BUT WILL IT CRACK????

One of the most common questions asked when it comes to decorative concrete finishes is “Will it crack?”. The simple answer is yes,  hairline cracking is normal and should be expected. Having said this it is not always the case. There are different types of cracks and to varying degrees and due to varying factors. Understanding these factors and taking certain measures or precautions in both the planning and execution phases, the risk of cracking can be reduced. Because concrete is a natural material affected by external factors such as weather, drying and cure times, no one can ever guarantee a crack free surface. However taking care to ensure best practices are followed when placing concrete, the degree or severity of cracking should be greatly reduced.

Cement is also not a  flexible material, so movement and temperatures causing expansion and contraction may cause fine hairline cracks which is part of the natural element.

In the case of decorative overlays and coatings that are usually around 1.5-2mm in thickness, considerations of the substrate beneath must be taken into account as any issues, cracks or weaknesses in the base are sure to transition through to the top layer. In some cases, remedial work can be carried out prior to the application of the overlay.

 

 

 

 

There are many factors that can influence the formation of cracks, and here is a summary of the most common…

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Incorrect amount of water added to the cement mix 

Adding too much water at the time of mixing, with the idea that this will make it easier to work with, causes excessive evaporation of the excess water, leading to excessive shrinkage, the result of which is cracking. This also affects the overall strength of the concrete.

Rapid drying
During the curing phase, concrete requires water. This hydration is a long process and takes up to 28 days. By adequately curing the concrete (usually by wetting daily) you can assist this process to take place at the correct rate and not too dry out too quickly which could lead to excessive evaporation of the moisture present in the concrete,

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resulting in cracking. Rapid drying is also more of a problem for external applications where the concrete is exposed to the elements. This can be controlled by protecting the site with shade cloths, polythene etc

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Incorrect cement strength in the mix

Cement is available in a range of strengths, and the correct strength for the specific job is very important. It is important to specify the intended application so that the concrete mix meets the performance expectations. Concrete is a mixture o  f water,  cement, aggregate, and admixtures and the ratio of water to cement plays an important role in determining the strength of the concrete.

Incorrect expansion and control joints – Expansion joints are placed or cut so that the concrete has sufficient space to move during the hydration or curing phase (expansion and contraction will also take place with temperature changes). The placement of the expansion joints is vitally important to minimise the visibility of possible structural movement cracking which usually occurs on corners of walls, in doorways, etc. In larger areas, it is a good idea to place expansion joints at certain intervals (say every 10-12m²) to allow the correct expansion and contraction of the concrete as it cures. Control joints are placed in order for the contractor to be able to complete each section timeously  (working on large areas without control joints creates difficulty and time pressures for contractors trying to place and finish timeously and correctly and may lead to one or a number of the factors mentioned above and ultimately cracking). Quite simply expansion and control joints are “planned cracks” – in other words, if and when a structural crack does occur, it should take place where you’ve planned it to be, and in a straight line, thereby minimising the visual impact of such cracks. These joints should be cut deep enough and soon enough and can later be filled with a flexible/expandable material like grout or joint filler (these are usually available in a range of colours, adding another possible decorative element to your project) to improve the aesthetic as well as to  prevent dirt and debris becoming lodged in these cuts.
 

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FLOOR MAINTENANCE

CARING FOR YOUR DECORATIVE CONCRETE FLOOR

An important factor when choosing a floor covering is maintenance and cleaning. No flooring material is truly maintenance free, and the same holds true for decorative concrete. Concrete floors are relatively easy to care for when compared with other types of flooring (especially carpet), however, they do require regular attention. The level of maintenance your floor will require depends on the amount of traffic it receives. The maintenance needs of a residential floor will be different to those of a  commercial or retail setting where the traffic levels will be increased.

Generally, residential concrete floors experience light foot traffic, and a simple cleaning routine of occasional sweeping and damp mopping will keep them looking like new for many years.

Protecting concrete floors with a good film-forming sealer and a coat of floor polish will make them even more resistant to stains, chemicals, and abrasion.

 

Caring for your floor is easy, just follow these tips:

1: Sweep away dirt and debris daily. Wipe up any spills immediately.                                                                       

2: For routine maintenance cleaning, use a damp mop with Vision Floor Cleaner, which must be diluted with water.
3: Do not use harsh chemicals (like ammonia based or bleach products) to clean your floor.                                       

4: Use Vision Polish to further protect the sealer every 6 months or so depending on wear and tear   (interiors only). This sacrificial finish will help to preserve the sealer and is easy to reapply if it begins to wear. All furniture must be moved out of the area. Leave the polish to dry for around 30 minutes, after which time furniture can be moved back.
5: Felt Pads should be affixed to furnishings which will move frequently to avoid scratches to the floor surface.                                                                                                     6: In areas of heavy traffic, such as entrances and foyers, reduce maintenance and wear and tear by using floor mats, both inside and outside of the entryways.                                                                                                                       

7: Use Vision Strip to remove thick layers of polish when necessary or before resealing to bring a tired floor back to life!

