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Our Thoughts, News & Updates about Concrete Flooring in Ottawa

Why You Should Test Concrete Before Finishing a Floor

You’ve heard the expression before: “Measure twice cut once”.

When it comes to concrete slabs, this is doubly important because an error in judgment or a lack of uncovering underlying issues, is much more costly when coating concrete than with just about any other renovation or addition to a structure.

It’s very important to test for multiple conditions in concrete before finishing a floor. This is especially true when choosing a finish that is not porous and doesn’t allow the slab to breathe.
improper floor preparation
If there is contamination in the slab that has not completely gassed off (evaporated) or been worn away, this may not even be noticeable prior to putting a coating down. Once the floor can no longer breathe, you may become surprised to see some unwelcome additions to your finish such as; bubbling, hollow spots or complete de-lamination can be the end result of trapped floor contamination.

It is also very important to check the slab porosity, hardness, pH levels and moisture content.

There are do it yourself ways to test all of these variables; however, they typically only test one extreme end of the range of measurement.

Concrete flooring professionals can provide you with the results and peace of mind you need prior to making an investment in decorative or protective concrete flooring. In fact, even if you are installing your own tile or hardwood it is always a good idea to have a concrete professional come to your project and test for moisture and porosity prior to install.

In the case of hardwood flooring, high moisture can cause warping and swelling. With tile, low porosity could leave to a bad bond of the glue or mortar.

When working on concrete close to exterior walls or foundations or even in garages, it is very common to see a white powder – called efflorescence appearing due to high moisture content. While in some cases the moisture content causing this a efflorescence is low enough to be coated, however, in other cases if coating was the action taken, it would most certainly lead to a failure.

Hardness of concrete is also a factor when choosing to seal or paint. When sealing or painting a concrete slab it is very important to prepare the surface via abrasion. If the concrete is too hard, which can be measured using the MOHS scale, it very like won’t be a good surface to receive a topping until it has been grinded via diamond segments. This is because high hardness and low porosity are quite often found in the same places.

To ensure success with flooring over any concrete surface, your best bet is to have a concrete professional provide you some data on your slab before install.

Ice Melting Salts Are Damaging Your Concrete Surfaces

Ice melting salts may reduce slip and fall issues but they are damaging our concrete surfaces.

North America is beginning to see more cities and commercial properties changing from sodium, potassium and calcium based salts to magnesium salts for the purpose of de-icing in winter months. While magnesium is a better ice melter, it is far more damaging to concrete than other options.

Peter G. Snow of Burns Concrete, Inc. in Idaho Falls, Idaho describes the situation well in his article titled: Magnesium Chloride As A Road Deicer: A Critical Review, below:

“While deicing salts containing sodium, potassium and calcium are chemically innocuous to concrete, this is not true of magnesium. The magnesium ions accumulate and react with the cementitious compound calcium- silicate-hydrate converting it to magnesium- silicate- hydrate ( or a mineral called brucite) which is non-cementitious in nature. In other words, a fundamental major mineralogical product of solidified concrete has now been chemically altered (completely changed). Formation of magnesium-silicate-hydrate breaks down the “glue” that binds aggregates together and concrete surfaces begin to deteriorate. The net effect is we now have a chemical and physical attack that concrete is not designed to withstand, nor be subjected to.”

ice melting salts concrete floor ottawa

While we can’t likely change the cities mind on what de-icing salts to use, it’s still important to avoid bringing these harsh chemicals in to our garages and places of business.

The solution to preventing contamination and subsequent damage to our concrete surfaces is to either seal, coat or impregnate concrete to prevent penetration of the magnesium chlorides.

If a decorative look is required for a concrete surface it is only an added benefit to use a coating such as epoxy or polyasparctic polyurea as both of these resins are impervious to damages from salts used to melt ice.

When a decorative appearance is not desired, budgeted for or needed, an impregnating treatment that forces a salt resistant chemical into the pores of a slab is a great solution for protecting your concrete from salt erosion.

For surfaces that have already been damaged by salt chlorides, there are many systems available today to repair, smooth and rejuvenate the concrete while also providing a treatment to the surface and beneath that will protect the area from further damage from salt chlorides.

Protect your concrete, especially newer concrete still in it’s curing window, from damage from salt by contacting a concrete surface expert today.

 

Why Radiant Heated Concrete Flooring is Awesome

Radiant heat concrete floors-  ahhhhhhhhhhhh so comfortable. There is no exaggeration here. Radiant heat is the most comfortable heating system you’ll even encounter.

Radiant heat has been around for many years in other forms. Think back to those old school radiators along the exterior walls of heritage buildings, usually under the windows. These heating systems radiate outwards around themselves but create cold zones as they can only radiate so far.

