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CONCRETE POLISHING AUSTIN TEXAS

Polished concrete flooring projects surge

Hydraulic_OldBacardiHeadquarters-2 The use of calcium sulfoaluminate (CSA) cement-based products allowed for the floors in the National YoungArts Foundation’s old Bacardi Tower (Miami)to quickly be leveled and polished without the time and expense of installing new floors. Photo courtesy Kemiko Concrete of Florida
Reviving a historic building Every year, the National YoungArts Foundation receives thousands of applications from high schoolers who excel in the visual, literary, design, or performing arts. The foundation selects 800 of those students to attend its programs, work with master artists, and present their art on a national scale.

With such a thriving curriculum, the foundation was in need of a national headquarters. It acquired the Bacardi Tower and Museum buildings in Miami—two structures that were granted historic designations by the City of Miami Preservation Board. Renovations undertaken by the foundation, therefore, had a dual goal: create a multidisciplinary cultural center and preserve the architectural masterpieces. A key to maintaining the purity of the building’s modernist style was to achieve smooth, level interior floor surfaces with decorative polished overlay areas.

The seven-story rectangular tower—its well-known north and south walls adorned with painted murals comprising more than 28,000 blue and white tiles—underwent construction beginning in September 2013. To achieve smooth, level interior floor surfaces with decorative polished overlay areas, advanced high-performance fast-setting cement products were employed to both underlay and overlay the original floors. The use of these products allowed for the floors to quickly be leveled and polished without the time and expense of installing new floors. CSA cement achieves structural strength within hours and can be polished or receive a floorcovering the next day—a necessity for this project’s schedule.

The first floor was overlaid with a gray, integrally colored, CSA cement-based, self-leveling topping, resurfacer, and underlayment, and polished to a 1500-grit. The second floor required a CSA-based self-leveling underlayment (SLU) to raise the level of the floor to receive the polishable topping. The sixth floor was leveled with an SLU, in thicknesses ranging from 6.4 to 127 mm (¼ to 5 in.). A wood and epoxy floor system was then installed.

The underlayment was the foundation for the floor that received another covering, such as overlay, tile, or carpeting. (In this case, it was the gray self-leveling topping that was the overlay.) While there are different methods to polish an overlay, the recommendation was to mechanically diamond polish the floors to achieve the 1500-grit polish that would produce a mirror surface. A chemical applied and then buffed will not achieve the same level of polish. Engineers are typically specifying the polish process now to ensure the correct grit level of polish is achieved.

The products were mixed and installed using mixers, gauge rakes, and metal spike rollers. More than 1600 bags of advanced, high-performance, CSA cement products were used in total. The Bacardi Tower renovations were completed in February 2014 and now house the YoungArts Gallery, a restaurant, and staff offices.

Hydraulic_CTS-Cement_Bauer-Skate-04 For hockey equipment manufacturer Bauer Hockey’s new line of retail stores, CSA-based self-leveling topping products proved invaluable. Photo courtesy Industrial Concrete Services

Refurbishing floors for new use In 1890s New York, the Terminal Warehouse Company’s Central Stores building offered ample storage for goods passing through the Chelsea District’s freight yards. Covering an entire city block, the building is in the process of being refurbished and already houses a variety of shops, galleries, and offices. The central ‘tunnel,’ which once provided ingress and egress for trains, will now be used as event space.

Concrete floors provide much of the chic industrial character for this venue, but they were badly worn and damaged in some spots. Paul Huneck, a specialist in decorative concrete and owner of Hudson Concrete in New York City, was called on to give new life to the surface.

To meet the needs of the schedule, CSA-based cement products were used. This allowed the floors to be polished after one day, whereas the contractor may have to wait at least 28 days with traditional portland cement, holding up the project.

First, a high-performance CSA-based concrete repair material was used to fill in deeply pocked areas. The floors were very uneven and needed to be repaired prior to application. Therefore, they were shotblasted between each lift to ensure the overlay would adhere. The process mechanically breaks up the weak areas of the concrete and then vacuums up the surface so it is clean and ready for the underlayment. (Generally, surface preparation should be to International Concrete Repair Institute’s [ICRI’s] Concrete Surface Profile [CSP] Level 3.) Approximately 600 bags of the mix were also employed to fill raised dais areas (e.g. platforms) that were being built into the new event space.

