Concrete Contractor June/July 2019

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Epoxy Flooring Systems Transform Ordinary Concrete into Art

34 June/July 2019


in the market!


How to Select and Install



A Lesson in Perseverance 28


Minnich Manufacturing

LIGHT HAS NEVER BEEN TOUGHER The Stinger motor has been designed to hold it’s torque in concrete under load, runs cool, and saves on vibrator head wear and tear. Rugged, agile, and dependable. A combination only found in a Minnich flex shaft vibrator.

Explore Our Entire Line of Vibrators WWW.MINNICH-MFG.COM

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June/July 2019 | Issue 4, Volume 19

WHAT’S INSIDE Departments

Cover Photo Credit: Talpey Construction

4 6 8 66

Editor’s Letter Legal Matters New Products The Last Placement

What’s Online? New Technology Offers Recyclable Solution for Returned Concrete

Cover Story 28 If at First You Don’t Succeed, Try and Try Again The Concrete Foundations Association unveils its 2019 Grand Project of the Year.

Features 14 Total Concrete Slab Floor Installation Prepping, placing and finishing medium to large concrete slab on grade placements.

34 Transforming Ordinary to Art with Epoxy Advanced flooring systems can mitigate, revitalize and improve overall aesthetics.

42 Tech Paves the Way for Improved Delivery of Durable Roads Grade control technology in heavy equipment helps contractors complete jobs faster and more efficiently.

18 Selecting and Installing Vapor Retarders What contractors need to know about vapor retarders as protection from moisture sensitive flooring materials.

46 Equipment Specification Guides: Concrete Saws A compilation of technical information when choosing your next saw.

GCP Applied Technologies has developed a solution that when added to plastic concrete turns it into a granular material with a multitude of uses. Search: 21068228

Carbide 101: A Primer on Tungsten Carbide in Concrete Drilling Insights into use, application and best practice for carbide drilling utilization. Search: 21065188

52 Propane-Powered Equipment Propane can already be used in multiple types of equipment common on concrete construction sites.

54 Volumetric Mixing Shapes the Backbone of the Bay Bauman Landscape and Construction has embraced nextgen technology to place concrete for some of San Francisco’s most important infrastructure.

24 Surface Cracking Caused by Rapid Moisture Loss How to minimize and prevent plastic shrinkage cracking.

COM | June/July 2019 | Concrete Contractor 3

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It’s a Concrete


Published by AC Business Media



idewalks, driveways and roads are obvious concrete projects, and when I joined Concrete Contractor in April as its new associate editor, that was about the extent of my industry knowledge. Over the past few months, I have quickly learned, however, the full scope of what it means to be a concrete contractor. Concrete is the most widely used building material in the world, with about 10 billion tons produced each year. The $37 billion industry employs more than 2 million people in the United States and is quickly growing in underdeveloped countries internationally. With numbers like that, it is clear that the concrete industry is about so much more than infrastructure. In my first article in Concrete Contractor, I explored the decorative side of the industry. Resurfacing pro Keith Kimberlin of Surface2Surface shared the ins and outs of several unique projects involving its advanced epoxy floor systems to mitigate recurring problems, revitalize old spaces and improve overall aesthetics. The industry vet gave me my first lesson in the science behind concrete and a new appreciation for prep work. You can read more about those projects on page 34. Another great introduction into the industry, this month’s cover story on page 28 features the Concrete Foundation Association’s (CFA) 2019 Grand Project of the Year. The annual award recognizes a broad spectrum of categories for their ConcreteContractor

Advisory Board

201 N. Main Street, Fifth Floor, Fort Atkinson, WI 53538 (800) 538-5544 •

Amy Wunderlin, Associate Editor awunderlin@ (800) 538-5544

superiority and, eventually, a top-rated project stands out among the rest. This year’s selection is a true lesson in dedication. The complete list of 2019 Projects of the Year will be unveiled at the CFA's annual conference July 25-27, at the Hilton Denver City Center in Denver, Colo. Another favorite from this month’s issue is Joe Nasvik’s lesson on vapor retarders. His rich knowledge can be found on page 18, and it’s an article you won’t want to miss. While concrete construction may be new to me, my love of learning—and a good story—has guided me well as both a reporter at several local newspapers and most recently as the assistant editor of Concrete Contractor’s sister publications Supply & Demand Chain Executive and Food Logistics. As I continue to explore this new-to-me world of concrete, I hope you’ll join me for the ride. The first-hand knowledge of contractors is invaluable, and I want to hear and learn from you. Drop me a line at, or even share a project photo or two on our Facebook page. Enjoy the read!

Follow us @ Concreteinsider

Kim Basham KB Engineering Cheyenne, Wyo.

Jim Cuviello Cuviello Concrete Polished|Stained|Crafted Stevensville, Md.

Jim Baty Concrete Foundations Association Mt. Vernon, Iowa

Chris Klemaske T.B. Penick & Sons, Inc. San Diego, Calif.

Search: Concrete Polishing

Dennis Purinton Purinton Builders, Inc. East Granby, Conn. Craig Coppersmith, P.E. Nox-Crete Omaha, Neb.


Publisher/Editorial Director Associate Editor Contributing Writers Senior Production Manager Art Director Audience Development Director Audience Development Manager

Ryan Olson, (800) 538-5544, ext. 1306 Amy Wunderlin, (800) 538-5544, ext. 1267 Kim Basham, Jim Baty, Brad Humphrey, David C. Whitlock, Joe Nasvik, Chad White Cindy Rusch April Van Etten Wendy Chady Angela Franks

ADVERTISING SALES (800) 538-5544

Eric Servais Erica Finger Nikki Lawson Sean Dunphy Denise Singsime National Automotive Sales Tom Lutzke, (630) 484-8040


Digital Operations Manager Digital Sales Manager Editor Managing Editor

Nick Raether Monique Terrazas Larry Stewart Kimberly Hegeman


PO Box 3605, Northbrook, IL 60065-3605, Phone: (877) 201-3915 Fax: (847) 291-4816 • REPRINTS Ryan Olson, (800) 538-5544, ext. 1306 , LIST RENTAL Jeff Moriarty, SVP, Business & Media Solutions Infogroup, Phone: (518) 339-4511 Email: AC BUSINESS MEDIA

CEO CFO Vice President, Sales & Marketing Editorial Director

Barry Lovette JoAnn Breuchel Amy Schwandt Greg Udelhofen

Published and copyrighted 2019 by AC Business Media. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage or retrieval system, without written permission from the publisher. CONCRETE CONTRACTOR (USPS 021-799, ISSN 1935-1887 (print); ISSN 2471-2302 (online) is published 7 times a year: January, February/March, April/May, June/July, August/September, October/November and December by AC Business Media, 201 N. Main Street, Fifth Floor, Fort Atkinson, WI 53538. Printed in the U.S.A. Periodicals postage paid at Fort Atkinson, WI, and additional entry offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Concrete Contractor, PO Box 3605 Northbrook, IL 60065-3605 June/July 2019, Issue 4, Volume 19 One year subscription to non-qualified individuals: U.S. 1 year: $35, 2 years: $70. Canada & Mexico 1 year: $60, 2 years: $105. All other countries 1 year: $85, 2 years: $160 (payable in U.S. funds drawn on U.S. banks). Single copies available (prepaid only) $10.00 each (U.S., Canada & Mexico), $15.00 each (International). Printed in the U.S.A.

Concrete Contractor is the Official Media Sponsor of the CFA Foundation Company Certification Program


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xt. 1267 m hrey, White

The lightest in its class, the new Cummins X12™ engine is revolutionizing the concrete industry. The X12 doesn’t just set new performance standards of medium-bore engines – it sets new performance standards for your business. Tipping the scale at just 2,050 pounds, the productivity champion leads the industry in power-to-weight with up to 500 hp and 1700 lb-ft of peak torque. Backed by the largest support network, the X12 delivers power and a bigger payload to keep you moving forward in a world that’s Always On. Move your business forward at


any form nformation

nline) is eptember, Atkinson, WI tional entry Northbrook,

ountries available


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David C. Whitlock has over 25 years’ experience in business immigration, compliance, employment counseling and training. He is the founding attorney of Whitlock Law LLC and can be reached at (404) 626-7011 or at davidcwhitlock@



Tips to Ensure Employee Health and Well-Being

Opiod abuse is a growing concern among contractors, but ensuring the health and well-being of your employees extends well beyond just one issue. by David Whitlock


n the last issue, I wrote briefly about steps contractors can take to combat opioid abuse. Since then, several contractors have told me that I may have missed the mark. They see that the problem is not limited to opioid abuse, but rather, deals with the broader subject of employee wellbeing. Another contractor criticized the fact that I did not give enough information about how to deal with this problem. So this time around, I will try to address both issues. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) considers construction, in general, to be the riskiest business for employee safety—and concrete construction is no exception. Construction is physically demanding, stressful work, and physical injury is almost inevitable. When a worker is injured— whether on- or off-the-job—a number of problems typically arise. If the injury prevents the employee from working, there will be economic loss of some kind. With that, the employee typically will have mental anguish or stress, both about the loss of income and not being able to work. In cases of prolonged lack of work, the individual may also incur emotional stress. You might think that good medical assistance would solve these problems, but the medical community often makes the problem worse.

Particularly in the case of soft tissue injuries where it is difficult to measure pain or changes in mobility, the medical professional has a tough job. Many respond by prescribing pain relievers without being able to measure the scope, frequency or severity of the pain. And, in many cases, the pain relievers are opioids. To prevent the patient from running out of desperately needed medication, the medical professional will often overprescribe. At first, the worker is taking opioids for genuine pain relief, but over time, as the pain diminishes, the reliance upon opioids does not. Instead, opioids become a way for the worker to “get through the day.” Please note that the same situation can occur from the abuse of alcohol. Although opioids have become the current “evil” prescribed by the medical profession, abuse of lawful, prescribed drugs is still a big problem. So what should concrete contractors do? Here are seven steps to ensure the health and wellness of your employees: • Educate your employees about the health and productivity issues related to prescription drug abuse and alcohol. • Be sure to incorporate educational information about alcohol and substance abuse in your workplace wellness programs and strategies.

• Check to see that your health insurance coverage includes benefits for substance abuse disorders. If it does not, price it and consider paying the cost. • Make certain your drug testing plan is well-written and covers all forms of substance abuse. • Ensure that your employees are well aware of your drug-free workplace policies and how they work. • Consider providing an employee assistance plan that provides specific information and services related to substance abuse prevention, treatment and return to work issues. • Train managers and supervisors to recognize and respond to alcohol and substance abuse issues, so that problems can be addressed timely, safely and legally. While no one is suggesting that you can solve all of your employees’ problems, it is important that your employees perceive you as a helpful resource. This requires constant, effective communication and a genuine desire to help your workforce become the best they can be. With all the other distractions that come with running your business, it can sometimes be hard to find the time to make a difference to the individual employee, but it is always worth it.

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New Products ››››› A compliation of the latest products in the concrete industry. MBW GPR65, 68 and 77 Reversible Vibratory Plates At under 370 lbs., the GPR65 and GPR68 generate 6,000 lbs. of centrifugal force, have amplitudes of .072 and .071 in. and offer travel speeds up to 92 fpm. They are powered by a Honda GX160 engine. The GPR77 comes in at just under 400 lbs., generates 7,775 lbs. of centrifugal force, has an amplitude of .066 in. and achieves a travel speed up to 86 fpm. It offers a choice of a Honda GX270 gas or Hatz 1B20 diesel engine. The units have plate sizes of 15, 18 and 22 in. and are designed to compact lifts up to 22 in. They incorporate a heavy-duty mechanical shifting mechanism that provides the ability to reliably shift travel direction at constant speeds. Video:

Sundeck Products USA Inc. Sundek Premium Finish Coat Systems

Wagner Meters Rapid RH L6 System with Total Reader Wagner Meters' Rapid RH L6 system features the L6 Smart Sensor and incorporates an enhanced design capable of providing concrete moisture readings up to 100% RH. Each L6 sensor includes an onboard memory device capable of storing 512 time-stamped measurements. • Updated DataMaster L6 app • Protective cap with butyl rubber seal • Combines Rapid RH Smart Reader and Easy Reader into single device • Instantly reads and displays RH and temperature data from the smart sensors • Transmits via Bluetooth to Wagner's DataMaster L6 recording and reporting app • Available in two kits

Sundek's Premium and Premium Plus Finish Coat Systems enhance and increase the longevity of decorative concrete surface areas. Both systems are available with the Classic Texture, SunSplash, SunCoat and new SunLastic Systems. This architectural colored acrylic top coat, when applied along with one of the proven Sundek systems, includes the latest in Resin and Nano technologies, which make cleaning and maintaining the surface easier than conventional coatings. The systems are an ideal topcoat for commercial pools, water parks, walkways and residential applications. • Antimicrobial protection, which prevents mold and mildew from establishing itself on the surface • High-performance pigments including UV inhibitors for color retention and color match • Low VOC and U.S. compliance

Milwaukee Tool PlusLok SDS-Plus Extensions Milwaukee Tool's Plus-Lok SDS-Plus Extensions can be used for extended reach and deep hole drilling. Obstructions are common when drilling holes for concrete anchors, which can create a tight fit for the rotary hammer. The Plus-Lok SDS-Plus Extensions easily lock into drill bits for a tool-free connection, giving contractors the necessary reach without the need for long drill bits. • Built to withstand aggressive applications such as side-loading or drilling through rebar in concrete • Universal • Fits into tight spaces where a rotary hammer cannot reach

Toro Dingo TXL 2000 Compact Track Loader

The Dingo TXL 2000 has a rated operating capacity of up to 2,000 lbs. and features telescoping arms that allow it to reach over obstacles, dig below grade and generally extend the working range. • Fully extended boom offers a hinge pin height of just over 10 ft. • Flexible, suspended operator platform provides 360° to the work area • Intuitive, easy to operate traction control design • Loader arm joystick includes telescoping function, proportional auxiliary control and directional left/right control for applicable attachments • Standard skid-steer loader attachment mount

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for 24 MONTHS

on NEW models Contact your local dealer

5 YR 3 YR

With 3-year/3,000-hour standard coverage and 5-year/10,000-hour structural coverage, our machines are backed by the hardest working warranty around, and guaranteed to keep you up and running longer.




