There are many environments that don’t require a service provider’s presence to offer a solution or to “take an order” – the specialty contractor’s world however, revolves entirely around the environment of the customer and requires an on-site presence before, during and after the project is completed.
Hascall & Hall’s team provides the best solution to every customer concern within our capabilities and every solution is always unique to the customer environment. Mobilizing our team to begin each project always requires thorough planning beginning with an on-site visit to understand the complexities of the environment and Scarborough Grounds was no exception.
With over 18 billion dollars a year spent on specialty coffee in the United States alone, our team needed to be in and out as quickly as possible to minimize the inconvenience to Scarborough Grounds’ loyal patrons. It is Hascall & Hall’s goal to minimize the costs to every customer when a shut down is required.
Retail environments that are not stand alone structures always add an additional component to the planning process. This particular project was a small sized strip mall, which meant that we needed to take into consideration the potential impact that our presence could have on the abutting businesses as well as their patrons.
Retail entrepreneurs can’t escape the phrase, “location, location, location” when deciding on where to open their doors and the next thing they will surely hear is location is great, but “image can be everything”. After finding the right location, Scarborough Grounds took the next step when their flooring system was failing by talking to their very reputable landlord, Ms. Cyndy Taylor, a long time customer of Hascall & Hall’s. The topical stain that had been improperly installed previously was chipping up in sheets creating a maintenance nightmare. Dirt on the bottom of patron and employee shoes had acted as virtual sandpaper quickly wearing away the existing treatment. Cyndy immediately brought us in for a consultation.
More than likely, the topical stain was failing due to one of several possible issues. The concrete substrate was not prepared properly. There were moisture issues and/or improper installation of the topical stain. When in question, we routinely conduct relative humidity core samples or calcium chloride tests for all concrete coatings to ensure that the correct product is chosen and the substrate is properly prepared. For instance, if the proper test was done and the concrete was determined to have a relatively high moisture content then a “breathable” stain would have been required.
The decision was made to repair the existing concrete floor with a multi-step, breathable floor polishing system. This type of floor finish not only reduces maintenance costs, but also enhances the ambiance in most environments dramatically. Polished concrete floors can instantly impact the image of a space with up to 30% increased light reflectivity and ambient lighting. Polished concrete continues to grow in popularity because nt today’s world it is an environmentally friendly solution without compromising any aesthetic qualities. In fact, polished concrete floors are not only naturally beautiful, but they are also easy to clean, stand up to high traffic patterns, meet federal guidelines for slip resistance and among other qualities they can lead to lower energy consumption by maintaining an even temperature.
We mobilized our team to complete the floor beginning on a Saturday afternoon to be completed by the end of the day on Sunday allowing Scarborough Grounds to open their doors promptly on Monday morning.
The Polishing Process
With innumerable types of commercial or industrial floors, as noted earlier we have to consider the proper way to prepare the substrate. In this case, the concrete floor had a pre-existing topical stain which had failed in the high traffic areas. After thorough examination, we determined that the existing topical stain would need to be removed. With the crew ready and on-site, they began the polishing with a grinding process commonly known as crosshatching. A large grinder is used to cover the larger areas of the floor and a smaller hand grinder is used around the perimeters and in hard to reach areas.
Crosshatching is typically an artist term used to describe the art of using closely spaced parallel lines to create tonal effects. In polishing concrete, each step of the grinding process must be done from North to South then East to West, otherwise known as crosshatching which allows for optimum reflectivity by creating as flat a floor as possible. If the grinding process is completed in one direction it will create a soup bowl effect or a concave floor. The flooring on the wall would also have a visible wave effect.
Cross hatching MUST be repetitively consistent on every step through the project. Hascall & Hall crews are thoroughly trained and know that the first metal grind is 90% of the work and if not completed properly the project will be lost.
