Decorative concrete is an interesting and evolving industry—if one can even call it that. In some cases it seems more like a craft, even a hobby; in other cases it is done very professionally. The results likewise have varied wildly with some projects perfect and some disasters. This does not inspire confidence among architects and specifiers and so as a group they are sometimes hesitant to design decorative concrete into their projects.

To counter that impression, the American Society of Concrete Contractors’ Decorative Concrete Council (DCC) is exploring the possibility of creating a certification program for decorative concrete construction companies—not for individuals like ACI’s program but rather for an entire company. The idea behind the potential DCC program is to bring professionalism into decorative concrete so that architects will have confidence that the reality of a project will align with the vision. This could serve to elevate the overall quality of decorative concrete.

A second objective is, frankly, to elevate the DCC’s status in the decorative concrete industry. There’s no other association even similar, so increasing the DCC’s visibility would also serve to elevate decorative concrete’s image.

But if there’s a consensus that the need exists for a certified decorative concrete contractor, and that’s not a given, many questions remain. What are the criteria for certification? Is it dependent on a history of successful projects? Successful according to whom? How do we define quality workmanship? Do you just know it when you see it? Should small companies be held to the same criteria as larger commercial contractors?

And then there’s the circular “chicken-or-egg” issue that dogs any certification program: will there be enough certified companies that an architect would be confident enough of being able to hire a certified contractor that he would write it into the specification? And will a contractor spend the money to get certified without knowing he will be rewarded for it? Who goes first?

So there’s a lot of work to do before this becomes a reality, but I think this program has the potential to be a milestone in the history of decorative concrete, elevating it from its artsy-craftsy roots to a professional and dependable segment of the construction industry. If you have thoughts or comments on this program, send them to Todd Scharich, DCC Director at