses 400 to 800 grit. For a glossy finish, we utilize up to 1,500 to 3,000 grit.
LEVELS OF POLISHED CONCRETE
Level 1 (flat)
A level 1 ground polish usually can be obtained by stopping below the 100-grit resin bond. When you look directly down at the floor, it will appear somewhat hazy with little if any clarity or reflection.
Level 2 (satin)
A level 2 honed polish is obtained by stopping at the 400-grit resin bond, producing a low-sheen finish. When you look directly down at the finished floor and at a distance of roughly 100 feet, you can start to see a slight overhead reflection. This grit level produces a low-luster matte finish.
Level 3 (semi-polished)
A level 3 polish is achieved by going up to an 800-grit or higher diamond abrasive. The surface will have a much higher sheen than that of level 2 finish, and you’ll start to see good light reflectivity. At a distance of 30 to 50 feet, the floor will clearly reflect side and overhead lighting.
Level 4 (highly polished)
This level of polish produces a high degree of shine, so that when standing directly over the surface, you can see your reflection with total clarity. Also, the floor appears to be wet when viewed from different vantage points. A level 4 polish is obtained by going up to a 3,000-grit resin-bond diamond or by burnishing the floor with a high-speed burnisher outfitted with specialty buffing pads.
DECORATIVE CONCRETE POLISHING SOLUTIONS
The options are many for creating a beautiful, decorative polished concrete floor. Saw cuts can be made with unlimited design patterns in the shape of tile with borders or unique flowing designs. Color options include earth tones of brown, green or blue can be created using acid stains and dyes. Water based dyes produce soft pastels while solvent based dyes produce vibrant colors. Custom floor graphics are available for polished concrete floors, overlays and epoxy coatings
CONCRETE POLISHING SERVICES & OPTIONS
Polished Concrete – Choose from 400 to 3,000 grit matte, gloss or high gloss finish.
Grind and Seal – Grind and seal with urethane or epoxy sealer. Prior to application of sealer, we can apply color stain to floor.
Coatings Removal – Concrete polishing equipment will remove floor paint, carpet glue, epoxy coatings. The grinding process will remove the top surface layer exposing a clean new floor.
Self-Leveling Concrete Overlay – If you want a predictable floor, consider a polishable, self-leveling overlay. These are installed at ¼ to 3/8th inch thick. They can be integrally-colored and topically color-stained or dyed. They may also be sealed with water or solvent-based sealers, epoxies and urethanes
Self-Leveling Underlayments for Carpet, Tile and Hardwood – Grind, seal and apply self-leveling underlayments for new flooring types over concrete.
Concrete Staining – Decorative stained concrete is another way to beautify concrete floors.
Metallic Epoxy Coatings – Polished concrete is the inspiration behind metallic epoxy flooring. They have the look of stained concrete with the durability of a urethane with non-slip seamless finish.
Industrial Epoxy Coatings – After grind and repair to floors, we can apply protective epoxy coatings. Many options are available for garages, basements, warehouses, restaurants and retail stores including chemical resistance.
Concrete Repair – Crack Repair, expansion joint fillers and spalling concrete are all part of the services Rock Armor can provide.
If you’re new to the world of epoxy coatings and wondering which system is right for your use, this guide will provide you with the basics to help you choose the right coating and application services. Epoxy floor coatings are more than floor paint. They are engineered by chemists for a variety of uses. There are many types ranging from thin build floor paints for low traffic uses like the kits you find for the DIY applicator at most home improvement stores. Epoxy coatings are also used in tough environments in warehouses, labs, and even marine decking. Epoxies are two (2) component products including a resin and hardener. When mixed together, the chemicals cross-link like a chain creating durability and adhesion to concrete and metal.
BASIC EPOXY FLOORING APPLICATION SERVICES
There are epoxy application systems available for many different floor uses including restaurants, retail, showrooms, warehouse, labs, grocery stores.
Here are the basics steps for most epoxy floor coatings.
1) Surface Preparation: Surface prep is critical for proper adhesion. It generally includes floor grinding and/or shotblasting, filing cracks and fixing damaged or spalling concrete. If the floor has oil a degreaser may be needed. Its also advisable to do a moisture test to determine if there is moisture vapor pressure in the concrete. Excessive moisture vapor can cause epoxy coatings to delaminate.
2) Primer Application: The first coat applied is the primer coat. There are water based, solvent and low solvent primers. Primers are available in clear and pigmented. They can be thin mil primers of 5 to 7 mils, medium build of 6-12 mils and even high mil primers of 10 to over 40 mils thickness.
3) Build Coats: Build coats are applied to primers. Sand, colored quartz or color chips are added to wet coat. Medium build coats range from 10 to 30 mils.
4) Top Coats: Top Coats include Urethanes, Polyaspartics or clear coat epoxy.