A total of three lifts of concrete repair products were needed to provide a smooth finished floor. Thirty-four kits of two-component, low-volatile organic compound (VOC), moisture- and alkali-insensitive epoxy primer were placed with a sand broadcast to create a textured surface and promote the adherence of each successive lift of product. A first lift of CSA-based SLU was applied to even out extremely low areas of the floor, followed by a second lift that completely corrected elevation discrepancies. In the end, 350 bags of this SLU were used. The same mechanical surface preparation of shotblasting was done between each layer to promote bonding. No testing was needed on this job—testing is only done if the original concrete is very soft or if there are oils spots on it.

A third lift of an advanced CSA-based topping with 325 bags of product was then used. It was mixed with a customized integral color and four different light-colored sand aggregates. To finish the surface, the floor was polished to a 3000 grit. A densifier and polish guard were then applied. There were no compatibility issues with these products since most densifiers and polish guards are formulated to work with all concrete types. Additionally, the densifier and polish guard had been previously used on this type of overlay. The result is an expanse of beautifully polished floors with new life for their innovative use as an event space.

Written by jduke
Polished concrete flooring projects surge by Jose Ruiz Projects throughout the United States showcase how construction materials are playing a supporting role in industries where new technology rollouts, tight timelines, and sustainable design are the new norm. Fast-setting, calcium sulfoaluminate (CSA) cement-based products are increasingly the key to achieving demands for both new and renovated construction.
Constant implementation of new technologies means less standardization across industries and greater uniqueness on the jobsite. Unfamiliar workflows and logistics, unusual jobsite conditions, and untried building systems are day-to-day realities. By investigating how materials can meet job requirements, projects can be completed to meet demanding timelines and damaged structures can be salvaged and restored to their original beauty.

Also referred to in the industry as ‘hydraulic cement-based,’ CSA cement products are increasingly becoming part of these jobs. They have provided architects and contractors with the ability to produce beautiful flat, polished floors in a fraction of the time, with considerably less expense, than using portland-cement-based concrete and constructing entirely new floors.

This article shares examples of unique jobs that used a variety of advanced high-performance fast-setting cement products to meet the needs of the project and its schedule.

CSA-based cement products Portland cement has been the standard for many years, but it always brings certain challenges. It shrinks excessively, cannot be accelerated without negative effects, can be susceptible to attack by prevalent chemicals, and reacts destructively with certain aggregates. Using calcium products based in calcium sulfoaluminate cement can help solve these problems.

CSA cements are manufactured with similar raw materials, equipment, and processes used to make portland cement. The chemistry includes calcium sulfoaluminate (C4A3S) and dicalcium silicate (C2S). The C4A3S compound hydrates to form beneficial ettringite—a strong, needle-like crystal that forms very quickly to give the material its quick-setting and high-early-strength properties.

Another significant aspect of the chemistry is the absence of tricalcium aluminate (C3A), which would be present in portland cement and makes that material susceptible to sulfate attack. The fact CSA cement products have little or no C3A makes it very durable in sulfate environments.

When CSA cement is used in concrete, it provides superior performance in terms of rapid strength gain, reduced permeability, and low shrinkage. Traditionally, when fresh concrete is placed, the heavier particles settle and displace the mix water. The water then forms capillaries as it rises to the surface as bleed water. After the concrete has hardened, these capillaries become routes of entry for substances attacking the concrete and reinforcing steel. As CSA cement concrete is placed, the ettringite crystals rapidly consume water and create a three-dimensional lattice. This stops the settling and displacement process, eliminating capillary formation. The elimination of capillaries reduces permeability, resulting in more durable concrete.

CSA cement-based concrete is more efficient at using mix water than portland cement. This efficiency allows the placement of the concrete in a very workable consistency without the detrimental effect of convenience water. Portland cement will consume about half the mix water, leaving the convenience water to evaporate over time, causing drying shrinkage. At modest water-to-cement (w/c) ratios, CSA cement-based concrete will consume all the water in the mix, greatly reducing drying shrinkage.

CSA cement is a highly versatile material used to formulate mixes for a wide range of applications.

