Know Your Flooring: Concrete

Know Your Flooring: Concrete

Concrete floors have a raw and elegant beauty that can be surprisingly warm

by Rebecca Gross, Houzz Contributor

We saw this great article on Houzz about concrete floors and thought we would share it with you.

The days of concrete floors being banished to the basement or subfloor of a house are long gone. Today these floors offer a contemporary aesthetic that not only looks good but can contribute to the warmth of a house through thermal mass. Concrete also is durable, easy to care for and available in a range of textures, polishes and colors. This guide gives you the lowdown on concrete flooring.

What Is Concrete Flooring?

Concrete is a natural composite material made from an aggregate (rocks, river stones and granite chips) combined with a cement binder (such as limestone and calcium sulfate) and water. It is the most basic flooring material and generally forms the subfloor or base of a building that may be covered with wood or tile, or left exposed.

Concrete floors can be poured as part of a new build, or an existing floor can be stripped back to its concrete slab as part of a renovation. A series of treatments can then transform the slab into a smooth and decorative surface appropriate for flooring.

What to Consider When Choosing Concrete Flooring

  • For a new build, concrete is poured early on in construction so aggregate mix, color, finishes and underfloor heating may need to be decided at this stage.
  • When it comes to stripping back a floor to reveal the concrete slab, keep in mind the original pour was not intended to be exposed. So while it will function as a flooring surface after the necessary treatment, it may have an inconsistent look — for example, areas of little to no aggregate next to areas with a lot of aggregate.
  • The level of polish will affect the overall aesthetic of the floor as well as the budget. A light polish or matte look is less expensive, gives a more natural look and doesn’t show many of the stones inside the substrate. In comparison, a heavy polish is more expensive and will expose the stones and provide a more colorful finish.
  • Other finishes can include stamping, dyeing, embossing, staining and more.

The Pros of Concrete Flooring

  • Concrete floors can be a cost-efficient option, but the finishes, treatments and installation will influence the final cost.
  •  An endless variety of color and texture effects is possible. Color can be mixed directly into the concrete before the pour, or existing floors can be stained, dyed or painted.
  •  Concrete is extremely tough and durable. While it is possible to chip or scratch a concrete surface, it is difficult to do so. Plus, it’s flood- and fire-resistant and will last a lifetime and beyond when polished and maintained.
  • Concrete floors can work as a thermal mass when exposed to the sun, making a big difference in comfort and utility bills. It will absorb and store the heat of direct sunlight and slowly release it over the rest of the day and into the night.

The Cons of Concrete Flooring

  • Concrete floors can look and feel cold without sun exposure, but a great rug can always help warm them up.
  • Concrete floors can injure people and damage objects if they hit the surface hard, so they’re not recommended for areas frequented by children or elderly people.
  • Concrete is susceptible to penetration by moisture if not properly sealed on both top and bottom surfaces, which can lead to the growth of mold or mildew.
  • Because concrete floors have no give, they can be hard on joints and other body parts — backs and feet especially. Rubber mats or cork cushioning in areas such as the kitchen, where lots of time is spent standing, can help reduce this, as can slippers or soft-soled shoes.
  • A lot of energy is used in the production of concrete flooring. However, this is offset by its ability to reduce future energy usage by acting as a thermal mass.

Maintaining Concrete Flooring

  • Concrete floors are easy to look after — just sweep and mop with soapy water or a neutral cleaner.
  • Seal or wax the floors regularly in high-traffic areas to maintain the protective layer over its surface.
  • Repolish floors as needed to maintain the desired gloss.

Variety of Concrete Floors

Polished concrete flooring is measured by grade and finish — the higher the grade, the larger the exposed aggregates, and the higher the finish, the shinier the polish. This structural concrete slab has selected aggregates and a natural oxide color. It has been left exposed and polished to a level that makes the aggregates clearly visible.

Polished concrete flooring is ideal for high-traffic areas, such as hallways and kitchens. The shine on this floor is achieved by using a high-gloss polyurethane finish on top of the concrete slab.

The wide range of aggregates and colors available can easily change the look and feel of a room. This living space has white polished concrete floors that, matched with white walls and furniture, give a crisp, cool and glamorous look.

In comparison, these polished concrete floors have a great sense of warmth, due to the color added. It has a rich brown tone that works beautifully with the wooden beams and other decorative details. Color can be added to the pour in the initial stages and can also be added later as water-based dyes or acids.

Another way to add warmth is to lay down a rug. It also helps to define spaces or the functions of different areas in a large open space. Of the concrete in this house, designer Jasmine McClelland says, “The balance of textures and colors in the aggregate of the polished concrete flooring were chosen deliberately to soften the effect of the concrete.”