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NEW PRODUCTS W. R. Meadows Air-Shield SMP

AIR-Shield SMP is a self-adhesive, vapor permeable, air/liquid moisture barrier designed to be fully bonded to the substrate without the use of an adhesive or primer. It is a tough, durable membrane that exhibits resistance to air leakage and liquid water intrusion, while allowing vapor to readily pass through to allow the wall assembly to dry. • When properly applied, helps reduce air and moisture intrusion. • High vapor permeability–allows the transmission of moisture vapor through porous building materials. • Controlled thickness. • Highly flexible–bridges cracks, which may form in the substrate. • Can be left exposed to UV for a maximum of 90 days. • Sheet-applied–no costly spray equipment or enhanced protective gear needed during installation. • Can be installed in a wide range of temperatures from 32 to 140 degrees F.

BORIDE Launches Dry Resin Line

Customer demand for a high-quality dry resin line prompted BORIDE Engineered Abrasives to add an additional tool to its concrete/terrazzo floor polishing lineup. Designed to follow the Blue Star Diamond (BSD) ceramics, the BSD dry resins allow contractors to complete their concrete and terrazzo polishing process with the same quality, long life and dependability for which BORIDE products are known. • The resins attach by Velcro and come in three grits: 400, 800 and 1500. • In testing, the resins performed consistently well on soft to very hard concrete, with an average life from 6,000 to 8,000 sq. ft. • There are currently two sizes offered: the 3 in. is standard; the two-inch is preferable for machines less than 350 lbs. and is available by special order only. • Made in Traverse City, Mich., the dry resins are available at distributors nationwide as well as at www.

ChemPatch Rapid Setting Works as MultiFunctional Repair Mortar ChemPatch RS is a versatile single component cementitious repair mortar for a wide variety of horizontal, vertical and overhead repairs to concrete substrates. It is specially formulated to produce a light color concrete mortar that blends well with surrounding concrete. ChemPatch RS can be used to create a smooth, broom, float or trowel finish. It may be shaved or molded to match substrate contours, eliminating the need for formwork, and contains no added gypsum for enhanced durability and extended resistance to severe weather conditions. The mortar may be used for interior or exterior repairs of precast panels, steps, columns, beams, concrete pipe and silos, or surface blemishes in formed walls.

Allen says it designed the new 8-ft.-class, mechanically driven MSP465 Riding Trowel with a 57 hp Kubota liquid-cooled gasoline engine for the high-volume flatwork concrete contractor. Digital readouts offer accurate fuel levels and diagnostics, and a 12-gal. fuel tank extends run time between refueling. Helical gearboxes are said to ensure maximum torque at high rotor speeds for performance in panning or finishing operations. MSP465 standard features include: • Twin, 46-in. rotors with five bladed spiders • Bilingual digital display shows engine diagnostics (temperature, RPM, oil pressure, warnings, etc.) • Two point, top-mount lifting system • Four point tie downs

Allen Introduces the MSP465 Riding Trowel

MAPEI Elastocolor Texture

MAPEI recently extended its Elastocolor product line of coatings to include Elastocolor Texture, a high-build, textured coating. • Elastocolor Texture is a water-based, high-build, acrylic, textured coating for use on exterior, above-grade, new and previously coated concrete and masonry surfaces. • It is specially designed with a unique blend of aggregates to produce an attractive, uniform textured finish, making it ideal for reducing the appearance of surface imperfections and irregular substrates.


• •


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NHL size ice rink with Somero S-485 Laser Screed® machine

www.SOmERO.COm CONC0619_08-13_NewProducts AW RO.indd 11

FF 80.1 / FL 65.8

239.210.6519 6/13/19 9:49 AM

NEW PRODUCTS Aquanil Plus Penetrating Silane Sealers Now Available with Migrating Corrosion Inhibitor Protection ChemMasters Inc. has added three new versions to its Aquanil Plus line of deep penetrating, chemically reactive silane sealers. The new Aquanil Plus MCI series silane sealers feature the addition of a migrating corrosion inhibitor (MCI) for superior corrosion protection of structural steel and rebar in concrete in a single application. Aquanil Plus 40 MCI, Aquanil Plus 40-A MCI and Aquanil Plus 100 MCI are formulated to offer a V.O.C. compliant option for the U.S. and Canada. They are non-etching, will not harm most uncoated glass or metal frames, and leave no residue to clean, making application quick and easy.

Wire Brush Rotary for Power Trowels

Poly Fix from SpecChem

Poly Fix is a high strength, two-component ultra-low viscosity hybrid polyurethane concrete repair binder. It can be used to penetrate hairline cracks or mixed with dry sand to patch/repair concrete spalls or control joints. Poly Fix’s water-like consistency also makes it an excellent crack healer/sealer for deteriorated concrete surfaces. • Easy 1 to 1 mix ratio • Penetrates concrete to seal against liquid absorption • Excellent resistance to a variety of chemicals • Dark amber color when mixed, dries gray • Cures in 10 minutes at 75 F • Structurally restores concrete surfaces

Valtec Group LLC announces wire brush rotaries for use on power trowels for scrubbing and stripping. • Primary uses include removing curing compounds, acrylic sealers and bond breakers. • Great for cleaning casting floors after lifting tilt-up panels. • For use on walk-behind and ride-on power trowels.


New Products to Strengthen Eco-Hard MS • NEW Sodium Densifier Eco-Hard MS PLUS • Sodium Densifier with 40% solids

HIGH R.O.I. The Lo Riser Inclining Platform Trailer is a versatile tool that will help increase your efficiencies and lower costs to deliver a higher return on your investment. With a Lo Riser you'll see:

✔ ✔ ✔

Lower labor costs - one man loading/unloading offers more deliveries per day

Lower specialized equipment costs - no rollback truck required, just a pickup truck - no crown point, equipment can be driven up the built-in ramp

4 Degree Load Angle

Lower worker's comp claims - enhanced safety features eliminate most opportunities for injuries - no more dangerous, slanted ramp boards

Stop, Drop and Load your way to maximum profits.

2D PL • NEW Fast-Setting Densifier for porous concrete *shown with optional paint color

For more information on these products find us at or call 1-800-592-9320

Inclining Platform Trailers



Manufactured by: The Advance Metalworking Company, Inc.

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James Bond Tester MK III

The James Bond Tester MK III measures the bond strength or tensile strength of concrete, asphalt, tile, concrete repair or other overlay material by the direct tension or pull off method. By pulling a 25 mm steel disk attached under the unit, the tester can: • Measure the near surface strength of a substrate in order to determine the substrates quality before applying an overlay. • Determine the bond strength of a repair or overlay material after it is applied to the substrate. • Determine the tensile strength of a repair, overlay or adhesive after the material is applied to the surface.

E-Zbar Combination Bar Clip and Spreader

Gator Tools Quick Clasp Float Case carries all the tools a contractor needs to float concrete. It comes complete with a choice of GatorLoy Channel Float (48 or 60 in.) or Round or Square End Bull Float (24, 36, 42, 48 or 60 in.) with Gator Glide Adjustable Leveling Bracket attached. • Double tilt bracket made of high-strength aluminum with long-wearing bronze and stainless steel components housed internally • Four 6-ft. aluminum bull float handles fit into case

The redesigned E-ZBar is now a universal combination bar clip and spreader for vertical applications. The purpose of the E-ZBar is to hold the required spacing between reinforcing steel and vertical formwork. • Cut to length on the jobsite and assembled with the corresponding clips to match your job specifications. • Same components work for single and double matt walls, sizes No. 4 through No. 8 rebar. • Core is made from 3/8-in. coil rod and is available in metal or plastic.

Gator Tools Quick Clasp Float Case


The Dual Wire Feeding Mechanism increases productivity.


The Wire Pull Back Mechanism dispenses the precise amount of wire needed to form a tie, reducing wire usage.


The TwinTier’s Wire Bending Mechanism (Pat. Pending) produces a shorter tie height. Less concrete is needed to fully cover a wire tie.



US Made Steel Buy America Certified

Product Intro Video

WWW.MAXUSACORP.COM | 800.223.4293 | June/July 2019 | Concrete Contractor 13

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By Chad S. White

Prepping, Placing & Finishing Medium to Large Concrete Slab on Grade Placements ➊

The following is a two-part series that will review current practices for installation of total concrete slab packages from base course to final finish. Part one will focus on slab preparation and sub-base installation.

T ➋

he concrete slab can be thought of as the wearing cap for the building pad and base course. A well compacted and smooth subgrade is critical to a successful slab. Slab formwork, jointing details, vapor barriers and reinforcing must be installed correctly for the slab to function as designed.

BUILDING PAD AND THE BASE COURSE Typically the building pad and base course will be designed based on a local Figure 1: Base course being compacted with vibratory roller. Figure 2: 15 mil vapor barrier in place. Figure 3: Slab edge forming with dowel pocket formers installed. Figure 4: Plate dowels installed prior to placement. Photo Credit: Chad S. White

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soils report and installed by the site contractor. A third-party inspecting agency normally will monitor installation to insure compliance to plans and specifications and confirm that moisture and density requirements are met. It is important that the concrete slab installer verify pad elevations and subbase stability prior to starting the work. Conducting a proof roll prior to installing the base course and slab placement is always a good idea and will quickly identify soft spots and potential rutting. Most proof rolling is done using a loaded dump truck or similar heavily loaded wheeled equipment. Major considerations when installing base course for slabs on grade: • Uniform slab thickness and correct elevation. • Correct concrete yield for slabs placed. We have always strived to maintain a 1% overage for slabs on grade. • Adequate compaction and surface smoothness to reduce under slab restraint and insure correct slab profile. • Proper backfill and compaction of excavations for plumbing and electrical lines, which should always be 2 in. to 4 in. below top of subgrade. • Trimming and detail of base course at slab edges, walls and columns. GRADING TIPS • Control rolldown and compaction. Depending on base course thickness, local aggregates, moisture content, pad condition and grading/compacting equipment used, the difference in elevation of the base course can vary considerably from machine graded to final compacted base. Rolldown will vary daily and within slab placement area. • Know when to use static roll. Once the placement area has been graded and compaction/proof roll approved, do only static, (non-vibratory) rolling/compaction for

touch up grading before and during concrete placement. Do not vibratory compact next to fresh concrete, (under seven days in age) as a rule of thumb. • It’s easier to bring material in than take it out. We recommend that building pad be +/- 1/10’ balanced prior to installation of base course.

SLIP SHEETS AND VAPOR BARRIERS A slip sheet is a layer of material (usually plastic sheeting of 4-6 mil in. thickness) placed between the slab and subgrade to reduce friction between them. Oftentimes a double layer of material will be specified. A slip sheet is part of the slab design that allows the slab to move, especially during the curing and hydrating process. Reduction of water vapor transmission from subgrade to slab is a side effect and not the intent of a slip sheet. Vapor barriers are materials that will minimize the transmission of water vapor from the subgrade into the concrete slab. Vapor barriers are typically specified according to ASTM E 1745. Low density polyethylene film is commonly used, and a minimum thickness of 10 mils is recommended for reduced vapor transmission and durability during and after its installation. Sometimes a granular blotter layer is specified between the underside of the concrete slab and the vapor barrier. Be advised that a blotter layer is generally not recommended due to the potential of water ponding under slab and being trapped by the vapor barrier. There are several major considerations when installing slip sheets and vapor barriers, including: • Insure base course is smooth prior to installation. • Protect from puncture and abrasion. • Overlap edges correctly. Install per manufacturers recommendations. Vapor barriers will require taping of joints and special attention at penetrations, block-outs and walls. • Keep clean.

ADDITIONAL INSTALLATION TIPS • Double check that correct vapor barrier materials and thickness is being used. • Keep material flat and wrinkle free during installation of concrete. • Have additional material and repair items available during concrete placement.