With radiant pipes in the floor, heat rises from literately everywhere in your structure, creating a warm bubble for you to walk through regularly. Not only does it feel absolutely amazing on your feet but as the heat rises naturally it stays where you need it with no extra energy effort to do so.radiant heat concrete floor

Unlike forced air which blows hot air around that’s already starting to cool down since being created in the combustion process of the furnace, radiant heat doesn’t require blowers, vents, filters or any of the room that typical forced air systems require.

Besides being silent due to the lack of blowers as well as the lack of dust creation and distribution, radiant heat is constant. There’s no waiting for the next time the furnace will “kick in”. This is a huge benefit as you’ll always feel comfortable in what you’re wearing without feeling like you should have a sweater available to you in every room.

Of course with all advantages there are disadvantages. The initial cost for a radiant heat system in your home is higher for example. Also, if you need to change the temperature you can do so, however, due to the thermal staying power of concrete floors, it can take several hours for changes to take effect.

For those of us with many differing personal heat requirements due to a large family in the home, many zones can be installed with a radiant heat system. These zones allow for different temperatures to be set room by room or even within different quadrants of a given room. Keep in mind, these zones need to be created prior to pouring your concrete slab.

When hiring a contractor to install your radiant heat system and floor ask if they have experience with radiant systems or just with concrete slab installation? You don’t want to hire a concrete contractor for your radiant pipe install who says things like “Well, it doesn’t really matter how we do this as long as the pipes are covered!”? – we didn’t think so. 

There is a real technicality to selecting and installing the correct systems and tools in the correct manner.

Contact us today to discuss finishes available for radiant heat floors or if you should have any questions we can continue the conversation with you.

Are Concrete Floors Warm?

It is common to hear that concrete floors in a home are cold under our feet. While this may be true in older homes that are not properly insulated, newer standards in custom home building have led to properly insulated floors.are concrete floors warm

Concrete is also able to absorb some of the air temperature giving an average temperature that is rather comfortable under foot. However, being a hard and dense surface without a heat source, it is reasonable to expect that area rugs or slippers may be necessary for certain people in certain living environments.

Everyone’s preferences are different and everyone finds different temperatures to be too cold or too hot. Another thing to consider is that the feeling of cold sometimes is humidity or dampness in the substrate or protruding through footings, foundation walls or the slab itself.

When a concrete floor is sealed, this will cut down on the feeling and transmission of cold from the substrate. When it comes to using concrete on top of radiant heat systems that are either electric, water based or glycol based, you cannot ask for a better thermal retainer to provide slow, steady and consistent heat delivery.

Architects and engineers for homes that will be green-builds or using LEED compliant construction often choose concrete. Using design principles including use of solar energy from south and southeast facing windows as well as position a home on the property in order to be exposed to the most sunlight possible leads to a warm and more energy efficient home.

As of late, these practices in design have included using concrete slabs to absorb sunlight and release it slowly to heat the home. Not only is this incredibly comfortable feel to the foot but it will also reduce the expense of the heating system.

In fact, in some cases, a home designed in such a way may use the term “secondary heat source” for the furnace rather than the thermal release systems in place such as concrete floors, stonewalls and Low E Argon double pane glass windows.

Concrete floors on their own are not warm but certainly feel warmer than ceramic floors due to their ability to absorb some of the room’s temperature. Once concrete is combined with other technologies to increase heat, as discussed above, it is unparalleled in terms of dollar per BTU of heat expelled.

For more information on concrete floors for the home or commercial location as well as tips on how to use concrete to heat and beautify your home, contact an expert today for a free consultation.

Acid Stained Concrete Vs. Dyes and Tints

While most people are happy with a natural coloured concrete slab, some opt for a more brilliant colour or just a slight change in the tone of grey and light beige’s that are naturally occurring when polishing and/or sealing concrete.

Acid Stains

In the past, the most common way to change the colour of a concrete slab was to do an acid stain or acid wash.

Acid stains require a lot of labor and immense amounts of water to be introduced into the slab in order to carry the acid and the resulting reaction that occurs when the acid and concrete properties meet.
Acid Stained Concrete Vs. Dyes and Tints colour chart
While this technique is time tested and proven, it does present certain issues such as adding a lot of moisture to a slab that is  going to be sealed next.

Using water to penetrate and stain a concrete slab means that the slab will have to dry for many days prior to a sealer being applied. Even when using a water-based sealer, there is a certain risk that is being taken when applying it to a floor that was recently wet or damp. The sealer could flake off or be weaker in the long run. Also, if you require an impact resistant floor or wish to finish with a coating such as an epoxy or a polyaspartic, the floor must be grinded first prior to being sealed.

