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concrete glossary

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Abrasion Resistance

The ability of a material (such as a floor surface) to resist damage from scratching, rubbing or scraping.

Abrasive Blasting

The act of using an abrasive material propelled at a high speed onto a flooring surface to clean or roughen it. It is commonly referred to as sandblasting, shot blasting, or bead blasting.


A mixture, that when added to concrete, increases the rate at which it hardens or strengthens.


One of the most common solvents often used to clean residue off a surface or to thin other products. It is a flammable substance.

Acid Etching

A process of applying phosphoric or muriatic acid to a concrete floor which cleans and 'etches' the surface.

Acid Stains

An advanced method of colorizing concrete that involves applying an acidic, water-based solution mixed with inorganic salts to the floor's surface for 1-6 hours. The solution is then neutralized with ammonia and water and cleaned up with a wet/dry vacuum. The appearance is generally earth toned and may appear marbleized.

Adhesive Stencils

Stencils with adhesive backing that are often applied to concrete or another surface and then used to create a pattern or picture by using a stain, dye, gel, or other method to apply color.


An ingredient other than water, cement, and aggregate that can be added to concrete at the site of installation or at the factory to modify its properties in a number of ways. For example, it can lengthen or shorten hardening time.


A material that is added to wet concrete to improve its structural durability. Common aggregate materials include gravel, sand, rock, and stone.

Air Content

A measurement of the amount of air trapped inside concrete expressed as a percent of the entire volume.

Air Entrainment

The process of adding microscopic air bubbles into the concrete. This helps improve floor's durability as well as increases floor's resistance to damage due to freezing.


When a finish cracks into large segments that appear to resemble alligator hide. This is usually caused by applying coating too heavily or over other coatings that have not cured. It can also be caused by using thinners meant to speed drying time or by applying a layer of finish over another layer with less elasticity.


A method of giving a surface an aged, slightly worn appearance.


The width of concrete bands range between 6"-24". These bands are used to establish contrast within the concrete field.

Bleed Water

Also known as "water gain," this occurs when water within a concrete mix rises to the surface. Bleed water may interfere with finishing procedures.

Bleeding (Concrete)

Occurs when the bottom color or stain bleeds through to the top coat.


A condition that occurs when gas or vapor forms underneath the film of a finishing product, causing bubbles. Blistering usually happens as a result of excessive heat, moisture or contamination.


The adhesion of one material to another.

Bond Breaker

A substance that prevents adhesion of one material to another.

Bonding Agent

A substance that increases the adherence of a material.


Tossing a material into the air and letting it fall onto wet concrete to add color or texture.

Broom Finish

A type of surface texture that's achieved by literally pushing a broom across the surface.


The thickness or fullness of a finished product.

Bull Float

A tool used to smooth freshly placed concrete.

Bush Hammer

A mallet or hammer with pyramid-shaped points that is often used to roughen wet concrete.

Calcium Chloride Vapor-Emission Test

Created by the American Society for Testing Materials (ASTM), this test is used to measure the amount of moisture vapor emitted by a concrete slab over a 24-hour period. This test is generally available at most flooring retailers.

Cast In Place

The act of laying and finishing concrete at the site of installation.

Cement Replacement

Any material that is used to replace Portland cement. Sometimes used to improve design, these materials can include fly ash, granulated blast furnace slag, pozzolans, and so on.


A term used to describe materials that are cement like or are made with Portland cement.


A powdery material which is the result of the deterioration of a concrete flooring surface.

Chemical Staining

A process by which a staining solution that contains inorganic salts is applied to concrete. These inorganic salts react with the lime in concrete to create colors that bond to the surface. Chemical staining can be difficult to apply, but when done correctly can create rich colors, patterns and textures that can mimic natural stones such as marble and granite.

Coating System

The process of applying several applications of primers and coating materials at different intervals to allow each coat to dry thoroughly.

Color Chips

Small colored plastic chips that are broadcast onto uncured epoxy resin flooring systems to produce a color or mixture of colors.

Color Layering

The process of using layers of color to achieve a variety of finish effects such as antiquing or marbleizing.

