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    Pre-taped masking film

    How to use Mask Up Outdoors pre-taped masking film

    The basic reason for masking up is to protect indoor and outdoor areas that we don’t want overspray or paint on. 

    For every decorative concrete applicator working with spray-on concrete or concrete sealers, they are all familiar with masking as a form of prep work for decorative concrete resurfacing or painting.

    Even though this could be seen as the most vital step for a successful job we still find applicators using a variety of methods and tools to make this an efficient and effective part of surface preparation.

    To start masking you will need three things:

    Firstly, you will need Barefoot Concrete’s Mask Up Outdoors product

    Secondly, you will need an efficient and effective masking up process

    Thirdly, you may need a tool to speed up the process

    The first thing we recommend is using a good product. Barefoot Concrete has designed a product that is fit for purpose for the decorative concrete resurfacing industry. 

    Mask Up Outdoors is a high quality, industrial-grade, multi-purpose pre-taped masking film that is suitable for masking up outdoor areas in diverse weather conditions and is fit for purpose across many different industries.

    Why is it different? Because it has been designed for the outdoors with superior adhesion. As such it will hold up better in outdoor windy conditions better than any other market. It also has great UV resistance as well as waterproof properties so it can resist moisture and cling to outdoor surfaces.

    Its a great product for protecting outdoor concrete, walls, glass, aluminium, pillars, pool surrounds, gates, garage doors and fences when painting or spraying on and sealing concrete overlays for decorative concrete resurfacing.

    Secondly, things work best when we use good processes that are efficient and save us time on the job. As such, the functional design is critical to how the applicators apply the product so that their work is easy.

    The best way to apply Mask Up Outdoors is at ground level and the masking film pulled upwards and secured to the wall by tagging with bits of masking tape.

    The quality and durability of the Mask Up Outdoors are extremely important as it has to attach to outdoor brick, concrete, smooth and rough surfaces, and slightly damp surfaces at ground level and not allow seepage or bleeding through onto the surface it is supposed to protect. Therefore, the process is greatly affected by the features of the product so it can be applied efficiently. All Mask Up pre-taped masking film has an electrostatic charge to help to keep the masking film in place and cling to surfaces for ease of use and when using spray equipment in windy conditions.

    Thirdly, some applicators use innovative tools to help speed up the process, as you can see from the main video. This masking tool enables the applicator to mask up areas much faster than not using a tool.

    When using a masking tool you want to start out with a good process where you mask to the wall at ground level to minimize bleed through onto the surface. The tape is a pressure-sensitive adhesive so as you go stick the end of the masking paper down and walk your fingers back towards the masker, pressing the tape onto the surface as you go. When you are ready for more masking, press your fingers down on the masked wall to create tension, and simply pull out another length of masking as you go. Rinse and repeat.

    When it does come time to cut the masking, use a box cutter or scissors, tear at an angle, as opposed to placing all of the teeth of the blade to the paper. This allows a smooth, clean line to tear off every time.

    Probably the biggest trick in making sure your masking job is successful, is going back and tacking your paper down to the surface about every meter. When you spray the pressure may cause the masking film or tape to loosen so make sure it adheres firmly to the surface. Tacking that masking tape and film down properly will prevent any overspray on the protected surfaces. from sneaking up under where it’s unwanted. Also tape any seams where two pieces of pre-taped masking film connect by using Barefoot’ Concrete’s masking tape to you don’t have gaps in your protective masking.

    My last tip for you is this, make sure that you have good coverage in every direction. Don’t leave any spaces that may be vulnerable to overspray if you do not cover it. Don’t forget to tack it down so it doesn’t kick up from the force of the pressure of the hopper gun.

    Finally, one of the keys to masking is remembering that it is always better to over mask than to under mask. It’s going to take much less time to over mask than it would to try to remove overspray from your surface, that’s for sure! Especially something like brick! Masking up with Mask Up Outdoors is so cheap, so really go overboard to ensure that you’re not going to have any overspray messing up your plans at the end of a long day!

    Go to our Facebook page to see a video of the Barefoot Concrete Mask Up Outdoors pre-taped masking film application in action!

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    Green concrete floors

    High in durability and low in environmental impact, concrete is the perfect flooring material for sustainable living

    Building homes that are green and environmentally friendly has become the mantra for more and more builders and homeowners, as they discover how easy it can be to attain all the benefits of sustainable construction without sacrificing aesthetics or breaking the budget. In fact, going green often saves money, especially over time, while being kinder to planet Earth.

