Video Q&A

A number of years ago, a guy named Paul French and I were working together at a concrete polishing company, and we got to be friends. Then one day we decided let’s go out, start our own group. I had been there about 5 years, but Paul had been there about 20 years. We brought quite a bit of experience.

We found our wheelhouse were in those small- to medium-sized commercial jobs and some high-end residential, so that’s where probably 95% of our work is. Most of it’s through general contractors who’ve been hired by the project owner, building owner to complete their whole construction project. Then they bring us in just for the floors. 

When you call us, it’s not like you’re calling Sears and ordering washing machine part or trying to get your cable package changed to Comcast or Xfinity. We’re there. We’re regular people. We’re all local. 

I’m a native of Colorado. I enjoy people that live here. We’re always willing to talk and consult at no charge for people that have concrete problems, concrete needs. We treat people the same way as we’d like to be treated. 

We deal with issues. We’re always available to talk. We think that communication is the best way to go from Point A to Point B, Point B being you’re satisfied with your floor. 

When people think of polished concrete, they think of a hard, sealed, treated floor that you might see in a grocery store or some of the larger Costcos and Sam’s Clubs and airports. What we do is we take the virgin contract, concrete, or the original concrete, whether it’s ever been used before. Sometimes, if there’s been tile, or carpet, or glue, or other types of flooring on it, there’s some prep work it involved. 

It’s like sanding a piece of wood. You start with a rough set of diamonds, and we use diamonds to grind our concrete. Then you open it up with the rough ones, and then you sand it or grind it with finer and finer diamonds until you achieve a smooth profile. 

Concrete under a microscope is – it’s jagged on top. It has a lot of peaks and valleys. As you cut off those peaks and the light has a better opportunity to reflect straight up without getting caught into the little peaks and valleys, that’s where your organic shine from polished concrete comes in. 

Along with that is a densifier. A densifier is it’s usually lithium that comes. Sometimes it’s sodium or potassium, and it grows crystals into the pores of the concrete. Concrete is basically a hard sponge and it’s porous. 

What we do is we cut the cream off. We fill in the little pores with a densifier, either – most likely lithium but sometimes sodium or potassium, and then that puts a hard dustproof cap on the concrete. There’s a dye involved. We dye it in that same phase right before the densifier, and then for a higher shine, then we continue grinding the concrete with finer and finer diamonds until the level of shine is achieved. 

We do a grind and seal, which is a low shine. We do a 200-grit polish, which is an industrial. We call industrial finish, which is a low shine too, little bit more shiny than grind and seal. Then you go to 400s or 800s, 1600s until it almost looks like you’re looking at a piece of granite on your floor. 

We had one project here in Denver that, as we were doing our floors, there was – finishing our floors, we take pictures along the process and send them to our customer. There was a fire in the ceiling. One of the electrical outlets was wired wrong. When they went to mediation, they actually took to court our picture of our floor because you could see through the reflection of the floor that it was wired wrong up above, so it can get really shiny.

…contacts made with the customer and they explain their project to us. We qualify it just a little bit, mostly in because we want to a good job helping them out if we’re not going to be a good fit, and then we’ll take a look at the job. We like to have a set of plans. We have a software program that does our takeoffs. It measures all the corners, the exact square footage and that sort of thing. 

Generally, will take us two, or three, or four days to prepare a bid if someone needs one that quick. Most of our general contractors will notify us, send an invitation to bid a month or so before the bid is due, so we put together our proposal, which is a detailed proposal and has a line item for each process. If it says remove glue from the floor, it’ll say remove glue and then a line item or then grind with 30 grit diamonds and add the densifier and add the stain if there’s stain. Some of the options are if they want their joints filled. Some customers do and some customers don’t. 

We prepare what we think is an easy-to-read complete itemized proposal. Generally, the guy will have a question or two as to if he can change this, or add color, or what happens if the don’t have power that day? There’s a whole variety of questions that can go on, so we deal with that. If they accept it, we schedule it, and the schedule could be anywhere from the next week to we have one now that’s not scheduled until November of ’24. It’s been on the books for about six months. 

You generally need a project manager and a superintendent that we work with. Project manager working with general contractor will oversee the job. Superintendent is the man on the ground that is our immediate supervisor, schedule with him, show up, start grinding. 

One of the challenges with doing floor work is it’s not like you’re doing electrical – the electrical room. If we’re doing floor work, we need the whole floor, so best practices are for all the other trades to be out of the area while we’re doing the floor. Now, that doesn’t always happen, and we’re flexible if someone needs to – if we need to work around drywallers or somebody like that, we’re always able to. Best practices are for everybody to be off the floor.

There are a lot of people doing this, and there’s a lot of people that are working out of their houses. Some of them do pretty good work, but they don’t carry all the insurance that we need to go into a hospital, or a school, or a large commercial job. We provide just honest transparent customer service. 