General

Unless the floor is polished, always keep it protected with a good floor sealer. This top layer of protection not only prolongs the life of your floor, it can also enhance its appearance

Follow the maintenance schedule recommended by your concrete contractor to keep your floor looking its best.

Only use cleaning solutions recommended by your contractor or the manufacturer of the floor sealer or finishing polish.

 

BENEFITS OF COLOURED CONCRETE AND CEMENT BASED FLOOR COATINGS

Choosing the most suitable floor finish for a new build or renovation can be a tough one considering all the options available as well as the associated pros and cons of each.

Concrete floors used to be synonymous with a  “cold” or industrial” feel, however, due to its versatility as well as advances in the industry, concrete and cement based coatings can be used to create warm, inviting and elegant spaces

Concrete and cement based coatings offer durability, practicality, and versatility. With a variety of colours, finishes and applications available, concrete and cement based coatings open a world of possibilities to create unique, aesthetically pleasing finishes for any space (residential, commercial, retail) – the only limit is your imagination!!!

Variety and unlimited options

Permacolour has a range of products suitable for interior and exterior use. Concrete or cement-based floor finishes allow for the uninterrupted flow from room to room, from indoor to outdoor, by way of a seamless floor finish, also creating the feel of a more expansive space.

Texture and depth are easily introduced by way of finishing techniques and the use of enhancing products. Slip reducers for addition into the sealer coat reduce the risk of slipping on smooth surfaces or areas that are prone to getting wet. A textured finish externally is also a great way of reducing slip factor. Whether you are looking for a smooth seamless finish, a block tile or slate effect, a texture finish or even simulated timber, slate, sleeper or rock, these are all achievable with the use of Permacolour’s cement based products.

Durability

Cement is a naturally strong, durable material. Cement-based floor coatings offer the same durability and strength as the rest of your building therefore      generating tremendous longevity. There may be several other flooring options available that are comparatively cheaper but cement will last much longer and eventually give you a better return on investment.  Concrete flooring is extremely tough and resilient, and is able to withstand the pressure from very heavy equipment such as cars, trucks, forklifts, and stacked crates. That is why it is such a popular material for hard working commercial areas such as garages and warehouses. Durability also means that the material is difficult to damage. High heels, furniture legs, and pet claws will not scratch the surface. You also don’t have to worry about damage from most dropped items.

Cleaning & Maintenance

An important factor when choosing a floor covering is maintenance and cleaning. No flooring material is truly maintenance free, and the same holds true for decorative concrete. Concrete floors are relatively easy to care for when compared with other types of flooring (especially carpet), however they do require regular attention. The level of maintenance your floor will require depends on the amount of traffic it receives. The maintenance needs of a residential floor will be different  to those of  a  commercial or retail setting where the traffic levels will be increased.

Generally residential concrete floors experience light foot traffic, and a simple cleaning routine of occasional sweeping and damp mopping will keep them looking like new for many years.

Once a concrete or cement based floor is installed a good quality sealer specifically suited to the application or product used, is applied. This sealer will bring the floor to life and will assist in preventing staining. Permacolour has a wide range of sealers suited to different applications, gloss levels as well as specific requirements. Permacolour has a Floor Maintenance range called Vision – providing an easy system to maintain your floors. The   Vision Floor Maintenance Range includes Vision floor cleaner, Vision Floor Polish and Vision Polish Stripper. Vision Floor Cleaner is for regular cleaning by mop application (this comes concentrated and needs to be diluted). Vision Floor Polish is an easy t o use mop on coating for protecting the sealer, maintaining the look of the floor. Applying   polish reduces the time required between resealing with each layer of polish acting as another protective coat on the floor, increasing the resistance to stains, chemicals and abrasion. Vision Polish Stripper can be used to remove the layers of polish when the layers of polish become too thick or if a reseal is required. Although cement-based floors are easy to maintain, it is important to  maintain regular cleaning and polishing of the floor to prevent unnecessary wear and tear of the sealer, and eventually the decorative coating. This will increase the longevity of the floor.

Cement-based floor coatings (when installed correctly and with a protective sealer, and polish if desired):

*Are more resistant to pet stains and odors and do not trap fleas, mites, and other pet parasites, making this an ideal, hygienic flooring option

* Do not emit VOCs which can be harmful

* Are easy to clean from pet fur, rain-soaked and mudding paw prints.

* Are more resistant to scratching from pets’ claws (once sealed). Floor polish or wax will increase this resistance.

* They are very easy to clean and do not harbor dust mites and other allergens typical of other flooring materials.

 Long Lasting:

 A sealed and properly maintained concrete floor can last indefinitely. Even in commercial applications, it can survive under high traffic conditions for years to come. This saves you money, while also preventing the hassle of having to get new flooring installed periodically.

Eco Friendly

Because of their thermal mass and ability to retain heat, concrete floors are ideal for passive solar home designs. When homes are built to take advantage of solar radiation entering through windows in the winter months, concrete floors will absorb the heat from the direct sunlight and release the stored heat as needed at night to keep rooms warmer. Conversely, in the summer and in hot climates, concrete floors shielded from the sun will stay cool longer and can actually help lower air-conditioning costs.