Burnishing is a type of finish that is applied to a new concrete pour before it is cured. A power trowel, or helicopter, is used to create a finish with a level of sheen, and the inconsistencies in color are intended to be part of its appeal.

As concrete is suitable for both interior and exterior spaces, it can be used to create an indoor-outdoor look. This floor is natural concrete with no additive and a fine aggregate. “It is almost burnished by the helicopter finish after it has been poured and while it is still wet,” says Shelley Indyk of Indyk Architects.

Holes and wear and tear on existing or covered-up concrete slabs can contribute to the final look of a room. This floor had been covered with tiles, and once they were pulled off and the grinding finished, the floor was pitted with holes. An amber-colored resin product was used to fill those holes before polishing. It adds a real point of interest to the finished floor.

Aged concrete floors or previously covered concrete slabs may have cracks. These can be hidden under a rug or taken advantage of as part of the aesthetic.

CRS is featured in Blush Magazine’s March 2016 Issue

CRS is featured in Blush Magazine’s March 2016 Issue

If you have not had a chance to pick up the new issue of Blush Magazine, then check out local Chattanooga businesses for the March 2016 issue. Concrete Repair Specialist was one of Blush’s local profiles; see page 12. Since the HBAGC’s 50th Annual Tri-SBlush Magazinetate Home Show was this past weekend, this was Blush Magazine’s home issue with tips on how to improve your home’s curb appeal and other remodeling tips and tricks. You will also find Concrete Repair Specialist in the “How to Improve You’re Home’s Curb Appeal” Q&A section on page 20.

If you missed Blush’s March issue, you can check it out online at BlushMag.net.

For more information about Concrete Repair Specialist, visit our website at ConcreteRepairSpecialist.com.

Blush March 2016

Blush March 2016

 

Polished Concrete Floors Offer Significant Savings

Polished Concrete Floors Offer Significant Savings

Homeowners, retailers, big-box stores, educational and medical facilities are choosing polished concrete for their floor finish because of the competitive advantage polished flooring offers over other types of floor coverings. Decorative concrete in the form of polished floors has become the logical choice because of the great value it delivers, and because it can compete aesthetically as well.

Residential Polished Floor Benefits:

  • Cost savings: Traditional floor covering materials are not necessary when the slab on grade is used as the finished floor surface
  • Longer life-cycle savings: Polished floors are not as vulnerable to damage as other materials and do not need replacing
  • Easy to clean: Won’t harbor dust, dirt, allergens
  • Available in wide variety of colors and designs

Commercial and Retail Polished Floor Benefits:

  • Cost savings: Using the slab on grade as the finished floor surface is more cost effective, maintenance costs are lower
  • More resistant to high foot traffic. A grocer in Tennessee explains that he is able to maintain primarily just the traffic ways within his store, which saves time and money because he does not have to move large display cases to wax and strip the floor.
  • Less maintenance and longer service life: Polished floors are easy to clean, requiring only occasional damp mopping. They also eliminate the need for messy waxes or coatings as well as the associated labor, time, and expense to apply them. The glossy surface of polished concrete resists the marks of forklift truck tires and staining from oil and chemical spills.
  • Resistant to moisture transmission issues: Polished concrete allows the floor to breathe and eliminates issues that arise with other flooring materials that seal off the concrete, such as tile, etc.
  • High light reflectivity: Important for office building floors, hotels, restaurants, and other public facilities that want to project a bright, clean, professional image. Also saves energy by reducing artificial lighting requirements
  • Is a sustainable flooring alternative: Polished concrete does not require hazardous coatings, cleaners or adhesives

The Versatility of Polished Concrete
Because polishing is a multi-step process, homeowners and business owners can choose the level of sheen from stain to high-gloss that meets their maintenance and aesthetic requirements. This versatility makes polished concrete an ideal flooring material for a variety of applications.

The most common places polished concrete is used include:

  • Large warehouses and warehouse outlets
  • Retail stores
  • Hotels and restaurants
  • Office buildings
  • Auto showrooms
  • Private residences

Some customers simply want a look that’s unique….polishing can give concrete a higher degree of shine, similar to polished marble or granite, than can be achieved with a high-gloss coating. This makes polished concrete a particularly good alternative for homeowners or businesses that can’t afford marble or granite floors but want the same brilliant, mirror-like finish. To replicate the color of stone we sometimes apply stain to the concrete during the polishing process or polish concrete that has been integrally colored. It’s also possible to produce a terrazzo look by grinding through the top few millimeters of the concrete surface to expose the aggregate.

