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Concrete floor finishes may prove a

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Concrete floor finishes may prove a

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									     DECORATIVE CONCRETE
                                      Concrete
                                   flooring finishes




                                                                                                                                                                     (Photos: Permaban Ltd)
                           Adrian Saxby, Permaban Ltd



                           C
                                  oncrete floor finishes may prove a
                                  conundrum for specifiers and
                                  clients. A vast range is available,
                           and choices can be made according to
                           aesthetics, cost, warranty and the
                           desired performance of the system,
                           amongst others. The proposed usage of
                           the floor should be first established to
                           enable the flooring finish selection to be
                           narrowed down.

                           Monolithic floors
                           ‘Monolithic’ is derived from ‘mono’,
                           meaning single, and ‘lithos’, the Greek
                           word for stone. In its simplest form, a
                           monolithic floor can be the concrete
                           itself. The concrete can be left in various
                           degrees of finish, ranging from a brush
                           finish to a highly polished and sealed
                           power-floated finish. One of the main
                           attractions of a monolithic finish is the
                           predicted life, which tends to be greater
                           than an applied topping. Specialist con-
                           tractors can grind the concrete to a spec-
                           ified degree of polish (see Figure 1).
                           Diamond grinding greatly increases
                           abrasion resistance whilst producing a
                           beautiful finish. The aggregates are
                           exposed and the act of grinding these
                           aggregates increases the effective pol-
                           ished stone value (PSV). Higher PSVs
                           provide greater abrasion resistance.
                           Impregnating the concrete matrix with          Figure 1: Diamond grinding greatly enhances the aesthetics of the finished floor.
                           densifier further strengthens the floor
                           surface. Selected aggregates and cement        ish, producing slabs which are imperme-       Following the development of flooring
                           types can produce many different and           able.                                         systems with grinding, the benefits of a
                           attractive finishes.                                                                          terrazzo surface can be harnessed with-
                               Dry-shake finishes may be used to           Terrazzo-substitute finishes                   out the disadvantages. The cost of ter-
                           harden a monolithic floor and provide           Decorative aggregates can also be added       razzo finishes compares extremely
                           various colour options. The selected           as a dry-shake system. When ground and        favourably with floor coverings such as
                           material is applied to the wet concrete        polished these can produce beautiful ter-     tiles, epoxy or urethane coatings. Their
                           and hardens into the surface during con-       razzo-style finishes (see Figure 2). Since     life expectancy far exceeds any synthetic
                           crete curing. This can be a very cost-         Roman times, terrazzo finishes have been       coating, making it considerably more
                           effective method of producing a hard-          greatly admired for their beauty and          cost-effective.
                           wearing, maintenance-free, coloured            timeless elegance. With a predominately           As a dry-shake finish, it can be
                           floor. Typical uses are self-storage facili-    stone surface, they provide excellent         applied to new slabs during placing,
                           ties, factories, engineering or retail ware-   wearing characteristics; however, their       becoming homogenous with the concrete
                           houses. Waterproofing compounds can             use has been restricted because of the        slab and facilitating incorporation within
                           also be applied as part of a dry-shake fin-     high cost and difficulty of installation.     strength calculations. A further benefit is


62                                                                                                                    November/December 2003 CONCRETE
   ‘       Any surface preparation implications
           should be considered at the planning
             stage, regardless of flooring type.

                                                                                          Planning, preparation
                                                                                          and installation
                                                                                                                 ’
                                                                                          Careful planning for new construction,
                                                                                          with early flooring finish selection, may
                                                                                          produce cost and time savings because
                                                                                          unnecessary processes can be designed
                                                                                          out. For instance, if a screed topping
                                                                                          were specified, then a highly polished,
                                                                                          powerfloated finish would prove an
                                                                                          unnecessary expense and actually retard
                                              Figure 3: This pigmented floor exhibited     the drying out period, leading to the
                                              excellent abrasion resistance and was       requirement for extra surface prepara-
                                              used in a vehicle servicing area.           tions and treatments.
                                                                                              The need for good surface testing and
Figure 2: The terrazzo-style finish can        vide practical and decorative finishes.      preparation cannot be sufficiently
be most attractive.                           Resins and screeds are used in industrial   stressed. Time spent on correct initial
                                              and commercial applications that will be    installation eliminates the requirement to
that the slab can be installed early in the   heavily trafficked and require a high       ‘build in’ time for remedial work, follow-
construction process. Other trades may        level of abrasion and chemical resistance   ing a poor installation. Flooring manu-
complete works and the slab is then           (see Figure 3). The resin market has        facturers usually help contractors and
ground and polished to its final specified      grown considerably in the last decade:      engineers achieve quality installation
finish near the conclusion of the project.                                                 because it is in their interest to do so.
It is therefore protected during construc-    • epoxy coatings continue to provide an     Ultimately, main contractors should be
tion and there are cost-savings on build        attractive, hardwearing, economical       satisfied regarding the competency of
schedule. The dry-shake version can be          flooring system, although with a lim-      the installation contractor and the
supplied in the same wide range of              ited lifespan                             maintenance of quality records. Many
matrix colours and aggregate choice as        • polyurea resin is predominantly used      factors can affect the floor installation
the pumpable system. The pumpable               in very fast, resin-bonded, aggregate     integrity, including moisture content,
system can be applied to virtually any          systems, where the aggregate provides     environment, atmospheric conditions,
suitable surface, such as mezzanine or          the wear surface and finish                dew point, surface profile etc. Testing
steel decking, aged and damaged con-          • decorative resin finishes, such as stone   with regularly calibrated instruments
crete, domestic, commercial and indus-          carpet effects and resin bonded flakes,    should be part of a quality installation.
trial new-build applications. The colours       are being used in high profile areas
and styles can be tailored to suit individ-     such as retail environments. These sys-   Concluding remarks
ual requirements. Aggregates such as            tems are versatile and provide a hard-    Any surface preparation implications
marble, granite, basalt and limestone can       wearing, decorative floor with a vast      should be considered at the planning
be added. The matrix is a high-perform-         range of finishes                          stage, regardless of flooring type.
ance, cementitious compound, based on         • polyurethane resins are becoming the      Many problems can be prevented with
the latest silica fume and polymer tech-        preferred binder in performance           early planning, discussions with the
nology. Smooth-flowing and fast-setting,         screeds because they have greater         flooring contractors and/or seeking
it can be foot-trafficked after a few hours     chemical resistance and are more          advice from specialist consultants.
and take full vehicular trafficking after       moisture tolerant when installed,         Budget is usually a major factor, but
24 hours. Upon curing, it produces an           although the greatest benefit is fast-     caution should be exercised before opt-
immensely strong, durable floor, suitable        track installation.                       ing for the cheapest price. It should be
for the most demanding clients. Most          • polyurethane screeds and self-levelling   borne in mind that certain flooring fin-
colour pigmentations are available, mak-        systems can usually be trafficked six     ishes may save money during the con-
ing the system ideal for corporate iden-        hours after installation and are self-    struction period, but problems may
tity usage.                                     sealing. The resin rich nature of         arise in the short and medium term
                                                polyurethane screeds makes them ideal     with costly consequences. At best, a
Surface coverings                               for grinding or polishing. This exposes   poorly specified floor may require reg-
There are a vast range of surface cover-        the aggregates and provides an attrac-    ular maintenance and at worst, the
ings. Laminates, wood, vinyl, carpet,           tive, fast-track, high-performance ter-   floor may require replacement or
tiles and others are generally used to pro-     razzo-style finish.                        extensive repair.                     s


CONCRETE          November/December 2003                                                                                               63

								
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