    Decorative concrete flooring is a perfect example of this synergy of beauty, sustainability and economy, giving you a durable, low-maintenance floor that will last the life of your home. Concrete floors, when left exposed, conserve resources by functioning both as a foundation slab and finished floor.

    This eliminates the need for carpeting and other floor coverings that would eventually require replacement. In addition to conserving materials, concrete flooring offers many other environmental benefits, such as contributing to better energy efficiency and improving indoor air quality. These are the most compelling reasons to go green with decorative concrete floors.

    Design versatility

    Typically, interior concrete floor slabs have been hidden under other flooring materials such as carpet, hardwood, vinyl or ceramic tile. But why waste resources and money to add another layer of flooring when you can simply leave the concrete exposed?

    Decorative techniques such as colouring, staining, stamping, stencilling and polishing give you unlimited design versatility, allowing you to create floors that mimic more traditional materials, such as tile or slate, or custom design a look that’s totally unique.

    If you’re concerned about the toxicity of the products used to colour, stain and seal concrete, you now have more environmentally friendly options available. Although some concrete sealers and coatings are still solvent-based, many products today are available in low-odour, nontoxic versions that won’t affect indoor air quality.

    Durability and resource conservation

    When properly installed and sealed, a decorative concrete floor should last a lifetime and will never need replacement.

    Few flooring materials can boast this same longevity. Carpet, tile and even wood floors eventually need replacement, which uses up resources and creates waste disposal problems. If you stick with a neutral colour palette for your concrete floor, it will easily accommodate any future changes to your interior décor.

    Concrete floors also utilize sustainable materials. The predominant raw material for the cement in concrete is limestone, the most abundant mineral on earth. Your ready-mix supplier can also make concrete using waste byproducts, which reduces the consumption of raw materials. Fly ash, slag cement and silica fume, all waste byproducts from power plants, steel mills and other manufacturing facilities, are commonly used as partial cement replacements.

    Decorative concrete floors can also incorporate recycled products, such as crushed glass, bits of recycled plastic, marble chips, metal shavings and even seashells.

    Finally, in the highly unlikely event that your concrete floor ever needs to be replaced, the concrete itself can also be recycled at the end of its long service life.

    Another way concrete floors minimize waste: The fresh concrete that goes into a floor slab is manufactured at a local ready-mix plant in the quantities needed for each project. This also saves on the energy required to transport a factory-made product such as tile or carpet from the plant, to the distributor and eventually to your home.

    Energy efficiency

    Because of their thermal mass and ability to retain heat, concrete floors are ideal for passive solar home designs. When homes are built to take advantage of solar radiation entering through windows in the winter months, concrete floors will absorb the heat from the direct sunlight and release the stored heat as needed at night to keep rooms warmer. Conversely in the summer and in hot climates, concrete floors shielded from the sun will stay cool longer and can actually help lower air-conditioning costs.

    Concrete floors are also ideal for use with energy-efficient in-floor heating systems. With radiant heating, coils heated by electricity or hot water are embedded in concrete floors, warming the floor itself to deliver clean, even heat.

    The Healthy House Institute says that with radiant heating, people can be comfortable at lower temperatures than with forced-air heating, helping to rein in utility bills. Another benefit: When homes are heated with in-floor radiant heating, no air is being blown around, as with forced-air systems, so no dust or dirt gets recirculated into the air.

    Economy

    An exposed concrete floor is often an economical alternative to other finish solutions such as hardwood flooring and tile. For new residential construction or commercial projects with site-cast concrete floor slabs, choosing to leave the concrete floors exposed can save big money over the life of the building.

    For instance, you don’t have to buy and install an additional floor covering to put on top of the floor slab. In addition, the durability and low maintenance needs of concrete flooring will save you the recurring maintenance and replacement costs associated with less-enduring flooring materials, such as carpet and vinyl tile. In a typical home environment, decorative concrete floors are very low-maintenance, requiring only periodic sweeping or wet mopping.

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    Do I need to seal outdoor concrete?

    The answer to this question is – yes! A concrete sealer is essential for protecting surfaces from the elements, stains from dirt, oil and other contaminants, and much more.

    So, if you’ve just installed new concrete, whatever kind, make sure it gets sealed before it gets unsightly marks or stains that are permanent.