Polished Concrete Floors Offer Significant Savings

Hair Lounge Polished Concrete Floors

Polished Concrete Floor

Suck Creek Cycle’s polished concrete floor

Concrete Style Palettes

Concrete Style Palettes

by Concrete Network

Whatever design style you gravitate towards, whether it is incredibly modern or rooted far in the past, concrete is an excellent material choice. Concrete’s versatility means that the design options for indoor and outdoor surfaces are endless. Color choices, texture variations and specialty details abound. Use the style palettes below as guides to discovering how concrete can be used to achieve a specific look.

Visit Concrete Network’s “Concrete Style Palettes” for downloadable guides for using concrete for various indoor and outdoor design schemes

Outdoor Concrete Palettes

modern-design-style-concretenetwork-com_60477

Modern

Large geometrical patterns, industrial materials and sleek lines are the trademarks of modern design. Concrete, with its smooth finishes, subtle shades of gray and utilitarian character can be used to achieve a contemporary look.

 

 

 


old-world-design-style-concretenetwork-com_60476

Old World

Distressed finishes, stone surfaces and warm, masculine colors evoke the Old World style. Concrete gives you the ability to imitate the timeworn appeal of the pathways and patios of Tuscan and Mediterranean-style homes, while conveying a sense of New World permanence.

 

 


ranch-rustic-design-style-concretenetwork-com_60475

Ranch/Rustic

Concrete in rich earth-tone colors and rough stonelike textures contributes to the rustic charm of ranch, farmhouse and country home styles. Using stains and dyes, it’s also possible to “antique” existing concrete and give it an aged, weathered look.

 

 


traditional-design-style-concretenetwork-com_60474

Traditional

Formal brick-lined and stone pathways often grace the exteriors of traditional homes. This same classic, unfussy style can be replicated in concrete by incorporating formal details such as scalloped edges, brick-patterned borders and symmetrical lines.

 

 


tropical-design-style-concretenetwork-com_60473

Tropical

Concrete is a natural fit for the beachy sand-and-sea vibe of an oceanside home. Colored in natural browns and sandy hues, concrete complements the vibrant turquoise blues and palm-tree greens of a tropical setting.

 

 

 


Indoor Concrete Palettes

modern-design-style-concretenetwork-com_60034

Modern Indoor Concrete Palettes

Interpretations of modern style vary from utilitarian and industrial to sleek and bold. Concrete can achieve all of these modern design variations by permitting large geometrical patterns and shapes, while conveying an industrial look using subtle shades of gray.

 

 


old-world-design-style-concretenetwork-com_60033

Old World Indoor Concrete Palettes

An Old World style blends natural materials, ornate details, and rich, muted colors and finishes. Concrete can be instantly aged or stained to achieve the timeworn elegance characteristic of this look, while replicating Old World materials such as wood and natural stone.

 

 


traditional-design-style-concretenetwork-com_60032

Traditional Indoor Concrete Palette

Concrete blends beautifully with traditional room designs when given neutral finishes and subtle edge details. Traditional rooms often use concrete floors, fireplaces or countertops as a focal point, along with simple, tailored accent pieces to complete the look.

 

 

 

 

Why Concrete Wants to Crack

Why Concrete Wants to Crack

Houzz Contributor

Concrete is practically a builder’s best friend, with its universally appreciated characteristics of strength, durability and versatility. Its affordability and thermal mass make it an eco-friendly material too, so it’s no wonder concrete is among the most-used building materials in the world.

But the darn stuff has a propensity to crack, and in many cases there’s simply nothing that can be done about it. Why is that? Here, we seek to answer that question, and provide some pointers on how to diminish the extent of cracking in your next project.


Visit and Follow CRS on Houzz
Remodeling and Home Design

5 Benefits to Concrete Floors for Everyday Living

Get low-maintenance home flooring that creates high impact and works with home styles from traditional to modern

by Natalie Myers
A Houzz Contributor

When you initially think of concrete floors, you probably think “cold,” “prison like” or “industrial.” But with its ability to take on color and a polished sheen, coupled with its many benefits, concrete may become your new favorite on future projects. Be prepared to have your mind blown by how beautiful, elegant and warm a concrete floor can look.

Here are just some of the benefits of concrete floors.

Sustainability. Concrete floors are a sustainable option if you use an existing concrete slab, avoiding the consumption of new materials. And they need not be relegated to basements or garages. Once the concrete is sanded down and polished or sealed, it looks perfectly refined in a traditional kitchen or living room, especially when layered with Oriental rugs and pretty furnishings and fixtures.