Colored Concrete

Concrete that has been colored either by mixing in a coloring product during manufacturing or by applying a coloring product to the surface during or after installation.

Colored Hardener

A product that's broadcast over wet cement to help draw in moisture. The colored hardener activates upon contact, helping to bind the concrete together to create a very strong and dense floor. A colored hardener can increase the amount of pressure a concrete floor can handle up to 7,500 pounds per square inch (PSI).

Colored Release Agents

A powder or liquid used with a pattern stamp to ensure that the stamp does not stick to the cement. These colored release agents must be sealed or protected by a wax finish.

Colored Surface Overlay Material

A colored layer of cement that's applied over a concrete subfloor to help create a level, flat surface. A colored surface overlay material can be up to an inch thick.

Compressive Strength

A measurement of the amount of compression concrete or cement can take without breaking. Measured in pounds per square inch or PSI.

Concrete Countertops

Countertops made from concrete that are either manufactured to your specifications in the factory or custom built on site.

Concrete Field

Fields refer to the larger areas of concrete located inside the concrete bands.

Concrete Stamping

The act of imprinting patterns into wet concrete to mimic stone, tile, wood planks, and so on.

Concrete Surface Profile (CSP)

The degree of roughness or texture on the surface of concrete.


A word used to describe the thickness of concrete or its ability to flow.

Control/Contraction Joint

A groove cut in a slab of concrete which helps to control cracking.

Coverage Rate

A measurement that describes the square feet of surface area a gallon of product will cover.

Crack Chasing

The act of cleaning out and routing concrete cracks with a concrete filler (prior to filling).

Crack Stitching

A concrete crack repair method that involves drilling a hole on each side of the crack and grouting in wire or metal strips to fill the crack.

Cracks (Moving)

Concrete cracks that go completely through the concrete slab and are still moving.

Cracks (Static)

Concrete cracks that are only on the surface of concrete and do not extend all the way down through the slab.

Craze Cracks

Cracks in concrete that are tiny and random; these are caused by the surface mortar shrinking.


A problem that occurs when the surface of concrete dries too fast - often from exposure to sunlight, heat, or wind - causing the appearance of crust or cracks on the surface.


A curative is a compound that has the ability to bond molecules together and create a polymer reaction.


A term that is used when properties of an adhesive or cement are changed by a chemical reaction, allowing it to reach its maximum strength. This is generally done by condensation, heat, or another catalyst.

Curing Compound

A protective layer applied to the surface of concrete to help prevent water evaporation.


A long narrow tool pushed over wet concrete to create a smooth, level surface.

Decorative Aggregate

Various colored stones or other materials laid in the surface of wet concrete as a decorative layer.

Decorative Concrete

Concrete that has color, texture, or decorative aggregate to enhance its appearance.


A solution applied to a flooring surface which removes contaminates such as grease and oil.


A term that refers to the separation in the layers of a coating or from the substrate itself due to poor adhesion. It also refers to the separation of the secondary from the primary backing of carpet or the separation of the surface of concrete.


A densifier is a liquid chemical hardener that's used to solidify and densify concrete's surface. It can also help increase concrete's resistance to water.

Diamond Grinding

A process of grinding cement or stone to a polished finish using a floor polisher with diamond embedded abrasives.

Dry Polishing

A method of diamond grinding where the polishing machine is attached to a dust vacuum that sucks up dust from the floor.

Dry-Shake Color Hardener

A dry powdered product that's broadcast over wet concrete. Used to give concrete a stronger and denser finish.

Drying Shrinkage

Used to describe the shrinking of concrete as it dries.


Water or solvent based solutions used to apply a variety of different colors to a flooring surface.

Edge Sander/Edger

Small hand sander that sands the areas close to the wall, around pipes, and all other obstacles that are missed by a drum sander.


Salt deposits that form on the surface of concrete when sodium calcium hydroxide mixes with carbon dioxide.


The act of cutting patterns or designs into concrete or other hard surface flooring. Often used to create the appearance of grout lines.

Epoxy Injection

The process of repairing cracks in concrete by injecting an epoxy adhesive.

