"A lot of times, with control joints I use them as a separating point in the design," Glogowski says. "On joints too big to look like realistic tile lines I use those as a border and frame the design off of that."
If incorporating the control joints is not an option a microtopping can be used to fill the joint. The pattern can then be cut and the control joint can be modified to fit into the design.
Phillips has another solution. "If we're doing radius cuts and decorative cuts, a lot of times we will bevel the decorative joints to make them stand out and leave just a narrow cut for the control joints," he says. Another strategy he uses is to stain up to decorative joints and stain over the control joints. "People look at the color transition and the saw cut and might not even notice the control joint," he adds.
When cutting patterns into new concrete, Rigsby says a softer slab is easier to cut. However, there are concerns with working on softer concrete. "The disadvantage is the earlier you get on it the more jagged your edges are going to be because that soft surface tends to release a little too easily," she says.
"If you get on it too soon you're likely to leave foot prints in the slab. You also have to be careful early on that the saw does not drag across the surface and leave marks," Rigsby adds. She suggests waiting a minimum of three days before starting any decorative saw cuts.
Saw cutting patterns on existing concrete requires a little more prep work. At the very minimum, the concrete needs to be cleaned before starting any cuts. And any needed repairs should be made. A dirty, uneven or cracked floor may make it harder for the saw to cut smoothly, which could result in imperfect cuts, Rigsby says.
Contractors who will be staining the concrete they are cutting have the option of staining concrete before or after making cuts, and each option has its pros and cons.
If a contractor or customer wants the saw cut to stand out from the concrete and look like a grouted joint, staining before cutting achieves this look. Cutting into the concrete reveals the gray, unstained concrete below the stained surface. But this look can also be achieved when cutting first, Phillips says. "We'll saw cut it and then stick cardboard into the saw cuts. It's basically a paint shield. We can stain a color on one side of the saw cut and another on the other side and it won't seep into the cut or bleed over to the other color," Phillips says.
But, if staining first, a contractor must know exactly where the decorative cuts are going to be, especially if there is going to be specific color separation. "I can put down the color where I want it to be and then use the saw cut to give a real definite distinction on where those colors are going to be," Glogowski says.
If a contractor chooses to stain after cutting, the cuts are all in place and the contractor can focus on the staining process, especially if the saw cut pattern calls for areas of different color stains. However, if the stain is going to be applied over all the concrete, cuts included, the decorative cuts won't stand out as much, Glogowski points out.
Whether cutting on new or existing concrete, if the concrete is going to be stained after sawing it is important to make sure it is thoroughly cleaned before and after sawing. If not properly cleaned, the dirt and dust left on the slab could affect the stain.
No matter what decorative pattern a contractor is cutting, contractors need to make sure they are focused on the job at hand. Rigsby says to go slow when cutting. Glogowski adds contractors need to think about the cuts and know where each cut should go and why. "It's the old ?measure twice, cut once,'"he says. Another helpful hint is to write your entire process down before starting, Glogowski adds. Careful planning and execution are essential.
"Professional standards dictate accuracy in your cutting. In professional decorative concrete cutting, straight is the standard, not the goal," Rigsby says. "There is a slight tolerance for error, but it's really very slight."