• From left: Pat Harrison addresses the Polishing Concrete Luncheon  Forum audience while Mark Schuler, Carl Cabot, and Kenneth Fisher listen.

    Credit: Bryan Haraway/Getty Images

    From left: Pat Harrison addresses the Polishing Concrete Luncheon & Forum audience while Mark Schuler, Carl Cabot, and Kenneth Fisher listen.

This is an important time in the short history of polished concrete, according to speakers at Tuesday"s Concrete Polishing Luncheon & Forum. "As individuals, you need a new perspective on what to do to survive long term," says Charlie Griffasi of the International Concrete Polishing and Staining Conference (ICPSC, Booth S13529). "Polished concrete is at a transition point."

About 200 people, including polishing contractors and suppliers, attended the event, which was sponsored by the ICPSC and hosted by Concrete Surfaces magazine. Maintenance was the overriding theme of the forum.

Speakers stressed that polished concrete, despite what many think, is not a maintenance-free flooring solution. "While polished concrete floors can be low maintenance, they are not maintenance-free," says Mark Schuler, vice president of sales for Mr. Clean Maintenance Systems, Bloomington, Calif. "Give maintenance and cleaning instructions before you leave the job. Make sure they have the tools to do the job."

Not all maintenance is the same in different parts of the country, added Carl Cabot, vice president at American Decorative Concrete Supply (Booth O41044), Lowell, Ark. Concrete floors in the Midwest are exposed to salt, while those in the South and California are strewn with sand.

Kenneth Fisher of Nu-Safe Floor Solutions, Walton, Ky., and a certified walkway specialist with the National Floor Safety Institute (Booth O40445), Southlake, Texas, warned there is much at stake when selling a polished concrete floor and its maintenance program. Fifty-nine percent of all general liability claims in the U.S. result from slip and falls, he says. Plaintiffs and their lawyers have polished concrete in their sights.

Litigation has increased in the last several months because more laid-off plaintiffs are filing lawsuits in a struggling economy. Also, the population is aging; 325,000 people turn 65 years old every month in the U.S.

Pat Harrison, vice president and principal with Structural Services Inc., Richardson, Texas, added polished concrete "is not a manufactured product. It"s a custom-built product."

Also at the event, the audience learned that Concrete Surfaces is holding its first Polished Concrete Awards. Polishing contractors are invited to enter their projects in one of seven categories: residential, commercial, industrial, retail, educational, institutional, and craftsman. There also will be a Readers Choice award. Entry forms will be available at www.concretesurfacesmag.com.