Choosing the Right Decorative Concrete System for Your Project
The evolution of applying cement overlays onto existing concrete has been an amazing phenomenon as the technology has continued to improve. I can remember when Sundek was just getting started back in 1970 and we announced to world that we could provide a decorative, slip resistant finish to existing older concrete. The thing that always stuck in my mind was the large group of naysayers telling us that it wouldn’t work. Well I guess after installing millions of square feet of quality Sundek overlays in every climate on nearly every continent in the world, we proved them wrong – it does work!!– Sundek is such an amazing product.
Sundek overlays come in a wide variety of systems and finished looks depending on the desired look and the intended use. When working with my customers I prefer to find out how the customer plans to use the area, what their expectations are for color-texture and patterns and finally how they intend to maintain the surface in the future. This important information helps me understand which Sundek system to recommend for the intended situation. I know that my customer is going to get the best use and full satisfaction from my knowledge and experience in the decorative concrete industry.
Today, Sundek offers over twenty different decorative concrete systems and materials ranging from Classic Texture for pool decks to metallic epoxies for restaurant floors. Each system has unique characteristics and performance properties. The ultimate challenge is for the Sundek customer and the Sundek estimator to decide on the correct system choice for the project.
A few years ago I was introduced to a fabulous decision making process that helps us work our way toward making the best choices when choosing a decorative overlay or just about any other process for that matter. This concept was developed by the International Concrete Repair Institute to help process the correct decision making for making proper repairs to large concrete structures. I have found this concept works for just about any situation when it comes to decorative concrete selection. Here’s how it works:
1. Concrete Condition – We need to start our decision making with the concrete condition –what is the strength and condition of the concrete substrate, and are there any unsound or bond -inhibiting materials that would affect the bonding capabilities of the new coating or other performance issues.
2. Preparation and Coating Compatibility – Understanding and identifying the concrete helps define the nature of and volume of preparation needed and the coating compatibility. The whole conversation should start here between contractor and customer.
Note: If your estimator for any decorative coating does not focus first one the two questions above, it might be a good idea to find out what their depth of knowledge and experience is. Color and pattern won’t matter if the concrete is not in good shape.
3. Owner Requirements – the owner’s needs and wants will usually dictate many of the final decisions that will need to be regarding which coating system is used and the final choice of color – texture and pattern. However, the owner’s needs for un-interrupted use of the area, concerns about the work environment or property damage potential will also limit the choices.
4. Cost and Property Value – Let’s not forget the big questions about final cost and the value added to the property.
5. Coating requirements– Both the Sundek contractor and customer need to be aware of the intended use of the area and what the expectations are from the coating both short and long term.I have seen non-skid, textured swimming pool coatings installed in kitchen areas that should have had a smooth non-porous epoxy coating and I have seen smooth epoxy coatings installed around a swimming pool deck that were hot and slippery. Both situations were disastrous and had to be removed and replaced with the correct system. With the variety of coating choices on the market today this section of the decision making process has become even more important.
6. Application conditions– this section will probably trump all other parts of the decision making process. We can have the best intentions when it comes to costs, colors and concrete conditions – these factors we some control over but when it comes to weather factors the ball game changes. Oddly enough this is the area that trips up both the customer and contractor alike. Factors such as wind and rain, moisture intrusion and other environmental considerations must be answered or considered Also, the generation of dust, slurries for water may require containment and safe disposal. Mechanical ventilation, available power sources, the size of door openings, and minimum clearance will affect coating selection decisions. This is the section in the decision making process where contractor experience comes into play because they have already dealt with most of these issues.
When you are going to consider a decorative concrete project write down these criteria points and use them as a starting point when interviewing the decorative concrete contractors that give you an estimate for your project.
In the next series of blogs I will discuss the various Sundek overlay systems and utilize the selection method process above as we go.
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