Easy care. The only maintenance required of concrete floors is weekly mopping with soapy water. I recommend installing a baseboard along with the concrete floor as well, even though you think you may not need it. Just imagine what a dirty mop would leave behind in the crevice where the floor meets the wall if there were no baseboard. And it will make your choice look finished and intentional.
Economical. The cost of concrete floors is very low, about $2 to $6 per square foot to polish a plain gray slab, giving it a lustrous sheen. The concrete’s tonal differences, subtle cracks and aggregates take on a stonelike, natural feel.
More elaborate finishes cost around $5 to $8 per square foot. Staining concrete floors has been a popular option for years, because the outcome is determined by the homeowner’s imagination — different colors and application techniques combine to create a finish that’s unique to the home, with subtle variations across the floor.
Other decorative effects, like scoring in grid pattern lines, cost around $5 to $8 per square foot. These are still very impressive. With a high-gloss seal, the floor can be transformed to look like limestone. An acrylic sealer could be used in the interior application to give it that wet look.
In the range of $7 to $15 and up per square foot, you can get highly decorative faux finishes, such as a marbled effect.
Longevity. A floor that has been polished and maintained can be expected to last a hundred years or more. In this home, let’s appreciate how an aged and cracked concrete floor was not hidden under new tiles or carpet. Instead it is celebrated for the history it holds, and has been put on display along with other architecturally salvaged materials.
Concrete also looks nice with actual stone veneer walls. It accentuates their rustic appeal.
Concrete can be an economical and crafty choice in lieu of salvaged wood flooring. Stamping wet concrete with plank-like wood-grain imprints creates a lovely effect.

You can check out Concrete Repair Specialist on Houzz and follow us!

houzz

Epoxy Crack Injection

Epoxy Crack Injection at the Plastics Omnium Bumper Plant

We get a call from Walbridge the contractor building the new Plastics Omnium bumper plant in Chattanooga, TN. A flood had filled chest deep in a 260 x 30 pit that would be used as a paint booth for the bumpers for the cars being manufactured at Volkswagen’s Chattanooga plant.

Water pouring in from all the wall bases and over 500 linear feet of cracking in the floor. At one point the water was chest deep. It took three days for a 3″ line pump to get it out. So we then drilled portholes through the 8″thick floor and along the wall bases on 6″ centers. Then we installed one way ports into which a hydrophobic epoxy was injected at 4,000 psi.

Gradually, the pit dried out and… over 2,500 ports later we would finally be done. 

CRS Launches New Website

If you have not been to Concrete Repair Specialist’s website lately, now is a good time to visit it. CRS launched the redesign of its website, ConcreteRepairSpecialist.com, to provide customers and visitors with even more relevant and easy to find information on concrete repairs and decorative concrete services in the Chattanooga, TN area.

CRS website has always been an integral part of our business and an important tool to share information with visitors and customers. “The redesign website has a new look and improved functionality to ensure an easier and more engaging experience for users,” said Sharon Gordon, Director of Marketing for CRS.

The revamped site features an updated look with enhanced features, including easier navigation, updated information on sites throughout. The new website is also responsive so visitors will be able to view it on tables, mobile phones and computers. A special thanks to Main Street Marketing for the re-design.
To view the new site, go to ConcreteRepairSpecialist.com.
CRS-banner-ad

St. Elmo Fire Hall Stained Concrete Floors

The St. Elmo Fire Hall was once a working fire station that served the St. Elmo community. The beautiful red brick structure has been re-purposed to a host one-of-a-kind events.

It was built in 1934 servicing a 1,000 gallon fire engine and office for the firemen. It was closed in the 1980’s and became neglected over the next 20 years.

This became on of our favorite projects. We had the opportunity to help turn the old concrete surfaces into a distressed stained concrete floor that was easy to maintain. Now the old building takes on new life by hosting both private and community events. Next time you are looking for a unique place to host your next event, be sure and check out St. Elmo Fire Hall.

After replacing the old concrete

After replacing the old concrete

Removing damaged concrete

Removing damaged concrete

St Elmo Fire Hall

Before photo of the old concrete surface.

Photo by St Elmo Fire Hall

After photo of the distressed finished in Moroccan Dunes, semi-transparent stain. Photo by St Elmo Fire Hall

St Elmo Fire Hall

Before photo of the old concrete surface.

