Riverbed Concrete Sets a New Standard of Excellence for Polished Concrete Flooring

Initial Grinding

Written by Wagner Meters, first published in ProInstaller Magazine (Fall 2016)

Polished concrete is becoming the flooring of choice for countless retail, warehouse, school, and office facilities across the nation. With recent advances in polishing equipment and techniques, companies such as Riverbed Concrete, LLC, in Boerne, Texas, are grinding concrete floor surfaces, whether new or old, to a high-gloss finish that never needs waxes or coatings.

Concrete Polishing

All photos courtesy of Riverbed Concrete

“When you consider the many advantages,” says Riverbed Concrete’s President and CEO David Harris, “it’s no wonder that polished concrete floors have become so popular.”

“They offer a cost savings and a sustainable flooring alternative to marble, granite, tile, and carpet. Polished concrete floors also provide superior durability in high traffic, a longer service life, resistance to moisture, and they need less maintenance,” he adds.

Yet, another advantage is the stunning, customized look a facility can obtain. The choice of highly intricate and artistic designs and patterns, ranging from subtle, mottled hues and textures, to vivid explosions of bright, bold colors, is practically limitless – especially in the hands of skilled artisans like those at Riverbed Concrete.

An Industry Leader

Founded as a modest startup in 2003 in the Texas Hill Country about 25 miles west of San Antonio, Riverbed Concrete quickly rose to become an innovative leader in decorative concrete flooring. It is now one of the top-grossing companies in the market. Approximately 95 to 98% of Riverbed Concrete’s projects are commercial, and the company installs hundreds of thousands of square feet of flooring annually.

To ensure high-quality flooring, the company maintains both certified and “elite” installers. They also provide educational seminars to general contractors, owners, and architects to help them stay abreast of advances in Riverbed Concrete products and services, as well as the industry as a whole.

Diamond-Polished Concrete Flooring

Polished and Stained ConcreteWhile Riverbed Concrete offers pre-cast concrete countertops, stained and sealed concrete flooring, and a variety of concrete floor coatings, its specialty is diamond-polished concrete flooring.

The diamond polishing process requires considerable expertise and the use of specialized heavy-duty machines to gradually grind down the concrete surface. After the grinding, a chemical densifier is added to harden the surface. The next step involves polishing machines equipped with diamond-impregnated pads that refine and polish the concrete surface to a predetermined sheen varying in gloss levels from 400 to 3000 grit.

This process produces a very wear tolerant surface that is more durable than coated concrete and generally requires much less maintenance. These are benefits that Riverbed Concrete clientele (including Valero, Walgreens, Walmart, as well as schools, universities, and restaurants) consider very desirable.

Moisture Measurement Is Critical

To ensure their coating and polished concrete flooring installations meet all the architectural specifications for the job, Riverbed Concrete is meticulous when it comes to important details, including testing the concrete’s moisture condition.

To avoid moisture-related problems and costly callbacks after the installation, Riverbed Concrete ensures that the slab has reached an acceptable relative humidity (RH) level before starting the polishing process. They abide by what’s in the specifications, red flagging any areas showing higher than tolerated moisture levels. Or if not specified, they go by the manufacturer’s recommendations.

“For coatings, moisture testing is important to ensure proper adhesion of the coating and to prevent ghosting and de-lamination. It’s also vital for color fastness,” Harris says.

School Floor“For polished concrete, moisture testing is crucial for color and for application of the densifier, the chemical that chemically hardens the concrete floor surface. And it helps us avoid the leaching of insoluble ‘salt residues’ in the form of efflorescence.”

Harris says they use Wagner Meters’ Rapid RH® 5.0 Reusable System to test for moisture. “We chose Wagner’s reusable system because it’s the best system in the market for what we do — multiple polished flooring installations. Having it on hand gives our installers the ability to periodically test throughout the slab multiple times with the same reusable smart sensors.”

He cites other benefits: “The Rapid RH® is inexpensive, quick and easy to use, and enables us to do calibration checks required for ASTM F2170 compliance in seconds rather than hours. And because it gives us quick, accurate results, we can address a potential problem quickly. Or, if there’s no problem, we can get back to the install without further delay. This saves us time, money, and effort.”

Doing Concrete Flooring Right

Harris notes that his company does a lot of repeat business for some fairly prominent clients. To ensure continuing business with them for years to come, he says every polished concrete flooring installation Riverbed Concrete does is done right and to specification.

He adds, “We don’t cut corners or accept anything less than the highest quality – whether it’s in the materials or process we use, the artisans we hire, or in the way we manage concrete moisture.”

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