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Concrete With Flair

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The high-traction, polished-concrete floor at Reasor’s, in Owasso, Okla., is durable and needs no waxing.

When it came time to building its new store in Owasso, Okla., Reasor’s faced a challenge that has long plagued supermarket operators: how to create a colorful, high-performance finished floor that would stand up well over time with minimal long-term maintenance costs.

The chain found a solution in an innovative approach involving an age-old building material: concrete. It took advantage of a patented concrete dye-and-dry process to transform the bare concrete floor in the new store into an appealing, durable and richly patterned no-wax wear surface that doesn’t require the extensive maintenance of VCT or stained and sealed concrete. It specified FGS PermaShine (manufactured by L&M Construction Chemicals), whose finished concrete offers virtually unlimited geometric and free-form design options in precise colors along with low maintenance and long-term durability.

Dying and dry polishing a bare concrete floor involves using specially formulated chemicals and following a careful process that permanently changes the composition of the top wear surface to improve durability of the achieved finish. It can be used on new concrete and also works well for restoration of concrete floors in remodels.

Before committing to the process, Reasor’s asked Concrete Visions, a polished-concrete contractor and certified PermaShine installer, to set up a sample selection of dyed and dry-polished concrete in the rear delivery area of one of its existing stores.

“We wanted to see how the floor would stand up against heavy traffic from the fork lifts and other equipment used daily,” explained Allen Mills, executive VP, Reasor’s, Tahlequah, Okla., which operates 15 supermarkets and two convenience stores.

The results were extremely positive.

“After 120 days, the floor looked like the day we put it in,” Mills said.

New store: The design and decor source group at Associated Wholesale Grocers, Kansas City, Kan., designed the new Reasor’s. The floor features multiple eye-catching patterns in six distinct, custom-blended colors. The colors were selected to complement the color scheme for each individual department.

“Before we started the project, it was important to show Reasor’s that we could mix the dyes to exactly match the specified colors and use them to create the specified patterns,” said Ray Bowman, president, Concrete Visions, Tulsa.

The dying process took place after the floor was polished almost to the degree desired. The dry-polishing technique uses diamond disks in the grinding machines for precise results. After the dying, the floor is polished for the final time with the finest grit. To maximize durability, the installer applies a penetrating hardener/densifier to make the concrete harder and denser on the near-surface wear zone.

“Unlike a sealer that just coats the floor and wears off, the hardener/densifier chemically reacts with components of the concrete floor without completely sealing the surface,” said Greg Schwietz, president, L&M Construction Chemicals, Omaha, Neb.

In Owasso, the installer used PermaShine’s water-based, odorless, solvent- and VOC-free hardener/densifier. It allows the surface to breathe, so there is no water vapor build-up and leaves no film to scratch, chip, peel, dis-color or deteriorate. The added strength and wear resistance help preserve the highly polished look for many years.

Dyed and dry-polished concrete floors don’t require frequent re-waxing and other maintenance to counter the effects of foot traffic and wheeled carts. Plus, there are no seams or grout to serve as a potential breeding ground for mildew.

“Although dyed and dry-polished concrete is more expensive than VCT or stained and sealed concrete, because of its much lower maintenance and overall life-cycle cost, it’s cheaper in the long run,” said Reasor’s Mills.

In addition, the polished concrete can help a supermarket gain up to five points toward LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification.

© 2014