Epoxy Resins

An organic bonding agent that's used to fill concrete cracks, bind epoxy mortars and prepare finishing coats.

Epoxy Terrazzo

A 1/4"-3/8" layer containing epoxy resin poured over concrete flooring that is often colored or seeded while wet.

Etching Gel

A gel that is applied to a concrete surface which gently etches the surface. It is often used with stencils or painted on with a brush.

Evaporation Retarder

A spray film that's applied to concrete to help minimize temporary moisture loss.

Expanded Metal Lathe

A metal mesh often used to give structural durability to sculptures, vertical stamped concrete, and other structures.

Exposed Aggregate

Color rocks or other aggregates that are exposed on the surface of concrete, generally by using abrasive materials or a pressure washer to remove the surface mortar.

Faux Rock

Flooring that is made to resemble natural rock. Often seen with concrete that has been textured and colored.

Feather Edge

When using a filler or other material, a feather edge is the seamless blending of the material into the existing flooring.


The fundamental element used to make carpet; can be either synthetic or natural. Fiber can also be used to reinforce cement.


Large areas of flooring that may be inside a band or border.

Film Thickness

Refers to the width of a film when wet, and the final width when dried.

Film-Forming Sealer

A hard, transparent protective film or finish typically used to finish wood products.

Finish Coat

A coat applied to the top of a flooring surface which provides protection for the flooring beneath.


One of the final steps in flooring installation. Can mean applying a layer of finish, or with concrete, smoothing and compacting the surface.

Flashing/Flash Broadcasting

A method used to apply color to wet concrete that involves the application of a dry shake hardener.


A term used to refer to sidewalks, driveways, concrete floors and basements.

Flexural Strength

The ability of a flooring surface to resist bending.

Float and Trowel Textures

Patterns and/or textures that are created in the wet surface of concrete. These patterns are either deep or shallow, and can be found in swirled, arched, and straight line designs.

Float Finish

A rough surface texture applied to wet concrete.

Floor Buffer

A machine used to buff and shine flooring using an abrasive pad.

Floor Polisher

A machine that is pushed across a flooring surface in order to polish it to a shine.

Fly Ash

A product made from ground coal that is used to replace Portland cement in concrete.

Form Liner

The material which lines a mould to create a patterned or smooth appearance in concrete.


A trowel usually 2'- 4' long used for the final smoothing of wet concrete.

Gauge Rake

A device used to measure and apply cement or other coatings at a specific depth or thickness.

Glass-Fiber Reinforced Concrete (GFRC)

A type of cement that contains glass fibers for added durability and strength.

Granulated Blast Furnace Slag

A glassy material made from chilled furnace slag; often used in concrete in place of cement. Can help improve durability as well as extend working and drying time.


A method of preparing a surface by using abrasive materials to grind away imperfections.


A tool with a tapered protrusion that is slid across wet concrete to create grooves or control joints.


A creamy mixture of mortar, cement or other cementitious material and water which is used to fill joints and grout lines. It often has sand, gravel or other similar materials added and is available in a variety of colors.

Hand Float

A small version of a bull float which is used along walls and in angles or tight spots to smooth wet concrete.

Hard-Troweled Finish

A flat, smooth, concrete surface finish that is made by using a steel bladed trowel.

High-Pressure Water Blasting

A method that involves spraying water at a very high pressure; often used to clean or roughen a surface.

High-Volume Low-Pressure (HVLP) Sprayer

A device used to spray-paint or finish materials at a low pressure so as to reduce overspray.

Hopper Gun

An air compressor device that's used to spray and prime floor surfaces. Also used for stuccoing external wall areas.

Hover Trowel

A lightweight, power trowel device used to finish epoxy toppings, terrazzo, and cementitious urethanes.


A chemical reaction where the compounds in cement bond with water molecules, causing the cementious materials to harden.

Integral Color

Color that is mixed into a product while it is being manufactured.

Integrally Colored Concrete

Color that is mixed into concrete before it is laid, producing uniform tinting.

Iron Oxide

More commonly known as rust, it is often used as a coloring pigment.


A groove often found in concrete that is used to control cracking or allow expansion of the concrete.