Written by jduke
NEW STANDARD FOCUSES ON MEASURING CONCRETE SURFACE TEXTURE Since the moment polished concrete was born, it was important to have a quantifiable standard for the level of finish that was being produced. The first best practice documents written in our industry described the process of concrete polishing. They broke out the various levels of grinding and began with heavy grit metal bond abrasives that were operated in a wet environment. The refinement process was not only followed by the polishing industry, it was also understood that sequencing steps would need to follow the selected starting grit in order to have a clean, scratch-free finish. The polished floors that were produced with this basic concept provided a consistent finish and a relatively predictable outcome.
When the industry evolved into a completely dry polishing system as an alternative way to polish concrete, we saw a similar progressive sequence of steps that also focused on a high degree of refinement and produced a comparative and predictable finish as the older polishing systems had proven.

Many of the discussions early on about the quality of finishes being produced was always settled by using a gloss meter. This quantitative measurement would give the end user a quantifiable standard to write into a polishing specification and the facility was virtually guaranteed to get two things at once: 1) a highly processed and refined floor, and 2) a gloss level that was easy to achieve by selecting a resin bonded abrasive tool that could increase the gloss level if higher progressive grits were run over the last polishing grit selected. Over the decade, end users have been experiencing sustainability issues they had never encountered before. Like other trades in the construction industry, having a competitive advantage is key to winning competitive bids. Many companies are extremely successful at value engineering their process or maximizing efficiencies with innovative attachments and proprietary tools, or simply they just have a more organized labor force. The construction trades are also represented by contractors that disregard a focus on turning over a quality project and end up racing their competition straight to the bottom on price and quality. Unfortunately, the polishing industry is no different. Some of the topical concrete polishing sealers have the ability to cover heavy metal bond scratches, change the texture from rough to smooth, and even increase the gloss number on projects that were tested with failing readings. In today’s polished concrete world, we see a wide range of systems and equipment and just as many varying types of specially formulated chemicals and abrasives with only one quantitative standard — the gloss meter. No fault to the gloss meter, but some of the topical concrete polishing sealers have the ability to cover heavy metal bond scratches, change the texture from rough to smooth, and even increase the gloss number on projects that were tested with failing readings. These “tricks of the trade” have caused end users to spend much more than expected on maintenance systems to keep their floors looking as good as the day they were finished.

These floors are not holding their own. Why? Surface refinement has been ignored by processes that endorse skipping progressive steps and not properly chasing the scratch out of the surface. Functionality and sustainability are the positive attributes of polished concrete. Our industry is working hard to provide clear language about the quality of a polished concrete surface beyond its ability to record scattered light with a gloss meter. CSDA | ST-115 Surface Refinement Standard ST-115 is a standard for the polishing industry that was adopted by the Concrete Sawing and Drilling Association (CSDA). The American Concrete Institute (ACI) Committee 310 is recommending that ST-115 be used in conjunction with all polishing specifications in the industry to correctly audit the polishing process and ensure that concrete floors are being refined to their maximum potential.

This is the first standard of its kind for the concrete industry but not a new standard to other industries. The metal and plastic finishing industries adopted similar standards more than 50 years ago because they experienced the same challenges with interpretation and processing techniques the concrete polishing industry faces.

The standard numerically assigns a texture grading code to a finish. Now the design community and end users alike can begin to have a more structured conversation about the quality and sustainability of a polished concrete surface and also determine if steps in the polishing process were skipped or avoided. The standard covers the possibility of encountering surfaces that contain high amounts of flaw, roll out or voids and addresses how to properly honor these character flaws in the surface and get a reliable reading. ST-115 also equips the processor of the polished floor system with a valuable device that enables them to monitor the refinement process of a specific tool in a multiple tooling system process and measure the surface of the concrete after its work has been completed. This allows the processor to monitor the quality of abrasives he is using from his current supplier and gives him the ability to compare similar abrasives made by competitive manufacturers.

The processor can record the resulting finish grade to potentially assemble the best tool selection procedure for his particular equipment or process. ST-115 is a detailed map of surface measurement that will catch any minor adjustment or deviations from the surface. The quantitative surface refinement number is always accurate and does not give results that vary depending on the type of polish guard or sealer that was used.

The one thing that will always remain constant and true about surface finishing is any surface with a high degree of refinement can only produce a byproduct called gloss. You can never have a highly refined floor without gloss, ever.

ST-115 is not biased, does not takes sides, does not allow cheating and does not favor one polished system over the other (wet v/s dry); it only reads the real surface. Used in conjunction with gloss meters and DOI (distinction of image) meters, ST115 tells a compelling story about the quality of a finish and changes the current discussions of “how long is it going to last” to “how long can it last.”

