Polished concrete overlay floor systems have moved quickly from a niche flooring segment into a flooring category all its own.
It’s easy to see why. Polished concrete overlays transform worn, aged floors into a shimmering, low-maintenance marvel. Small wonder the application has gained such favor with retailers, office center owners, and others looking to project a sleek, modern appearance to customers.
For flooring contractors skilled in polished overlay applications, these are good times. However, this growing demand comes with a caveat: A polished concrete topping is a tricky application that requires equal measures of technology, product, skill, and experience.
“It starts with mixing,” says Joe Zingale, floor group specialist at CTS Cement, a leading manufacturer of professional-grade cement products. “You have to invest in the right mixing equipment. If your water is off, if your slump is off and aggregate sinks, you have an issue.”
The flooring veteran instructs contractors on best practices for polished overlays. Zingale has seen enough project misfires to know the topping application and polishing requires skill and finesse.
Take pumps. “There’s a big learning curve with pumps. I would advise a contractor looking for a cookie cutter approach to use pour-bag batch mixers. You have more control. If you have a bad batch, you can throw it out. With a pump you have to run it through the hose. What else can you do with it but run it on the floor? I know a lot of pump guys that love how consistent the mix with a batch mixer. They would never bring a pump to an overlay job,” says Zingale.
Learn from Others
That’s just one lesson skilled overlay practitioners observe. There are many others, including placing techniques using smoothers versus rollers. In Zingale’s experience, rollers get the nod. “Rollers don’t leave impressions and move cream from one area to another,” says Zingale. Other pro tips from the polished concrete overlay specialist:
- Diamond Polishers. Bigger is usually better with polishing machines.
- Hot Conditions. Watch the temperature. You’ll have nothing but pinholes if you pour in an acclimatized environment. Minimize remedial grouting time and expense with pours under 80 degrees F.
- Terrazzo Effects. Multicolored, terrazzo-like effects are another polished concrete overlay benefit. So much so, Zingale reports “We have a lot of terrazzo contractors reaching out to us about Rapid Set overlay products.”
For flooring contractors looking to expand their scope of services, Zingale offers some well-informed advice: Align yourself with a trusted overlay partner.
“There’s a lot to understand with overlay work. It’s not like polishing a concrete slab, which is comparatively straightforward,” he says.
“Team up with a supplier with demonstrated expertise. When contractors ask about us, for example, I point out our long history of product innovative and experience. I reference all our overlay work with Old Navy, Under Armour, Nike, and Nordstrom, to name a few.”
Polished overlays aren’t for every contractor. But if you’re up to the equipment and training investment required, it could present a profitable new service to your business.
To learn more, visit CTS Cement at CTScement.com.