When doing an acid stain, this is not necessarily the best outcome as grinding the floor prior to staining it will reduce its ability to take on a new colour

Concrete DyesAcid Stained Concrete Vs. Dyes and Tints 1

Decorative concrete dyes and concrete dye systems have come a long way and, in our opinion have replaced acid stains as the go-to product to use for staining concrete that will be sealed or polished.

These decorative dye systems are first sprayed down on the floor and either scrubbed in or left to dry. There is no need to neutralize them with large amounts of water or neutralizing agents. This means that, the floor can be polished or sealed on the same day that it was stained.

Another advantage to using concrete dyes as opposed to concrete acid stains is that the colour is much more predictable because there is no requirement for a chemical reaction in order to achieve the look that you are going for.

Concrete dyes can be used to change the overall colour of the floor but can also be used to create borders, accents, logos or really any other effects you may be going for.

If you would like more information about concrete dyes and stains, please contact us today to talk to one of our specialists.

Polished Concrete Floors for Commercial Locations

When choosing a concrete floor for your commercial location, it is always important to remember the environment that your floor will be presented with.

If the environment will be exposed to a lot of salt under foot traffic or especially large amounts of traffic, despite popular belief, polished concrete is not necessarily the best choice or even a good second choice.

While polished concrete floors are stronger and more abrasion resistant than epoxy coatings or other similar coatings or sealers, they do remain porous under a very thin layer of guard. This guard is used to prevent immediate staining on polished concrete but is certainly not a topping or permanent blockage to staining and salt penetration.

If your commercial concrete floor is an interior space that will not be exposed to contaminations such a salt and gasoline, polished concrete may very well be the better solution where abrasion resistance and impact resistance are the most important.polished concrete company ottawa

If you need your floor to be a good mix of both a coating and polished concrete, a middle ground can be found by using a floor coating with a more highly abrasion resistant topcoat such as an acrylic or polyurethane.

There are, again more options for commercial concrete flooring that can be discussed with an expert in the field. Some of these options may not even include coating or polishing but rather a chemical treatment of the floor to change its property to allow for a dust free abrasion resistant and impact resistant floor with no visual change to its sheen or colour.

Among all of the options available to you for commercial concrete floors, they can each be customized to match your needs even more closely. Such as, additional coats or self-levelling sand bases to increase the life and impact resistance even further.

Another thing to pay attention to is the common misconception that a non-slip floor needs to be an abrasive floor, or a floor with sand in it. This is not actually the case. There are many ways to put a top coat on a floor without having any type of texture that makes it hard to clean in order to achieve a higher slip resistance.

Some of these options include a non-slip wax or a topcoat of urethane. Not only do these finishes provide a lower slip factor to the floor, they also protect the underlying investment by creating a wear barrier that is less expensive to install and maintain.

The best way to know for sure what the best option is for your commercial space is to contact one of our commercial flooring experts and go over the exact use of a your space. Our experts will be able to inform you to make the right direction.

 

How To Choose The Right Concrete Polishing Company

how to choose the right concrete polishing company Due to the increased interest in polished concrete and other modern industrial finishes, there is a lot of misunderstanding and miseducation about what polished concrete is and how it is installed.

A good concrete polishing company will have an in-depth understanding of how the process works but more importantly, which concrete slabs will make a good candidate for the outcome desired by the customer.

Not all concrete slabs are the same. Variances in aggregate size, softness of concrete, levelness of concrete placement technique, and cure method will yield a different slab every time.

An experienced and knowledgeable concrete company has the tools required to test a slab prior to recommending polished concrete rather than another method to achieve a similar result. Once the company determines that your slab is a candidate for polished concrete, there are many options that need to be chosen prior to providing a quote and commencing the work.

Make sure the company that you hire can answer the following questions during the quoting process: will the process be dust free or with minimal dust, what grit will you finish the floor at, will the floor be hardened and at what point, once the polish is complete, will the surface be guarded and then burnished, how long will the project take, what are my sheen options, what are my colour options?

It’s important to understand that unfortunately in the industry, polished concrete is  a term often assigned to an incorrect process of polishing concrete or sometimes, it is used as a term to describe a finish that isn’t even being polished.

For example; pay attention to whether the concrete polishing company is selling you a process where they would simply be grinding the floor and then sealing it. Even through this would yield a potentially shiny floor with exposed aggregate; this is not a polished slab.

In some cases, a company will quote you for polished concrete and when installing the system, they may skip steps at the beginning and end of the process. This will lower their time, labour costs and machine tooling expenses. The floor may look as desired or close enough when finished, however the longevity of a floor finished with skipped steps is drastically reduced.

