What to Expect from Your Contractor During Your Decorative Concrete Installation

Sundek Decorative Concrete

Sundek installers are some of the best trained craftsmen in the decorative concrete industry.  We take every possible measure to provide our installing crews with the proper tools, quality materials and accurate customer preferences regarding the job to insure a smooth flow of work and a quality finish at your home.

Over the years, and after having worked with thousands of customers, we have found that to insure a seamless installation process, it requires an open and cooperative relationship between our local Sundek Dealership and you, the property owner. Quality communications are key – in both directions.

 

No doubt you are excited to have Sundek installed.  Here are a few suggestions to insure a smooth and timely experience:

  1. Agreed Upon Scope of Work – It is important to choose your pattern and colors with your Sundek sales person well before the target start date. This information will be clearly documented in your contract and signed by both parties. Why is this important?
    • Color is one item that seems to get left undecided until the last minute and may cause a delay in your job’s progress.
    • I suggest that you plan to make your decision and partner with your Sundek sales representative at least a week prior to the scheduled start date.
    • This allows our production manager and the installation team enough time to insure that the correct materials are on hand for your project.
  2.  Clear the Space – I ask my clients to have furniture or other items removed from the work area prior to our Sundek installation crew’s start date. This includes dogs- turtles etc. Of course, there may be times when the Sundek crew can be asked to move a few heavier things but for everyone’s peace of mind this is something that should be directed the homeowner. It also makes the job go quicker when the crew gets onsite!
  3. Length of Installation – The Sundek installation process varies depending on the scope of work (size of project and type of decorative concrete system selected.)  While we’d love to say that we can direct mother nature’s actions, there may be days when weather conditions may also delay the installation process.   During your Sundek installation process, the work area should be off limits to other trade people as much as possible. This includes gardeners and pool service people as well.  To give you an idea of a typical installation,  for classic texture the process usually takes three to four days.  For a classic texture, expect your deck will be:
    Sundek Premier Installer Network

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    • Power washed by the Sundek installation team.
    • Any repairs needed to the concrete will be made.
    • A primer coat will be applied
    • A base coat which bonds to the concrete will be applied.
    • The texture coat which provides slip resistance will go on next
    •  Finally, everything will be topped off with the Sundek acrylic finish coat which provides the final color and ease of maintenance.
      Whew!! That’s a lot work packed into a short period of time! 

  4. Communicate Along the Way with Your Sundek Team This includes your sales representative, the production manager, and your crew leader.  We have some of the most talented crew leaders in the industry who are happy to answer your questions.   Scheduling and any changes to your contract should be directed to your Sundek Sales person or as always call our main office at 877-478-6335.
  5. A Job Well Done! When the job is all wrapped up and ready for your approval – your Sundek Crew leader or Sales person will walk the job with you. This is a great time to answer any questions and complement the Sundek crew for another excellent installation.

The Bottom Line:  Sundek believes feedback is a gift.  We valued our customer’s input and feedback on how we can improve our workmanship and your customer experience.  Great communication is the key to a successful project.  Setting expectations early in the contract helps our production team meet and hopefully exceed your expectations.  We look forward to sharing the experience with you!

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The Beauty of Concrete Colors – Achieving “Perfectly Imperfect”

Sundek Decorative Concrete Wood Planks

 

Let’s talk about color systems and color mineral oxide powders used in decorative concrete projects. (We will tackle stains and dyes in a future blog.)

DID YOU KNOW?  

Exterior concrete deck work and interior concrete floors will usually achieve their color from either integral color mineral oxide powders or liquid acrylics which are added at the concrete batch plant or in the concrete truck in very precise dosages to insure a consistent color on the job.

WHY SHOULD YOU CARE?  

If not properly executed or done with even the best of good intentions, this can lead to color inconsistencies in your concrete. Yikes!  Not every load of concrete is always consistent from batch to batch in water – cement – aggregate or air and most definitely the human finishing skills become a huge factor once the concrete leaves the powder form.   Concrete will also dry and cure at different rates according to sunlight exposure, temperatures and a host of other weather related factors.   Another color process for either interior concrete floors or exterior slabs are the “dust-on” materials which are fine colored mineral oxide powders that are hand broadcasted over the surface of the fresh concrete as it is being finished. The color is much more consistent and controlled than with integral color but the final results are still in the hands of the skilled finishers.

WHAT DOES ALL THIS HAVE TO DO WITH DECORATIVE CONCRETE COATINGS?!?!  

Glad you asked!!!  The “experience factor” of the concrete finisher who poured your original driveway, walkway, pool deck, and more will show the reoccurring color message in any decorative concrete project.

