Buying and renovating an old Pick ‘n Save in a decrepit strip mall was harder for Lifehouse Church than deciding what to replace the supermarket’s vinyl composition tile (VCT) with. Because an affiliated congregation had polished concrete floors, that’s what Lead Pastor Matt Braun and his building committee went with.

Given their limited budget for reconstruction and long-term maintenance, they’re lucky their architect pulled Dancer Concrete Design into the project before it went out to bid. The company was launched in 2010 by former concrete artisan Nick Dancer, who’s studied with Concrete Countertop Institute Founder Jeffrey Girard, PE, (among others) and used to make tabletops, tub surrounds, shower pans, countertops, and other concrete features. Thanks to his design savvy, architects regularly ask for his input to provide nice-looking floors that withstand the high foot traffic and regular moving of chairs, tables, and other furnishings common to churches.

His crews went to work after the general contractor, another company Dancer Concrete Design worked with before, removed the old tile. Five weeks later, they’d finished 13,000 square feet to Class B or Class C aggregate and applied two colors. It won’t win awards for beauty, but it earned our 2017 Polished Concrete Award for institutional projects because polishing concrete isn’t just about aesthetics; it’s also about working with owners to design and deliver a serviceable floor that meets their long-term expectations.

Retailers are returning to the strip mall since the church opened its new doors in September 2016, drawn by nearly a thousand potential customers every Sunday and hundreds of volunteers who flow in and out of the strip mall during the week.

“That area on the downfall before the church came in,” Dancer says. “It’s cool to see it change.”