40,000 square feet of Skudo’s HT Commercial System protects concrete before polishing at the Cross Border Xpress, a new border crossing center connecting San Diego and Tijuana, Mexico. Skudo products also give crews the option of polishing the slab at the beginning of construction, while they have a wide open area.
Skudo LLC 40,000 square feet of Skudo’s HT Commercial System protects concrete before polishing at the Cross Border Xpress, a new border crossing center connecting San Diego and Tijuana, Mexico. Skudo products also give crews the option of polishing the slab at the beginning of construction, while they have a wide open area.

You have to really believe in a product to move your family from one continent to another.

That’s what Brendon Smith did after seeing an unusual surface protection solution at the 2009 Tile & Stone Expo in Sydney, Australia. It was an early version of Skudo, a treated fabric system that protects raw or finished concrete by forming an impermeable but breathable bond to the surface. Unlike plywood, plastic sheets, Masonite, and cardboard, the product didn’t slip and slide or trip workers. Dirt, debris, and other grime couldn’t work their way between it and the clean, fresh concrete surface.

It was easy to apply and remove and VOC-free, so workers didn’t need special equipment or clothing. Hydraulic fluid, paint, and beverages couldn’t penetrate the mat and stain the concrete underneath. It kept surfaces virtually damage-free for months. Disposal was the same as any other construction material.

Smith bought the North American distribution rights and moved his family from Sydney to launch Skudo USA in Redwood City, Calif. (The company is now Skudo LLC and has moved to Dallas.) He then spent the next year testing, modifying, and improving the product’s design and application method.

When he introduced Skudo USA’s Commercial System at World of Concrete in 2011, attendees affirmed his faith in the product by voting it a Most Innovative Product. The two-step “adhered temporary surface protection system” consists of a base coat and pre-treated fabric mat made from recycled plastic (PET) bottles. Four years later, a peel-and-stick version called Tack-Mat received the same honor.

Both products work on marble, stone, tile, terrazzo, metal, and wood, as well as properly sealed or polished concrete and steel-troweled or light-broom-finished raw concrete. When removed, surfaces are clean and pristine. Light buffing brings polished floors to a high shine. They cost more than traditional surface protection options, but greatly reduce the possibility of callbacks. If the result must be pristine, you may decide they’re worth the investment.

Indoor protection for up to a year

Let’s start with the easier-to-apply Tack-Mat. Peel-and-stick convenience makes the product more expensive to manufacture, so it costs about 30% more than the Commercial System.

It’s made of the same PET-based fabric but has a tacky plastic film on the bottom that’s protected by release paper. Each roll is 40 inches wide, 165 feet long, weighs 70 or 90 pounds per roll, depending on grade, and provides 560 square feet of coverage.

To apply, peel back the release paper, place the initial edge, and walk the roll back on the floor. It’s important that subsequent rows run parallel and overlap by at least 2 inches. After the mat is rolled out, use a dry roller to be sure the mat is firmly and evenly pressed onto the concrete, with no gaps (especially on the overlaps).

The result is one continuous, seamless work surface. The mat is easily cut to size with a utility knife, so it can be applied around gaps and over interruptions such as stairs. Two workers can apply about 20,000 square feet in a wide open area in a day.

Tack-Mat comes in two grades. Light traffic (LT) is suitable for foot traffic and carts. Heavy traffic (HT) has a fire-retardant coating that makes it slightly thicker and able to withstand machinery and equipment traffic, stacking of heavy materials, scaffolding, and shoring for longer periods of time.

Both can be applied in extreme heat or cold (-40° F to 270° F) and protect the slab for up to 12 months. However, they shouldn’t be used outside because rain could work its way between overlaps and liquify the adhesive.

Tack-Mat can be applied after the initial cure has taken place. A breathable version that can be installed the day after a pour, designed to keep a regulated moisture content in the slab to assist with long-term curing, is in development.