Microtopping and dyes refresh an old concrete floor

Decorative concrete is a great choice for sprucing up an existing concrete slab. In November 2010, Create-A-Crete, Talking Rock, Ga., used a microtopping to turn a previously carpeted retail store floor into a beautiful decorative concrete surface for a new restaurant.

The four-person Create-A-Crete crew spent seven days on the 2,100-square-foot job in Jasper, Ga., creating the new decorative concrete floor for Rocco’s Pub, says Create-A-Crete owner and operator Cody Dawkins. “We were able to have full control of the space without other contractors working in the area at the same time,” Dawkins says

Prior to installing the floor, Dawkins created samples in shop. “As part of the sampling phase, we put down several competitive skim coats of which our client chose Terra Fresco by Bob Harris,” he adds.

When Dawkins and his crew got to the job, the carpet had been removed from the floor but the crew had to use planetary grinders to remove the remaining mastic on the concrete slab. Dawkins used Ardex Feather Finish to patch holes in the slab and fill expansion joints. “If you leave the expansion joint open, the microtopping will want to run into the joint,” Dawkins says. They filled the joints and used tape to mark on the walls where the joints were.

The next morning the crew used 14-inch paint rollers to evenly apply one coat of the Terra Fresco by Bob Harris priming system, which helps seal the concrete slab surface and improves the microtopping’s adhesion, Dawkins says. That afternoon the crew trowel-applied the microtopping, which cured for the rest of the day. “This microtopping enables us to cover the patches without needing multiple coats and enables us to get in and out of the job a lot quicker,” Dawkins says.

The next day the crew returned and used a Saw-Tec Crack Back walk-behind saw to reopen the expansion joints. The floor was then screened with a 100-grit screen to remove imperfections and create a smooth finish before vacuuming.

The color application

Dawkins used two shades of brown water-based dyes from the Decorative Concrete Institute to achieve an old leather look on the floor. Dawkins and crew spray-applied two coats of dye in Graham Cracker over the entire floor, with one crew member following the application with a microfiber mop to work the dye into the floor. After drying, they came back to highlight the floor with a dye in Tree Bark. Using the same spray and mop process, Dawkins applied the second color sporadically across the floor. “We didn’t want to darken the floor, we just wanted to give it some highlights,” he says.

Using a 38-inch-nap paint roller, the floor was covered with one even coat of 100 percent solids epoxy. The crew rolled the epoxy onto the floor and then pulled the roller back perpendicular to the first roll to ensure an even coat. The floor was screened again with a 100-grit screen to remove any bubbles in the epoxy coating. After vacuuming, the crew used 14-inch nap rollers to apply one coat of urethane before grouting the expansion joints.

The combination of the quick drying Terra Fresco microtopping and water-based dyes allowed Dawkins to get a textured, acid stained look without the time constraints of traditional microtoppings and the odors of solvent-based dyes.

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