Joint Filler

A filler used in joints that is compressed when the floor expands or contracts.


A slice made in concrete by a router or saw.


Boards that are kneed on when installing concrete flatwork.

Knock-down Finish

A finished created by using a trowel to push an aggregate into the surface of concrete.


A liquid mixture of water, fine sand and cement that surfaces to the top of concrete once the concrete is poured.

Magic Trowel

A drywall tool that is used for spreading decorative concrete.


The process of giving concrete the appearance of marble by layering the finishes.

Margin Trowel

A sharp-nosed trowel commonly used to work mortar into tight corners and scrape cement where a larger trowel won't fit. The blade usually measures 5 to 8 inches and is also known as a "pointed mason's trowel" or "pointer."


The act of covering areas of a flooring surface with tape or a stencil and then applying a decorative treatment on uncovered areas.

Material Safety Data Sheet (M.S.D.S.)

Material Safety Data Sheet (M.S.D.S.) specifies certain facts a customer should know about a product, such as hazardous ingredients, safety precautions and first aid information.


A word used to describe a protective layer formed over a surface. Often it is made of a clear plastic.

Micro-fiber Mop

A mop composed of microscopic fibers, often used to spread finishing material onto a flooring surface.


A technique that consists of applying a thin layer of polymer-modified cementitious cement to a surface.


A measurement often used to describe the thickness of a coat that is equal to 1/1,000 of an inch.

Mix Design

A recipe that determines the thickness, drying time, appearance, or other concrete variable. Can include water, aggregate, cement, or other admixture.

Mixing Paddle

A device shaped like a paddle that is inserted into a drill and used to mix liquids.

Mixing Station

An area where supplies and mixing materials are kept and mixed.


A concrete sample showing what the final result will be. Generally made with the exact methods and materials that are going to be used in the actual flooring project.

Moisture Vapor Transmission

The migration of moisture, often between the subfloor and flooring.

Mottling Effect

Uneven-colored lines in concrete that make the surface appear splotchy.


The process of washing acid-etched concrete flooring with water, ammonia and/or sodium carbonate in order to return it to a pH of 6.0 to 9.0.


A squeegee with a notched edge used to spread a coating over a surface.


A term used to describe a substance's transparency.


A product built into the top layer of flooring to help give it protection and durability. An overlay can consist of many different materials including paper, plastic and foil.

Painting Concrete

The act of painting a layer of color on a hard concrete surface, often done to cover a repair.

Patterned Concrete

See Stamped Concrete.

Penetrating Sealer

A sealing product that penetrates the flooring surface, which helps protect it from water and contaminates.


The ability of liquid or gas to penetrate a material.

pH Value

A scale used to determine the acidity or alkalinity of a material which is determined by the amount of hydrogen ion. A pH rating over 7 is considered alkaline, below 7 is considered acidic, and 7 is considered neutral.


Very small solid particles used in products such as paint or enamel to give color.

Pin Holes/Pin Lines

Tiny holes or lines in finish caused by finish sinking into low or less dense areas which can be corrected by applying an additional coat of finish.


A term used to describe wet concrete that is easily moldable.

Plastic Shrinkage Cracks

Cracks that appear in the surface of wet concrete that is still in its plastic state.


A term describing the consistency of wet concrete or its ability to be molded.

Platform Tools

Metal or plastic tools that are used to stamp deep grooves in wet concrete which are often later grouted.

Pointed Masons Trowel

See Mason Trowel


See Mason Trowel

Polished Concrete

Concrete that is polished to a certain degree of shine or gloss using diamond impregnated abrasives.

Polymer - Modified Overlay

An overlay often used as a design element or to improve resistance and performance that is cement based and mixed with polymer resins.

Polymer Stain

An acrylic-urethane based polymer solution that is used to finish flooring, available in a wide array of colors.


Refers to a polymer that contains urethane. Materials considered to be a urethane include rubber, paint, plastic and adhesive. These urethanes are chemically joined and solidified to form polyurethane.


A result of the weakened aggregate particles breaking loose, which results in crater-like holes in the surface of concrete that can be several inches in diameter.

