stains and dyes produce a unique look to each concrete floor to
which they are applied.
This uniqueness is
a benefit and a large part of the attraction to concrete floors.
That said, it is vital to produce a sample of what the floor will
look like after it is stained and sealed. There are so many factors
that affect how the chemical stains react with the concrete - quantity
of cement in the mix, the age of the concrete and concrete finishing
methods, to name just a few - that a sample must be made on the
actual floor you are going to be staining.
Certainly, your website and portfolio
can attract a prospective client, but that is no guarantee you can
match identical colors since every load of concrete is different.
Most manufacturers of chemical stains or dyes provide color charts
dis playing their colors. Review color charts and color chips with
the client. Keep in mind that color charts are photos of the color
that have been laminated onto paper and not actual concrete, Color
chips and color charts are simply starting points.
Sampling can turn into a time-consuming
as well as costly endeavor. Have a signed contract before you spend
your efforts in
the sampling phase. Some contractors have a formula for sampling,
such as the first series of samples is part of the original contract
with additional samples costing $300. Typically, it is not as much
of an issue on residential applications; however, on large
commercial applications I have actually sampled for days before
the architect or owners approve a specific color.
Choose an area of the floor to construct
the sample that will ultimately not be visible and not a part of
the finished work such as a closet or an area that will receive
some other Hooting material such as carpet. Make sure and construct
a sample large enough for the client to get a better perspective
of what the end result will look like. Not only are you sampling
for the ultimate color, but also to find out how the stain takes
to the floor. Samples do not provide an actual perspective. For
this reason, I will always conduct a water absorption test prior
to any staining. Mist water on the surface - if the slab darkens
and readily accepts the water, chances are you have a surface that
is a good candidate for staining.
Make sure you prepare the floor in
the sample area in the same fashion as the actual installation,
such as sanding, buffing, scrubbing, mechanical abrasion, etc. This
way you will not encounter any hidden secrets when it comes time
to work on the actual floor. Finish the sample off with your proposed
sealer and floor finish. Sampling in this manner provides expectations
for you and your client.
Document the formulas used during sampling and
keep accurate notes in your job file. I keep arecord
of every project complete with the sample formulas. If you successfully
installed a project that is subject to the general public, such
as a restaurant, years ago, you may not remember the color formulas
used on that project.
Once a final sample has been agreed
upon, obtain written approval from the client so they cannot come
back to you suggesting that the color is too dark or light.
It takes time to properly go through
the sampling procedure. But it is extremely important that your
client knows what to expect, so they need to see a representative
sample. If you have an office to conduct some of your own sampling,
start showcasing some of your work and invite clients to your office
to show what you are capable of.
Harris is the founder and president of the Decorative Concrete Institute
in Douglasville, Gal, which provides hands-on training seminars
in architectural concrete. He has pesonally placed or supervised
the placement of more than 3 million sq. ft. of decorative concrete
and has authored two best-selling books, Bob Harris' Guide
to Stained Concrete Interior Floors and Bob Harris' Guide
to Stamped Concrete.
CONCEPTS * April/May 2005* www.concreteconceptsmag.com