As you all know…I love the concrete overlay industry and truly believe we have the best products…but, I’m always looking for new techniques or ways to help make your application process easier. Well…I have a couple of really cool items to go over…so please read on as these will definitely help you in your overlay business.
I keep running across this first issue in my technical help calls and so wanted to go over some critical info on application thickness outdoors, our recommendation…and why. I am mainly talking about projects where you have a choice regarding application thickness. Because, we all have projects that no matter what the recommendation is, the reality of what can be done on that job site, the product being used, or the requirements of the customer, may not be in alignment with the recommendations and we just do the best we can. However, the information I am about to share, may enlighten you as to why you get some of the results you are getting.
As you know, the substrate (concrete) you apply your overlay on, can be “porous” or what I call “THIRSTY” from aging, being mechanically profiled, or from troweling or finishing methods used. Thirsty concrete, with open pores, wants to suck the moisture out of any overlays applied on top of them. So, when you have thirsty concrete outdoors, we recommend applying Stone Edge Surfaces Stamp mix at 3/8” thickness. Why 3/8”, because the thirsty concrete substrate is trying to suck the moisture out of the bottom 1/8” of your overlay material, and the sun, wind, and warm temperature outside, are trying to dry the top 1/8” of your overlay material at the same time. By having that extra 1/8” of overlay material in the middle…you are providing needed moisture to the whole 3/8” thickness which will give you added open time for stamping and workability and it helps keep the product from flashing and getting away from you, and getting too hard too soon.
NOTE: Any overlay at less than 3/8” thickness on “thirsty” concrete may set faster than you are expecting as moisture is pulled from the bottom and top of the overlay…and can result in spider cracking, a shattered look when wet, stress cracks to the high points and ridges when stamping.
NOTE: In all cases remember to cool down hot concrete substrates with an SSD (Surface-Saturate-Dry) method that can be done “before” Primer 100 application…but you must make sure that there is absolutely no standing water or puddles…and only a mildly damp to dry surface when you do apply the Primer 100.
When applying overlays indoors, your application thickness can be treated a little differently, but you still may have open pore thirsty concrete, so just be aware that thirsty concrete will be pulling moisture from your overlay. If you are applying your overlay at 1/4” inside, you typically do not have the sun and wind pulling moisture from the top of your overlay, so it is different from applying ¼” outdoors.
NOTE: Using a spray bottle to lightly moisten the surface of your overlay is a good trick to use indoors and outdoors if you are experiencing accelerated dry times based on thirsty concrete.
Now some very exciting news on False-Set times! Right before the World of Concrete I got on the phone with our chemists so I could better understand, not just the ingredients in our mixes, but the actual chemical characteristics of the ingredients used. I wanted to see if there was anything new they could tell me or that I might discover…and wholly cow…I learned something that really excited me!
Like everyone else, I followed suit with the industry and let our mixes false-set for about 3 minutes. What I found out is the industry average of 3 minutes is too low for technologically advanced products like Stone Edge Surfaces. According to the lab, our products have superior polymers, but it’s the addition of the proprietary ingredients in our formulations that actually help all the ingredients blend more thoroughly, and…hydrate more completely. Turns out, they keep hydrating for longer than 3 minutes! Eye opening to me, so I took this newfound knowledge to the World of Concrete and had industry experts like Emil Gera, Joshua Russell, and others let Stone Edge Surfaces mixes false-set for 8-10 minutes for our Wall Mix and 5-6 minutes for Stamp, Trowel and Spray mix…before using them. This is so different than what the industry does…they all just shook their heads but gave it a try…and BAM…talk about compliments from the industry giants…like: “You Made a Believer out of me!”, “This is the best mix at the show”, “It’s so smooth crack free”, “other mixes failed this year in these conditions, Stone Edge looks fantastic with no failures”. Yes…those are actual comments!
We feel with the right mixing procedure and new false-set times, you can have more success and have even more user-friendliness with our products than you are having now.
So here is what I want you to do in regards to False-Set times:
When mixing the Stone Edge Surfaces Stamp Mix make sure to mix for a complete 3 minutes, using the recommended water levels within tolerance for that application, to thoroughly mix the ingredients. Once that is achieved, let the Stamp Mix False-Set (sit untouched) for 5-6 minutes. This allows the water to fully hydrate with all components of the stamp mix. The Stamp Mix may feel stiffer than you are used to as it quickly expands like an insulation foam would. If you allow this to happen in the mixing container (and not on the floor) over the 5-6-minute false-set time period, then you won’t fight the material in its initial usage when you start applying it.
After it false-sets for 5-6 minutes, then add enough water to get it back to the original smooth consistency you had before it started false setting…and you will have a smooth, beautiful mix with added open time and workability
For Stone Edge Surfaces Wall mix, the false-set time is a little longer due to the nature of its component makeup. The false-set time for Wall Mix is 10 minutes, once you’ve mixed for the initial 3 minutes and achieved the proper initial smooth viscosity.
You will find that after the 10-minute false-set, the material will be very chunky and stiff. Just re-mix and add the proper amount of water to get the material back to its original smooth viscosity level that you had before the false-set. Wall Mix takes longer to hydrate, which is why we are taking the false set time to 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, and you’ve remixed and brought it back to a smooth fluffy mix, you will experience an extreme difference in the amount of workability and user-friendliness including troweling stamping and carving time. Also…we tested this on a 10 bag mix…and it worked with no issues.
Add the new false-set times and the thicker outdoor applications on thirsty concrete, and your job will become a whole lot easier, and your finished projects will be that much better.
That’s all for this post. As always…let me know if you have any questions or want me to write about anything in particular.