Processes of theory have run their course and the era of not knowing how long a finish is going to last is behind us now. Polished concrete is here for good and a cooperative group of industry experts have been assembled and are working very hard to simplify the vocabulary and test methods for everyone to understand it better. Providing more sustainable polished concrete floor systems will be what drives our industry

Defining and Refining Polished Concrete

Written by jduke
French-American architect Paul Philippe Cret once said, “Of the many doorways we pass in a short walk, most are fulfilling their purpose, most of them are well-enough built. [But] how many are worth a second look?” Cannot the same be said about architectural polished concrete? Are your floors meeting your design intent or did you settle? Do you know how to distinguish between the floor you asked for, and the floor being presented to you during the punch list?

A fully refined polished concrete treatment is a great floor solution due to its aesthetic, sustainable, and low-maintenance qualities. Whether you are pushing the envelope in green construction or simply trying to lower the daily cleaning costs for your client, you can meet those challenges with this floor type. However, many facility owners either end up with a watered-down hybrid/sealer or worse, a different floor entirely.

Polished concrete versus other finishes There are several applications on the market that can make a floor look like it was polished, but it is really a sealed or coated floor. Waxes, acrylics, and any other type of guards/sealers are not polished concrete. They are soft, scratch easily, and have to be completely reapplied each time you want to bring the floor back to what it looked like on Day One of the installation. These floor types are not as durable, and not as suitable for high volumes of foot/forklift traffic.

On the other hand, a properly refined floor should never have to be completely reinstalled. If a concrete floor has been densified and hardened correctly, and fully refined, then it is physically strong enough to stand up to years of abuse. This is true sustainability and real green building. However, it is important to know the differences between a polished concrete surface and coating treatments that mimic polished concrete to ensure success.

Polishing guidelines Whether creating a polished floor for retail, residential, or industrial applications, there are several steps to follow to ensure the installation will be completed properly. For the sake of this article, we are going to assume the slab itself is flat, well-constructed with the appropriate surface texture grade (STG), and ready to become a polished concrete floor.

HC910-0115Grinding Grinding refers to removing the top of the slab. If there is heavy undulation or curling at the joints present on the floor, grinding will create a flatter surface.

Grinding is also important for the final aesthetic of the floor. The difference between larger aggregate exposure and none at all depends on the depth of the grind. Grinding deeply into a slab reveals more rock, while more shallow grinds may reveal only the concrete fines. This process typically removes no more than 3.2 mm (1/8 in.), even with the largest amounts of aggregate exposure, so usually there is no issue with stairs, thresholds, or transitions. In a new construction scenario, aggregate depth and aggregate broadcast can be tightly controlled and reduce the labor necessary to expose aggregate.

Polishing/refinement Polishing a floor refers to the physical act of refining your slab for light reflectance and durability. You are not removing any stock from the slab. By this point, the floor has been properly densified and is ready for refinement. In the Wild West days, polished concrete contractors and manufacturers would refer to ‘grits’ or ‘grit levels’ when talking about refinement. However, in the last few years, the focus has moved away from measuring the diamond tool doing the work, and instead focused on measuring the refinement of the slab itself.

Surface Refinement Standard

Written by jduke
NEW STANDARD FOCUSES ON MEASURING CONCRETE SURFACE TEXTURE Since the moment polished concrete was born, it was important to have a quantifiable standard for the level of finish that was being produced. The first best practice documents written in our industry described the process of concrete polishing. They broke out the various levels of grinding and began with heavy grit metal bond abrasives that were operated in a wet environment. The refinement process was not only followed by the polishing industry, it was also understood that sequencing steps would need to follow the selected starting grit in order to have a clean, scratch-free finish. The polished floors that were produced with this basic concept provided a consistent finish and a relatively predictable outcome.

When the industry evolved into a completely dry polishing system as an alternative way to polish concrete, we saw a similar progressive sequence of steps that also focused on a high degree of refinement and produced a comparative and predictable finish as the older polishing systems had proven.

