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  • A polished concrete overlay completely restored the 3,000-square-foot floor in Shopify’s recreation room. The beautiful high-gloss finish reflects the overhead lighting and will stand up to stains and heavy foot traffic.
  • The floor before overlay application was heavily damaged, with cracks and loose slab sections. Surface prep required removing the existing tile and residual mastic and stabilizing the unsound sections with a fast-curing filler.
  • A self-leveling microtopping with a rapid early strength gain is ready for polishing after only 24 hours, allowing floors to be restored quickly.

The challengeShopify, an e-commerce company in Ottawa, Ontario, wanted to create a party and recreation room where employees could socialize after hours. However, the condition of the existing floor was beyond repair, requiring installation of a whole new surface. “We recommended a polished microtopping with decorative sawcuts,” says Youri Semakov of Concrete Polishing & Sealing Ltd., specialists in concrete polishing, industrial coating, and natural stone restoration. “The main objective was to install a reflective, modern surface with good acoustics and which would be easy to maintain.”

How it was donePreparing the floor for the overlay was the most time-consuming aspect of the project. Crews had to remove the existing vinyl tile and repair and re-profile the underlying concrete floor, which was riddled with cracks and loose slab sections. A 10-inch shotblaster and industrial floor grinders were used to remove the residual tile mastic and unsound concrete and leave behind a roughened surface profile. Once the bare concrete matrix was fully exposed, the loose slab sections were filled with a fast-curing filler, and then a 100%-solids epoxy primer embedded with coarse silica was applied to improve the “grip” of the overlay.

After surface preparation was complete, the installation of the overlay went fairly quickly. Concrete Polishing & Sealing installed a single-component self-leveling microtopping that provides a durable wear surface and has a rapid early strength gain. “The microtopping can be successfully installed over any hard surface including, terrazzo and tiles, with a fast turnaround time of just 24 hours,” says Semakov.

When the overlay was ready for polishing, the crew used the floor grinders and progressively finer diamond-abrasive segments to achieve the desired reflective sheen, applying a chemical densifier during the grinding process to further harden and dustproof the topping. “For overlays, we use same method as when polishing normal concrete, the same diamond tooling,” says Semakov.

The final step was to apply a protective lithium clear coat, followed by burnishing, to give the new recreation room floor greater stain and wear resistance and a high-gloss finish that reflects the overhead lighting. The finished floor is bright and inviting and required no additional decorative enhancement. “The only decorative treatment was the sawcuts, which also enhanced the integrity and structural consistency of the surface. We used no color, stain or dye,” says Semakov.

Applications for polished overlaysSemakov is seeing a growing market demand for a high-strength, cost-effective and quick solution to restoring heavily damaged concrete floors, where regular spot patching and repair methods would be ineffective. “A polished microtopping can easily be treated with color or a decorative coating, it is environmentally friendly, mold and mildew resistant and, most important, economical. In comparison, the installation of a new concrete floor is expensive and requires a lengthy curing time. Also, the old concrete has to be removed and discarded to a landfill which contributes to overall cost,” he says. Where structural weight is a critical factor, a lightweight microtopping of just a ¼-inch thickness might be the only viable solution, he notes.

When Concrete Polishing & Sealing began business in 2001, polished overlays and decorative concrete finishing were new to the Canadian market. “At first, our company undertook straightforward projects, like polishing of concrete floors for IKEA, which required only diamond polishing and densification. As the market has matured over the years and the industry has gained more experience, the demand has grown for more complicated and aesthetically appealing solutions, including the installation of polished microtoppings as well as the use of dyes, water-based colors, and various lithium and water-based coatings,” Semakov says.

Materials and equipment usedShotblaster: Blastrac 1-10DPS75
Industrial floor grinder: HTC 800HD
Control joints / crack saw: Crack Chaser, from US Saw
Floor burnisher: 27-inch propane burnisher, from Aztec Products
Primer: Solhydcoat 100, from Solhydroc
Microtopping: Solhydflow Deco, from Solhydroc
Concrete densifier and chemical hardener: Liqui-Hard, from W. R. MEADOWS
Topcoat: BELLATRIX, from W. R. MEADOWS

ContractorConcrete Polishing & Sealing Ltd., Ottawa, Ontario

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