How to properly protect decorative concrete during construction | 2021
Decorative concrete is becoming a very popular new flooring option for both residential and commercial construction projects. They are easy to maintain, great for areas where there is a lot of sand or snow, and they are a good alternative to carpet if the homeowner has allergies. Decorative concrete floors are often installed in a new home early in the construction process, which can lead to damage from paint spray, dirt from workboats, sway from falling materials, and wheeled traffic. How do you help protect these freshly polished floors from construction traffic and accidents from falling tools and building materials?
There are several different types of surface protection that protect newly installed decorative concrete floors from damage. Many contractors use masonite, laminate, and slippery films to try to protect concrete floors. These items provide limited protection and have serious limitations. Products such as plywood can scratch floors and are usually heavy and difficult to store after use. Masonry is bulky in size and cannot be easily repositioned on the job site. Occasionally, the 4″ x 8″ masonite sheets separate and allow wheeled traffic to pass directly over the new floor. Masonite is also not an absorbent material, so liquids flow from the sides and get into the spaces between the slabs, damaging decorative concrete. Paper plastic has its own set of challenges. While it is easier to move around the job site and less expensive than other floor protection options, it can be very slippery over polished concrete floors and may result in worker injuries if someone falls or trips. The plastic sheets move easily, which means that without being glued, they can slide across the floor. Finally, the laminate plastic provides no impact protection from falling heavy items. Another option that contractors use to protect textured concrete floors that are not performing well is temporary carpeting. The carpet has a rubber backing that does not allow the concrete to breathe. While it offers good impact protection, it is heavy, tough to move and doesn’t absorb spills well at all. It’s also an expensive type of protection.
Many builders have tried each of these methods of protecting decorative concrete but none work perfectly. The ideal product will be breathable so that the concrete can handle and absorb spills, prevent differential drying, and provide impact protection. If possible, the product will be reusable and recyclable to reduce waste. Fortunately, there are many surface protection products on the market that meet all of these requirements.
Ram Board™ is a heavy-duty floor protection product made of a thick, cardboard-like material. One roll of Ram Board™ is the same thickness as ten sheets of masonite, and since it comes in rolls, it is much easier to move, move and store. It lays quickly and flat when opened and allows moisture to escape for floor treatment. Ram Board™ is waterproof and prevents oils and other substances from seeping through and staining concrete floors. Ram Board’s Breathable Vapor Cure™ Tape can be used to glue ram board panels together and does not result in curing streaks.
SurfacePro™ is a thick, breathable floor protection product that has a slip-resistant backing. They come in large rolls and can be easily cut to size. SurfacePro™ is reusable and provides 40ml of protection for textured concrete floors. The breathable product prevents curing lines in newly installed concrete and will not void the flooring manufacturer’s warranty. Unlike paper Ramboard, Surface Pro is reusable and lasts longer.
The SurfaceLiner Vapor™ is a new product similar to the SurfacePro™, but it also has a lightly sticky back that works almost like an adhesive. Gently grips floors without leaving any kind of residue. The SurfaceLiner Vapor™ is a breathable, vapor-conveying device for new concrete floors. It is also water-resistant and tear-resistant. SurfaceLiner Vapor™ has very effective cushioning protection against impact damage.
EZcover by McTech Group is a natural cellulose fiber complex that instantly begins absorbing spills without breaking down. It has a dense top layer and soft cushioning on the bottom and is designed to take the impacts. The EZcover breathes well, is relatively easy to cut/shape around things, and comes in large rolls for easy application over large areas. If kept in decent condition, EZcover can be reused. It is durable against construction and wheeled traffic and edges can be glued down if necessary.
While contractors can use basic products such as plastic sheeting, masonite, and carpeting to protect decorative concrete floors, the most effective type of protection is specialized floor protection products. Products like Ram Board™, Surface Pro™, SurfaceLiner Vapor™ and EZcover are specifically designed to provide the best protection at a competitive price. remember; Protection is an investment and prevents the high costs of replacement or repair that would occur if expensive flooring was not protected. Contact your local surface protection supplier for more information on the best way to protect your valuable concrete floors.