    No matter what kind of concrete, a good sealer will keep it looking spectacular for many years to come while extending its service life. Even if the surface begins to show wear after years of exposure to traffic and the environment, you can often keep it looking its best with a good clean and a fresh sealer application.

    Sealing your outdoor concrete

    Sealing outdoor concrete surfaces is an essential part of hardscape maintenance. A concrete sealer is a lot like car wax – many people go without it and then regret it when the paint peels. Sealer may not seem necessary at first, but after a few weeks or months of exposure to weather and use concrete can become discoloured, stained and ugly.

    There are many kinds of sealers, therefore we advise talking to an expert about the finish you wish to achieve.

    A water-based penetrating sealer, such as silanes, siloxanes, silicates and siliconates, penetrate into the concrete to form a chemical barrier that shields against moisture penetration and contaminants. Usually, they provide invisible protection without changing the surface appearance, and most products are breathable, allowing moisture vapour to escape. They are most commonly used outdoors since they provide excellent protection against harsh exposure conditions.

    Applications

    A penetrating sealer is your best choice if your goal is to:

    • Protect exterior concrete surfaces subject to corrosion
    • Obtain a natural, matte finish
    • Provide invisible protection without changing the surface appearance or leaving a sheen

    For driveways and walkways where good traction is important, a penetrating sealer is a better choice than a film-forming product, such as an acrylic or polyurethane because a penetrating sealer does not leave a glossy film, it will not contribute to the slipperiness of the concrete surface.

    How to apply a sealer

    If you like DIY then its a straightforward job and you can use:

    • a low-pressure, high-volume sprayer
    • a pump-up garden-type sprayer
    • a roller

    For your outdoor concrete a penetrating concrete sealer is usually better than a film-forming product for safety reasons, but also because the end result will last longer and looks more realistic and natural, especially when sealing stamped concrete.

    We recommend that all types of exterior concrete should be sealed including plain concrete, stamped concrete, stained concrete, integrally coloured concrete, exposed aggregate, stencilled concrete, engraved concrete and overlays.

    Each surface lends itself to unique needs when it comes to applying the right sealer. For more information, call us to discuss.

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    Densi Proof, Moisture Fix or Armadillo Colloidal?

    Polished concrete floor

    If you want to densify your concrete because it has a moisture problem, what product do you use?

    While Densi Proof and Moisture Fix are excellent products, you can get a similar product called Armadillo Colloidal for less from Barefoot Concrete.

    What is Armadillo Colloidal? Armadillo Colloidal is a water-based, 100% colloidal silica dispersion for the densifier of concrete. Of all the densifier types, the colloidal silicas have the smallest molecule size, allowing the best possible penetration of low porosity concrete surfaces such as polished concrete. With a particular size of 12 microns, it provides a superior densifier result, providing a stronger, higher concrete surface.

    The densifier concrete surface provides substantially reduced water penetration. It also prevents rubber marking from vehicle tyres.

    It can be used on new and old concrete slabs to densify the concrete surface and reinforce the concrete slab. It can be used at time of pour but generally is applied after the removal of the curing compound or at the commencement of the concrete polishing process.

    What are colloidal silica densifiers?

    Colloidal Silica densifiers have the smallest particular size in the concrete densifier product category. This is not the molecule size, but the agglomerated macro particle size (ie lithium silicate is a larger molecular than potassium silicate but the agglomerate size in the solution is much smaller). The colloidal solution is an evenly distributed dispersion of individual particles and much finer again than traditional alkaline metal silicates (sodium/potassium/lithium silicate) clusters.

    To understand the different densifiers, we use the order of particular size: Densifiers start with Sodium silicates and progress in size and cost to Potassium silicates, then Lithium Silicates, and finally the smallest Colloidal silica with a particle size of 6-12 nm).

    Even though sodium silicates and colloidal silicates share similar raw materials (salt + sodium hydroxide), the final particle sizes depend on the polymerization of the sub molecules in the reaction chemistry. In the production of the Armadillo Colloidal product, sodium silicate an intermediary product and used a feedstock for further reaction to create the final colloidal silica product. The silica gels commons known as “sodium silicates” in densifier terms are a larger agglomerates macro molecular approximately 500 microns in size. Colloidal silica used in the Armadillo densifier molecule size ranges between 6-16 micron, with an average of 12 um.

    Armadillo Colloidal has been formulated to be similar to the other major colloidal densifier products on the market with similar pH, solids and performance like Densi Proof and Moisture Fix.