HUH? NOT FOLLOWING YA FRANK…

Ok. Ok.  Stated differently… when your contractor says they are going to use mineral oxides for color in your decorative concrete project that presents a limitation in color selection and you are generally limited to the basic earth tones such as reds and umbers. If you are wanting blacks, grays, whites and pastels,  your contractor will need to use a different coloring method!  When it comes to meeting your customer expectations – particularly with exterior installations due to fading and mottling, you’ll need to select a contractor who knows which installation method will deliver your preferred color choice!

 OH… SO I CAN GET WILD AND CRAZY COLORS ON IN CONCRETE AREA?

Well….of course you can!!!  When it comes to the use of colored concrete for your decorative concrete project…what I mean to say is “Experience Really Matters” –and it usually costs a bit more money.   Go for an experienced decorative concrete contractor who has experience in the chemical process used and which installation method will achieve your desired color results!

HOW DO I MAKE SURE I WILL LIKE THE COLOR AT THE END OF MY PROJECT?  

Vineyard Wine Decorative Concrete Flooring by Sundek

Vineyard Wine Decorative Concrete Flooring by Sundek

 

Make sure the contractor you select provides samples that carry the color all the way to the complete process.  You should ask to see that sample in your home or office with the sealant on it!  Always get a sealer!  The addition of a clear coat provides a host of performance features such as beauty and ease of cleaning/maintaining into the future.   Colored concrete can be clear sealed to help bring the color – giving it more “punch”. The clear will automatically change the initial color effect by darkening and adding a gloss!

The Bottom Line:  Using mineral oxides for your next decorative concrete project can be a bit quirky and unpredictable so use an expert installer!  Remember color inconsistency is what makes your project have that custom look that is so desirable.  It results in a “one of a kind look” that our hardest-to-please customers are looking for!  Definitely not a look of perfection – Only perfectly imperfect!!

 

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Design Aspects of your Decorative Concrete Project – Part 2 (Color)

Sundek Ugly Concrete New Again

In our last decorative concrete blog post, we looked at the design elements of TEXTURE and PATTERN and how they contribute to the final design of our decorative concrete project… We are continuing our conversation on decorative concrete design again this week with Shellie Rigsby-Cordell focusing on one of the more challenging elements in designing a meaningful and enjoyable decorative concrete project – COLOR. The colors you select for your space will have the greatest influence on the look and feel of the space you are creating to live, work, or play.

During our discussion with Shellie, she shared many insights related to color selection for you – our Sundek’s customers. When it comes to incorporating color and how best to use this critical element, Shellie recommends:

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1. Unless the style is mono-chromatic, avoid placing like colors side by side. This is boring! Break up the color and then repeat with a similar color beyond the separation. For example, kitchen countertops, cabinets, and floor color. It would be boring to have brown granite countertops, stained cabinets and stained concrete floors all in the same or very similar color. Better to have similar color countertops and flooring with contrasting cabinets in between. Likewise, the roof color and driveway being of similar color with contrasting color for the façade is nice. The darker drive and front walk anchor the property giving visual weight at the bottom of the field of vision.

2. Evaluate the existing or scheduled colors for the main structure as primary color field and secondary or accent colors. Once the colors scheme of the vertical is known, consider reversing these for the horizontal surfaces. Flipping the primary and secondary colors of the vertical fields, using the accent color as the main color for the floors and accenting the decorative concrete with the dominant color of the vertical, is a subtle variation that honors the color palette and offers interest.

3. Is the space residential or commercial color palette? A residential property typically has simple lines, basic ornamentation, and subtle colors. A commercial space is more likely to have more vivid colors, bolder patterns, and welcomes an “air of excitement”.

4. Go simple! The busier, more vibrant, or more stylized a floor or wall is, the more quickly we tire of the design or it becomes dated.

5. Avoid visual noise. Visual noise is any design element that demands attention or has pattern, color or detail that distracts from the whole space and commands attention disproportionate to its contribution.[/box]

Shellie has given us much to think about! Thank you, Shellie – as always your talents exceed your time capacity and we appreciate you sharing your wisdom with Sundek Nation!

Color Chart Sundek Water Base Stains

Sundek offers a wide variety of colors for your next decorative concrete project!

In my long tenure in the decorative concrete world, I’ve seen ugly concrete transformed using decorative concrete overlays – breathing new life into the spaces we live, work, and play. As you design your project, remember – decorative concrete is available in so many forms: concrete counter tops, floors, walls (interior or exterior). What many consumers don’t know is that decorative concrete is not just a horizontal project, but also a vertical marvel with limitless possibilities. (I’ll write a blog giving you some vertical ideas soon!)