TOP USES FOR EPOXY FLOORING: URETHANE & POLYASPARTIC FINISHES
Residential Garages – Garage floor epoxy coatings with decorative chips and urethane or polyaspartic top coats. For ultimate design metallic epoxy coatings with a urethane. Metallic epoxy is a durable 100% solids coating with unique design. Be sure to choose systems that will withstand hot tire wear and fluids that drip such as oil and fluids.
Basement Flooring – Basement floor epoxy coatings are ideal for durability and design. Quartz, color chips and metal epoxy coatings are the most popular. Be sure to check the moisture levels coming through your concrete floor. Moisture vapor from hydrostatic pressure can cause epoxies to chip or delaminate.
Showrooms and Retail Stores – Many options are available for enhancing the curb appeal of your floor. Metallic epoxy coatings or stained concrete overlays and self-leveling cement with an epoxy or urethane protective finish provide a decorative non slip finish. Because epoxies and concrete overlays are seamless, they are easy to maintain.
Commercial Kitchens – Epoxy floor coatings for commercial kitchens need to be non-slip and withstand heat from ovens, cold from refrigeration plus constant cleaning. There are systems for virtually every requirement. Cove bases can be applied to perimeter wall areas are coated to the top edge for a true seamless, easy to maintain surface.
Warehouse – Epoxy floor coatings and mortar systems are available for a variety of uses. They can withstand forklift traffic, chemicals and moving carts and pallets.
Biological Flooring – You can choose from a variety of epoxy flooring systems for health care facilities. Systems are available for data centers, labs, loading docks, equipment cleaning rooms and more.
Food & Beverage Epoxy Floors – The food and beverage industry has a variety of unique flooring requirements that are met with specialized epoxy systems. Specialty room requirements include utility rooms, chemical containment, equipment washing, locker rooms, water and wet processing rooms.
Epoxy Coatings for Healthcare – Like the food and beverage industry, healthcare has specific needs that are met with epoxy, urethane and terrazzo flooring. These include bacterial resistant coatings for emergency rooms, pharmacy floors, bath rooms, showers and locker room floors.
Kennel Epoxy Floor Systems – One of the biggest issues is kennel cough. This is a contagious cough caused by bacteria which can get into small cracks in floors or even scratches. Polyaspartic and urethane coatings are hard, very hard preventing scratches. They can be maintained with application of high solids floor wax then buffed with a high speed floor burnisher. The scrub and recoat floor wax system over an epoxy floor with urethane or polyaspartic finish coat is ideal for prevention of kennel cough.
THE POPULARITY OF STAINED CONCRETE FLOOR SERVICES
Thanks to the internet, everyone has access to information about decorative concrete floors. As a result, demand has exploded in recent years. You likely have seen stained concrete floors in coffee shops, retail stores, restaurants, grocery stores, showrooms, and offices.
Concrete flooring has come a long way from a utilitarian use in warehouses and sidewalks. Today they are everywhere and growing at an exponential rate.
Explosive demand has created choices for home and commercial use with new coloring options, tools and techniques created by manufacturers.
TYPES OF CONCRETE STAINS, DYES AND COLORING
Acid Stain Concrete – Acid stains are a combination of water, acid and metallic salts that react with the lime in concrete. Colors are translucent earth tones of brown, green and blue. Some have reddish tints like mahogany. Application of concrete acid stains produce a unique result for every floor. The look is mottled. This is due to many factors inherent to concrete. Concrete is not 100% consistent. Some areas dry faster than others along with high and low spots. When acid stains are applied, some will settle in low spots creating a darkness or lime may vary in the mix.
Acid stains are generally sprayed on the surface with hand pump sprayers. When the pump sprayers are fully loaded the pressure is greatest. The result is more stain will be released in the beginning. It’s natural that the amount of stain released to an inconsistent surface will ultimately create a variegated appearance. That’s the beauty of concrete acid stains. It is not like paint. Acid stains can be applied to concrete overlays as well as existing concrete.
Concrete Dyes – There are solvent and water based dyes. Solvent based dyes are available in many colors not just earth tones like with acid stains. Solvent based dyes are vibrant and bright. Water based dyes are pastels. They are soft colors. Dyes penetrate concrete with translucent appearance. They do not cover concrete like paint or overlays. Dyes can be used to even out acid stains. They can be used for custom floor graphics.
Integral Color – Integral color are pigments added to the concrete mix. They become part of the concrete rather than just a topical colorant. These pigments can also be applied to the surface of wet concrete and overlays. As the overlay is applied, integral colors gingerly sprinkled on the surface will naturally create variation. Combine this process with topical stains and dyes will produce a mottled appearance.
Metallic Epoxy – Metallic epoxy coatings have become extremely popular in recent years as an alternative to stained and dyed concrete. The look is mottled like with a stain or dye