As a rule of thumb, remember that a polished concrete company should be going through at least 9 steps to achieve a polished concrete floor including the hardening, guarding and burnishing steps.

Contact one of our professionals today for an on-site evaluation of your current concrete slab. If you are building in the future, we would be happy to assist you in coordinating the pour of your new concrete slabs to help ensure the outcome required for polished concrete.

 

 

 

 

DIY vs. Professional Surface Preparation

In both commercial and residential applications, the successful installation and durability of concrete finishes such as coatings and overlays is nearly completely dependent on the level and type of preparation methods used prior to installing the floor system.

Although there are many different methods used to prepare concrete on the market, for do-it-yourself projects, these products are nowhere near as effective or able to guarantee longevity at changing the surface profile via abrasives or mechanical grinding.

Improper floor preparation leads to floor failure      

improper floor preparation

Vehicle tires can easily damage an epoxy floor placed on a badly or never prepared floor

Vehicle tires easily damage an epoxy floor place on a badly or never prepared floor

Any floor can be made beautiful with proper preparation of the surface

If a floor needs to be prepared for a product that is intended to be impact resistant, the best method of surface preparation is shot blasting. Shot blasting not only removes the surface of the concrete on a micro-level, revealing clean sound concrete, it also leaves a rough and more angular texture which is ideal for a base for high impact environments.Any floor can be made beautiful with prior preparation of the surface

For floors that need to be smoothed out, such as concrete pads (that were incorrectly placed and have trowel marks or a rough finish) grinding is the best method.

Contrary to shot blasting, grinding will smooth the surface by using a circular or multi-circular motion resulting in cutting and planing the surface. This is an ideal form of preparation for flooring systems that will be placed in thinner successive layers.

Keep in mind, when choosing a preparation method, material costs will be higher in most cases on a floor that has been shot blasted as the rough surface profile will consume more material than that of a grinded surface.

In the DIY marketplace, without the experience and necessary tools and training, the ‘do-it-yourselfer’ or homeowner is stuck with using small, nearly ineffective sanding machines vs. heavy grinding machines with a higher downforce. The downforce of a surface preparation machine is just as important as the grit of abrasive used. Lightweight machines available for rent are only for changing the surface profile of softer materials like sealers or paints. They are not designed for removing thin layers of concrete.

garage floor ottawa colour flake floor

Aside from using mechanical means for surface preparation, chemicals such as muriatic acid, can be used to prepare a concrete surface, however they require caution and the use of these acids comes with the risk of damaging surrounding areas and a failed end product if the surface is not properly neutralized after the preparation process.

If you need help with your surface preparation, contact us today and avoid a DIY disaster!

Please reference the chart below to see the differences of DIY vs professional surface preparation:

professional installation diy floor coating chart

What to Consider When Choosing a Residential Garage Floor Coating

When shopping for a residential garage floor coating, you will be presented with numerous options that tend to offer the same end result. For the majority of homeowners, the desired outcome of a residential garage floor coating is a dust free, easy to clean, slip resistant and attractive looking garage floor.

If you’re looking for a modern clean look, polished concrete is often recommended by designers and interior décor magazines. If this it the look you are going for, there are ways to make polished concrete impervious to the road salts used in our Canadian climate and work well in a garage setting.

residential garage floors ottawaFor a garage floor solution that requires little to no upkeep and maintenance, a coating is the best choice. The reason for this is that coatings are impervious to penetration of almost all chemicals that can damage concrete.

Garage floor coatings are available to suit the varying needs of homeowners based on return to service time, abrasion resistance, hiding rough textures ,slip resistance, UV stability and decorative appeal.

Of late, there have been a lot of companies pushing one type of coating over another claiming superiority in all respects over other products. In our experience, there are multiple products for all jobs. It is important to note that while one product might cure more quickly, another product, while taking a longer time to cure, will provide a more impact resistant floor for example.

There are a few tests that a qualified residential garage floor coating expert should be doing to ensure the correct product is chosen for your job.

For a modern look, a clear coating such as a polyaspartic polyurea finish would be a great option. Another option for a natural and modern look would be an epoxy finish over grinded concrete, this type of finish will show off the beautiful stones that exist in your slab. If your slab is in disrepair and requires a lot of patching, choosing an opaque finish might be the better choice in order to hide all of the imperfections that might be evident after repair.

A top of the line option for slip resistance, impact resistant, abrasion resistance, easy to clean, dirt hiding floor is our is our polyaspartic one-day colour flake floor. These floors are unique and provide the best of all features that a residential garage floor needs.

Depending on your projects time constraints and the desired end result, we can always find a solution that will meet your key requirements while providing the budget and features that work for your particular project.

Contact us today to get your free no obligation estimate