Photo by St Elmo Fire Hall

After photo of the stained concrete floors in a semi-transparent Colorseal. Photo by St Elmo Fire Hall

 

 

The Cleaning and Care of Polished Concrete Floors

From Concrete Contractor Magazine

The Cleaning and Care of Polished Concrete Floors

Care of Polished Concrete Floors

A burnisher is a high-speed floor machine used to polish and clean floors. Pictured is the Battery Glazer 17 floor machine that operates on green batteries instead of a power cord. Photo credit: Tornado Industries

Many installers of concrete floors, in both private homes and commercial facilities, are the first ones asked when customers want to know how to clean and care for their new concrete floors.

In commercial locations, contractors can expect such questions from cleaning professionals as well. Custodial workers are very familiar with vinyl composition tile (VCT) floors, and most have worked with different types of stone floors or terrazzo, which is in the concrete floor family, but they are less familiar with maintaining polished and unpolished concrete floors. Invariably, the building managers who are their customers will give the cleaning professionals your name—as the installer—for instructions on care and maintenance of their new concrete floors.

It’s necessary for contractors to have a good understanding of how to care for the floor once installed.

Daily cleaning

If no finish has been applied to the concrete floor, all that is generally needed is that the floor be dust mopped and damp mopped using a neutral-pH cleaner. Because there usually are no grout areas, no grout cleaning is necessary.

However, contractors should encourage their customers to use backpack vacuum cleaners instead of dust mopping the floor. Dust mopping generates a lot of airborne particles that can be harmful to the cleaning worker and building users. Plus it has a tendency to push dust and debris from one floor area to another. A new generation of light and comfortable backpacks has been introduced that pull soil and debris from the floor, instead of pushing it around. This is healthier for the cleaning worker, building users, and more effective as well.

On large concrete floor areas, like those in a grocery store, an effective automatic scrubber should be used. A fully automatic floor scrubber is designed to apply cleaning solution to the floor, agitate or scrub it, wet-vacuum it, and then squeegee it dry, all automatically and all in one pass. Should cost issues arise regarding purchasing one of these machines, mention to your customer that in most cases an automatic scrubber can pay for itself in a few months because it improves worker productivity so significantly. After that, it pays dividends.

Interim cleaning

Interim cleaning is necessary if a sealant and/or finish has been applied to the floor and installers are encouraged to suggest to their clients that a sealant specially designed for concrete, and possibly a floor finish, be applied to the floor.

Interim cleaning also involves burnishers if a high-speed floor finish has been applied to the floor. A burnisher is a high-speed floor machine used to polish and clean floors. The machine not only removes surface level marks and soils but leaves the floor with a “wet look” shine. While they come in different sizes and with varying features, an effective burnisher for larger commercial locations would have the following attributes:

  • 2,500 RPMs (rotations per minute)
  • Adjustable pad pressure (up to 30 pounds); more pad pressure may be needed to remove more difficult soils.
  • Variable speed control, to address the needs of different floors and their finishes.
  • A built-in vacuum; this helps prevent dust from being inhaled by the user or released into the environment.
  • Battery powered provides the user much greater flexibility and maneuverability.
  • Auto-motion propulsion provides a gentle push assist, reducing worker fatigue and improving worker productivity.

In many facilities, floors are burnished every evening while in others floors are burnished less often, perhaps weekly or monthly. Contractor’s whose customers want a high-gloss shine on their concrete floors are encouraged to suggest that the floors be burnished frequently.

Restorative cleaning
Restorative cleaning is typically necessary once or twice per year, however restoration cycles can be postponed if the two steps just discussed are performed regularly and properly. Restorative cleaning is labor intensive, which makes it costly. It can also be potentially harmful to the environment. For both reasons, many end-customers prefer to delay the procedure. When a floor is restored, a low-speed floor machine (175 RPMs or 350 RPMs) is used to strip and remove all finish (or sealant) from the floor. It is an involved process with many steps; however, once it is completed, the concrete should look much as it did the day it was installed. The next step is to reapply sealant or finish. In most cases, if a sealant is used, two thin applications are necessary. Once it has thoroughly dried, three to six thin coats of floor finish can be applied to the floor on top of the sealant. The more thin coats applied, the greater the shine.1

Contractors are advised to suggest one more thing to their customers: select trained floor care technicians. Floor care and maintenance is an involved, complicated process. A trained technician will know how to address most challenges and will keep your customer’s concrete floor looking its very best.

 

Ed. Note: Sean Martschinke is a CIMS ISSA Certification Expert (I.C.E.) and the product manager for Tornado Industries, a manufacturer of professional floor care equipment as well as other cleaning tools and products. He may be reached through Tornado’s website at www.tornadovac.com.

References:

1. Some floor finishes are made for low speed floor machines and others are made for high speed burnishers. It is very important to select the proper finish for the floor machine used. A burnisher used on a low-speed floor finish will likely remove most of the finish.