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Understanding Concrete Surface Preparation Standards

Understanding Concrete Surface Preparation Standards

7th Sep 2023

  • The process of surface preparation is a crucial step in various industries, ensuring the quality and longevity of coatings, adhesives, and other finishes applied to surfaces. For those working with concrete, understanding the intricacies of concrete surface preparation standards is essential. This article aims to provide a comprehensive overview of concrete surface preparation standards, their significance, and how they guide professionals in achieving optimal results. Whether you're a contractor, specifier, or enthusiast in need of surface preparation tools and equipment, this guide will offer valuable insights.

Importance of Surface Preparation Standards:

Resin and cement mortar manufacturers test the properties of every batch they produce. Most keep retains (small sample) of each batch for future use in case there is a quality question. Having a “bad” batch which would lead to a coating failure is very unlikely to come from a quality manufacturer.

Lack of surface preparation is the number one cause for failure in concrete coatings and toppings. Every system has an optimum surface profile (texture) required to develop the best bond. To obtain the correct surface profile for the system being installed, a means to mechanically prepare the surface will be needed. The rougher the surface profile, the more aggressive the mechanical preparation method will be required.

Systems that absorb and “wet” the substrate easily will usually require a less aggressive profile. A thin mil resinous coating will require less of a profile than a cement-based mortar that needs a rough surface to mechanically grab onto. The tinner systems will normally suggest a less aggressive texture because a rough profile will reflect through the cured coating and be visually unacceptable. There will not be enough applied material to fill the valleys producing a smooth cured film.

When selecting the method and texture needed for the system being applied, following the material manufactures recommendation is always recommended. They have selected the surface profile required during their testing of the system.

Concrete Surface Profile (CSP)

In the late 1980’s a group of Engineers, Contractors and Material Manufacturers came together to discuss a common problem in the concrete repair industry, surface preparation. Material manufactures were developing repair materials new to the industry. Engineers were specifying materials for their repair projects. The contractors were expected to install these materials correctly. The big issue was how the surface of these repairs needed to be prepared for the materials being used on a consistent basis.

Out of that meeting the International Concrete Repair Institute (ICRI) was born. Now that ICRI had a structure in place they could fulfill the initial mission, to develop a standard that can be used by all parties when specifying, developing, and installing repair material that everyone can understand and follow.

Concrete Surface Profile (CSP) is a method of visually showing how rough the surface needs to be for a specific material. It is a description of the surface profile required that is currently used worldwide by material manufacturers. Each surface profile level is associated with one or more mechanical means to perform the work. There are 10 levels, 1 being the least aggressive and 10 being extremely aggressive. At that point, CSP was adopted by most material manufacturers which lead to common terminology between all parties involved.

Methods and Techniques:

There are basically 3 mechanical methods used to prepare a horizontal concrete surface. Shotblast, grind, and scarify. Within these methods there are several levels that each can provide. For example, when using a shotblaster the size of shot, the speed the machine travels, and the size (power) of the machine all have an impact on the CSP level it will provide.

  • CSP 1      Grinder 70 grit metal bond tool
  • CSP 2      Grinder 14-30 grit metal bond tool
  • CSP 3      Grinder Bush Hammer tool followed by 30 grit metal bond tool

                        Shotblaster 110v/220v/460v 330 steel shot

  • CSP 4      Grinder Bush Hammer tool followed by 16 grit metal bond tool

     Shotbalster 110v/220v/460v 390 steel shot

Scarifier Fine Drum

  • CSP 5      Grinder Bush Hammer tool followed by 6 grit metal bond tool

Shotblaster 220v/460v 390 steel shot

Scarifier Medium Drum

  • CSP 6      Shotblaster 220v/460v 390 steel shot

Scarifier Medium Drum

  • CSP 7-10 Scarifier Coarse Drum

Guidance for Professionals:

As a manufacturer of material, during the formulation phase, develop systems having surface profile requirements that fall within the ICRI CPS Guidelines. This will minimize misinterpretation when the system is specified and/or installed.

When specifying a system, utilize systems that designate a CSP level. This will help the installer to determine what they need to install the material.

Contractors need guidance when working with unfamiliar materials and systems. What works best for the system is only an educated guess at that point. When a material manufacturer states the CSP level required for the system, it takes the guess work out of the surface preparation. The contractor will be ready with the appropriate equipment to perform a successful installation.

Understanding concrete surface preparation standards is an integral part of ensuring the quality and durability of coatings and finishes applied to concrete surfaces. By following recognized standards and utilizing appropriate tools and equipment, professionals can achieve optimal results. Whether you're involved in construction, renovation, or maintenance projects, adhering to these standards can make a significant difference in the long-term performance of your work. For those seeking surface preparation solutions, our website offers a range of tools, products, and machines designed to meet industry standards and requirements.