Archive for the ‘Concrete Flooring’ Category

As many PROSOCO staff members are gearing up for the International Living Future Institute’s Unconference this week, May 21-23, in Portland, Ore., we’re busy processing a buncLS-Declare-labelh of certifications and registrations that are relevant for the industry’s sustainable, resilient products crowd.

One of those we just got word on is the ILFI’s Declare label for our Consolideck® LS® lithium silicate concrete treatment. We’re extremely proud to say that this is the first-ever concrete finish to achieve this prestigious mark. Among other attributes, this third-party verification means that Consolideck® LS® is free of the Living Building Challenge v2.2 Red List chemicals of concern.

Consolideck® LS® and LS/CS® were also the first products to achieve third-party certification for indoor air quality performance by SCS Global Services, and they were the first concrete finishes to verify ingredient content through use of the Health Product Declaration open standard.

Since 2008, Consolideck® LS® and LS/CS® have been utilized to harden, dustproof, waterproof and beautify more than 400 million square feet of concrete floors.

Are you going to Living Future 2014 this week? Stop by the PROSOCO booth in the Plaza Foyer to learn more about our products and sustainability achievements, or read about our commitment to sustainability and transparency.

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At PROSOCO, we don’t often talk about how we’ve long been a leader in making resilient, high-performing products that leave a minimal impact on the environment. But late last week, wescs received recognition for some of our efforts that we’re particularly proud of. Four of our high-performance coating and sealant products have been certified by SCS Global Services as conformant with the SCS Indoor Advantage Gold™ standard, one of the most stringent qualifiers of indoor air quality in the industry.

Three of those products reside in the PROSOCO R-GUARD® family of products, which are formulated to prevent unwanted movement of water and air through building envelopes:

And a product in our Consolideck® line of high-performance products for sustainable concrete floors was also certified with the SCS Indoor Advantage Gold standard:

These four newly certified products represent just the latest in a long list of PROSOCO products that have earned this certification over the past six years. Read the entire list of third-party certifications for R-GUARD and Consolideck®.

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Seattle's Bullitt Center

Seattle’s Bullitt Center, opening day on Earth Day, April 22, 2013. Photo by John Young

As Earth Day approaches this year, I’m reminded of one of the biggest stories that captured the industry’s attention last year at this time — the ribbon-cutting and grand opening of Seattle’s Bullitt Center. Though I wasn’t personally on staff at PROSOCO back then (I’m a newbie with about 4 months under my belt), the Bullitt Center is a common thread I’ve seen in PROSOCO’s project profiles online, on this blog and in countless industry publications.

For good reason. Anyone involved in this high-profile, high-performance project should be shouting about it from solar-paneled rooftops. Deemed the “world’s greenest commercial building,” the project started off with (and attained) a very ambitious goal — net-zero and Passive House levels of energy efficiency. Design firm Miller Hull Partnership, general contractor Schuchart Corp., and developer Point 32 also called for all products to be free of ingredients found on the Living Building Challenge’s Red List.

PROSOCO is proud of the fact that our own R-GUARD and Consolideck® products helped the Bullitt Center achieve that extreme standard and become an industry icon of energy performance. The R-GUARD FastFlash® system of fluid-applied airtight and waterproof barrier products was used on the building envelope, while our Consolideck® concrete flooring products LS/CS® and LSGuard® were used on about 90% of the center’s concrete floors.

A couple of weeks ago, I checked in with Keith Miller of Final Concrete, whose company was contracted to finish the center’s concrete floors. Keith actually recommended using Consolideck LS/CS® and LSGuard® to the general contractor because he had worked with those products before and knew how effective they were.

“(The general contractor) wanted the best-performing product that we had worked with, and it was a no-brainer,” Miller said.

He added that he had learned about the products’ environmental benefits from other jobs like Kohl’s, and that he “just really enjoyed using the product.”