    Contact Barefoot Concrete for pricing today.

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    Epoxy resin crack repair systems

    Barefoot Concrete is introducing a range of epoxy resin crack repair systems for concrete restoration.

    Epoxy-based grouting is preferred to cement due to the quick setting of the epoxy, very low shrinkage, excellent adhesion, high strength, low viscosity to penetrate even hair cracks and good resistance to most chemicals. However, epoxy grouting is expensive and therefore should be used when cement grouting is not suitable for crack repair for the required functioning of the structure.

    Epoxy grouting is done based on the type of crack and the width and depth of the crack in the concrete structure. Grouting of wide cracks requires a large quantity of grout material. Due to the cost fillers may be used to fill the cracks before applying the epoxy grouting system.

    Very low viscosity epoxy resin is used for injection grouting of cracks. This is based on the width of the crack, the depth and extent of cracks, the viscosity of the resin hardener mix, their proportions, pot life, and application procedure etc.

    The first crack repair system is the epoxy resin sealing mortar. It possesses high hardness, excellent polish, strong adhesion, fast curing, and bonds easily with the substrate such as concrete, stone, steel. It is mainly used for crack sealing and base bonding during the process of repairing concrete cracks.

    The epoxy resin sealing mortar is a modified epoxy resin with excellent initial adhesiveness. It works well at low temperature or room temperature with a fast curing speed. It has high adhesive strength after curing, good hardness and toughness. It has good anti-acid characteristics after curing, good performance against moisture, water, oil, dust, humidity and weather ageing. The cured products have good strength for tension, pressure and bonding.

    The second crack repair system is an epoxy resin grouting adhesive. It is mainly used for concrete crack grouting, repairing, reinforcement of beams, floors, poles, building basements, bridges and roadways. It is a two-component injection adhesive with modified epoxy resin and can be hardened at room temperature.

    It is useful for repairing and reinforcing concrete cracks on outer and inner walls, roofs, beams, poles and floors. It can be used for repairing hollow parts of walls and floors, ceramics and stones. It is good for repairing cracks on concrete buildings, even prefabricated components, equipment, silos, reservoirs, dams, bridges, tunnels, pipes, and concrete pavements.

    The epoxy resin for crack injection effectively seals cracks and improves the durability of concrete. It is waterproof, corrosion-resistant, ageing resistant, has low viscosity, fluidity, and can, therefore, be applied to cracks smaller than 0.05mm. After curing it has excellent toughness and impact resistance. It is easy to handle, has minimal maintenance requirements and is of reliable quality.

    The third crack repair system is an epoxy resin structural adhesive that is eco-friendly. This product is a specialized adhesive for carbon fibre bonding reinforcement. It has good wettability, is a two-component system, contains no poison, and is widely used in structural reinforcement of beams, floors slabs, bridges, piers, and the seismic reinforcement of all kinds of concrete structures.

    This product is a high-performance epoxy resin fibre bonding adhesive and can be used for effectual permeable bonding between concrete, steel, ceramic, stone, wood and other substrates with carbon fibre, glass fibre, basalt fibres, and aramid fibres etc. It is mainly used for building reinforcement.

    The epoxy resin structural adhesive has excellent physical properties as it’s tensile strength is more than 10 times higher than that of ordinary steel, its modulus of elasticity is close to steel. It is suitable for reinforcement of Steel bars in concrete structures. It is widely used in bending, shear, compression reinforcement of section unit, and seismic strengthening of structures and masonry reinforcement.

    The weight proportion of the product is only 1/4 to steel, the thickness of each layer is less than 1mm, and there is almost no increase in the weight and size of the original structure. There is no need for large construction equipment, and no other fixed facilities are needed as it has a short construction period. It has good corrosion resistance and durability. If you compare this product with steel-adhered reinforcement methods, it has a lower cost, and easier for construction quality assurance.

    All three products come in 5, 10 and 15kg systems. Barefoot concrete also provides an Injection Auto Pressure Pump for epoxy crack injection and a high-quality Manual Epoxy Injection Dual Gun. Please contact Barefoot Concrete for a price.

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    Mask up faster – save time, save money!

    New industrial-grade outdoor pre-taped masking film will save you time and money. Ideal for the decorative concrete resurfacing and painting industries or any outside work where protecting surfaces is required.