Portland Cement

The most common type of concrete, which is usually made by burning clay and limestone.

Pot Life

The amount of time you have to work with cement or another product once it has been opened or mixed with another material before it begins to cure.


A siliceous and aluminous replacement for cement that reacts chemically with calcium hydroxide to become cementitious.


A substance applied to a flooring surface before finishing, which creates a stronger bond for the finishing coats.


The amount of roughness or texture a surface has.

Pump-up Sprayer

A tool which uses a pump that builds pressure to expel a sealer or other product.

Radiant Heat

Also known as underground heating, this term refers to a heating system installed below the floor surface. Radiant heat uses either hot water, electric resistance coils or steam pipes to heat the floor.


Describes aggregate that has come loose generally at the edges of joints.

Ready-Mixed Concrete

Concrete that has been pre-mixed at the factory.

Rebar/ Reinforcing Bars

Steel bars that are installed in concrete to reinforce its structure.


A formulation of a specific amount of specific products that are combined to achieve a desired result.

Reducer Strip/Reducer

A molding accessory normally used at doorways, fireplaces or to divide a room. A reducer is grooved on one edge and tapered on the other in a teardrop shape.

Reentrant Corner

A corner or angle that points inward in a flooring surface. A concrete reentrant corner is prone to cracking without installation of a control joint.

Reflection Cracking

Cracks in a material which resemble and coincide with cracks in the substrate.

Reinforced Concrete

Concrete that has been strengthened and reinforced by embedding wire mesh or steel rebar.

Release Agent

A product that is applied to a stamping mat or textured skin to prevent it from sticking to the wet concrete. It is available in powder or liquid form.

Resilient (Concrete)

A material's ability to "give" or bounce back, upon contact with another object.

Rock Salt Finish

A process of finishing concrete flooring that involves broadcasting water softener salt pellets onto the surface. These pellets are pressed into the fresh concrete, then dissolved once the concrete is dry, leaving small craters in the concrete floor.

Rustication Strip

A device that is attached to a form or form liner and used to imprint architectural details into concrete.

Sacrificial Coating

A coating applied on the surface of a floor, providing the sealer or topcoat with an extra layer of protection from being damaged by external contaminates or abrasive materials.

Salt Finish

See Rock Salt Finish

Sample/Sample Board

A small piece of flooring that acts as a representation of the final product.

Sand Screen

A product used with a buffer to sand a wood floor before it's sealed and recoated. Ranges from a very fine grit to a very coarse grit (40 to 240 grit).

Sandblast Stenciling

A design technique wherein a stencil is applied over concrete or another surface, then sandblasted to create texture in exposed areas.


The act of using sand propelled at a high speed onto a surface to clean or roughen it.

Saturated Surface Dry (SSD)

A condition where any holes in the concrete are filled with water but there is no water on the exposed surface.


The act of sawing joints or scoring concrete using a concrete saw.


A problem that occurs when concrete freezes and thaws and the surface chips or flakes off.


A device that uses rotary impact cutters to clean or even out concrete surfaces.

Scoring Concrete

The act of using a groover or other tool to create grooves or lines in concrete, often for decoration.

Scratch Coat

A coat of plaster that is scratched while wet in order to create a more textured surface that the finish coat can bond to more effectively.

Screed Box

A walk-behind device often used to apply an epoxy coating, similar to a lawn fertilizer spreader.


A coat that is applied to the surface of a floor before applying finish or other coats, which prevents them from being absorbed into the flooring itself. Also may be applied as a final finishing step to a flooring surface to add protection and moisture resistance.


See Broadcast


Separating of components in a solution or mixture.

Self-Leveling Overlay

An overlay which levels naturally by gravity rather than by using a trowel or other spreading tool.

Set / Setting

When a product has begun to harden, dry, or cure, it is in its initial setting. When a product is completely hardened, dried, or cured, it is called final setting.

Shot Blasting

A method used to clean or even out concrete surfaces, which involves shooting round iron at high speeds onto the surface.

Skim Coat

See Microtopping


A measurement of how thick or thin wet concrete is by measuring how far it flows.


