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Decorative concrete surfaces are quite beneficial in both residential and commercial settings. Many Australian homes are switching to decorative concrete for several reasons. For one, design flexibility is astounding. Decorative concrete can be applied to a new surface but an existing one as well.

Owners want to have unique-looking properties. A variety of options in finishes are available, thanks to the advances in mixing and setting concrete. Owners can also benefit from the strength and longevity of the material.

Steps for Exposed Aggregate Laying and Finishing.
Make sure you take the correct steps when installing decorative concrete.

Aesthetic appeal is not the only draw. of decorative concrete. People are now looking for cost-effective solutions. They demand stronger materials so the pathways will not deteriorate quickly. Since Perth can experience harsh weather conditions, it is vital to go for a flooring option that can resist extreme weather, as well as heavy loads, mould, and dust.

Despite all these benefits, the success of the decorative concrete application depends on the surface where it is applied. Proper surface preparation is essential to ensure that the finished product meets expectations.

The Importance of Surface Preparation

Without the correct surface preparation, any overlay will not work as intended. It is the key to how decorative concrete will bond and adhere to the existing surface. Without proper preparation, problems can occur, one of the most common of which and the one that causes headaches for homeowners is delamination of the coating.

When there is a delamination issue present, it means that the bond line is damaged. As a result, the overlay material – in this case, it is decorative concrete – will simply flake off. Unfortunately, those who lack experience in dealing with the material will just see it as product failure. The truth though is that correct surface preparation was not performed and achieved before the installation of the material.

How to Prep the Concrete Surface

Before even starting to prepare the surface, home and business owners should first contact a reliable contractor in Perth. Problems can easily arise because some existing concrete may not be qualified for the process. Although it is a rare occasion, you should only talk to a professional decorative contractor to make sure you are dealing with someone you can trust.

At Decorative Concrete WA, you will instantly know that you are working with a real industry expert. Before commencing any service, Decorative Concrete WA will first assess your concrete to make sure it is a qualified candidate for an overlay.
Here are the things to do:

  1. Inspect the existing concrete: One of the first things to do is to ensure that the concrete is structurally sound. If there are any cracks, they should be repaired right away.
  2. Check for elements that destroy the bond between concrete and overlay: The next step is to identify the potential bond breakers that may exist on the worksite. Some examples include paint stains that are easily detected. Floor coverings are also bond breakers that are quite common in residential properties.No matter what type of bond breakers your concrete may have, they should be dealt with before starting the project. Some bond breakers are invisible, including grease spots and sealers. If paint, cure, or any blemish is not removed, it will prevent the overlay and its composition from bonding with the concrete. In other words, work will not be successful at all.
  3. Get rid of the bond breakers: Water testing is one of the easiest yet most effective ways to see invisible bond breakers. You just need to pour a bit of water on the surface. The liquid should not sit on top of the concrete. Beads should also not form on the surface; otherwise, it means that there is something that prevents bonding. When it is confirmed, bond breakers should be removed. There are two efficient ways to do so:
    • Chemical: Using a chemical to get rid of the bond is suitable for many cases because it does not require surface profiling. An acid etch is a good option, which makes it easy to remove the bond breaker. It also creates a porous substrate so the overlay can work. Chemical etching can remove impurities on the surface. However, all other acids should be removed, and neutralisation of the concrete will be required before the overlay application.
    • Mechanical: As for the mechanical method, it involves grinding, blasting, scarifying, or sanding. It does take more effort, but it works perfectly for most surfaces. It is more suitable for those that require a heavier profile. Another reason why mechanical methods are preferred is that they work great in indoor locations since using chemicals may lead to certain issues.

    The method selected will depend on the bond breaker that has to be removed. The type of profile will also dictate whether chemical or mechanical will perform better.

    Different pieces of equipment can be used for mechanical removal. For instance, handheld grinders are for getting rid of impurity spots. They say, “Whenever you are in doubt, just grind it.” It does work on many surfaces with bond breakers, but only pros know how to use the tool with finesse. Care should be taken to ensure that no over-grinding happens. Additionally, a common mistake is digging deep gouges using the grinder. If not careful, it will result in an uneven floor.

  4. Clean the floor: When prepping the surface, dust will be all over the place, which is what will happen with mechanical methods. Repairing the surface will also create dust. Therefore, it is important to clean the entire worksite before moving on to the next step.
  5. Prepare for profiling: When the worksite is thoroughly cleaned, profiling is next. The method used will depend on the bond breakers found. For instance, if the concrete has spots that do not cover the whole slab, using degreasing is the most preferred method. However, it is always better to degrease the entire slab to ensure that no spots are overlooked. Before you begin profiling the concrete, you should first know the type of concrete that will work best with the overlay. It is an important step that should not be skipped because it helps determine the depth of the material to be used and the specific overlay material as well. An example is using epoxies. In this case, it will require a profiled floor that is generally more aggressive than when you use other overlay materials. The level of need for profiling the surface will identify the equipment to use for profiling. You may need hand grinders and pressure washers. In some instances, a walk-behind grinder would be useful. A vacuum system is also helpful for overlays that are applied indoors. However, you will never have to be concerned with access to materials and tools with Decorative Concrete WA. Let the pros take care of the entire process for you. Once profiling the surface is finished, it is essential to clean the surface once again to get rid of dust and other leftover filth.
  6. Make sure the surface does not have too much moisture: Testing for the moisture is another crucial step when prepping for decorative concrete installation. Transmission test should be performed, whether you are working on new or old concrete. A particular test that should be done is for vapour transmission, which measures the amount of moisture in the concrete. There should not be too much moisture; otherwise, it will negatively impact the overlay. If it exceeds the industry standard, you may have to consult the manufacturer of the material to figure out how to deal with the issue. Typically though, it is recommended to use a vapour barrier or an epoxy that will dissipate the vapour underneath the overlay.

When working with Decorative Concrete WA, you can be sure that moisture in the concrete will be tested thoroughly. It can be performed in different ways, such as using calcium chloride or through probing. For years, the former has been the preferred method. However, newer probe tests can measure the moisture content in a much deeper level.

 

Man cleaning driveway with portable pressure power washer
It’s vital to clean the surface before any work can be done.

Installing Decorative Concrete

Finally, prepping the surface is complete. Every job is unique, and the required preparation of the surface can vary from time to time. To avoid problems in using and installing decorative concrete, Decorative Concrete WA lives by these simple rules:

  • Never cut corners.
  • Perform the surface preparation the way it should be completed without rushing.
  • Be as obsessive as possible to make sure the surface is thoroughly clean and ready for the installation of decorative concrete.

With the above-mentioned rules, the pros do not have any trouble with adhesion. If you plan to do the installation yourself, we recommend following the rules above as well as the steps listed. When in doubt, you know that you can always turn to the experts at Decorative Concrete WA. You can ask for help before you move on.

Installing decorative concrete is challenging but we can make it easy for you. Contact Decorative Concrete WA today to make sure the process from start to finish is successful.

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