Baseball players place a lot of emphasis on their batting averages, the number of home runs they hit, and runs they drive home. I understand this to an extent, since baseball hinges on statistics like these more than any other sport. Thanks largely to the Internet, you can find lifetime statistics for any of the thousands of players in the history of the sport.

But they don’t always tell the whole story. Aside from the stats and highlight reels on television, there are other important plays that make up the foundation of a good team. For example, how many times did an outfielder miss hitting the cutoff man on a close play at home plate? Or how many times did a batter fail to sacrifice himself to advance a runner to a scoring position in a close game? These fundamentals also matter but they usually don’t make good highlights.

This is not only true in sports. No matter how much natural talent a painter possesses, he still must understand how paint reacts with his canvas and which brushes to use for a given work. He still must know something about the basics of his craft.

Sometimes we get so caught up in the details and minutiae, we forget about the fundamentals.

I thought of this at the International Concrete Polishing & Staining Conference. Certainly, polished concrete contractors must understand the technical aspects of their trade. These include details such as grinding, diamond abrasives, using color, maintenance, static coefficient of friction, densifiers, and more.

However, it also is important to know something about the concrete that will be polished. “That concrete contractor is placing your canvas,” said L.M. Scofield’s Scott Thome.

Few people know more about concrete basics than Ed Dunstan, who gave a presentation titled “Understanding Concrete: Chemistry, Composition, Aggregate.” Dunstan, who is now semi-retired and works from his Florida home as a consultant and educator with his ERD Consultants LLC., spent many years of his career with Cemex, a large concrete and cement producer. Thus, he is responsible for a large portion of the concrete that company has placed over the years. His presentation was largely based on the online “Fundamentals of Concrete” course he wrote for the World Center for Concrete Technology in Alpena, Mich.

Dunstan’s experience and knowledge came to the forefront during the conference’s final roundtable session. The questions turned to concerns about polishing concrete with “new” mix designs containing fly ash, limestone, and superplastizers. Many felt that these are becoming a problem for finishers. “We need a guideline,” one person said.

Fly ash, Dunstan said, is a densifier. In his opinion, fly ash should not be a problem for polished concrete. In the end, polishers need to understand the fundamentals of the material, or their canvas. Look for a story about this topic in a future issue of Concrete Surfaces. You can find coverage of the conference in the World of Concrete Preview.