A substance that other substances are dissolved in.


Describes concrete that has cracked and broken away at its joints.

Spiked Kneeboards

Kneeboards that have spikes attached on the underside to elevate the user off the surface of the floor.

Spiked Roller

A device that looks like a paint roller but has spikes built in that release trapped gas when rolled across concrete.

Splatter Coat

A finishing coat that is splattered unto the floor to create a unique appearance.

Spray-Down System

An overlay that is splattered or sprayed onto a flooring surface, usually about 1/8" deep.

Stained Concrete

Concrete that has been stained. Different areas can be separated by sawcutting grooves and then colored different colors.

Stamped Concrete

Concrete that is given a pattern of brick, cobblestone, tile, wood, or another surface by using a stamp.

Stamped Overlay

A concrete overlay " ¾" thick that can be laid over an existing concrete floor. The overlay is stamped with a pattern to appear as brick, stone, wood, or many other textured surfaces.

Stamping Mats

Mats usually made from polyurethane that are used to imprint shallow patterns that resemble brick, stone, wood, or another textured surface.

Static Cracks

Small hairline cracks in the surface of a finishing material or concrete.

Stenciled Concrete

A design technique where a stencil is applied over concrete, which may contain a pattern that is imprinted into the cement or may leave an exposed area that is then colored or etched.


A tool with a straight edge that is used to strike off wet concrete to the correct elevation, to draw a straight line, or for many other purposes.


The act of leveling wet concrete to the correct elevation.


The surface that the flooring is installed on. Generally the subfloor.

Surface Preparation

The act of preparing a subfloor by cleaning, drying, and texturizing it for proper adhesion before applying a coating material.

Surface Retarder

A chemical that slows the drying of lacquers and other materials, which is often applied to concrete to allow the cement paste to be washed away, exposing aggregate.


A term used to describe a surface that is not yet able to be touched without leaving a residue on your fingers or an imprint in the surface.

Tamper / Pounder

A handheld device that is used to firmly imprint skins or mats into concrete that contains a pattern or texture.

Technical Data Sheet

A sheet that lists any safety precautions, recommendations, instructions, or other data about a product that you should know.

Texture Roller

A device that looks similar to a paint roller but has a pattern or texture imprinted in the cylinder. It is rolled onto wet concrete and often used with stencils.


The act of giving a surface a texture that can be felt to the touch.

Texturing Skins

A flexible layer of material with an imbedded texture which is laid onto wet concrete to imprint a design.


A shade of color that is produce by adding a color to white paint or enamel.


Thin coating placed over a flooring surface to add decoration.


A term used to describe a substance that allows light to pass through but is not completely see-through.

Travertine Finishes

A finish that resembles natural travertine, often used on concrete, which offers a stucco-like texture with high spots being smooth and low spots being rough.


A multi-use hand tool available in different sizes and shapes that is used for applying, smoothing, and flattening topping, repair materials, or other products.

Trowel Finish

A concrete floor finish design that is created with a trowel and can be smooth or textured.


Volatile Organic Compounds, a measurement of solvents that are not water in a product.

Vapor Barrier

See Moisture Barrier

Vertical Stamped Concrete

A concrete overlay up to 3" thick which is installed vertically on walls and other surfaces, then stamped to produce a texture, pattern, or design.


The ability of a fluid to resist flow.

Water Plug

A type of cement that is used to fill and seal cracks in concrete.

Water Reducer

A product added to wet concrete which increases slump without decreasing its strength.

Water-Cement Ratio

A measurement of the amount of water compared to the amount of cement in concrete.

Welded Wire Mesh/Welded Wire Fabric

Wire strips that are woven together and welded at each intersection.

Wet Polishing

The process of polishing a surface which uses water to cool the abrasive material and reduce the spreading of dust in the air while working.

White Cement

A type of white Portland cement that is low in iron and is often used with integral pastels or other bright colors.


A term describing the consistency of wet concrete or its ability to be mixed, poured, or molded.

Working Time

The amount of time you have to work with a material before it begins to set, harden, or dry.


A type of solvent used in solvent based sealers.