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Glossary Decorative Concrete Terms

Acetone – A common solvent used in conjunction with color dyes and also as a carrier for solvent based sealers.  It’s exempt from VOC regulations.

Acid Stain – Stain containing inorganic salts dissolved in acidic, water-based solution (activated by water) that produces a chemical reaction with the minerals in concrete to produce a permanent, transparent color that will not peel or flake.  This chemical reaction will vary from one concrete slab to another and produce varied and marbleized color in rustic earth tones, tans, browns, reddish browns and greens.

Acrylic Sealer – Solvent or water based sealer that cures within an hour.  Available in a range of sheens and may also carry UV protection.

Cast in Place – typically refers to concrete countertops that are poured and formed at the final job destination.  Cast in place is not typically portable.

Chip System – A broadcast of color flake paint chips applied over concrete and then sealed.  Often used in commercial applications and garage floors.

Control Joint – Sawed or tooled groove in concrete slab used to minimize cracking of the concrete.  Control joints are typically installed when concrete is poured/formed and should remain part of the slab.

Decorative Concrete – Any type of concrete that has been enhanced by texture, pattern or color.

Degrease – A chemical solution that dissolves grease, oil and other contaminant substances from concrete.

Delamination – When the concrete coating or topping separates from the concrete slab.  Can often be caused from water intrusion or sun exposure.

Dye – Unlike acid stain, dyes are translucent solutions of color pigment that do not react with salts in the concrete and provide more of an even toned look.  Dye colors can be more easily controlled than acid stain colors when surety of the final color shade is needed.

Efflorescence – Salt deposits that form on concrete when calcium hydroxides leach from concrete and mix with carbon dioxide in the air.  Typically appears as a white film.

Engrave – Use of specialized concrete tools to cut patterns and designs into concrete.

Epoxy Resin – Organic chemical bond system used in protective and decorative coatings.

GFRC – (Glass Fiber Reinforced Concrete) – Typically used in countertops – A Portland cement based composite containing glass fibers for reinforcement so it weighs much less than regular concrete and can be transported.  GFRC has higher flexural and compressive strength than regular non-reinforced concrete.

Grind – Abrasive stones or diamond discs are used to remove coatings and top surfaces from concrete.  Typically used as part of the prep process.

Integral Color – Color that is mixed into the concrete or overlay.

Knock Down Finish – Decorative topping applied with hopper gun then hand troweled to produce a smooth or lightly textured surface.

Matte (Satin) Finish – natural finish (not shiny)

Modello – Decorative masking pattern using on concrete to create decorative and sometimes very intricate designs.

Overlay – Also called “polymer-modified overlay” or “self-leveling overlay”.  A thin layer of cement ranging from ¼ to 1 inch or more in thickness and used as a canvas to color and texture the concrete.

Polyurethane Sealer – Highly durable sealer resistant to chemicals and abrasion.  Can be both water and solvent based.   Polyurethane sealers cost more than acrylic sealers.

Polyaspartic Sealer – Abrasion resistant sealer that is fast curing and can be applied under a wide range of temperatures.

Profile – preparing the concrete surface with necessary degree of roughness.  Typically the base for coatings to be applied over.

Sacrificial Coating – A final floor finish or wax applied to protect the sealer topcoat from wear.

Self Leveling Overlay – polymer-modified cementitious topping that will self level without troweling.

Stamped Concrete – patterned with stamp mats and texture skins

Substrate – the existing concrete surface that receives staining, overlay or coating.