Concrete Treatment

Indoors and out, low-emission concrete treatment is becoming a sustainable trend to watch

The cover-up is over. Concrete is out in the open, indoors as well as out, freed at last from the indignities of vinyl tiles and dirt-collecting carpets. Decorative concrete flooring became a popular design choice based on its own natural beauty, easy sustainable maintenance, and perhaps some thrifty-chic trendiness. 

Treated concrete has begun showing up, more and more, in retail stores; in office atriums and entry ways; in fashionable restaurants; and in residential 4-season rooms, patios, and finished basements. “It is a growing trend in certain areas, and you're seeing it more in the South so far,” notes Mike Trost, a spokesman for Florida-based Seal-Krete. “And we're seeing a lot bigger call for the decorative concrete coatings now in the southwest.” That's driven, in part, by designers in warm weather regions who look to bridge their outside decor into the indoor spaces. 

At one time that might have raised environmental health concerns, but companies like Seal-Krete now offer a full assortment of low emission water based products that live up to LEED certification standards. 

Color stains provide an easy starting point for designers. Seal-Krete's Concrete Colors is supplied in 4 UV-resistant neutral tones, plus a tint-base version for more creative choices. That's led to some interesting regional variations in color stylings. According to Trost, users in the cold weather regions of Canada seem to favor the grays and tans, while pastels have been popular in the sunny southwest. “We're seeing more and more people staining their concrete instead of using a vinyl floor,” Trost has found. “And most people can do it themselves, because it's really easy to apply.” That's even true for decorative finishes, where two or more colors can be blended to a faux finish, or stenciled to evoke a brick or stone effect. 

While the concrete stains do not require a top coat, Seal-Krete does offer a variety of low-emission protective clear finishes that offer surface protection against grease, dirt, and wear. And Trost points out that sealing the floor does simplify maintenance. “Cleaning a sealed concrete floor is much easier than cleaning carpet or tile,” he said. Seal-Krete's Low Lustre Finish is a low-emission, chemical resistant urethane-fortified top coat that also protects against UV exposure. Their Wet Look Sealer, originally formulated for use on decorative masonry and stone, is suitable for use in challenging conditions such as pool and spa areas.

For very heavy traffic zones, Seal-Krete suggests their 2 Part Water Based High Performance Urethane. Designed for indoor or outdoor use on floors or walls, this high-solids formula is South-Coast Air Quality District compliant and is NSF approved for use at USDA facilities for incidental food contact. It's supplied as a high gloss finish as a clear, or in light or dark gray colors. “Application is a 4-day process,” says Trost, “but it's going to give you the most durable result available.”

GraniTex is a tough indoor/outdoor finish with the added benefit of slip resistance. It's commonly used on patios and pool decks, but it's also been used on driveways, garage floors, and on outdoor steps. This low-emission coating resists water, salt, gasoline, oil, grease, antifreeze, hot tires, and most household cleaners. Available in 4 pre-mixed colors, it simulates the look of granite when used on concrete, masonry and primed metal walls or floors.

Seal-Krete also offers a complete array of concrete waterproofers, cleaners, stucco coatings, etching solutions and more. The line is available to dealers via factory direct shipping or through a network of 2-step distributors.

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