The matte or sheen required from the polishing process is often times defined by an architect in the specs for a larger project and includes gloss readings or the readings from a gloss meter and each meter works differently. For instance, lets say that a meter gives values ranging from 20 – 100. A reading of 20 would be a matte finish while a reading of 100 would be a high gloss finish or almost a mirror effect in the floor.
Polished floors are also determined by stating a finish from 1 to 4. One would be a matte finish, while four would be optimum reflectivity. On smaller projects, the reflectivity goal is determined by understanding the customer’s overall goal.
The polishing process used by the Hascall & Hall team is done with three different types of metal diamonds and pucks: Metal Diamonds, Transitional Diamonds and Resin Pucks. The floor must be entirely cleaned between steps. The first grind creates the most debris.
We began the polishing steps with the metal bonded diamonds. As the grinding process continues to the necessary point to ensure a smooth floor, the metal keeps wearing away exposing more of the diamonds. This first grind is called “cutting the floor” until it is flat. This step not only opens up the existing floor which is essential to a successful process, it also removes any existing coating.
Metal Bonded Diamonds are used in step one and as stated above, step one is critical to the success of the project doing 90% of the work leaving the remaining polishing to be completed to the specs of the customer. The more steps in a polishing process creates a higher gloss each time. A typical metal bond diamond allows for aggressive concrete cleaning, leveling and coating removal. We used the 30/40 grit diamonds.
The grinding continued with two steps using # 1 transitional diamonds. Cleaning the floor thoroughly between each step is required. The transitional diamonds ensure that the floor is as flat as possible and creates much less debris.
Transitional Ceramic Bonded Diamonds, as the name states are diamonds embedded in a ceramic material – the ceramic wears away exposing more diamonds. Once you are past the ceramics you go to a resin pad which is fine diamond dust embedded in a resin.
The actual polishing of the floor now begins using first # 200 resin pucks followed by # 400 resin pucks in preparation for the dye application. After cleaning the floor once again, the dye is applied to the prepared substrate. Scarborough Grounds chose a Litho-Dye in a Walnut color which was applied at approximately 400 square feet per gallon. The next step in the polishing process required the dyed floor to be in prepared for the application of a densifier at the rate of approximately 200 square feel per gallon. The important application of a densifier is not to be underestimated.
Densifier silicates react with the concrete which amazingly produces a much harder and more impermeable concrete. Floors that are applied with a densifier also have many benefits including, but not limited to:
- They are virtually dust free
- They protect the color of the concrete if applied
- They are easier to clean
- They are stain resistant
- In most cases, they increase the life of the floor substantially
Resin Hyrid Pucks were used to polish the floor once the grinding process was completed. Resin pucks only polish the floor. This process actually tightens the surface of the concrete similar to using sand paper on wood. The pucks get finer and finer making the concrete tighter each time. Tightening the concrete substrate results in a floor with greater reflectivity by removing as many of the grinding marks as possible.
Now we were ready to complete the last two steps. The next to last step for the Scarborough Grounds project was to apply a topcoat which must be completely clean and dry before the final step of burnishing can begin.
Burnishers are machines with rotating pads that bring the floor to its highest luster and the full beauty of the finished floor.
The popularity of polished concrete floors is growing and you will see them in many different types of environments. W floors lose their original luster and show dull high traffic areas, they have not been burnished or buffed properly. “Image” is always important to commercial operations and a burnished floor is also much easier to clean which can reduce maintenance costs dramatically.
An additional benefit to burnishing is that it increases slip-resistance which is always a liability concern. Burnishing is not to be confused with buffing. Burnishing is done at a very high speed and gives the floor maximum shine because of the speed of the machine used vs. a buffer. A buffer would look more like a vacuum and spin at approximately 175 revolutions per minute where a burnisher can spin at revolutions of up to 2500 or greater.
Once Hascall & Hall completed the burnishing process the floor was immediately ready for Scarborough Grounds to set back up for business. Thank you Ms. Cyndy Taylor for allowing us the privilege to work with you once again!!