Material selection will be the subject of our next blog where we will drill down and discuss the pros and cons of the basic coloring systems and their particular application. The type of material you choose will affect your chosen color. A specific color can be achieved with reactive acid stains – passive water based stains – solvent dyes – acrylics – integral and broadcast color powders. These same materials can be worked in combination to create some awesome looks! This area in the material selection process is where it pays to have an expert at your side.

The Bottom Line: No matter the application, each requires thoughtful selection of texture, pattern and color. Your SUNDEK sales representative will guide you through this process. Partnering with a company who has been in this business for over 40 years (and help create the industry) at this stage of your project planning will increase your success rate of having the beautiful decorative concrete area you’ve always wanted!

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Design Aspects of your Decorative Concrete Project – Part 1 (Texture & Pattern)

Stained Concrete Designs with Sundek

I recently had a customer ask me to help her design a fairly large decorative concrete project. She had no idea of what she wanted the project to look like in the end but she had lots of magazine clippings and how-to books with photos of other jobs. This scenario made me real nervous, you see, when the customer has so many great ideas but no master plan – that means trouble! You wouldn’t want a builder to build a house without a blueprint, right? Same thing applies to your decorative concrete product project.

Turn Your Ideas into a Master Plan!

I’m here to help – sort of – I’m calling in a DESIGN CONSULTING EXPERT – Shellie Rigsby Cordell – to share some design fundamentals with you, our Sundek customers.  Shellie is an concrete design industry expert in the area of design and a long time friend to Sundek.  Her work has been featured on the hit television show, Extreme Makeover!

Sundek Friend Featured on Extreme Makeover Home Edition for Decorative Concrete Design

Longtime Sundek friend, Shellie Rigsby Cordell, has been featured for her decorative concrete design work on nationally syndicated shows like Extreme Makeover Home Edition.

She is a close friend of Sundek and has provided us with this invaluable advice:

“The best way to approach design for decorative concrete is to fully understand the project – its purpose and the intended use. I entirely avoid my own preconceived ideas. I look at everything in the space. What is the scale of the project-the whole project- not just my part.”  – Shelllie Rigsby Cordell

Most decorative concrete projects deal with three basic design elements:

Texture   ♦   Pattern   ♦   Color

Shellie has provided some basic design tips dealing with texture and pattern to help you in putting together your master plan!

 

  1. THEME / DESIGN CONCEPT: We have a great advantage when designing decorative concrete as the overall theme or concept is usually determined long before we invited to participate on the project. The “theme” or design concept really answers all our design questions. It is like the mission statement for the project. When making a design decision, ask if it contributes to the design concept. For example, an urbane, contemporary project will have crisp detail, usually minimalist, but have splashes of color- often vivid color. These “splashes” may even appear chaotic, abstract, and busy. However, they are contained or controlled to specified fields. The clean simplicity allows for a dominant design feature. In this urbane example, a fleur de lis, Celtic knots, a juvenile pirate ship mural or other stylized designs inconsistent with the abstract urbane theme do not belong.
  2.  

  3.  DESIGN WITH THE END IN MIND. What other finishes, textures, sheens, and patterns will adorn the project.
  4.  

  5. MACRO VIEW (NOT MICRO). Take in the entire project. A comprehensive design with cohesive style, colors, and feel is essential. Your plan is not just about the floors; it is about the environment you are trying to create.
  6.  

  7. EXISTING DESIGN ELEMENTS. Look for existing motifs. Is the property a French Provencal design? Look for ornamental iron details in doors, fixtures, railing etc. Have these designs made into a template to engrave, microtop, or metal plate into your work. This is a great feature at an entry or other primary visual space.
  8.  

  9. WHOLE SPACE BALANCE. No single element should stand out. All aspects should contribute to the whole space. This is not to say that there are not design features. There are. However, even the features should contribute to the whole.
  10.  

  11. ENDURING DESIGN. The busier, more vibrant, or more stylized a floor or wall is, the more quickly we tire or the design becomes dated.
  12.  

  13. AVOID VISUAL NOISE. Visual noise is any design element that demands attention or has pattern, color or detail that distracts from the whole space and commands attention disproportionate to its contribution.
  14.  

  15. QUALITY PRODUCTS & WORKMANSHIP. Perhaps the most important part of design is quality. Well executed work is beautiful. Sloppy work is disappointing. Let’s face it, fine cracks and subtle shade variations are character. Footprints in the stain, paint under the stain, and fly ash patterns are not character. If you are scoring a tile or justified stone pattern, straight cuts are the standard not the goal. Choose a contractor that uses quality products and has quality installers.

