Concrete flooring has, undoubtedly, had large surges of increasing popularity. This does not mean, however, that it is without its flaws. Despite its benefits, concrete can sometimes prove to be a visually unattractive and vulnerable flooring option. If left untreated, concrete can be susceptible to damage caused by moisture, dust, and stains. It is also victim to the test of time, which can lead to deterioration and changes in texture.
For these reasons, concrete treatments are brought into play.
Concrete treatments are capable of providing long-term durability and aesthetic appeal. In addition, they are also cost-effective while beautifying and protecting your concrete.
The following article discusses the different treatment options available today and their benefits.
Acid Staining and Dyeing
Thanks to its UV protection, acid staining is a very popular treatment for concrete. It can produce a variety of long-lasting, vibrant, natural colours and tones while providing protection for years. Acid staining is achieved through chemical reactions created by specialised acid treatments prepared with phosphoric acid or hydrochloric acid, resulting in dappled flooring. Furthermore, the installation is a simple procedure.
The existing floor and the makeup of the mixed concrete are the main contributing factors to the final appearance of an acid-stained concrete floor. For example, the result could be different depending on the age and condition of the substrate. The simple nature of acid staining means that after the initial treatment, further acid treatment can be applied to etch titles and designs.
Although the installation is simple in theory, as with most treatments, a professional application is highly recommended. Acid staining requires thorough neutralisation and cleaning after the application and before applying a sealer.
Alternatively, there is another option – dyeing. This usually involves a non-reactive, water or solvent-based colour solution being applied directly to the existing concrete floor. There are sometimes more colour variations available for this method, however, the results are typically less intense than acid staining.
After the dye has set, a standard application would require no further processes before a sealer is applied. However, due to the risk of discolouration from UV, dyes are rarely suggested for outdoor surfaces.
Coatings can be used in many situations and serve an array of purposes, including aesthetic enhancement, durability, and protection. The most common topcoats for concrete floors are acrylics, urethanes, paint, and epoxy; paint and epoxy being the most renowned.
Paint is commonly used on clean, prepped floors as the removal of any existing paints and coatings is required for an application. A concrete surface that has been appropriately prepared will allow for improved adhesion and penetration while polishing the surface will reduce discolouration and uneven patches.
Paint allows for a large range of colours and is generally a simple and inexpensive process to apply. It is often recommended that a sealer is used in addition to the paint the achieve the most benefits, this will improve the surface’s abrasion resistance. Paint is also a simple way to fix damaged areas on your floor.
Ultimately, your space’s general purpose should be the final determinant in your choice of paint.
Another option is epoxy. At first, it may seem similar due to their appearances, however, epoxy is far more appropriate in high-traffic locations. Epoxy coatings are layered products and hence provide enhanced durability.
This flooring option is also superior when concerned with safety as the dangers of slips and falls, chemical hazards, discolouration, and even noise can all be reduced. Epoxy coatings are also highly customisable, capable of being altered to provide many distinctive aesthetics. The durability of this coating can be improved using quartz or aluminium oxide.
Decorative Concrete and Overlays
A more invasive method of improving the aesthetic of your concrete surface involves pressing or cutting designs and patterns into the surface. This can then be stained or dyed for a more bespoke appearance. Saw cuts directly into the concrete can achieve the look of pavers, a brand logo, or another design.
Decorative concrete exhibits high levels of stability and solidity. There are no visible cracks that can move and break with time. This does not mean, however, that decorative concrete is invulnerable and, over time, can crumble. This is especially apparent in outdoor applications. The safest method to avoid this is to seal the surface and perform regular maintenance, resealing when necessary.
On the other hand, an overlay enhances durability and aesthetics by adding a fresh layer of concrete to the existing substrate, catering to the specific requirements and conditions of the previous layer of concrete by allowing for varying depths. This can be an effective alternative for concrete repair or restoration projects.
Densifiers and Hardeners
Densifiers and hardeners are capable of drastically improving the quality and performance of a concrete floor via a chemical interaction with the calcium hydroxide within concrete. Furthermore, they are a key component in polished concrete installations.
Overall, densifiers and hardeners will increase resilience under heavy use and reduce vulnerability to any harm that could be caused by dusting, abrasion, oil, and moisture.
Polishing a concrete floor can completely revive and revitalise the existing surface, refining the aesthetic of a freshly poured concrete floor. This is typically done using a grinding/polishing machine with diamond tooling to add shine to an existing concrete floor.
These floors offer stunning finishes that transform entire rooms into high-end artwork and provide durability and permanence all while being budget-friendly. For further aesthetic appeal, polished terrazzo is where most turn. This is achieved by blending concrete with larger aggregate bits followed by polishing.
Polished concrete also boasts the advantages of being stain-resistant, chemical-resistant, and slip-resistant. This makes them ideal for commercial installations. When cared for, they can last for decades.
Many treatments already mentioned in this article are commonly used in conjunction with sealers. Not all sealers are the same, some will leave a surface layer, whereas others permeate the pores of the surface itself. Sealers will require regular re-sealing, predominantly in areas that experience high foot traffic.