Editor's Note: CONCRETE SURFACES hosted the second Concrete Polishing Luncheon and Forum at World of Concrete, Feb. 2 in Las Vegas. More than 180 people attended the event which was sponsored by organizers of the International Concrete Polishing & Staining Conference (ICPSC). That event takes place Sept. 30-Oct. 3 in Atlanta.

Speakers at the Luncheon were Peter Wagner, concrete polishing expert and regular contributor to CONCRETE SURFACES, Portland, Ore.; architect Lendall Mains of 3W Studio, Las Vegas; and Rick Smith, senior consultant, vice president of operations, Structural Services Inc., Richardson, Texas. Charles Griffasi, a founder of the ICPSC and owner of Concrete Innovations, North Tonawanda, N.Y., moderated the discussion. You can watch the entire video of the event atwww.concreteconstruction.net.

The speakers stressed the importance of establishing standards and specifications for an industry that is still so new. “This is a very young industry,” Structural Services Inc.'s Rick Smith said. “I've been involved in the concrete industry for over 20 years and I saw my first polished concrete slab just seven years ago.”

Smith cautioned the audience to deliver consistent, quality projects—before it's too late. “About the time I started to get involved in the polishing industry, we were almost out of the polishing industry,” he explained. “That's a caution to the industry: If we don't start policing ourselves, major clients specing polished concrete are gong to stop doing it. We have some work to do.”

Since polished concrete is just starting its second decade as a flooring alternative, “we're still in a position where a lot of things are being created and are evolving on a real-time, constant basis,” Peter Wagner added. Inconsistencies are driving the need for specifications. “We have a lot of questions that have not been answered,” he said. “Or we have questions that have been answered by 10 different people, 10 different ways.”

Working together

While grits, diamonds, densifiers, and equipment are important, the speakers stressed the importance of cooperation between all parties involved. “We have to have good communication with all participants,” said Lendall Mains. As a designer, Mains realizes he doesn't know it all. “We need to educate the whole team. There are things I, as a designer, want to see that you, as a polisher, are going to hate.”

It's best to work on communication and learn to adhere to specifications now because there will be a lot of concrete slabs that will need polishing in the future. “You are going to see more polished concrete floors because you can get LEED credit for it,” said Mains.

Wal-Mart and its Sam's Club stores moved from vinyl composite floor tile to polished concrete in 2003. The company currently has 1600 polished concrete floors. “Now, they are undertaking a major restoration program,” Smith said. “We go in, evaluate the floor slab, and determine what kind of grinding and polishing those floor slabs may need. Or maybe they just need an aggressive cleaning.”

Follow-up is vital. Don't walk away forever after the polishing is complete. “Do you care after the check clears?” Wagner asked. “Do you conduct a post-mortem on every job? No matter how good you are, each job presents an opportunity for you to learn, to do better next time.”