    The key differences are that is has been purposely designed for all-weather outdoor masking and construction. It is tackier and more water-resistant than any other tape on the market. If you are using Ezy Masking Tape, and what to try something new, contact us, or visit our shop to order a box.

    Our product, Mask Up Outdoors, is a high quality, industrial-grade, multi-purpose pre-taped masking film. The product is suitable for masking up outdoor areas in diverse weather conditions and is fit for purpose across many different industries.

    Product Features

    • General purpose, heavy-duty and durable for masking up and protecting outdoor areas
    • Good cling properties and conformance to irregular surfaces
    • Excellent holding strength
    • Strong tackiness with good adhesion, even on dirty surfaces
    • Solvent and moisture resistance to minimize bleed through
    • Waterproof properties, can stick to damp outdoor surfaces
    • Clean and residue-free removal within 24 hours
    • Electrostatic film properties where PE film clings to the surface
    • Superior ripping and linearity to improve workability
    • Easy unwinding and application of multi-folded drop sheet
    • Easy cutting and trimming
    • Temperature resistance
    • RoHS compliance (Restriction of Hazardous Substances)
    • REACH compliance (Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals)
    • Retail wrapped
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    How concrete floors are polished

    We recently did a concrete polishing job and thought it would be a good opportunity to post how a concrete floor is polished.

    A polished concrete floor is ground and then polished to a glossy, mirror-like finish. There are many design options when it comes to polished concrete. You can choose nearly any colour, create patterns with saw cuts, or embed aggregates or interesting objects into the concrete prior to polishing to give it that wow factor. The reflectivity of the floor can also be controlled by using different levels of concrete polishing.

    Polished concrete is popular in commercial buildings because it is easy to maintain. Maintaining polished floors requires dust mopping and occasional use of a cleaning product, it does not require more labour or product intensive maintenance, its the lowest cost kind of floor to maintain.

    In terms of how concrete is polished, simply put, polishing concrete is similar to sanding wood. A heavy-duty polishing machine equipped with progressively finer grits of diamond-impregnated segments or disks (akin to sandpaper) is used to gradually grind down a concrete surface to the desired degree of shine and smoothness.

    The polishing process

    The process begins with the use of coarse diamond segments bonded in a metallic matrix. These segments are coarse enough to remove minor pits, blemishes, stains, or light coatings from the floor in preparation for final smoothing and polishing.

    Depending on the condition of the concrete, this initial rough grinding is generally a three to four-step process.

    Once the rough grinding is finished, the next step involves the fine grinding of the concrete surface using diamond abrasives embedded in a plastic or resin matrix. Crews progressively use ever-finer grits of polishing disks (a process called lapping) until the floor has the desired sheen.

    For an extremely high-gloss finish, a final grit of 1500 or finer may be used. Experienced polishing teams know when to switch to the next-finer grit by observing the floor surface and the amount of material being removed.

    During the polishing process, an internal water-based penetrating sealer is applied. The sealer sinks into the concrete and is invisible to the naked eye. It not only protects the concrete from the inside out, but it also hardens and densifies the concrete.

    This eliminates the need for a topical coating, which reduces maintenance significantly vs. if you had a coating on it. Some applicators spread a commercial polishing compound onto the surface during the final polishing step, to give the floor a bit more sheen.

    These compounds also help clean any residue remaining on the surface from the polishing process and leave a dirt-resistant finish.

    You can polish concrete using wet or dry methods. Although each has its advantages, dry polishing is the method most commonly used in the industry today because it’s faster, more convenient, and environmentally friendly. The main photo in this post is an example of mechanical dry grinding.

    Wet polishing uses water to cool the diamond abrasives and to eliminate grinding dust. Because the water reduces friction and acts as a lubricant, it increases the life of the polishing abrasives.

    The primary disadvantage of this method is the cleanup. Wet polishing creates a huge amount of slurry that crews must collect and dispose of in an environmentally sound manner.

    With dry polishing, no water is required. Instead, the floor polisher is hooked up to a dust-containment system that vacuums up virtually all of the mess as you can see in the photo.

    Many contractors use a combination of both the wet and dry polishing methods. Typically, dry polishing is used for the initial grinding steps, when more concrete is being removed. As the surface becomes smoother, and teams switch from the metal-bonded to the finer resin-bonded diamond abrasives, they generally change to wet polishing.