Plate dowel baskets being installed during placement. Photo Credit: Chad S. White

SLAB FORMING, JOINTING AND REINFORCEMENT For the purpose of this article we will be discussing conventional slab edge and column block-out formwork solutions, the different doweling systems currently in use and light slab reinforcement installation. SLAB FORMING SOLUTIONS Dimensional lumber is the most common edge forming material in use today. The typically specified construction joint doweling systems are simple to use with wood forming members, and the top edge of a wood form can be easily beveled for more accurate placing and finishing. Steel and composite material forms are available, but adaptability to different jointing designs, ease of use and upfront costs oftentimes defers their use. Major considerations for installing formwork for concrete slabs: • Maintaining top of slab elevation, FF/FL specification and joint straightness requirements. • Form to form joint and support. • Understand bracing requirements for system used and soil conditions | June/July 2019 | Concrete Contractor 15

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Single layer rebar mat chaired in place. Photo Credit: Chad S. White

to be encountered. • Consider reuse and stripping/ cleaning requirements for the forming system used. • Is it “finisher friendly”? Are the stakes/braces below top of form? Is top of form beveled? Can a troweling machine safely overlap edge? Is there dequate room for workman to access edge of slab? TIPS FOR INSTALLING FORMWORK • Stack and store forms properly. • Use good lumber and accessories. • Minimize hand grade trimming under forms. • Control benchmark. Third-party survey crews will typically establish monuments and control points but temporary benchmarks will need to be transferred as concrete slab installation progresses and maintained for prep, forming and concrete placements. We recommend all benchmarks be established, moved or transferred using an optical level in lieu of a laser. SLAB JOINTING/DOWELING Slab dowels and rebar at construction joints in the majority of commercial, warehouse and light industrial projects are primarily for load transfer and to facilitate or manage slab movement. Dowels will either be cast into one slab edge, or pocket forms will be used and dowels installed prior to next placement. Dowel baskets are used to provide load transfer at the contraction/control joints. Closed cell

foam expansion joint material and bond-breakers are typically installed at walls, columns, fixed objects and penetrations. Major considerations for installing construction joint dowels, rebar and dowel baskets: • Dowel alignment and straightness. • Ability to consolidate concrete around and ease of form stripping. • How dowel baskets will be installed and maintained during slab placement. • Having enough material on hand and proper storage. TIPS FOR INSTALLATION OF DOWELS AND DOWEL BASKETS • Read the installation instructions for any proprietary doweling systems used and the plan details. • You can’t just put the dowels in and leave it. Someone must be responsible for monitoring dowel installation and correcting dowel displacement during placement. • Straight lines, straight lines, straight lines. SLAB REINFORCING Reinforcement categories to be covered include mesh, rebar and fibers. Mesh is generally specified for light commercial projects, slabs on metal deck, and as a work platform during installation and placement of structural slabs. Reinforcing can run the gamut from light No. 3 rebar on wide spacings to double layer closely spaced mats of No. 6 rebar. Fibers can be either steel or plastic of various lengths and configurations with different poundage requirements per cubic yard of concrete specified. Mesh and rebar are typically chaired and supported in place during concrete placement. Fibers are added to the concrete truck either at the batch plant or on-site just prior to discharge. Major considerations when installing mesh, rebar and fibers: • For mesh and rebar insure that overlap and wastage is accounted

for when ordering. • Stability of subgrade when selecting chairing method. • Interface with placing operations. The method of concrete placement will impact rebar installation sequencing and bar support/ chairing requirements. • How you are going to get the fibers in the truck and where? TIPS FOR INSTALLING MESH, REBAR AND FIBERS • Mesh is difficult to chair in place and hand pulling of mesh as a supplemental method of installation is recommended. • Rebar mats are easier to manage than individual bars tied in place. • Understand shop drawings and plan details. • Try to eliminate or minimize personnel climbing up and down the back of truck mixers while loading fiber. • Insure that fibers are loaded correctly into mixer trucks and properly mixed prior to discharge.

SLAB PROTECTION AND HOUSEKEEPING The primary concern during slab on grade placements is protection of the work in place, work of other trades and a clean safe work area. Focus should be on slab edges, columns, walls and fixed equipment. Concrete splatter, dirt and staining are also major worries that must be addressed. Hot and cold weather protection activities may be required, and access to slabs during curing period must be monitored and controlled.


1. ACI 302-IR-04: Guide for Concrete Floor and Slab Construction 2. ACI 302-2R-06: Guide for Concrete Slabs that Receive Moisture-Sensitive Flooring Materials 3. ASTM E1745-11: Standard Specification for Plastic Water Vapor Retarders used in Contact with Soil or Granular Fill under Concrete Slabs 4. ASTM E1643-11: Standard Practice for Selection, Design, Installation and Inspection of Water Vapor Retarders used in Contact with Earth or Granular Fill under Concrete Slabs

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By Joe Nasvik

Selecting and Installing


What contractors need to know about vapor retarders as protection for moisture sensitive flooring materials.


he placement of a water vapor retarder directly below concrete floor slabs on the ground has become common practice for buildings where floor coverings or coatings are to be installed. Such use has also found its way into the design and construction of “big box” warehouse structures where moisturesensitive materials are to be stored directly on the slab, or the floor coverings or coatings to be installed in the future are unknown. This is because building owners and developers are increasingly concerned about how their floors will perform over time. They don’t want problems associated with low permeance floor finishes, indoor air quality, product damage or “down time.” Owners are also concerned about having to deal with slab

sweating, efflorescence and continued slab curling. Having an effective vapor retarder in place helps ensure a successful transition to any floor covering or coating material in the future. Homeowners also are turning to vapor retarders as residential homes become more energy efficient and “tighter.” Owners have grown concerned about controlling mold growth, radon gas, greenhouse gases and high humidity caused by ground water vapor moving inside the building envelope (the migration of moisture from the ground is a primary way moisture gets into homes). Installing vapor retarders during home construction is the first line of defense, and a range of materials are used by manufacturers to make their products—primarily plastics of varying combinations, character and quality. Vapor retarders can have an immediate effect on slab curling because free water in the slab can only be lost from the top down. Ideas as to where the vapor retarder should be located below a slab-on-ground have changed over time. For many years it was thought they should be covered with a minimum of 4 in. of compactible fill material to reduce the effect of initial slab curling and to protect the membrane

Vapor barriers manage water vapor movement into a building, reduce the risk of floor-sweating, control radon gas exposure, and ensure the successful application of moisture sensitive floor finishes. Photo Credit: Stego Industries

during construction. However, experience shows that placing fill material over the membrane can trap water over time and lead to more curling. A layer of fill over a vapor retarder can also act as a conduit for moisture to enter and migrate below the slab from any tear, puncture or unsealed penetration in the material. Today, best practice suggests that membranes should be placed directly under the concrete to provide the highest level of moisture protection for moisture-sensitive materials and environments. Many of today’s vapor retarders have sufficient puncture resistance to handle the rigors of construction abuse.

VAPOR BARRIER OR RETARDER Bret Houck, vice president of business development and marketing for Stego Industries of San Clemente, Calif., says the term “vapor barrier” has been in use for many years to help differentiate between products’ abilities to impede

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water diffusion, known as their permeance levels or ratings. “The terms vapor barrier or vapor retarder have a tendency to be used interchangeably, but what is important is the tested permeance level and whether it will protect the flooring materials, stored goods and indoor air quality of the facility,” he explains. Recognizing this fact, the American Concrete Institute (ACI) and ASTM committees are considering being more consistent, changing the term “vapor barrier” to “vapor retarder” in order to be more factual.

MATERIALS Vapor retarders are rated by their permeance, which refers to the degree a material will allow water vapor to pass through it. Peter Craig, president of Concrete Constructives, Greene, Maine, says the technical definition for permeance is: the mass rate of water vapor flow through 1 sq. ft. of a material of one grain (1/7000 lb.) per hour induced by a vapor pressure gradient between two surfaces of 1 in. of mercury. But permeance is usually reported as a number, and when comparing one product to another, it is important to note whether the reported units of measure are the same. There are different materials used in the construction of vapor retarders, including polyethylene resins, aluminum sandwiched between protective materials, and others. Houck says the quality and performance of a membrane is impacted by many factors such as resin quality, composition and manufacturing processes. He adds that manufacturers often blend different resins together to produce a finished vapor retarder with all the desired qualities. There are three primary requirements for vapor retarders: • They must prevent almost all water vapor movement through the membrane; • They must be strong enough to resist the abuse of forming, placing and finishing the concrete floor on top of them;

Selecting the right material for a vapor barrier is essential. Shown here is a piece of membrane that couldn’t endure the high pH of the concrete and sustained contact with the ground, eventually degrading over time. Photo Credit: Peter Craig

• They must be able to perform over time, as withstanding sustained contact with the ground and the high pH of concrete is challenging. To do this, ASTM E 1745 (Standard Specification for Plastic Water Vapor Retarders Used in Contact with Soil or Granular Fill under Concrete Slabs) defines three classes of membranes: A, B and C. These classifications relate to the toughness of the membrane. Contractors should choose the class of membrane that best fits the abuse they expect during construction. Class A is the strongest in terms of tensile strength and puncture resistance, while Class C has the least resistance. If you are constructing a large warehouse floor, for example, and plan to drive ready-mix trucks over the vapor retarder to place concrete by direct deposit, use laser screeds on wheels that maneuver in and out of position, or place rebar reinforcement on top of the membrane, it would be wise to use a Class A vapor retarder. But if you are placing concrete with a boom pump and aren’t planning to use a laser screed, choosing a less expensive Class B or C membrane may be acceptable. Craig says it is important to select vapor retarder products made only from virgin quality resins. Products constructed of recycled materials are subject to deterioration in the ground and may not maintain their original

level of permeance when subjected to the conditioning tests required by ASTM E1745. Vapor retarders also come in different mil thicknesses, typically ranging from 6 to 20 mils. Specifiers often equate mil thickness to puncture resistance. Craig, however, believes that it is better practice to review the manufacturer’s published data for puncture resistance than to simply select a product based on mil thickness. In his and others experience, a 15 mil or greater class A vapor retarder is needed if ready-mix trucks, concrete pumps, laser screeds, concrete buggies or pump lines travel across the membrane.

RADON GAS Aside from preventing moisture vapor from the ground from getting inside a building envelope, vapor retarders can also keep out hazardous gases such as methane, radon and other greenhouse gases. Radon gas is a natural, chemically inert but radioactive gas resulting from the decay of uranium in the Earth and the second leading cause of lung cancer behind smoking in the United States. Left unchecked, the gas, like water

It’s best not to penetrate vapor barriers with form stakes, so the contractor for this job used a product that rests on top of the membrane. Rebar reinforcement is also supported on “dobies” that rest on the membrane surface. Photo Credit: Stego Industries | June/July 2019 | Concrete Contractor 19

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Because the contractor placed concrete from the back of ready-mix trucks, they didn’t select a vapor barrier with enough puncture resistance to remain intact under the wheels of the trucks. Photo Credit: Joe Nasvik

The contractor slit the vapor barrier so that stakes wouldn’t penetrate the material, making it easier to reseal with tape afterward. Photo Credit: Joe Nasvik

vapor, moves through the ground and into buildings where it accumulates. It is of special concern for residential homes, especially more energy-efficient ones, because the gas can reach dangerous levels. During the construction of a home, it is relatively easy to mitigate these gases with the proper installation of vapor retarders. For this reason alone, residential housing should include quality vapor retarders under their concrete floors.

HOW TO INSTALL VAPOR RETARDERS Standard practice for the placement of vapor retarders is described in ASTM E1643–18a. Contractors should follow those guidelines as well as the manufacturer’s instructions. Here are some additional considerations: Compaction. Even, proper compaction is important for supporting a floor slab, but it also helps protect vapor retarders by pushing sharp aggregate below the surface and providing a stable surface that doesn’t stress the membrane. Well compacted subgrade means that ready-mix trucks shouldn’t be able to deform the subgrade surface beyond showing tire tread marks. Compaction should be tested and approved when completed because there isn’t a second chance after vapor retarders are installed.

Placement. After the material is placed there should be minimum 6-in. overlap at joints and the material turned up at the face walls and foundations. It is also good practice to lap joints so that the laps face away from the direction of concrete placement. Vapor retarders should be attached to the face of concrete walls and foundations with manufacturer approved mastic, sealant, adhesive, adhesive strips or mechanical fasteners. The membrane must also be sealed around any protruding electrical conduit or plumbing pipes. The goal is to create a monolithic membrane. Reinforcement. If rebar is installed over a vapor barrier, it should sit on chairs that rest on the membrane without damaging it. Iron workers must be careful when using tie-wire to

prevent it from poking holes in the membrane during construction. Houck notes that steel fiber concrete mixes shouldn’t cause damage to high-quality membranes. Inspection. The condition of the vapor retarder should be monitored the entire time concrete is being placed. If small punctures occur during placement they should be taped, overlapping the puncture by at least 6 in. or as recommended by the manufacturer. If there are large tears in the vapor retarder, new material should be cut to cover the damaged area, overlapping the existing membrane by at least 6 in. and then taped all the way around. Contractors should avoid punching holes with stakes to secure forms.