Our thanks, Shellie!!  You have given us a bunch to think about when it comes to texture and pattern elements in the design of decorative concrete projects.

Shellie Rigsby shares more great insights in decorative concrete design in her book!

Shellie Rigsby shares more great insights in decorative concrete design in her book!


The Bottom Line:  My advise to anyone who has tons of ideas (but no firm master plan) for their decorative concrete project is to get with someone who can guide you to develop a master plan of what  your end project is going to look like.  Your Sundek sales representative can  partner with you on the design and even provide you examples of projects that have a similar look for what you are trying to achieve  in your space.   If you are still unsure, then follow my philosophy  – “When in doubt and you are in way over your head ask somebody who truly knows.”   Shellie, in addition to her individualized consulting services, has a terrific book that can provide you additional guidance!   In our next blog, we will tackle the issues dealing with color (with Shellie’s help of course!!)   Happy Designing!!!!

 

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How to keep the WOW in your Interior Decorative Concrete Floors.

The amazing beauty of a decorative concrete floor is something for the eye to behold! A nagging question that always seems to come up is “How long will it maintain its elegance?”  This is a question that so many times does not get addressed in the sales presentation or even discussed at the time of completion. Let me share some wisdom in this area…

 

Without exception every decorative concrete floor has a protective sealer or a sacrificial wear surface and must be cleaned and cared for just like any other flooring material. Without this protective surface and regular TLC the floor color would be exposed to everyday grit and grime which would be ground into the floor by constant foot traffic.

 

This blog will not address the process of resealing a decorative floor once it has been damaged  but I will discuss the best practices regarding regular cleaning and preventative maintenance. (I’ll address that in a later blog.)

 

Keeping a decorative concrete floor clean on a regular basis is a relatively simple process but I would recommend you first visit with the contractor who installed your floor to obtain written maintenance instructions for the specific products and colors used for your floor. The last thing you need is to have a problem with the floor and then have the contractor pin the problem back on you for not maintaining the floor correctly. This important discussion should take place initially at the sales presentation and again at completion of the job…not when there is a problem.

 

To start with-most decorative concrete floor systems should be allowed to cure for 14 days from time of final installation for the new flooring system to fully cure before application of maintenance products.

 

Let’s look at the daily maintenance practices:

Wipe up spills immediately with a clean damp cloth.  Allowing spills to remain can present not only a slip hazard but may eventually it may stain your floor. Clean up animal urine as quickly as possible even if you installed a highly chemical resistant finish.

 

 

 

14_number_orange_2Dust mop regularly with a microfiber mop to maintain a dust-free, slip resistant surface.  Surface grit of any kind will act as an abrasive just as if you had sprinkled “Comet” or other abrasive cleanser on the surface  that may damage the finish.

 

 

 

14_number_orange_3Damp mop as necessary with a microfiber mop and clean water. If a cleaner is necessary use a neutral pH degreaser following the manufacturer’s instructions. Never use acidic or caustic cleaners (Ammonia, Bleach, Pine Sol, etc.) as they will slowly eat away your finish.  Never use hot water as it may leach into your coating and cause whitening to occur. Warm is good.

 

 

14_number_orange_4 Removal of gum or other heavy debris should come off during normal cleaning.  If it doesn’t come off, carefully lift the material off with a razor blade but avoid scraping and gouging the sealer coat. If necessary, a blue utility pad works for gently removing any remaining marks or residue.

 

 

Here’s a few handy  tips for keeping your new decorative concrete floor looking good that most people don’t know about.

  • Use felt pads or sliding casters under furniture or equipment legs to prevent scratching the finish . Place throw rugs, fabric or 100% rubber backed mats in areas where you have heavy furniture or equipment.
  • Place door mats outside entrances to reduce tracking in unwanted debris and contaminants. I also like to see fabric walk-off mats placed just as you step onto the floor. Avoid plastic or acrylic backed mats as they contain plasticizers that will try to bond with your coating or cause discoloration.
  • Never apply tape to your decorative floor.  The adhesive resins will eventually migrate into the finish and could possibly pull the finish and stain off the floor. Use the blue painters tape if your absolutely have to  and remove ASAP.

Bottom Line Advice:

Care for your decorative concrete floor as you would any other stone, tile, or hardwood floor. With proper care and maintenance, your new decorative concrete floor can last a lifetime. Enjoy!!

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