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It’s not as long or as brutal as the fight between John Wayne and Victor McGlaglen in 1939′s “The Quiet Man,” or more recently, between Henry Cavill and Michael Shannon in 2013′s “Man of Steel,” But I think our new video “Motor Oil vs. Consolideck Concrete Protector” is still pretty snappy.

Motor oil, of course, is one of the worst “bad guys” ever to attack innocent concrete. Raise your hand if you’ve seen or have got blotchy stains on concrete surfaces from oil. Spills of food and drink on expensive polished concrete floors in homes, restaurants, stores and other places can also be a problem.

Never ceases to amaze me — milk can etch concrete. It’s got lactic acid, and acid is concrete’s vulnerable point, sort of like kryptonite for Superman.

Some liquids, like vinegar, can etch concrete within minutes of a spill.

This damage occurred when someone dropped a glass jar of pickles on the floor. The acidic pickle juice, left too long, etched the polished concrete floor. Incorrect removal technique -- wiping instead of blotting -- compounded the damage.

This damage occurred when someone dropped a glass jar of pickles on the floor. The acidic pickle juice, left too long, etched the polished concrete floor. Incorrect removal technique — wiping instead of blotting — compounded the damage.

What protective treatments do in general, and Concrete Protector does in particular, is give you a window of time you otherwise wouldn’t have to get that staining material off the concrete with little or no harm. On untreated concrete, that window is virtually non-existent.

And the fact is, no matter what you protect your floors with, if the spill stays on the floor long enough, you’re likely to get a stain.

So that brings up the question — exactly how long do I have to clean up a spill of this or that on concrete protected with Concrete Protector?

Glad you asked. We wanted to know the same thing, so we asked AMT Laboratories, a materials testing lab, to test Concrete Protector’s stain and chemical resistance according to ASTM D1308 – Standard Test Method for Effect of Household Chemicals on Clear and Pigmented Organic Finishes.

AMT Labs tested Concrete Protector, not just against motor oil, like in the video, but against a range of acids, caustics, solvents and more. Test results on Concrete Protector and untreated control follow.

I think they’re pretty good, even against challenging substances like vinegar and motor oil. But along with protecting your concrete, the best advice is to clean spills up as quick as you can.

That’s why they’re moving so fast in the video.

Click Concrete Protector Stain and Chemical Resistance Testing Summary to view the Concrete Protector ASTM D1308 test results.

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photos by Tim Blankenship, Blankenship Concrete Specialties

Blankenship Concrete Specialties created this gleaming concrete finish for the new Nordstrom “Rack” store in Birmingham, Ala., by hardening/densifying, polishing to a 1500 resin grit finish, and burnishing on a glossy, ultra-thin “guard” treatment.

Upscale fashion retailer Nordstrom opened a new “Rack” store in Birmingham, Ala., May 16, with a polished concrete floor installed by Tim Blankenship of Blankenship Concrete Specialties.

Tim used Consolideck LS lithium-silicate hardener/densifier and LSGuard, a glossy ultra-thin sealer, to help get that gleaming finish on 7,000 square feet of the 35,000 square-foot store. Architectural firm Callison, Seattle, specified the products, and Erie, Pa.-based Niagara Machine supplied them from its Charlotte, N.C., location, Tim said.

He kindly shared these photos from just before the grand opening.

Polished concrete accounts for about 7,000 square feet of the 35,000 square-foot store.

Polished concrete accounts for about 7,000 square feet of the 35,000 square-foot store.

Tim created the finish from an existing floor in a space formerly occupied by tenant Linens ‘n Things. He began with a 46 grit metal bond wet grind and took the finish to a 200-grit resin, where he spray-applied LS and spread it with micro-fiber applicators.

The lithium-silicate hardener-densifier penetrates the concrete’s microscopic pores and fills them with rock-hard calcium silicate hydrate. That’s the same ultra-durable material that makes concrete hard as it cures.