CHOOSING A PROTECTION LEVEL The prime reason to specify a vapor retarder is to control water vapor movement from the ground and into floor slabs. While the primary function is to protect moisture sensitive finishes and products for the present and the future, keeping gases such as methane

A low-density poly sheet that includes non-virgin resins is torn when rebar is installed. Photo Credit: Peter Craig

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Shown here is membrane damage caused by concrete pump lines. Photo Credit: Peter Craig

Photo Credit: Peter Craig


and radon gas from collecting inside building envelopes is also a prime consideration. Vapor retarders placed directly below concrete floor slabs can also help reduce the potential for slab sweating to occur in unconditioned

big box warehouses and reduce the potential for additional floor curling to occur over time. However, there is strong evidence that vapor retarders made with nonvirgin materials can deteriorate













Under the right conditions a floor can “sweat” if it doesn’t have a vapor retarder under it. When the box was moved to the side, there was a layer of water under it.

over time. Common, low-density polyethylene plastic sheeting fits into this classification because almost all of these plastics include significant amounts of recycled non-virgin material. When a specifier includes an ASTM specification for the vapor retarder, contractors are currently in compliance if they use products with a 0.1 permeance level. This means that vapor retarders with a permeance level below 0.1 are not legally required. However, today there are floor covering materials that have permeance levels well below 0.1. With multiple manufacturers offering reasonably priced belowslab vapor retarders with permeance levels of 0.01, it is advisable to specify products with permeance levels of 0.01 both before and after the conditioning tests set forth in ASTM E1745. There is only one chance to choose the level of protection for a project, and that is before the slab is placed. Ideally, the permeance of the vapor retarder should be less than the permeance of the finished surface on the top of a floor. Unfortunately, most surface finish products don’t currently provide their permeance numbers, so for now, the best advice is to choose vapor retarders that meet 0.01 levels and below.







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By Kim Basham, PhD PE FACI


surface cracking

Caused by Rapid Moisture Loss

Acknowledging the causes and implementing preventive measures can help contractors minimize plastic shrinkage cracking.


lastic shrinkage cracking is commonly associated with hot weather concreting, but it can also occur when the surface concrete dries and shrinks because of rapid moisture loss. As the name implies, this form of cracking occurs when the concrete is still plastic and is caused by shrinkage due to rapid moisture loss. Plastic shrinkage cracks appear in the first few hours after concrete placement and typically before the finishing operations are complete. Seen primarily in exterior concrete slabs, these cracks also can sometimes occur in steel-troweled floors when the moisture loss is severe and final curing is delayed.

Understanding the causes, monitoring jobsite conditions and implementing precautionary measures can minimize these unsightly cracks.

INFLUENCING FACTORS Surface cracking can occur when surface moisture of recently placed concrete evaporates faster than it can be replaced by the rising bleed water, causing the surface concrete to shrink more than the interior concrete. Because the interior concrete restrains the shrinkage of the surface concrete, tensile stresses form on the surface. When these stresses exceed the tensile capacity of the plastic concrete, surface cracking occurs. Cracks start on the surface and grow downward creating V-shaped

cracks as illustrated in Figure 1 on page 26. Cracks grow deeper with increasing rates of moisture loss. Rapid moisture loss and drying of the surface have traditionally been blamed for the occurrence of plastic shrinkage cracking. However, any factor that increases the rate of moisture loss from the surface, reduces the amount of bleed water rising to the surface or delays hardening of the concrete, increases the risk of cracking. Influencing factors include: Environmental meters provide an easy way to estimate the rate of evaporation. The user enters the concrete temperature, and the instrument measures the air temperature, relative humidly and wind velocity and calculates the rate of evaporation.

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Occurring in both random and parallel patterns, plastic shrinkage cracks are discontinuous, relatively short and typically fairly shallow. Occasionally they can become full-depth cracks. Parallel cracks are typically spaced between a few inches to several feet apart and many times are oriented perpendicular to the prevailing wind direction. Cracks widths at the surface can be fairly wide (as much as 1/8 in.) but rapidly diminish with depth.

rely on limiting the rate of evaporation from the surface as the primary means of controlling plastic shrinkage cracking (Ref. 2 & 3). The default maximum allowable rate of evaporation commonly used is 0.2 lb/ft2/h. However, ACI 305.114 Specifications for Hot Weather Concreting recommends reducing the

maximum allowable rate of evaporation to lower values when the concrete mixture contains conventional or ultrafine pozzolans or other cementitious materials that may reduce the rate of bleeding and delay concrete hardening. For these type of mixtures, 0.15, 0.10 or 0.05 lb/ft2/h limits are more appropriate.

• Ambient jobsite conditions during concrete placement and finishing • Mixture proportions • Type and content of portland cement and supplementary cementitious materials (fly ash, silica fume, etc.) • Water-cementitious materials ratio • Type and dosage rate of chemical admixtures and temperature of the fresh concrete Even construction operations including screeding and finishing operations may influence the risk of plastic shrinkage cracking (Ref. 1). In fact, the risk of plastic shrinkage cracking depends on many factors, not solely on the rate of moisture loss or rate of evaporation from the surface. However, most project specifications

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MONITORING THE RISKS By using the nomograph shown below (Figure 2), the rate of evaporation of surface moisture—or more specifically the severity of the evaporative exposure and risk of plastic shrinkage cracking—can be estimated from the measured air and concrete temperatures, relative humidity of the air and wind velocity above the surface of the concrete. To properly use the nomograph, measure and calculate the average horizontal wind speed at 20 in. above the concrete surface, measure the air temperature and relative humidity at a level approximately 4 ft. to 6 ft. above the concrete surface on the windward side and shielded from the sun’s rays. The concrete temperature is the temperature of the freshly placed concrete. Begin monitoring one hour Figure 2. This nomograph, based on the Menzel Formula, provides a graphical method of estimating the loss of surface moisture for various weather conditions (Ref 4).

To use this chart: 1. Enter with air temperature (65F), move up to the relative humidity (40%) 2. Move right to concrete temperature (60F) 3. Move down to wind speed (20 mph) 4. Move left, read approximate rate of evaporation (0.13 lbs/ft2/hr) Initiate evaporation control measures when the rate of evaporation equals or exceeds 0.2 lbs/ft2/h, unless otherwise specified.

Figure 1. When the surface evaporation exceeds the bleed rate, the top surface dries and shrinks. If the shrinking causes the tensile stresses to exceed the tensile capacity of the plastic concrete, surface cracking occurs.

before the start of concrete placement and continue at 30-minute intervals or less until the final curing procedure has been applied. Instead of measuring the individual input values and using the nomograph, many contractors are using portable,

jobsite environmental meters especially designed to automatically compute evaporation rates from concrete. Meters provide an easy and convenient way to track the plastic shrinkage potential.

CONTROLLING PLASTIC SHRINKAGE CRACKING There are several preventative measures to control surface evaporation, which include: • Erecting temporary windbreaks and sunshades (if practical) • Applying a sprayable evaporation retardant • Covering the flatwork with plastic sheeting between finishing passes • Fog spraying the flatwork Other preventative measures include dampening the base material before placing concrete, lowering the concrete temperature by using chilled water or chipped ice, including microfibers in the concrete mixture to increase the tensile capacity of the plastic concrete, protecting the concrete from evaporation during construction delays, and applying the final cure as soon as possible after finishing/texturing. Evaporation retardants are moistureretaining films that reduce the rate of evaporation from the surface of the concrete between the various finishing operations. Because most of these products after mixing consist of onepart retardant and nine parts water, they should not be used as a finishing

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aid or worked into the top surface of the concrete. Mixing water into the top surface can reduce concrete strength, durability, and abrasion and scale resistance. Fog spraying increases the relative humidity in the air above the concrete, which reduces the rate of evaporation from the surface. Fogging can also help replace the bleed water that prematurely evaporated from the surface. Accumulated surface water from fogging should not be worked into the top surface of the concrete. Fog nozzles should create a blanket of fog, not a water spray that can wash away the surface of the concrete. Locate the water sprayer upwind of the concrete, and discharge the spray into the air above the concrete. Pressure washers with a fine spray nozzle can be easily used to fog flatwork for small- and medium-sized jobs. Plastic shrinkage cracks are usually superficial and seldom repaired. However, they may create aesthetic concerns, especially for decorative concrete. Depending on the cracking severity, crack width and depth, and the concrete’s exposure conditions, plastic shrinkage cracks may create durability concerns. The potential for reinforcement corrosion and concrete freeze/thaw damage, for example, may increase if water and de-icing chemicals enter the concrete through plastic shrinkage cracks. The best way to avoid aesthetic and durability concerns related to plastic shrinkage cracks is to understand the susceptibility of a concrete mixture to cracking, monitor jobsite conditions and take the necessary actions to minimize rapid moisture loss from the surface of the concrete. Kim Basham is the president of KB Engineering LLC, which provides engineering and scientific services to the concrete industry. Basham also teaches seminars and workshops on topics such as concrete technology, construction and troubleshooting. He can be reached at KBasham@


1. Shaeles, C. A. and Hover, K. C., Influence of Mix Proportions and Construction Operations on Plastic Shrinkage Cracking in Thin Slabs, ACI Materials Journal, No. 85-M48, November-December 1988, American Concrete Institute, 2. ACI 305R-10 Guide to Hot Weather Concreting, American Concrete Institute, 3. ACI 305.1-14 Specification for Hot Weather Concreting, American Concrete Institute, 4. Kosmatka, S. H. and Wilson, M. L., Design and Control of Concrete Mixtures</u>, 15th Edition, 2011,


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By James R. Baty II

If At First You Don't Succeed,


28 Concrete Contractor | June/July 2019 |

Concrete Foundations Association announces its 2019 Grand Project of the Year.


ou’ve heard it said a thousand times, “If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again.” In the concrete construction industry, however, this might have several different connotations and, perhaps, be met with a certain amount of skepticism. Realistically, contractors know you get one shot with concrete to get it right. If not, it is a whole lot more expensive to make it right. That is unless you are considering the act and, for some, the art of introducing your work to broader audiences and challenging your skills to be recognized by national award programs. The project selected as the Concrete Foundations Association's (CFA) Grand Project of the Year found this to be true. In 2018, Russ Talpey, president of Talpey Construction of Westbrook, Conn., submitted a house foundation for the annual competition. While it was not selected for recognition, Talpey continued to work on that same house, landing CFA's highest honor this year with a stone wall complex at the property. “We like to participate to give our employees recognition for all the hard work that goes into a part of the job that is virtually always overlooked,” states Talpey. “We put as much effort as we can into every job we do, but some are just on another level of complexity that should be acknowledged.” The 2019 Projects of the Year will be fully unveiled by the CFA at its annual

conference July 25-27, at the Hilton Denver City Center in Denver, Colo. CFA is a membership organization created by concrete contractors in 1974 to establish a network for sharing experiences and best practices, as well as advocacy for the industry. With membership in 35 U.S. states and three Canadian provinces, CFA serves the membership with work in building codes, government regulations and more. Each year, the association challenges its contractor members to identify projects they feel carry the signature of their best work, most difficult challenge or most satisfying accomplishment. These projects are submitted with data on their physical traits as well as photos of the construction and completed work. Some contractors have even begun providing drone and other video sources to demonstrate the larger context of the work completed. “You would think that once you

PROJECT SPECIFICATIONS Submittal Category: NonFoundation Wall Structure Size: 150 linear ft. Total Concrete Volume: 55 cu. yds. Total Steel Volume: 2,000 lbs. of No. 4 bar Wall Heights: 4 ft., 5 ft., 6 ft. and 8 ft. Wall Thickness: All 10-in. walls

have seen one concrete foundation, you have seen them all,” says CFA Executive Director James Baty, F.ACI. “Yet, each year we continue to find compelling stories of extreme challenges faced by these professional concrete contractors and completed works that demonstrate the true expertise one can find in this industry.”

Under construction, the patio foundation walls show separate centroids for the arcs meeting at the entrance to a radial stair. Photo Credit: Talpey Construction and the Concrete Foundations Association

The finished patio landscape wall with stone veneer sits at the edge of the water, sharing a stone and traditional footing for bearing. Photo Credit: Talpey Construction and the Concrete Foundations Association | June/July 2019 | Concrete Contractor 29

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CFA convenes a panel of judges representing professional contracting expertise, design, publishing, marketing and industry recognition to evaluate projects based on categories of construction quality, project complexity for its scope, challenges faced, display of technology/ resources and setting industry standards. Through this evaluation process, projects from a broad spectrum of categories are discovered for their superiority and, eventually, a top-rated project stands out among the rest. This year, the projects ranged from an incredible multi-family apartment complex to the smallest of house foundations and, once again, projects that were installations of site concrete, ancillary to a building structure.