    Step-by-step concrete polishing process:

    • Remove existing coatings (for thick coatings, use a 16- or 20-grit diamond abrasive or more aggressive tool specifically for coating removal).
    • Seal cracks and joints with an epoxy or other semi-rigid filler.
    • Grind with a 30 or 40-grit metal-bonded diamond.
    • Grind with an 80-grit metal-bonded diamond.
    • Grind with a 150 grit metal-bonded diamond (or finer, if desired).
    • Apply a chemical hardener to densify the concrete.
    • Polish with a 100 or 200-grit resin-bond diamond, or a combination of the two.
    • Polish with a 400-grit resin-bond diamond.
    • Polish with an 800-grit resin-bond diamond.
    • Finish with a 1500- or 3000-grit resin-bond diamond (depending on the desired sheen level).
    • Optional: Apply a stain guard to help protect the polished surface and make it easier to maintain.

    If you have a polished concrete project in mind, call the experts, Barefoot Concrete will help you achieve the outcome you desire and make your concrete look fantastic. Call us now!

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    Epoxy flake floor in ironstone finish

    Today we finished an epoxy flake floor for a double garage for a customer in Southport. The finish that was chosen is ironstone, a popular choice for homeowners looking to transform their garage with an epoxy coating.

    The process began by cleaning and priming the floor, repairing cracks, removing pin holes and sink backs. We then apply two coats of epoxy, apply the paint flecks and seal it with a high-quality urethane.

    In this blog, we will also cover the basic steps on how we apply an epoxy floor. This should not be treated as the only acceptable procedure for applying an epoxy floor, applicators have their various methods and processes, what works for them.

    Every flooring project is different. Conditions prevailing in each situation (substrate, temperatures, humidity and needs of end-user) differ significantly from project to project.

    The first step is the preparation of the surface. The purpose of surface preparation is to provide a clean surface with the proper mechanical grit that allows both mechanical and chemical bonding. There are different methods recommended such as grinding or shot blasting. When applying thin coats you should use a less aggressive method.

    The second step is to vacuum and clean the surface from all the dust. If the dust is not collected, this will lead to debris getting trapped in the coating. Furthermore, bonding between the epoxy and the substrate will be weakened.

    The third step is the application of the primer. If you are dealing with areas that rising dampness we recommend that you use a high-quality water-based epoxy primer. Priming is a very important step that should not be overlooked. Priming enables the penetration of the substrate so that the floor is ready to accept the new epoxy coating. Furthermore, the use of primer helps to seal the floor and reduces the chances of bubbling. If the substrate absorbs all the primer, we recommend that a second coat is applied.

    The fourth step is to close all the cracks and fill all the holes that are present.

    Step five involves applying the base coat (or base coats). Depending on the epoxy floor being applied you may have one base coat, several layers or in some cases the base coat is skipped and just a topcoat is applied. In multi-storey car parks, we tend to apply an intermediate elastic waterproofing layer before applying the topcoat.

    One of the benefits of applying a base coat is to get a better feel for the floor and to get an idea of how the final floor will look like. The base coat can bring out any existing anomalies or uneven spots. This is a crucial step before applying the topcoat and corrections will no longer be possible.

    The sixth step involves applying the topcoat. Depending on the floor system in question, the topcoat can be either an epoxy coat or a self-levelling floor. If you need a fast curing floor we recommend a polyurea or polyaspartic coat.

    The job is easily finished in two days, can hold light foot traffic in 24 hours, and cars can drive into the garage after the solution has cured for seven days.

    All up, it makes a massive difference to improving the look and value of your home. If you are wanting to transform your floors, speak to the experts, call Barefoot Concrete today and we will come and give you a free no obligation quote.

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    Sealing and maintenance trends

    How is your decorative concrete coating looking? Is it time for some maintenance?

    There is a hidden downside to the lighter colours and finishes popular in the decorative overlay industry which has to do with sealing and maintenance.

    Lighter colours tend to get dirty and show wear much faster than darker colours, which means the sealer and maintenance products need to meet a higher standard of durability. Lighter colours demand more attention,” therefore we see a trend toward the use of better-quality sealers.

    Lighter colours and cleaner finishes also demand a higher calibre of sealer. Acrylics are no longer the only option for decorative concrete, and especially decorative overlays. High-solids polyurethanes, polyaspartics, and epoxies are now commonplace, especially in high-traffic and commercial applications.

    It is especially critical to have a high-solids sealer protecting thin-section overlays like micro toppings because the overlay will not withstand direct traffic long before beginning to wear. High-performance coatings may cost as much as three to five times more than acrylic sealers, but can last years longer.