Along with dust-proofing the floor, hardening-densifying also makes the floor polish faster, easier and more effectively because it’s less porous.

The floor showed some gloss at 200 grit, but another LS application at 400 grit made the floor even less porous and “popped” the shine, Tim said.

Nordstrom Rack stores are the “off price” locations for Nordstrom, billed as where “style meets savings.” The Seattle-based chain counts 231 stores in 31 states, according to Wikipedia. Rack stores account for 110 of them.

Nordstrom Rack stores are the “off price” locations for Nordstrom, billed as where “style meets savings.” The Seattle-based chain counts 231 stores in 31 states, according to Wikipedia. Rack stores account for 110 of them.

From a 400-grit resin finish, Tim polished the hardened/densified floor to a 1500 resin grit finish in successive stages. He burnished on a micro-thin coating of LSGuard for increased protection against stains and abrasion. LSGuard has “LS” in its name because it contains lithium silicate for an added hardening/densifying effect.

Though LSGuard can be re-burnished or refreshed with additional coats if required, it never needs stripping or replacing. That can amount to an enormous savings in maintenance costs over time.

Tim and his crew completed the work over three weeks in March and April. The most challenging part, he said, was working around all the other trades who were also trying to get their work done in time for the May 16 opening.

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Clothing waits for shoppers like low-hanging fruit along a polished concrete aisle

Clothing waits for shoppers like low-hanging fruit along a polished concrete aisle

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Gray concrete floors can be gorgeous, but aren't the only color choice.

Gray concrete floors can be gorgeous, but aren’t the only color choice.

A pearly gray polished concrete floor can be a thing of beauty. But the days of gray-only for concrete floors are long gone. Now, the color choices for concrete are unlimited as dreams and imagination.

Particularly when used with concrete polishing, coloring can provide translucent, almost gem-like effects.

Color offers almost gemlike effects when used with concrete polishing.

Color offers almost gemlike effects when used with concrete polishing.

 Here are the 6 most common ways to color horizontal concrete.

1. Integral coloring

Colorant added to concrete during mixing produces uniform color throughout the slab.

integral color

integral color

The colorant may be liquid or powder. Integral color is for new installations only, and usually only for large monochrome areas, since the main application device is a ready mix truck.  Integral colors are expensive because you are coloring the entire depth of the slab.

2. Shake-on colors

Shake-on color consists of finely-ground pigments and dry cement that is “broadcast” onto freshly placed concrete. The powder gets worked into the concrete during bullfloating.

Shake-on color

Shake-on color

Bleed water from the plastic concrete wets the cement powder, causing it and the pigments to bond to the exposed surface. Because the pigments are concentrated in the top layer, grinding and polishing will remove the color.  Since shake-on colors rely on water from freshly placed concrete, they are only suitable for use on freshly placed concrete.

3. Acid Stains

Acid stains are formulas of acid, metallic salts and water. The acid chemically reacts with minerals in the concrete, creating a unique, mottled color effect that’s as durable as the wear zone of the concrete it’s applied to. Acid stains are hazardous materials and require all the safety precautions common to acidic products.

Acid stains

Acid stains

 Concrete floors that have been acid stained must be neutralized and rinsed thoroughly to remove any excess acid.  You must be careful when handling acid stains, also, because spills, sloshes and drips instantly create permanent “features” in the floor. Acid stains can be used for retrofits or new installations.

4. Acetone dyes

The benefits of fast-drying solvent-based dyes are often overshadowed by the risks inherent with using highly flammable reduction solvents.  Acetone – one of the most common reduction solvents, has a flash point of 4 degrees F and an odor and toxicity that makes it impractical to use in most occupied spaces. The color usually is applied after the floor has been polished with a 400-grit resin.

Acetone dye

Acetone dye

Though solvent-based dyes can impart vivid colors, they aren’t UV-stable. Sunlight, through a window or skylight can fade the colors. Most require a topical protective treatment to lock the color in.  Respirators and explosion-proof ventilation are required when installing solvent based dyes on new or existing concrete floors.