LAFOND NAMED GRAND PROJECT OF THE YEAR The foundation Talpey Construction submitted in 2018 was impressive

indeed, coming in at 5,500 sq. ft., with a lot of steps, brick ledge, piers and more. When the dust settled, however, there was an unusually high number of large projects considered, and the project known as “Giant’s Neck” was not selected to be among those recognized. As is the case on many projects in the elite size category reaching over 5,000 sq. ft., the contractor is never done when the house foundation has been completed. Talpey Construction continued the work on this residence and, in late 2018, began work on the site walls that would define and support a massive deck complex reaching down to the water’s edge overlooking Niantic Bay. “The architect designed exposed walls that would be veneered with a thin, 2-in. stone cut from a local quarry,” says Talpey. “To achieve the vision, the stone veneer would


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have to go right down to the ledge [overlooking the water]. This meant the face of the footing would have to be in line with the face of the wall.” As this wall took shape, the architect used a continuous radius to define the outdoor entertainment complex. Over half of the footing sets on the ledge of the outcropping and has 4 ft. of elevation change down and back. “The feature of the deck is a built-in cook top stove that is gas powered,” continues Talpey. “It sits on an interior radius with a descending stairwell that projects from a separate radius point we had to establish.” This continuous radius follows the ledge and, at nearly the center of the arc, the ledge falls away. This allowed a traditional footing to be used for support of the wall.

GETTING CREATIVE When asked about the process for this wall complex, Talpey says that it all begins and ends with the success of laying out the points. In order to achieve accuracy and determine the forming process they would use, he met with the landscape contractor on site. Together they began establishing points as they went through the plans. As they progressed, they found that as good as the plans were, the dimensions were largely to the “face of the veneer on the inside” of the radius. This is not atypical for architectural plans, which means the structural components have to be calculated. The two began calculating the points necessary for the face of the concrete, laying out points every couple of feet to ensure a smooth radius for the forming system. “I have begun to rely fully on my Leica system,” adds Talpey. “The ‘layout line’ feature is clutch to letting me plan a point where ever I need it on a radius. Given the ledge area we were dealing with, it enabled us to get the wall supporting the stove piece all on one elevation.” Talpey transitioned to Leica three years ago after working with long-time

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The finished concrete retaining walls ready for stone veneer show the accuracy of the smooth radius created using the steel-ply forming system. Photo Credit: Talpey Construction and the Concrete Foundations Association


LevMix Mobile Mixer

ABOUT THE CFA PROJECTS OF THE YEAR Established in 1998, the annual CFA Projects of the Year opens for submissions in December and closes in March. Entries are free to association members from any membership category. Recognitions are publicly unveiled during the association’s annual convention in July and published in the fall issue of Concrete Facts magazine, distributed freely to any individual active in the concrete construction industry. For more details on the awards program, visit

CFA consulting member Scott Carter of Robotic Surveying Solutions. Approaching unique projects often takes creativity in the systems used to effectively deliver the results. For Talpey, their normal forming system is 1-1/8-in. latch forms, which they transport and deliver to jobsites with a boom truck

and baskets. Because the location of this work was on the opposite side of the home under construction and descending toward the water’s edge, there was no access for their typical delivery. Thus, the decision was made to switch to steelply forms to facilitate the easier movement of forms across the jobsite. For this

The new LevMix unites three steps in one operation: • • •

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The new LevMix mobile mixer combines the attributes „FAST and EASY“. Mix several bags in the shortest time. | June/July 2019 | Concrete Contractor 31

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The concrete retaining wall brings guests up close and personal with the lake. Photo Credit: Talpey Construction and the Concrete Foundations Association

particular set of radius walls, the steelply forming system was much better suited. They also added metal filler panels in key locations to open up the radius

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and prevent the wall from becoming segmented and choppy. This proved important to the landscape contractor as the thin veneer adhered to the concrete wall would have expressed the segments far more so than traditional veneer. “This job was just fussy,” notes Talpey. “Although not a large job from a materials perspective, we had a lot of time in it. We had to make sure we executed each process correctly, or the result in the end would have been a black eye. The training we have received with the Leica system really showed itself in the quick work for the curves and adjusting the plans we were given.” When asked about the chance to do a project like this, Talpey says that curved walls are always cool. The fact that this one was also built on a ledge with no spread footing for tolerance control and adjustments really challenged the team. While Talpey would have preferred this part of the project was completed with the rest of the house and evaluated as a whole last year, the opportunity to revisit the uniqueness of this component and realize it as a separate project makes it all the more worthwhile to be recognized from among this year’s quality entries. Want to know more? Contact CFA Executive Director Jim Baty at (866) 232-9255 or

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By Amy Wunderlin




Ordinary to Art with Epoxy Flooring Systems Advanced flooring systems can mitigate, revitalize and improve overall aesthetics of average concrete floors.


poxy flooring systems can transform ordinary concrete into a work of art. Whether its new construction or a floor that has seen better days, new resurfacing technologies are making the possibilities endless. Keith Kimberlin, owner of Surface2Surface Global (S2S), a U.S.

liquid polymer and decorative concrete products manufacturer, and S2S DFW Dealership, a concrete resurfacing company and epoxy flooring installer, has seen great success in providing unique concrete flooring solutions. His work has been featured on the Discovery Channel television series, Garage Rehab, with Richard Rawlings, where struggling automotive shops are transformed

S2S’s Endura Top 550 system can repair concrete surfaces that have been damaged by extreme conditions. Photo Credit: Surface2Surface Global

into beautiful and functional spaces. Kimberlin will also be featured in an upcoming episode of Cash Pad, a TV series where Bachelorette alum JoJo Fletcher and Jordan Rodgers partner

34 Concrete Contractor | June/July 2019 |

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Epoxy flooring systems such as S2S’s Endura-Top are often applied with a gage rake, which distributes the product at the correct thickness. Photo Credit: Surface2Surface Global

with homeowners who hope to turn their properties into short-term rentals. Products manufactured and used by S2S are born from Kimberlin’s own formulas, which for years he kept to himself. Following the success of Garage Rehab, however, demand for his services has skyrocketed, leading him to launch a global dealer network to train concrete resurfacers throughout the country on his methods. “I realized one company can’t cover it all. The only way to do this is to distribute my products through our new dealership network model and teach people how I do what I do with my products,” says Kimberlin. “It took me 23 years to create these methods and techniques that are very sound. I’m now at the point that I want to share everything I know.” This spring, S2S worked on numerous projects involving its advanced floor systems to mitigate recurring problems, revitalize old spaces and improve overall aesthetics. Typically, there are five things people look for when they are considering these types of systems, Kimberlin says, which include: • Cost • Aesthetics • Longevity • Durability

• Maintenance (short and long term) “When people are making the decision on which floor system to go with, it’s basically done on those five components,” he adds.

A BREATHABLE SOLUTION In mid-May, S2S applied its Endura-Top 550 system at Raytheon Intelligence and Information Systems in Springfield, Va. The nearly 10,000-square-foot facility was completed in two phases, taking 9-10 days to finish. Endura-Top 550 is a four-part self-leveling polymer modified urethane concrete system that goes down 3/8 in. thick. It is typically used by people whose concrete surfaces are exposed to extreme conditions. “People use this in extremely aggressive environments when they need a floor system that is highly impact resistant, abrasion resistant, chemical resistant, resistant to thermal shock and where there may be a concrete moisture issue,” explains Kimberlin. In addition, it is often used on damaged floors that owners want to make new again by removing surface imperfections and damaged areas caused by years of wear and tear. “We come in and fix and patch cracks, and then we apply our

Endura-Top over that. Essentially, it’s a polymer modified urethane cap that replaces the top of the existing concrete,” says Kimberlin. The coating is applied using a gage rake, which distributes the product at the correct thickness, and then is broadcast with No. 30 sand to refusal. This process provides much of the systems strength, while also providing a slip resistant surface profile. The overlay is then sealed with a polyaspartic urethane topcoat. “That’s another thing that sets us apart from others who install broadcast media floor systems,” says Kimberlin. “They don’t use polyaspartic; they use the cheaper urethane and old technology topcoats. The polyaspartic is the newest, latest and greatest technology.” The appeal of Endura-Top for Raytheon was not so much about the looks as it was about mitigating an ongoing moisture problem. They enlisted the expertise of S2S after its third coating failure. “At Raytheon they have a known moisture problem, and we know that because the coating they had was literally coming off the floor in sheets,” says Kimberlin. “And as you pulled the material from the floor, you could see standing water beneath where the coating failed.” Kimberlin explains that concrete is like a giant sponge that absorbs water, and if the concrete mixture is slightly off or it is placed directly on grade without a protective vapor barrier, moisture from the ground will eventually travel through the top of the concrete. If you have a moisture problem, he further explains, moisture and water vapor migrate to the surface of the hardened concrete floor, bringing calcium hydroxide along with it. When the calcium hydroxide reaches the surface of the

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“The guys love GatorBar. They were already saying 40% labor savings on the first day, and by the end of that week they didn’t want to ever see steel on our flat work jobs again.” Rob Swanson, ICS INC.


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The popularity of epoxy flooring systems is growing thanks to exposure on TV shows such as Garage Rehab and Cash Pad. From left, JoJo Fletcher, Keith Kimberlin and Jordan Rodgers on the set of Cash Pad. Photo Credit: Surface2Surface Global

concrete, it combines with carbon dioxide in the air to produce calcium carbonate. This process produces a white powder referred to as efflorescence, which can break the bond between a traditional epoxy coating and the concrete. “I had to create a product that

would be resistant to that environment,” Kimberlin says. Endura-Top is that product. Unlike traditional flooring systems, which Kimberlin calls “lock out” systems that suffocate the concrete, his product has unlimited moisture vapor emission

resistance (MVER), making it breathable. This means that if there is a moisture problem, Endura-Top allows the moisture to move through it rather than bubbling under the surface. At Raytheon, they also took an extra step, applying S2S CPT-3500, which was developed by the chemists at Aquron Corporation International. When sprayed over the surface, the product soaks into the concrete and, when moisture hits it, turns the moisture into a gel that blocks the water from emerging to the surface. “If they don’t do a system like this, they will have a failure 100% of the time. The only option is to apply a penetrating moisture mitigating primer or something that mitigates or blocks hydrostatic pressure,” adds Kimberlin. “Raytheon has had multiple coating failures in their space due to moisture propagation, and they called Surface2Surface to save the day.”


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HIGH-TECH FLOOR FOR A HIGH-TECH FACILITY One of S2S’s most high-tech flooring systems was also recently applied to a new 12,000-sq.-ft. automated self-storage solution in Spring, Texas, called EZ Werks Self-Storage that operates through an app you download on your phone. All transactions take place through that app much like choosing your seats on an airline. The app shows you all available units and prices, and you select the unit you are interested in and purchase through the app. When you arrive at the facility, the gate will automatically open for you based on the GPS location sensor in the app. Your individual unit opens by punching in a code via the app. S2S Metalloid Epoxy was applied to the building’s lobby, and a micro-blend flake system was used throughout the remainder of the common areas and hallways.

Metalloid Epoxy is a proprietary dynamic flow 3-dimensional metallic epoxy floor coating that gives ordinary concrete a multi-dimensional appearance. It is typically used in showrooms, schools, universities, retail businesses, office spaces, residential spaces, sports arenas and museums. Metalloid is applied 3/16 in. thick and is considered a high-build 100% solids epoxy. It has a special metalloid pigment added to the system that gives the concrete a multi-color acid stain. It can be applied in multiple colors. “When we install Metalloid Epoxy, it’s usually showrooms, art galleries and fancy restaurants. It’s really a high-end flooring solution,” says Kimberlin. The micro-blend epoxy is a 100% solids base coat epoxy, with a 1/8-in. polymer flake broadcast into it. “[The owner] wanted something that was going to be durable and easy to clean and maintain. The whole point

here was he wanted it to look really good, but he wanted it to be easy to take care of and something that was going to be impact resistant and durable,” explains Kimberlin. “That’s what our micro-blend systems provide—the ultimate protection against chemical exposure, impact and abrasion,” he adds. Micro-blend or flake floors are popular choices because they hide the dayto-day dust and dirt that easily collects on commercial floors. “Long- and short-term maintenance are critical components to any floor system. If it’s hard to maintain, you don’t want that floor and that’s why a lot of people will go with a micro-blend or flake floor because it’s easier to maintain and clean,” concludes Kimberlin.