Many of the discussions early on about the quality of finishes being produced was always settled by using a gloss meter. This quantitative measurement would give the end user a quantifiable standard to write into a polishing specification and the facility was virtually guaranteed to get two things at once: 1) a highly processed and refined floor, and 2) a gloss level that was easy to achieve by selecting a resin bonded abrasive tool that could increase the gloss level if higher progressive grits were run over the last polishing grit selected. Over the decade, end users have been experiencing sustainability issues they had never encountered before. Like other trades in the construction industry, having a competitive advantage is key to winning competitive bids. Many companies are extremely successful at value engineering their process or maximizing efficiencies with innovative attachments and proprietary tools, or simply they just have a more organized labor force. The construction trades are also represented by contractors that disregard a focus on turning over a quality project and end up racing their competition straight to the bottom on price and quality. Unfortunately, the polishing industry is no different. Some of the topical concrete polishing sealers have the ability to cover heavy metal bond scratches, change the texture from rough to smooth, and even increase the gloss number on projects that were tested with failing readings. In today’s polished concrete world, we see a wide range of systems and equipment and just as many varying types of specially formulated chemicals and abrasives with only one quantitative standard — the gloss meter. No fault to the gloss meter, but some of the topical concrete polishing sealers have the ability to cover heavy metal bond scratches, change the texture from rough to smooth, and even increase the gloss number on projects that were tested with failing readings. These “tricks of the trade” have caused end users to spend much more than expected on maintenance systems to keep their floors looking as good as the day they were finished.

These floors are not holding their own. Why? Surface refinement has been ignored by processes that endorse skipping progressive steps and not properly chasing the scratch out of the surface. Functionality and sustainability are the positive attributes of polished concrete. Our industry is working hard to provide clear language about the quality of a polished concrete surface beyond its ability to record scattered light with a gloss meter. CSDA | ST-115 Surface Refinement Standard ST-115 is a standard for the polishing industry that was adopted by the Concrete Sawing and Drilling Association (CSDA). The American Concrete Institute (ACI) Committee 310 is recommending that ST-115 be used in conjunction with all polishing specifications in the industry to correctly audit the polishing process and ensure that concrete floors are being refined to their maximum potential.

This is the first standard of its kind for the concrete industry but not a new standard to other industries. The metal and plastic finishing industries adopted similar standards more than 50 years ago because they experienced the same challenges with interpretation and processing techniques the concrete polishing industry faces.

The standard numerically assigns a texture grading code to a finish. Now the design community and end users alike can begin to have a more structured conversation about the quality and sustainability of a polished concrete surface and also determine if steps in the polishing process were skipped or avoided. The standard covers the possibility of encountering surfaces that contain high amounts of flaw, roll out or voids and addresses how to properly honor these character flaws in the surface and get a reliable reading. ST-115 also equips the processor of the polished floor system with a valuable device that enables them to monitor the refinement process of a specific tool in a multiple tooling system process and measure the surface of the concrete after its work has been completed. This allows the processor to monitor the quality of abrasives he is using from his current supplier and gives him the ability to compare similar abrasives made by competitive manufacturers.

The processor can record the resulting finish grade to potentially assemble the best tool selection procedure for his particular equipment or process. ST-115 is a detailed map of surface measurement that will catch any minor adjustment or deviations from the surface. The quantitative surface refinement number is always accurate and does not give results that vary depending on the type of polish guard or sealer that was used.

The one thing that will always remain constant and true about surface finishing is any surface with a high degree of refinement can only produce a byproduct called gloss. You can never have a highly refined floor without gloss, ever.

ST-115 is not biased, does not takes sides, does not allow cheating and does not favor one polished system over the other (wet v/s dry); it only reads the real surface. Used in conjunction with gloss meters and DOI (distinction of image) meters, ST115 tells a compelling story about the quality of a finish and changes the current discussions of “how long is it going to last” to “how long can it last.”

Processes of theory have run their course and the era of not knowing how long a finish is going to last is behind us now. Polished concrete is here for good and a cooperative group of industry experts have been assembled and are working very hard to simplify the vocabulary and test methods for everyone to understand it better. Providing more sustainable polished concrete floor systems will be what drives our industry.

Client Testimonials

My husband and I were referred to Jason at All Star by Meyer-Brandt Custom Homes as their #1 concrete stainer. In fact, they wouldn't even disclose their #2 person unless Jason was not available to do our job. Well, he was available and he did an amazing job! Couldn't be more pleased. He is a hard worker, aims to please, and is very low-key and easy to work with. I would recommend him to anyone who wants a quality concrete stain job done to perfection.

                                           -Gay and Bob B.

Hours

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