The keynote roundtable session at The International Concrete Polishing & Staining Conference (ICPSC) in the fall started with a simple discussion: The concrete polishing industry needs to create specific categories of polished concrete based on anticipated end-use criteria.
Required durability, volume of foot traffic, exposure to equipment, and how the floor will be used and maintained are all variables that project designers routinely analyze. Ultimately, the session grew into a milestone industry event.
“It was amazing to see this many researchers, engineers, manufacturers, and contractors come together and contribute their thoughts,” says ICPSC’s Charles Griffasi. As concrete polishing continues to expand and segment into a myriad of techniques and processes, collecting objective data on how the different processes affect coefficients of friction (COF) and abrasion resistance (AR) is critically important.
“There are now tens of millions of square feet of polished concrete around the world. That much walking surface has many people looking down,” says Griffasi. “Some of them don’t have our best interests in mind. Slip-fall litigation and polished concrete’s lack of objective data is being viewed as an opportunity in the nation’s law firms at this very minute.”
Roundtable participants—Ed Dunstan, professor from the World Center for Concrete Technology; Ken Fisher, chief operator officer of Nu-Safe Floor Solutions; Jennifer Faller, business development manager with Vexcon Chemicals Inc.; and Rick Yelton, Hanley Wood commercial editorial program and events manager—detailed the definitions and science behind COF and AR.
Finding a foundation
Researchers in the audience expanded the discussion to include existing documentation and research that can be used as a foundation for establishing criteria for the concrete polishing industry.
The hypothesis presented states:
There is a direct correlation between the mechanical and chemical prescription used to polish a concrete surface and the resultant performance. Standard methods including abrasion resistance and coefficient of friction testing can be used to document this correlation.
“Writing the hypothesis is the easy part,” says Michael Sawick, organizer and moderator of the roundtable. “Our goal is to formally publish a position paper of the industry’s intent to test this hypothesis, to put the stakes in the ground and challenge the industry to create a database of which process is most likely to create a desired outcome.
“Only by establishing research protocols, doing the research, and collecting objective COF and AR data can the concrete polishing industry protect itself from inappropriately applied processes and the huge looming threat of slip/fall litigation, and also create a level playing field during the project bidding process.”
This year’s Polishing Luncheon & Forum at World of Concrete will focus primarily on maintenance issues, but it will also bring together many of the same people who participated at the ICPSC seminar.
The next step after the luncheon, survey results, face-to-face meetings, and other input will be to compile the information and write a position paper for publication.
An online survey at www.icpsc365.com will collect all thoughts and opinions. The video of the entire ICPSC roundtable seminar will be posted here in the near future as well.