PROPER PREPARATION No matter the floor system, however, the key to applying epoxy | June/July 2019 | Concrete Contractor 39

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S2S applied a micro-blend flake system to the common areas and hallways at a new automated self-storage facility in Texas. Photo Credit: Surface2Surface Global

coatings is proper preparation. “Without a properly prepared surface, you’re not going to have very good success,” says Kimberlin. Before applying epoxy, S2S evaluates the overall condition of the concrete, patching cracks and damage where necessary. S2S floor systems require a Concrete Surface Profile (CSP) or

surface roughness of at least two in order to achieve the full bonding benefit. To achieve that surface texture requires the use of industrial grinding equipment or a shot blaster The correct CSP allows the coatings to properly adhere and is the foundation to a successful application. CSPs are graded on a scale of 1 through 9 and generally correspond to the method used in the preparation of the surface. Typically, S2S uses diamond grinders to open up the concrete and achieve the correct CSP. When concrete is first placed, it is power troweled to achieve a smooth, even finish, and the more it is troweled, the harder the concrete gets. Epoxy floor coating cannot bond to that hardened

surface, so contractors must use grinders or shot blasters to achieve the necessary openness. The correct CSP is also important because S2S’s epoxy has a chemical that when the proper surface profile is applied creates a migratory response or wicking technology. The epoxy wicks its way into the floor like an oil lantern, and when the concrete is opened, it allows this chemical to actuate the migratory response of the system. “Most products on the market, they’re stuck to the top of the surface. Our product becomes an integral part of the top of the concrete, so it soaks into the floor versus sitting on top of the floor. That’s the big difference between a really good epoxy and the stuff you can buy at Home Depot,” explains Kimberlin. And while he acknowledges that surface preparation is important no matter the product, it is mission-critical to the way S2S applies its products.





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By Kevin Garcia


Photo Credit: Trimble

Technology Paves the Way for Improved Delivery of Durable Roads

The integration of grade control technology in heavy equipment is helping contractors complete jobs faster, better and more effectively.


oad paving solutions and practices have made a noticeable leap forward in recent years. Contractors are completing jobs faster with better quality and more effective use of materials, thanks largely to technology-driven improvements in the cab and in the office. In particular, positioning technology innovators and construction equipment manufacturers have integrated grade control technology on excavators, dozers, motor graders, skid-steers, milling machines, pavers and other heavy equipment. Innovation in construction technology is helping increase productivity

and efficiency on grading, compaction and paving projects across the country. Contractors are seeing the benefits by meeting required tolerances, reducing material costs, and delivering a quality solution that lasts longer and requires less maintenance.

MEETING SPECS Machine control and automation is helping operators work more efficiently and better achieve precise tolerances. The widespread use of single and dual GNSS instruments on motor graders, excavators and other grading equipment offers real-time 3D positioning, which enables faster reaction times and enhanced performance. Implementing 3D machine control on its milling machines helped Grand Junction, Colo.-based Mountain Valley Contracting shave four days off the project timeline for a recent project in the Rocky Mountains. Mountain Valley adopted machine control to complete a 4.5-mile milling project on Interstate 70 in Glenwood Canyon as a way to meet the project’s deadline and tight tolerances and maximize the yield of concrete. The team

successfully milled the entire stretch of highway in 18 days, shaving 20% off the project timeline. In addition, 3D milling helped meet the Colorado Department of Transportation's (DOT) "ride incentives" or extra compensation for completed roadways with extremely smooth rides. Today’s machine control takes positioning and navigation to a whole new level with the introduction of automatics. With IMU-based grade control, operators are able to automate the position and blade slope of a machine with the single GNSS antenna configuration or measure the exact position, accurate cross slope and the heading of the blade with dual GNSS. The Trimble Earthworks 3D Grade Control System, for instance, is designed to give operators of all skill levels the ability to work faster and be more productive. For example, when a machine is placed in “Autos” or automatics mode, the operator no longer needs to manually control the implement to stay on grade. This essentially allows operators to achieve grade at a very consistent rate, with high accuracy and in much less time.

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Photo Credit: Trimble

FEATURES & BENEFITS: Unsurpassed Performance Track Record Longevity and Strength Exceptional Tear and Puncture Resistance Easy, Reliable Installation Competitively Priced Life of the Building Warranty Installation Support

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Intermediate operators with 6-10 years of experience were around 27% faster with guidance-only than conventional methods and more than 38% faster with automatics as compared to conventional methods. The average of all operators—novice to expert—showed an almost 43% improvement with guidance-only grade control across the board and nearly 52% improvement with automatics over conventional methods.

MATERIAL MANAGEMENT In addition to helping operators work more efficiently, technology allows contractors to estimate and apply materials more efficiently by better estimating the

CUT and BEND REBAR At the Shop or Jobsite

Photo Credit: Trimble

Machine automation helps novice operators (those with 0-5 years’ experience) improve speed and quality almost 50% faster with guidance-only than conventional methods and over 62% faster with automatics as compared to conventional methods.

amount of subbase and overlay needed and by eliminating wasted materials and their associated costs. The easiest way to calculate road mix to resurface a pavement is length multiplied by width and thickness. However, in order to place a minimum thickness of mix on high spots, a contractor must increase the thickness of mix in the low spots. It’s long been standard practice for contractors to plan for a factor of yield, often 5-15% higher. For instance, if the design calls for 20,000 tons, a contractor might budget for 22,000 tons to ensure enough material to meet all-important minimum thickness across the entire surface. At the subbase or subgrade level, technology enables operators to excavate only as much native material as needed. The ability to accurately and quickly cut that subbase out saves on subbase material needs. Overcutting the subgrade requires more road base to

meet the design elevation. Consider the following improvements. Contractors who use motor graders with machine control are able to deliver a more consistent base layer depth, for example, achieving a more consistent 4 in. versus 3.8 in. to 4.2 in., which is more common with conventional methods. The ability to deliver more accurate subgrades also reduces the overall project factor of safety. In essence, contractors spend more money on the less expensive subbase versus the overlay. In addition, with 3D machine control on a concrete paver, operators can drive a 30-ton machine to





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Photo Credit: Trimble

millimeter accuracy. At that level of accuracy, the margin of error decreases significantly because the operator is still able to work with confidence knowing that he will hit the minimum required thickness.

A LONG SMOOTH RUN Innovations in technology are also helping contractors deliver a better end-product that lasts longer and requires less maintenance—a result that can help contractors save money and build a strong reputation. Because automated solutions allow operators to properly compact base and subbase, contractors are better equipped to build roads with less settling and cracking—and with fewer weather-related failures. Today, many projects include a maintenance component that require contractors to cover the cost of maintenance for up to 25 years. This means building more

durable, longer-lasting roads are a winwin-win for the owner, the contractor and drivers. 3D mapping, whether from land or air, can ensure the final surface meets the required specifications. Already, drones equipped with specialized sensors are providing commercial paving contractors with the tools to quickly measure, map and calculate layouts, and then verify smoothness at the end of a job by overlaying images on blueprint specifications.


compaction activities. As contractors look to the future, they should expect to see increasing demand for these types of technology, which will continue to make contractors more efficient, more profitable and more competitive. Kevin Garcia is business area manager for paving and specialty construction in Trimble’s Civil Engineering and Construction Division. He can be reached at

Photo Credit: Trimble

Today’s technology is making such an impact on a contractor’s ability to deliver longer-lasting roads more efficiently that many DOT and project owners have now made the use of technology a requirement in the bid process. GNSS, 3D machine control, machine automation and UAVs are all key components of future paving and

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Walk-Behind Concrete Saws A compilation of technical information when choosing your next walk-behind concrete saw.

1. CS8 RANDOM CRACK SAW FROM GENERAL EQUIPMENT Ergonomically designed for ease of use, handling/control and safety plus low maintenance and high productivity. Features include: Extra heavy duty frame and sealed swivel casters; 8 in. diameter, rubber-backed rear casters; extra capacity, twin row, externally greased bearings; 1-in. arbor shaft; twin V-belt reduction system; Quik-Pitch blade engagement system; down cut blade rotation with operator clean line of site; 3 in. diameter dry cut dust port plus wet cut dual water feed system ports.


Max Depth of Cut (inches)

Max Blade Size

Hyrdraulic or Mechanical Blade Lowering Device

Wet Cut or Dry Cut

Onboard Dust Collector



CS8/GH Random Crack Saw


8” nominal diameter segmented blades in 0.250, 0.375 & 0.500 cutting widths


Can do both. Wet cutting requires General Equipment Company CS8-1000 valve controlled water feed system kit.

No, separate. VS220 DUSTCOLLECT-R system is available

Honda GXV390


2. MK DIAMOND SRX-2000 EARLY ENTRY SAW The SRX-2000 Green Cut Early Entry Saws are engineered for early entry sawing of crack control joints. There are two SRX-2000 models, a pull start and electric start, both powered by a Honda GX 270 Engine. The remotely mounted throttle and stop switch allow for quick operator access. There is an easy release depth control lever for convenience. The SRX-2000 has an up-cut blade rotation, which facilitates in keeping debris out of the joint. The anti-spall, skid plate aids in keeping the edge of the joint smooth.



Max Depth of Cut (inches)

Max Blade Size

Hyrdraulic or Mechanical Blade Lowering Device

Wet Cut or Dry Cut

Onboard Dust Collector









Honda GX270





3. U.S. SAW JS-130


The U.S. Saws JS-130 is an up-cut saw designed to mill out debris or old joint fill material prior to filling control joints with epoxy or polyurea. The up-cut blade rotation ejects the debris into a vacuum port on the blade guard where the dust collector can capture it. Fully boxed heavy gauge steel frame for extra long life and straight accurate cuts. Proudly made in the United States.




La Model

Max Depth of Cut (inches)

Max Blade Size

Hyrdraulic or Mechanical Blade Lowering Device

Wet Cut or Dry Cut

Onboard Dust Collector










Honda GX390




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4. HUSQVARNA FS FLAT SAW The 74-hp FS 7000 D and 48-hp FS 5000 D flat saws are equipped with electronicallycontrolled engines and a diesel oxidation catalyst (FS 7000 D) or particle filters (FS 5000 D) to comply with Tier 4 Final emission regulations. A digital display dashboard enables the operator to monitor and make adjustments while cutting. Available in a three-speed or singlespeed transmission, with optional electronic blade clutch. Model

Max Depth of Cut (inches)

Max Blade Size

Hyrdraulic or Mechanical Blade Lowering Device

Wet Cut or Dry Cut

Onboard Dust Collector



FS 5000 D




Wet and Dry


Yanmar Diesel



Max Depth of Cut (inches)

Max Blade Size

Hyrdraulic or Mechanical Blade Lowering Device

Wet Cut or Dry Cut

Onboard Dust Collector



FS 7000 D




Wet and Dry


Deutz Diesel


5. MEDUSAW WALK-BEHIND SKILSAW The 7-in. model SPT79A-10 MEDUSAW walk-behind worm drive saw provides a complete, ergonomic solution for scoring concrete in large-area applications. An adjustable arm extends to the user’s height and folds and locks into place for transporting and storage. The larger handle and two-finger trigger provide greater control when making long cuts, and ambidextrous side assist handle provides added support. Model

Max Depth of Cut (inches)

Max Blade Size

Hyrdraulic or Mechanical Blade Lowering Device

Wet Cut or Dry Cut

Onboard Dust Collector







Wet and Dry




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6. DIAMOND PRODUCTS CC2500 MEDIUM WALK-BEHIND SAW The CC2500 medium walk behind saw delivers the power of a large saw in a compact size. The heavy-duty frame design handles the toughest jobs. With a 26-in. blade capacity, the CC2500 is great for utility work and has a self-propelled drive that makes it easy to handle.


Max Depth of Cut (inches)

Max Blade Size

Hyrdraulic or Mechanical Blade Lowering Device

Wet Cut or Dry Cut

Onboard Dust Collector









Honda GX690



Max Depth of Cut (inches)

Max Blade Size

Hyrdraulic or Mechanical Blade Lowering Device

Wet Cut or Dry Cut

Onboard Dust Collector









Deutz Diesel



Max Depth of Cut (inches)

Max Blade Size

Hyrdraulic or Mechanical Blade Lowering Device

Wet Cut or Dry Cut

Onboard Dust Collector











“Drill It BackSaver Better!” | June/July 2019 | Concrete Contractor 49

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7. DITEQ G-TEQ Concrete control joints should be cut before the concrete cures to prevent random cracking caused by the curing process. DITEQ G-TEQ Early Entry Saws incorporate state of the art technology to cut clean joints in “green” concrete without raveling, chipping or spalling. • Early entry green concrete saw and diamond blades for prevention of random cracking in newly poured green concrete • Up-cut saw with patented FlatTrac wheel system to prevent spalling • Available with 4.5-hp Subaru gas engine or 1.5-hp electric motor


Max Depth of Cut (inches)

Max Blade Size

Hyrdraulic or Mechanical Blade Lowering Device

Wet Cut or Dry Cut

Onboard Dust Collector



G-TEQ 550H





No (but it has a port to attach a vacuum hose)

Honda GX160



Max Depth of Cut (inches)

Max Blade Size

Hyrdraulic or Mechanical Blade Lowering Device

Wet Cut or Dry Cut

Onboard Dust Collector



G-TEQ 200E





No (but it has a port to attach a vacuum hose)

Electric 120 V, 1 PH, 17 FLA




BLOOM MANUFACTURING, INC. Custom Engineered Solutions Since 1910 Independence, IA 50644, USA | P: 319-827-1139 | 800-394-1139 | F: 319-827-1140 I {855) 322 3335 I

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By Jeremy Wishart


Equipment You May Not Know Can Be Powered by Propane Brands are increasingly adding propane models to equipment lineups because of the fuel’s many benefits and wide availability for contractors.


ropane has been a familiar fuel for decades on construction sites, powering mainstays like jobsite heaters, mobile light towers and portable generators. It offers numerous benefits to contractors that can help save money, increase productivity and reduce emissions. For example, propane typically costs less than gasoline and diesel. Compared to gasoline and diesel, propane produces fewer emissions, allowing it to be used outdoors and indoors in well-ventilated facilities. The fuel is also portable and widely available across the

country, an advantage when sites aren’t yet connected to utilities or are located beyond the reach of natural gas or electric utilities. Contractors can compound these benefits for their jobsites and bottom lines by using propane as a one-fuel solution for multiple types of equipment. They may be surprised to learn how many machines are equipped to use the fuel on concrete construction sites, including for materials handling, concrete work and transporting crews.

