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This is an excerpt from the new e-book “Concrete Staining Today,” part of a series of reports from ConcreteNetwork.com on trends and insights about decorative concrete applications.

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Stained concrete needs to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to trends and being a good value when compared to other flooring options. I always encourage installers to promote the inherent advantages that come with stained concrete. For example, stained concrete can save flooring costs by utilizing the concrete substrate that is already in place. The seamless finish also provides an easy-to-clean floor that does not contain chemicals that can affect indoor air quality or promote mold growth. These are all hot-button issues today, especially among the design community.

Today’s stained concrete customer is also looking for a broader color palette and an easy-to-maintain finish. Nothing affects a stain project more than the sealer system. Not only does the sealer provide protection from day-to-day wear, it also produces the all-important final finish and gloss level. The trend in sealers has slowly been migrating away from the use of high-gloss products. “There has been a long run of high-gloss sealers, but we are seeing a change toward satin and matte finishes,” says Shelly Rigsby, owner of Acanthus/Concrete Stain Designs, Dallas.

The client base is finding that sealers with lower gloss levels are easier to clean and don’t show wear as much as high-gloss sealers do. Greg Hyde, owner of Hyde Concrete, Annapolis, Md., says that he is seeing a 50-50 split in the specification of gloss versus matte sealers in his market. “We point people in the direction of matte and satin finishes because they show less scratching, and it is tough to maintain gloss on a floor.”

By no means are the days of gloss sealers over. However, there is a definite shift toward less-shiny alternatives. Manufacturers of sealers are also getting behind the trend by offering more low-gloss options. “When used in the right application, gloss sealers are perfect, but we are seeing more people select lower-gloss sealers,” says Rigsby.

Hyde says that his clients want to learn more about taking care of stained concrete. “Education is still a huge component of what we do. The internet provides some information, but clients still need and want more.” While the websites of stain manufacturers and installers are great resources, nothing compares to face-to-face communication and first-hand education. “Most of my customers still don’t know the possibilities of stained concrete,” says Dave Pettigrew, owner of Diamond D Concrete, Capitola, Calif. He says that most of his clients are upscale homeowners who work with designers but still want his direction. “Customers have a general color theme in mind and let me work with them to dial in the final look and finish,” he says.

Related resources: Buyer's Guide to Concrete Sealers
Fixing Common Sealer Problems: Expert Tips

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