    There is also a noticeable trend with sealers on decorative overlays shifting toward matte and satin finishes. In many instances today a high-gloss finish is practically the only option available. For decades, the “wet look” was all anyone wanted. This trend held fast and was embraced by the decorative overlay industry, however, in the last few years, though, the trend has shifted away from gloss toward matte and satin finishes.

    The combination of lighter colours and simpler designs has also drawn more designers and installers to embrace matte sealers because they tend to hide scratches and wear better.

    When it comes to sealer selection, people tend to spend time and money focusing on the topping with little thought to the sealer. Our customers and applicators need to be educated on the importance of sealers and maintenance.

    Concrete overlays are thin for the most part, which means the sealer is a critical part of the overlay flooring system as a whole. Maintenance schedules are important, yet they are often left out of the scope of work when installing decorative overlays. The good news is that Barefoot Concrete educates our installers and end-users to embrace better quality sealer systems and best practice maintenance for all forms of decorative concrete.

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    Which way is the market going?

    Polished concrete is without a doubt the hottest market segment in decorative concrete today. It has held that title for the last few years and shows no signs of giving up the number one position any time soon.

    The commercial and industrial flooring communities have embraced polished concrete as the new standard when a combination of aesthetics, durability, reduced construction costs, and minimal environmental impact is desired.

    Many large retailers have switched to polished concrete as the standard flooring for both new and existing stores. The word on the street from experts from all fields of polished concrete is that there is a common recurring theme – “growth.” The polished concrete industry barely existed 15 years ago. However, today, it now dominates the decorative concrete marketplace, as evidenced by the annual revenue it generates.

    What’s more, the growth in the popularity of polished concrete is unlikely to wane, especially as the word spreads about the many benefits of polished floors. Unfortunately, along with this huge market growth comes the lure of easy money. Many installers have ventured into the industry without a true understanding of the market and the large capital investment required. For many, reality soon replaces perception as it becomes evident that polishing concrete requires a high level of concrete expertise, on-the-job experience, and some deep pockets to survive the initial startup.

    The biggest mistake installers new to polishing make is to assume that all concrete is a good candidate for polishing. With polishing, the concrete you start with has the biggest impact on what you end up with, and in many cases, the installer has no control in how the concrete is placed and finished.

    Learning to read concrete is an art that comes with years of being on the floor behind the machine, a fact often missed by the novice installer.

    In recent years, the level of education provided by the supply side of the industry regarding the reality of what it takes to be successful has been increasing. This trend needs to continue, with emphasis not only directed toward the installer side of the business but to end users as well.

    In the early 2000s, polished concrete was marketed and sold to designers and owners as a maintenance-free flooring option. But it didn’t take long before many polished floors began showing significant wear and required some level of maintenance to perform as promised. An industry-wide reality check in the mid-2000s brought the marketing side of the industry in line with the true production capabilities of polished concrete floors. It is a testament to the staying power and market acceptance of polished concrete that the industry absorbed those initial failures, changed the marketing focus, developing new products and systems to meet the demands, and hardly missed a beat.

    Barefoot Concrete offers polished concrete coating systems that are carried out in a multi-step mechanical process, with or without aggregate exposure. The most popular finish is grinding the concrete surface to expose aggregates or stones in the concrete and showing the natural beauty of the stone.

    Polished Concrete Floors are extremely durable, low in maintenance and create a unique and stylish look with maximum protection due to a seamless finish.

    There are two types of polished concrete. The first one is called “grind and seal,” which is followed by the application of a topical surface sealer. The second is called “mechanically polished concrete,” where a densification of the concrete surface is carried out during the process. This happens by mechanically polishing the concrete in stages with finer diamond tools, which is then sealed with a penetrating sealer.

    Barefoot Concrete uses industrial-grade, water-based, high strength penetrating potassium densifiers which have been specifically formulated to strengthen and harden the concrete. It provides a surface that will be more resistant to wear, chemicals and dusting. Due to the products unique features, it has excellent penetration, good dry and through cure. Our densifiers are suitable for use on concrete surfaces and exposed aggregates, and an excellent choice for polishing concrete. This high-performance product will increase the life of concrete and provide maximum protection.

    Polished concrete flooring is used in many environments such as residential, commercial and industrial applications where a long lasting solution to floor maintenance and a hard wearing protection is required. Call us to find out more.

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