MATERIALS HANDLING Most concrete construction begins

Propane auto-gas powered vehicles are more efficient in fuel costs per mile than gasoline. Photo Credit: Propane Education & Research Council

with moving materials to and from a site. Propane-powered power buggies and forklifts can be used to efficiently maneuver these materials across both indoor and outdoor sites. Propane’s low emissions profile offers contractors a major advantage when using power buggies. The machines frequently are used indoors, | June/July 2019 | Concrete Contractor 51

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outdoors or in semi-enclosed spaces where emissions from gasoline or diesel can be dangerous for crews. Propane can also allow work to continue on jobsites where electric utilities are unavailable, or where downtime for recharging batteries isn’t an option. Multiple manufacturers currently offer propane as an option for both tracked and wheeled buggies as well, allowing work to be completed in all types of terrain. Propane forklifts are widely used for materials handling across multiple industries, making fuel and equipment availability likely no matter where a construction site is located. For contractors who need to rent equipment, this availability can be a great asset when working on a remote site. As long as the engines have been properly serviced and they’re in a well-ventilated environment, propane forklifts are perfectly suited to operate indoors as well.


CONCRETE WORK Many of the machines that make up the bread and butter for concrete construction and finishing equipment already have propane models available from multiple brands. Take propanepowered concrete grinders, polishers and floor strippers, for example. In addition to finishing concret, these machines are frequently used in renovation work and regular floor maintenance. New propane-powered grinders and polishers are safe for use indoors, and the machines often feature carbon monoxide sensors. Propane-powered concrete grinders and polishers allow cord-free operation, which can be an advantage on larger projects where there may be hundreds of feet between a machine and an electrical outlet, or in high-traffic areas where a cord can easily become a trip hazard. Additionally, propane can power industrial vacuums used alongside


concrete finishing equipment to collect concrete dust during grinder use. Commercial concrete projects, and even large residential projects, often can benefit from the speed and efficiency of a power trowel. It’s increasingly common to see ride-on power trowels equipped with propane cylinders due to its versatility on indoor and outdoor projects. Some manufacturers have even added duelfuel options with both propane and gasoline to allow for longer usage time between refueling in addition to flexible usage on projects with both indoor and outdoor concrete work. Propane can also power walk-behind concrete saws. Because these don’t rely on electricity for power, they can be used wet to limit silica dust. As with other machines, propane-powered concrete saws can be used indoors with proper ventilation and dust mitigation practices, making the equipment more


Removes paint and coatings without damaging surface

0-4 inch deep (0-101.6mm deep)

0 to .63 inch deep (0 to 16mm deep)

Designed for high production diamond grinding and polishing

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flexible in meeting the needs of different projects compared with gasoline.

TRANSPORTATION Contractors may not realize how much their businesses could save on fuel and maintenance costs by moving fleets away from gasoline and diesel. For contractors working on projects with long drive times, such as highway or bridge projects between cities, the savings can quickly become apparent. On average, propane autogas costs between 30-50% less per gallon than gasoline and diesel. The price of propane traditionally falls between the prices of natural gas and oil, which greatly limits market price fluctuations compared to the wild price swings of gasoline and diesel. This cost consistency can be a major advantage in planning budgets for projects. It’s likely there’s an EPA- or CARB-certified propane autogas conversion kit that can meet the needs of a contractor’s fleet. A number of high demand light- and medium-duty trucks and vans can be converted to run on propane autogas from gasoline, including chassis models upfitted with dump bodies, cranes or box options. Contractors will likely find that propane autogas is more efficient in fuel costs per mile compared to gasoline, and that the fuel has comparable power even when pulling loaded trailers. Propane autogas vehicles also eliminate many of the challenges that contractors face if using diesel trucks. Propane autogas engines and emissions systems are less complex and eliminate the need for emissions fluids. The fuel doesn’t require complicated particulate filters to meet emissions regulations either, which often require additional downtime and costs to periodically clean and replace in diesel engines. Multiple conversion kit partners are available across the U.S. to assist with converting existing fleets to propane autogas. Additionally, contractors with a wide service area may see benefits

from using propane autogas bi-fuel vehicles. This freedom of choice eliminates “range anxiety,” where operators or crews fear they might not find a place to refuel before running out of fuel. Propane offers many benefits to construction jobsites and company budgets, and contractors can grow

those benefits by incorporating different types of propane equipment into their fleets. Jeremy Wishart is the director of off-road business development for the Propane Education & Research Council. He can be reached at

BSD DRY RESIN Made with Blue Star Diamond Technology™, the BSD Dry Resin line is the latest technology in the Blue Star Diamond family. Designed to follow the BSD Ceramics, contractors to complete their the BSD Dry Resins allow con polishing concrete and terrazzo polish hing process.


6 000-8 000 sq ft average llife 6,000-8,000 Superior performance on soft to very hard concrete Available in 400, 800 and 1500 grits Available in 3” and 2” (special order) Polishing Step




400 Resin

11 - 23

2 - 12


800 Resin

32 - 48

47 - 65


1500 Resin

46 - 56

74 - 88


Guard + Burnish

68 - 74

93 - 96


Results subject to quality of concrete

800.662.0336 • TRAVERSE CITY, MI BSD products are proudly Made in the USA | June/July 2019 | Concrete Contractor 53

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By Kris Moorman

Volumetric Mixing Shapes the Backbone of the


Bauman Landscape and Construction has embraced nextgen volumetric mixing technology to place concrete for some of San Francisco’s most important infrastructure.


auman Landscape and Construction Inc. has helped build some of San Francisco’s most complex and iconic cityscapes. From the Palace of Fine Arts to Dolores Park to the city’s Embarcadero, the contractor has been placing concrete in The Golden City for more than four decades. The company’s success in the Bay Area has been built on a foundation of obsessive quality, efficiency, and a willingness to trust new innovations and technology. One of the most significant innovations Bauman has embraced is volumetric concrete mixing technology. When Bauman started using volumetric mixing technology, the trend was

The Bauman fleet of 16 Cemen Tech C60 mixers crosses the Golden Gate Bridge. Photo Credit: Cemen Tech

still in its infancy, but the City of San Francisco quickly realized the company was able to deliver concrete faster and more reasonably than their competitors who were still using traditional barrel mixers. In addition to being high-quality, quick and on-budget, Bauman boasts another feature that sets them apart: It’s green initiatives. San Francisco, well-known as a hub for sustainability, appreciates Bauman’s ability to take unused concrete back to their yard, crush it and re-use it as concrete aggregate.

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“That was huge in the city,” says Mike Bauman, CEO of Bauman Landscape and Construction. “They require everything to be recycled, and we are pretty green as far as recycling and reusing the concrete. “We are the first company [in San Francisco] to use 100 percent recycled aggregate in our mix. The barrel mix guys use about 50 percent,” he adds. But the company’s success didn’t set-in overnight. The city, which hires Bauman’s company to place streetscapes, curbs, gutters, as well as structural walls and building slabs, required the company to do test placements before each load out of the mixer, says Bauman. After some test runs and some solid test results, the city gave the company the green light. “They were so used to barrel mixers,” he adds. “Since we were the first ones out here with the volumetric mixers, now we have a great reputation with [the city]. They like our mixers, and they like the mix better than the barrel mixers.”

TIME FOR AN UPGRADE In 2017, Bauman identified a few soft spots in his equipment and was ready to make some serious upgrades. His previous volumetric mixers required skilled concrete operators who were becoming harder to come by and experienced recurring issues with bent, broken or faulty chutes, which caused downtime. The contractor turned to Cemen Tech to deliver four initial C60 mobile concrete mixers to help streamline their operation, increase efficiencies on-site and in their driver hiring, while also minimizing downtime. With the Cemen Tech C Series mixers, Bauman’s team was able to batch, measure, mix, pour, record and analyze each job with just the onboard equipment of the machine itself. Additionally, the ability to load a variety of different mix composites made toggling back-and-forth between jobs or within the same job a breeze. “The C60s we have equipped with the liquid color, which is great because everything we do out here is color; even the simple sidewalks have color in them,” explains Bauman. “We probably have 25 mix designs pre-loaded because of all the different type of work that we do out here. “They pretty much run themselves,” he adds.

“One huge benefit for us in the city are the streetscapes. We do a lot of streetscapes, and the curb, gutter and sidewalks are all different mixes,” Angela says. “We used to have to get three short loads just to pour a curb ramp, so now with the Cemen Tech mixers, we can just change the mix three different times in one truck and pour the entire thing. “That has been absolutely awesome for us, because we do streetscapes everywhere, and that has just been an incredible advantage,” she notes.

Helen Diller Playground, one of the latest additions to Mission Delores Park in San Francisco. Photo Credit: Cemen Tech



UNRIVALED QUALITY You don’t hold a reputation for excellent, reliable work for more than 40 years without taking quality control seriously. That’s where Angela Bauman comes in, the company’s lead project manager who has a passion for process improvement, quality control and efficiency. In addition to Angela, the company also has a full-time quality control person on staff who is responsible for running in-house testing before mixes go out for placement. With the Cemen Tech mixers, once the mixes are tested and approved, Bauman’s team can make a single run and knock-out a multi-mix job.



#GRINDMORE (866) 275-0446 | June/July 2019 | Concrete Contractor 55

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Joe DiMaggio North Beach Playground, another example of Bauman’s contribution to San Francisco's many parks and public spaces. Photo Credit: Cemen Tech

project. When they quoted the city with their proposed timeline, the city was skeptical. “They said, ‘We don’t think you can do it that quickly,’” Angela recalls. “We were beating the schedule by almost a year. And, sure enough, we did, and it was awesome.” The speed with which Bauman is able to complete jobs nearly rivals the quality of their work. On a recent job on Chestnut Street in the northern tip of the city, Bauman Landscape and Construction was responsible for completing the entire baseline of the

CURBING DRIVER SHORTAGES Across the country, companies of all types, sizes and geographic location are struggling to hire and retain professional drivers, much less good ones.

We let our work speak for itself.

It’s a trend not expected to subside, and many analysts believe the shortage could as much as triple by 2026. With Bauman’s original equipment, which was tricky to operate and resulted in more downtime than the company could swallow, highly-skilled operators became even harder to come by. Now, Mike Bauman says, the Cemen Tech machines have made that hurdle much easier to clear. “It is incredible because now we can take a UPS driver and put them in a C60, and they could run it,” he says. “It’s a real benefit for us. It is tough to find good quality people, so we have to pay over scale, but we are able to lure away good quality drivers from other companies to work for us now.” Part of what makes the vehicles so easy to operate are their electronic control panel that gives the user total control over how much is placed and which mixture is being used. The Cemen Tech


Revolutionary new polyurea chemistry provides for superior adhesion, moisture tolerance and a more consistently flush finished profile with a wider shaving window than comparable polyureas. Edge-Pro 90 Heavy Duty Polyurea Joint Filler is the first product to offer heavy duty performance and durability comparable to our legendary MM-80 Heavy Duty Epoxy Joint Filler and can fill and protect joint edges in the most demanding industrial floor settings such as warehouses, distribution centers and manufacturing facilities. Edge-Pro 90 is a color stable joint filler which maintains a consistent color profile and resists fading, yellowing or other discoloration in normal conditions.


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C60 units are also equipped with AutoWashout™ and Auto-Stow™ features for easy transportation and clean up, as well as the ACCU-POUR™ options. ACCU-POUR is a suite of cloudbased, wireless productivity solutions that allow Bauman to blend the everyday details from dispatch to completed jobs to a holistic view of their business operations. In addition, Cemen Tech provides on-site training for both mechanical and maintenance training, as well as driver training. Now, the drivers who went through the initial round of training are able to train any new drivers who join the Bauman team.