5.  Water-based dyes

Water-based stains and dyes have several advantages. They are odorless, safe and easy to apply, and dry quickly. Different colors can be easily mixed and matched, creating striking patterns and effects in areas large or small. Combined with hardening, densifying and polishing, water-based stains can create a translucent, gemlike effect. However, water-based stains must be used with protective coatings to lock in the color. Like acetone dyes, they are not UV-stable and will fade in direct sunlight. Water-based dyes can be used for new installations or retrofits. 

Water-based colors were used to create a Navajo Wedding Basket design in the entryway of this elementary school in Monument Valley, Utah. Scot Zimmerman photo

Water-based colors were used to create a Navajo Wedding Basket design in the entryway of this elementary school in Monument Valley, Utah. Scot Zimmerman photo

Water-based colors are easily applied with pump-up or airless sprayer, followed by spreading with a microfiber pad. The color usually goes on before the floor has been hardened and densified.

6. Color hardener/densifiers

Color hardener/densifiers are a recent innovation in which fine pigments suspended in water are blended by the applicator with a lithium-silicate hardener/densifier. This lets you harden/densify and color in one step. Apply color hardener/densifiers to concrete floors ground no finer than with a 200-grit resin pad.

UV-stable color hardener/densifiers outside the elementary school in Monument Valley, Utah. Scot Zimmerman photo

UV-stable color hardener/densifiers outside an elementary school in Monument Valley, Utah. Scot Zimmerman photo

The pigments in these products are similar to shake-on colors in that they are  surface treatments, so polishing after application removes the color. Also like shake-on colors, most are UV stable and suitable for exterior application. While a protective treatment to “lock in” the color isn’t needed, strictly speaking, protective treatments are always a good idea for horizontal concrete, inside or out.

Which is right for your project?

The answer is… it depends. If it’s a new installation, any of these products will work. If it’s a refit or restoration, you’re limited to acid-stains, water-based dyes, acetone dyes or colored hardener/densifiers.

If it’s polished concrete and uniform color you’re after, acetone or water-based dyes are your best bet. The difference? For safety and environmental concerns, choose water-based dyes. For slightly more vivid colors, acetone may be the product you want.

For the mottled, antique look without polishing, consider acid-staining.

Shake-ons are best for small, simple jobs, when there’s not going to be any grinding. Since shake-ons are surface treatments, grinding will take the color off. Consider integral color for large areas where you want uniform color.You can grind  these installations aggressively if, for example, you want to expose aggregate.

And though your standard gray concrete isn’t the only color option any more — it can still look pretty good.


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Wipe out!


One reason I love being in Marketing is that we get to surf the web as part of our jobs.

That’s how we find amazing things like this cool video from Liquid Floor Systems Inc., Charlotte, N.C.

They made this video, on their own, about how our Consolideck SLX100 Water and Oil Repellent protects polished concrete. I can tout the wonderful amazing features and benefits of SLX100 all day long — but this one-minute, seven-second demo video from an independent installer has credibility I can only dream about.

That’s because they’re the guys out there paying the mortgage and putting kids through school with the work they do using products from manufacturers like PROSOCO. And they’re not choosing the products they use based on pretty packaging. They choose products because they perform as promised and do the job clients expect.

If any of the guys at Liquid Floor Systems are reading this, I hope you’ll correct me if I’m wrong.

It’s been my experience that paying clients can be unsympathetic if products fail. So when a contractor of the quality of Liquid Floor Systems — 40 years-plus in the business — not only uses SLX100 Water and Oil Repellent, but takes the time to show it off with a video, well, it not only makes our day, it lets us know we’re on the right track.

I just wanted to let the entire universe know, too.

End brag alert.

Here’s the Wipe Out! song from back in the day, in case the title of this post made you think of it.

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