If a guy calls me – and this has happened dozens of times, and I’ve got emails to show you how thankful they were. If we’re going to be too expensive for them because our machines are bigger because they’re geared towards commercial jobs and we have to carry all this insurance that they might not need on the job, then I just tell them up front we’re going to be 25% higher, but we’re always available to help you with a consultation. Then I give them half a dozen people to call. 

Our customer service, our scheduling is spot on. We very rarely miss a date on a schedule, and if we do, it’s usually because they had us scheduled on one day. Then they asked to bump it a few weeks or a month because their millwork didn’t get in, and the whole supply issues lately have been really hard on contractors scheduling jobs. If we usually miss one, it’s usually by a day or two that it was a last-minute thing. 

We have a really good crew right now, experienced guys. They’re dedicated. They take pride in their work, and we’re always around to come back and fix anything that goes wrong. It’s easy to get a hold of us. We answer our phones anytime. That’s a few of the reasons to use us.

The restaurant we just did is one that’s probably within five miles where we’re sitting right now. It’s called Noonan’s off of Iliff. We’re also working a luxury home in Snowmass; a guy’s outbuilding, sort of a garage in Tabernash, Colorado, which are both close to the ski towns here. We just finished up a large marijuana edible production plant who needed – they had to follow the same guidelines as a commercial kitchen with the Colorado Health Department. That was an involved job. 

We did the new Google building up in Boulder. We did Ball Aerospace. We did a lot of work for Ball Aerospace. We did some work out of DIA, so the customers that we like are general contracts that have been projects but they just need a small amount of flooring. If it’s $100 million project, he might have $50,000 of floor work, something like that. 

One thing we really enjoy working with is just the owner of the building, or the owner of the house, or the owner of the business. If a guy that owns a restaurant and he has a free-standing building comes in and he’s having problems with his kitchen floor, for instance, this is one we just did. The epoxy that he had down was coming up. It was a number of years old, and they probably didn’t do a very good job on it to begin with. That becomes an issue because you have Health Department requirements and all of those things. In the kitchen environment, commercial kitchen environment, you need a really clean floor that’s easy to clean and easy to maintain. 

We came in, and it was an involved process. He had to remove everything in his kitchen, and then we put a cementitious urethane underneath his floor. Now he’s got a floor that’ll last a number of years or decades. He won’t have to worry about ever again. It’s impervious to heat, grease. Oil spills clean up quickly. It’s generally an easy to clean floors as long as you clean it on our maintenance schedule that we provide

Epoxy is good for – it actually puts a hard plastic surface or epoxy surface on your floor that helps out with stains and spills. You’ll see a lot of epoxy in cementitious urethane products in personal kitchens. We do a lot of that also and also large machine shops where there’s – they’re really hard on floors. They have CNC machines spewing fluids out all over and iron shavings, that sort of thing, so for that sort of thing, you need a more robust product, either epoxy or cementitious urethane.  

Polished concrete does great for aesthetics and high traffic areas. It’s not as great with spills, so transmission fluid, gasoline, sometimes vinegar and margarita mix, things like that, red wine, mustard, they will dull the finish of a polished concrete, which on epoxy they won’t.

There’s a really small tolerance for how unlevel the floor can be. It’s usually about an eighth inch over 10 feet. What happens is, especially with long hardwood boards that they put down, if the concrete’s unlevel, the tips will start to come up a little bit, so a lot of times we’ll go in there and level out a floor for other types of flooring. 

Sometimes the floor is just so buggered up and marked up and swelled up and chipped up and nails have been driven in it that we put a leveler over the top of it just so we have a – the contactor has a clean surface to work on. Depending on what type of leveler you use, you can then use that as the final wear surface. Some underlayments are not designed for wear surface, so you get more things like women’s high heel shoes might put a little dent in it, or like a hardwood floor, or a dog scratching, that sort of thing. 

If there is a high moisture issue and, in Denver, we usually do have high moisture in the ground, we will put an epoxy moisture mitigation system down so that their glues work and that sort of thing. That’s along with our leveling. We do a lot of moisture mitigation work. 

Then we just do a lot of white box cleanup work, so if a guy’s got 10,000 feet in a building that he had leased somebody, that tenant moves out and they’re trying to get it ready for a new tenant. They want it to look as organic, or natural, or virgin as possible, so they ask us to take whatever’s off the floors and give it a nice, clean concrete look, which we can do in relatively low cost.

One of the most expensive things that we have or anybody in our business has is you have to buy diamonds because diamonds beat so hard. That’s what you use to grind concrete. The problem is is these diamonds are super expensive. Every time we load up a machine full of diamonds, there’s about $3,000 worth of diamonds on the bottom of the machine, and it was just too expensive. 

Went to a couple trade shows. We hired an interpreter, and I start interviewing some of the producers from China that were at the trade shows. We identified three or four that we’d like to do business with. We spent a couple years with trial and errors trying to get the right shipping and this and that. 

Now we’ve dialed into a company that we’ve been using for five or six years now, and we import their diamonds. We have an online store. It sounds crazy, but you can save generally 50 to 70% on the cost of these diamonds by buying them through us.