A SMOOTH PARTNERSHIP The relationship between Cemen Tech and Bauman has been mutually-beneficial. As one places foundational elements in one of America’s most iconic cities, the other continues to

press-forward with innovative technology and customer support that keeps their customers running on all cylinders. Volumetric concrete mixing technology has given Bauman Landscape and Construction a distinct advantage on their home turf. It’s an advantage they don’t expect to be relinquished soon. “Even though it was hard to get the city to open their eyes to volumetric mixers…we took a leap of faith and they did,” Angela Bauman says. “The city ever since then is convinced.” During every step of the way, both organizations have worked together to guarantee success. “The immediate customer service, you need that support, especially when you are new to a product,” Angela adds. “You want to be able to call someone and have them make you feel good about what you are purchasing and make sure they are going to be on board if something were to happen, or

if you need the additional support or training. “Cemen Tech has done that and have followed-through in more ways that we could have ever thought.” Kris Moorman is the marketing manager at Cemen Tech Inc. Project manager Spencer Isetta oversees a city street project in downtown San Francisco. Photo Credit: Cemen Tech




QUIKRETE® Advanced Polymer Sealants & Adhesives are a solvent and isocyanate free line of high-performance, commercial-grade flexible repair and bonding materials that meet ASTM C920 standards. Designed to deliver or exceed the performance of traditional polyurethane or silicone sealants and adhesives, the QUIKRETE® Advanced Polymer Sealants & Adhesives are five single-component, environmentally-friendly alternatives.

*10 is highest ranking | June/July 2019 | Concrete Contractor 57

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PECORA-DECK 800 & 800 FC SERIES LONG-LASTING PROTECTION AGAINST THE ELEMENTS Durable, elastomeric Pecora-Deck coating systems deliver resilient protection against the elements and traffic; whether it’s for maintenance, restoration, or a new structure. Surfaces are shielded from damage caused by vehicular and pedestrian traffic abrasion, and the destructive forces of sun, water, temperature shifts, and corrosive chemicals. Choose the coating system that fits your project and protect the investment that has been made in the deck surfaces.

LEVEL TOP PC-AGG Level Top PC-Agg takes polishable overlays to the next level. Designed for use on either new or worn concrete substrates, it provides excellent adhesion, toughness, and long-term durability. High-early strength allows for polishing 24 hours after placement.

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Peace of mind is of great value…a free service offered by Stego Industries

When you choose Stego Barrier Solutions and products, you gain access to a large nationwide network of full-time technical sales representatives providing unmatched local support and service. Stego Installation Support – where our industry leading experts back up the high quality of our products Please contact us to get in touch with the nearest Stego representative. We look forward to working with you on your next project. (877) 464-7834 | 58 Concrete Contractor | June/July 2019 |

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WOC Idea File

In 2000, Reliable Diamond Tool, Inc. established sole representation for Precision Metallurgy. We bring you 60+ years of manufacturing experience in Diamond Tooling. RDTI stocks a wide variety of specifications for use in Concrete Construction.


Industrial surface preparation specialist: Full-line distributor of BlastPro Shot Blasters and scrapers, Lavina concrete grinders, DiamaPro hepa dust extractors and air scrubbers as well as quality tooling and cup wheels fitting most manufacturers, and concrete treatments including UV-HS coatings. Niagara Machine: technical expertise, supplies, and customer service since 1954. 800-622-2048

Manufactured at our state-ofthe-art facility in Springfield, Illinois, Brickform sealers use the highest quality materials. Trust Brickform solventand water-based sealers to enhance color, resist staining, and protect your hard work. Quality sealers, coatings, and cure and seals. 800-624-0261

ESTABLISHED 1954 | June/July 2019 | Concrete Contractor

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GelMaxx USA has your answer with our two-part slurry separating and solidifying solution. Our products consist of organic material making it safe for the environment and operators, while maintaining OSHA compliance.





800.231.6074 •


GatorBar composite rebar is a lightweight, high strength, rust-free alternative to steel that works for your bottom line. Experience the savings today!

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( 9 0 6 ) 934-2661 | G A TORBAR.COM 60 Concrete Contractor | June/July 2019 |

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WOC Idea File



New Tool to Install Contraction Joints


The TRAKER® is a manually operated tool for installing contraction joints in fresh concrete. TRAKER installs joints at 75% less cost, 4 times faster and dust-free compared to sawcutting.

The Model FS-600 portable rebar bender/cutter will both bend and cut up to #6 rebar. • Plugs into a standard 110-volt outlet • 180 lbs. • Fabricate stirrups, hooks and 3-D bends and cut bars to length • Convenient carrying handles for on-site or at the shop | June/July 2019 | Concrete Contractor

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WOC Idea File ASL Machines USA is a concrete grinder manufacturer that produces flawless gear-driven grinders with a 2 year warranty. Our grinders vary from electrical to powerful propane powered machines, and we count with the best U.S. Customer service.

ColorJuice Extreme

Our strongest, and most vibrant exterior color ever!

The American Concrete Institute’s ACI University is a global, online learning resource, providing on-demand access to a wide range of topics on concrete materials, design, and construction, appealing to everyone from testing technicians to practicing engineers. ACI University is now offering packages for each of their Certificate Programs. The programs encourage concrete professionals to gain in-depth knowledge about topics in concrete materials, design, repair, or construction by following a defined online course of study. Once a course of study for a certificate program has been completed, the participant can obtain a certificate through ACI University and a digital badge. Certificate programs include: •

Fundamentals of Concrete Construction

Anchorage Design

Fundamentals of Concrete and Materials

Repair Application Procedures

ACI is an approved education provider for AIA and ICC. To learn more about the ACI University or the certificate program, visit

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WOC Idea File BSD CORNER TOOL Made with Blue Star Diamond Technology™, the BSD Corner Tool is an extension to the Easy Edge product line. Now you can easily blend your corners to match the edges and floor. Works great on stairs, door jambs and counter-tops too!

PRODUCT FEATURES • Aggressive grind with superb finish • Blends the corners to match the floor and edges • Long life and superior performance • Available in 30-400 grit 800.662.0336 • TRAVERSE CITY, MI BSD products are proudly Made in the USA

Collomix LevMixMobile Mixing Machine. Mixing and Transporting in one operation. For selfleveling and leveling compounds. Ideal for floors and subfloors. Highly effective mixing paddle prevents the formation of lumps; all material is mixed thoroughly. | June/July 2019 | Concrete Contractor

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EZ Polish System is designed to deliver exceptional results using fewer steps than traditional polishing. Our tooling combined with our chemicals reduce installation time. While the integral use of our RA Meter ensures sustainable results every time.


Minnich’s Commitment to Innovation Leads to High-Quality Solutions for Concrete Contractors Minnich Manufacturing, the leading manufacturer of concrete dowel pin drills, concrete vibrators and vibrator monitoring systems, is dedicated to helping concrete contractors maximize quality. Minnich’s Stinger and M-Box are just two examples of how the company’s concrete innovations help their customers. The light yet rugged Stinger electric flex shaft concrete vibrator is a 14.5-pound double-insulated universal motor that can drive the full line of Minnich vibrator shafts and heads from ¾ inch to 2 ½ inches. The M-Box high cycle vibration control solution is an innovative control speed high-cycle power converter that enables high-cycle vibrator operators to control the speed/ vibrations per minute (VPM) of up to two vibrators. Minnich will continue to bring products to the industry that support the findings of concrete research facilities across the country. For more information, visit or call (419) 903-0010.

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INDEX ADVERTISER..................................... PAGE

ADVERTISER..................................... PAGE

Aaron Hilbert LLC.......................................................38, 61 Advance Metalworking Company...................................12 American Concrete Institute......................................47, 62 Ameripolish.................................................................12, 62 BackSaver....................................................................49, 63 Bloom Manufacturing Inc.................................................50 BORIDE Engineered Abrasives.................................53, 63 Caterpillar Dealer Network*............................................23 Collomix USA..............................................................31, 63 Concrete Foundations Assoc..........................................33 CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2020...........................................67 Cummins Engine Company Inc.........................................5 Curb Roller Mfg. LLC..................................................48, 62 Diteq Corp........................................................................27 Euclid Chemical Company.........................................44, 58 Fascut Industries.........................................................44, 61 GelMAXX.....................................................................50, 60 ASL Machines..............................................................55, 62 EZ Polish System.........................................................56, 64 Hyundai Construction Equipment Americas Inc..............9 Kingdom Products......................................................40, 60 Max USA Corp..................................................................13 McKinnon Materials, Inc.............................................35, 65

Mecom...............................................................................52 Metzger/ McGuire......................................................56, 61 Minnich Manufacturing................................................2, 64 Multiquip Incorporated..............................................17, 63 Neuvokas Corporation...............................................37, 60 Niagara Machine Inc..................................................48, 59 Nox Crete Products Group........................................39, 64 Pecora Corporation..........................................................30 Putzmeister America....................................................7, 61 The Quikrete Companies...........................................57, 68 Reef Industries, Inc.....................................................22, 60 Reliable Diamond Tools.............................................45, 59 Schwing America Inc........................................................21 Solomon Colors..........................................................32, 59 Somero Enterprises..............................................11, 41, 59 Stego Industries..........................................................43, 58 Trinic...................................................................................38 Vacuworx Global...............................................................25 VoidForm Products, Inc..............................................40, 64 * Denotes regional ad

WOC Idea File The Next Generation Of Decorative Concrete Flooring! Aurora Epoxy Dust is a new type of epoxy floor system unlike anything the industry has seen before. A high definition 3D image is achieved by blending metallic pigment with clear epoxy binder that results in seamless sheer elegance. Aurora Epoxy Dust reflects light rather than absorbing it, producing a floor that has more depth and dimension than what is obtainable with concrete staining.

Our system provides the ultimate uniform surfacing solution. Professional contractors recognize the true value of a fast application process that greatly decreases down time, potential for non-uniformity and other stress factors associated with concrete stains and overlays. To learn more about Aurora Epoxy Dust visit our website at or contact us at 1-813-622-7031. | June/July 2019 | Concrete Contractor

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By Brad Humphrey

7 Tips to Improve Your Construction Company's Culture


ver the years I’ve observed a refocusing on something called culture in the construction industry. Thirty years ago, contractors may have talked about their company as a good company to work at, or maybe a company who did quality work, but rarely did I hear them speak in terms of their company culture. That has all changed today. In many ways, your culture is what others say you are, or what they see produced or how they see it is produced. While it may be difficult to capture the exact meaning for culture, it seems to be felt readily when others engage your company as an employee, a customer or a supplier. So, how can a contractor build the sort of culture they want to own, something that reflects all that they know to be good? Consider a few ideas below: 1. Develop your company’s vision and values As the owner or senior leader of a construction company, it is vital to have a clear vision of what you want the company to be focused on. The values should be created to support that vision. Think of the values as “legs” that help to carry the vision to employees, customers and suppliers. 2. Engage every company employee on how to live the company vision and values Your company’s vision and values are not only for the senior leaders but for all your employees. Some contractors struggle to create a good culture because they never talk about their vision and values with all the employees. The “vision statement” is sometimes captured on a plaque or printed on a business

card, which is fine, but your vision, and values, need to be talked about. When people begin to discuss how they can really live the vision and values, then you begin to see people putting out a better effort. 3. Recognize and reward employees who are “caught living” the vision and values How do you reinforce a six-year-old child to clean up their room? By recognizing and rewarding them when they do. Sometimes that recognition and reward might be a dollar, but sometimes a great “atta boy” can go a long way. The main learning point here is that we need to be consistent and proactive. Reinforcing your appreciation for the foreman who won an angry customer over can go a long way, and you should recognize and reward such efforts. 4. Share complimentary recognition from customers/ suppliers with employees Most of our workers haven’t the time to sit around wondering if one customer likes them or their work results. However, many customers are only too quick to say “thank you” and “job well done.” Often, such appreciation is sent to the owner or some senior leader, but even this form of appreciation needs to be passed along to the workers. This reinforces that their efforts and conduct are making a positive difference with the customers who are paying for our success. 5. Engage workers to reflect on the company This can be touchy for owners— and not all employees will be transparent—but it is important to give your employees the chance to share how they feel about the company. Working with

some of my clients, I’ve conducted a “Culture Survey,” a tool we use to measure processes in a confidential manner. This allows employees to respond and rate how things are progressing in the company. If the feedback is taken seriously, and if the owner and senior leaders will work to make good, solid and important improvements, the employees will respond positively. 6. Be authentic Nothing beats a leader who is authentic. Now, authentic doesn’t mean that you cannot get angry or that you should refrain from criticizing work or behavior. However, to be authentic is to address even the worst of things honestly, professionally, and in a controlled and objective manner. If owners and senior leaders are anything, they need to be authentic. 7. Leader’s refocus and recommitment Admittedly, even senior leaders can let go of their company’s vision and values in the midst of running a business. But this is the “kiss of death” for the contractor striving to make their workplace “employee friendly” and the “preferred contractor of choice.” Therefore, in addition to the previous six tips, I highly caution owners and leaders to leave time for monthly “R&R,” except in this case, it stands for “Refocus & Recommitment.” If our senior body of leaders do not walk the talk as it relates to living the vision and values, there is no way workers will comply. Owner and senior leaders must live the culture first and consistently. For more information on how to engage Brad to improve your company culture, visit and be sure to download the Pinnacle Development Group educational app.

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