There are many choices for interior exposed (uncovered) concrete floor surface finishes, from plain “steel trowelled” finish to exposed aggregate polished. And getting to the end result has many means and methods. Some innovations along the way are helping to meet the demands of fast-track, aesthetically pleasing, high-performance floors.
POWER TROWEL ATTACHMENTS
Innovations like the ride-on power trowel have propelled faster, flatter, and higher-performance floors. New innovative attachments to these power trowels have adapted as well. Power trowel blade choices have increased, from longer lasting, heavy-duty steel blades to plastic. The steel-reinforced plastic blades provide a uniform finish without dark burn marks typical of steel blades. The steel-reinforced plastic blades are the basis for the Construction Specifications Institute’s 2010 Construction Technology Award. The Concrete Polishing Association of America (CPAA) recommends the use of plastic blades in their specification document: 03 3300 Concrete Recommendations with Polished Concrete [Version 1].doc. Steel-reinforced plastic blades have been specified and used for new construction of museums, theme parks, airplane hangers, big box stores, schools, residential, commercial, and retail show floors around the world.
Chemicals like penetrating densifiers have helped with hardening properties and aesthetics. The chemicals penetrate and chemically react densifing the surface making the floor more durable and easier to clean when compared to membrane forming sealers that can be scuffed with shoes or vehicular (fork truck) traffic. The dark burn marks from a fork truck into a membrane forming sealer can be an aesthetic distraction and difficult to remove.
Attachments to power trowels have increased the production of cleaning floors and applying densifiers. Complementing an auto scrubber, a power trowel with brush attachments will clean a slab extremely fast, including removing curing and sealing compounds. Applying densifiers that require scrubbing can be efficiently done with the power trowel attachments.
TRENDY FLOORING OPTION
Polished concrete has become very popular. Retailers with large floor areas are specifying processed concrete surfaces. Grinding, honing, and polishing concrete can now be done quickly using power trowels with the new attachments available. Specialty polishing contractors can use their knowledge combined with the large area a power trowel offers to complete projects much faster than before. Converting a power trowel is relatively inexpensive and easy. Utilizing readily available power trowels keep investment costs low and production high. A common ride-on power trowel has a path of 92 inches compared to large traditional polishing equipment at 44 inches. Fitting several trowels with conversion attachments is a low investment considering the great reduction in labor costs and huge time savings.
Andrea Tatta, superintendent with DURON SERVICES Ltd., in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada:
I use the scrubbing power trowel ahead of the walk-behind floor scrubbing zambonie machine. The zambonies scrubbing power is not sufficient enough to properly clean the floor after construction dirt, sawdust residue, and so on. To clean it properly, I would have to clean the floor 2 to 3 times over, by then the battery would be low or dead, meaning I can only efficiently clean 10,000 square feet at a time. I can easily do 30,000 to 40,000 square feet now. Before, I needed two zambonies to do 40,000 square feet, one to clean and the other for the sealer. But it would still not be clean enough.
With the power trowel ahead of the zambonie, I put water on the floor and scrub with more POWER to loosen all the dirt and grime. Then directly behind, one pass with the zambonie’s scrubber followed by the squeegee on the back of the machine. I pick up all the dirty water residue in one clean sweep. I let the floor dry and then apply the densifier sealer. I used, in this case, Euco Diamond Hard. Now on my sealer application, I use again the Power Trowel (Dual Purpose Machine) to impregnate and scrub the sealer into the pores of the concrete to allow for better absorption. I then use the zambonie to vacuum up all excess sealer… ( If I used the power trowel to clean at this stage, the battery would be dead and I would have to squeegee the floor manually). As for comments, the guys love it … it’s actually fun to clean the floor. Now the guys can be proud of the floor they cleaned using the Power Trowel Power Scrubber and have the motivation to put the sealer down properly. They like it, and so do I.
Polishing contractors, too, now have an alternate piece of equipment to help them process concrete faster. Power trowels have become much more useful with new attachments available. Now a power trowel can be utilized not only for finishing concrete, but also for applications on hardened concrete. ■
For More Information
For more information about attachments for your power trowel, contact Jeffrey Snyder, CSI, CCPR, at Wagman Metal Products via email j, or call 717.854.2120.
Modern Contractor Solutions, January 2015
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