Joanne Blain, Vancouver Sun Published: Friday, November 10, 2006
Get over the idea that concrete floors belong only in the garage or the laundry room. With a shot of colour and a polished sheen of a finish, they can work in any room of the house. Just ask Gary Jones. The Richmond-based president of Smart Surface Technology was brought in to finish the concrete floors that run from top to bottom of a $20-million San Francisco house.
Think Yaletown loft rather than sidewalk and you’re on the right track. The type of floors Jones’s company creates are smooth, burnished canvases of colour, without a square inch of dull grey concrete in sight. Growing numbers of homeowners are noticing decorative concrete floors in commercial buildings and realizing they may be the answer to their quest for a practical, contemporary-looking floor.
The wow factor is also a big draw, Jones says. “A lot of people want concrete because they want to be unique,” he says. “They don’t want to be like the guy down the road – they want something cool.” And Jones has lots of ways to achieve that look.
Under the Colormaker label, his company markets both stains and dyes that can be used to colour an existing concrete floor, as well as colour-enhanced resurfacing treatments. All three types of products are water-based and sink right into the concrete rather than sitting on top of it like paint which tends to chip and flake over the years.
Colormaker has eight shades of stains, which are spread over an existing concrete floor and create an irregular pattern of colour by reacting with the lime in the concrete. These generally produce earth tones like copper and bronze, Jones says. Water-based dyes come in 20 shades, many of them vivid, and are sprayed on top of the concrete for a translucent effect. Colormaker also makes resurfacing treatments – essentially a thin coating of concrete, pre-coloured in 25 shades – that can go right over ceramic tile or concrete that’s irregular or in poor condition.
That was the situation in a house in Vancouver in the Main Street corridor with rough, uneven concrete floors. The homeowner chose a re-surfacing treatment in a warm beige colour to smooth out the floor and add an up-to-date look to the fairly conventional home.
Even though the floor is in a below-grade basement, it is warm to the touch. When properly insulated from below, Jones says, concrete floors absorb the ambient temperature of the room, making them far more comfortable underfoot than unheated ceramic tile. Concrete also breathes, he says, meaning that it doesn’t trap moisture and become musty like carpets often do when installed in basements. As well, if you get bored with the look of your floor, it’s relatively easy process to change it.
“If in five years you want to change the colour of the floor, we can do that,” Jones says – just remove the sealer, apply a new colour and re-seal it. And you’re not restricted to just a stain, a dye or a re-surfacing treatment – you can combine one or more to create a wide variety of colours and effects. “You end up with a thousand combinations if you really play around with it,” says Jones. You can also vary the intensity of the surface sheen by putting down just a couple of layers of finish or a dozen, he says. And maintenance is easy – clean up spills quickly and then every year or two, mop on a liquid wax “to give it a nice sheen again.”
Jones says he’s seen decorative concrete floors that are 14 or 15 years old and still look great. “You can’t really degrade one of these surfaces if it is put down right.” About 70 per cent of Jones’ customers in the U.S. and Canada are commercial, including retailers like Whole Foods, Starbucks and Bootlegger, but the residential market for decorative concrete is growing, he says.
“Many homeowners have seen it in a restaurant or store and they want that floor, he says, and seeing finished concrete on the floor of a high-traffic business tells you that it can take a lot of wear and tear.”
© The Vancouver Sun 2006 email@example.com
***Pantheon Decorative Concrete Products offers two and three day hands-on workshops to explore the endless possibilities of using Colormaker Products. Call 403-828-4581 or email us for further information. The Colormaker products website is www.colormakerfloors.com.