Concrete floors are also ideal for use with energy-efficient radiant in-floor heating systems. With radiant heating, coils heated by electricity or hot water are embedded in concrete floors, warming the floor itself to deliver clean, even heat. When homes are heated with in-floor radiant heating, no air is being blown around, as with forced-air systems, so no dust or dirt gets recirculated into the air.

Cement-based floor products are non-hazardous, and also don’t require the use of hazardous cleaning products. This in itself makes cement-based floors green. Also, some other floor coverings require the use of adhesives which emit VOCs (volatile organic compounds) into the atmosphere over time. Not only does cement flooring offer better energy conservation, but it improves indoor air quality as it does not harbor allergens and bacteria.

In summary Concrete and Decorative cement-based floor, coatings are the ideal medium to create a truly unique and long lasting finish for your space, with the added benefits of durability, ease of maintenance and versatility. Concrete allows for the synergy between beauty, sustainability, and economy, which will last the life of your home.

 

 

CONSIDERATIONS OF DECORATIVE CONCRETE

The purpose of this guideline is to highlight the characteristics of decorative concrete and to avoid disappointment due to unrealistic expectations. All information should be considered, regardless of concrete supply company, plant location or installer or contractor used. This would include Coloured concrete, exposed aggregate, stamped concrete, honed concrete.

From an aesthetic perspective, the following points should be viewed as “characteristics” and not faults of decorative concrete.

There are a number of variables which will mean that no two decorative slabs look the same, specifically:
Concrete is made from natural raw materials.
Weather and site conditions.
Placing and curing methods.

Decorative slabs will exhibit uneven shading of aggregates and/or oxide, creating a look that may be referred to as “mottled or aged”. A consistent hue or shade is impossible to achieve in decorative concrete. The use of polythene over the sub-base may reduce the incidence of mottling, especially on coloured slabs, as it provides a consistently dry sub-base and therefore more uniform curing.
The inconsistency of sunny/shady areas may mean that two pours of the same mix appear different.
All concrete slabs may at some time exhibit cracking in some form. Whilst there are several procedures which should be practised to lessen the likelihood of cracking, crack- free slabs cannot be guaranteed.
Trowel and screed marks may sometimes be visible.
The appearance of a decorative concrete slab will change significantly once acid washed and sealed.
A decorative concrete slab spanning from an internal area to an external area will appear different due to differing light conditions and reflection.
Sample discs on coloured concrete sample boards are small, and have been cast and not poured, therefore the mottling effect cannot be truly replicated in these samples. All samples, photographs and brochures should be used as an indication only and not a direct comparison.

A QUICK GUIDE TO ACID WASHING

WHY DOES CONCRETE NEED TO BE ACID WASHED?

The acid washing of concrete is a requirement after the concrete has cured sufficiently, in order to remove surface efflorescence and to open the pores before sealing. This will help the sealer to penetrate and result in a superior bond between the sealer and the surface.

Floors that are acid washed before sealing will have greater colour enhancement and will appear darker than floors that have not been acid washed.

Acid washing is a critical process and should be approached with care and carried out in a controlled way. The correct protective clothing and safety gear should be worn whilst acid washing.

 

HOW TO ACID WASH

See below Acid to Water mixing ratios. Acid should never be applied without being diluted with water first.

All concrete to be acid washed must be free of any previous sealer or paint treatments, oil, grass, overhanging plants, leaves, soil etc.

Prior to acid washing, the concrete should be thoroughly saturated using a hose or watering can. Ensure that the acid solution is poured on wet surfaces only. If the concrete dries during the acid washing process, it should be wet again before applying acid to the surface.

The acid washing process is better managed with the Involvement of two people. Whilst one person pours the acid solution out of the watering can, the second person brooms the surface in a circular motion to spread the acid whilst it is reacting with the surface. A bubbling/foaming reaction is evidence of the reaction between the acid and the concrete surface and no
areas should be missed, ensuring that the reaction is visible over the entire surface. Avoid walking on areas that have been worked already. The acid stops reacting with the concrete after approximately 30 seconds so there is no need to scrub the surfaces for too long.

On completion of the acid washing and before the reacted acid is allowed to dry, the area should be flushed well with water, ensuring that all the neutralised acid is removed from the surface.

CONCRETE SHOULD BE 100% DRY BEFORE SEALING

Type of Concrete Acid to water ratio Coverage per 1ltr Acid
Exposed Plain Concrete 1 part Acid to 6 parts Water 10m2
Exposed Coloured Concrete 1 part Acid to 14 parts Water 20m2
Broom or Textured Coloured Concrete 1 part Acid to 12 parts Water 30m2
Hard Trowelled Coloured Concrete 1 part Acid to 10 parts Water 15m2
Concrete Floors after 3 month 1 part Acid to 12 parts Water 30m2