Concreate, Inc. delivers concrete polishing and custom staining for both commercial and residential projects primarily in Virginia and Maryland (but also up and down the East Coast). We work hand in hand with with designers, architects, project managers, general contractors, tradesmen, and home owners alike from start to finish. We welcome the opportunity to serve your polished concrete needs in every way possible.

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The Ultimate Guide to Concrete Terms and Definitions

The Ultimate Guide to Concrete Terms and Definitions

A concrete polishing tool in an open building space.

Whatever type of concrete project you’re working on, this list of terms will help you understand the basics of concrete and all its glory.

Key Takeaways:

  • Common terms like bonding, curing, polishing, and processing are explained in this one-stop guide to concrete terms and definitions

Many vast and varied industries and professionals have their hands in concrete, including homeowners, designers, builders, contractors, manufacturers, and so many more. As with any kind of specialty, the concrete world has its own set of vocabulary terms you don’t necessarily learn in school. 

It benefits everyone involved to have a deeper understanding of all the terminology you’ll hear when planning a concrete project. Here is your guide to common concrete terms and definitions.

Glossary of concrete terms

It’s hard to encapsulate the many different words and phrases associated with concrete in one post. But we’ve assembled this glossary of basic terms that you may come across in a variety of settings when you are creating and molding concrete, altering its makeup, staining it, sealing it, or polishing it for a smoother, more upscale appearance.

Let’s get started with some common concrete terms:

Acid or chemical stain: An earth-tone-colored stain that contains acid and inorganic salts and is permanent on concrete.

Aggregate: A substance that improves concrete’s performance, aggregate typically comprises 75% of concrete volume and is made of materials like stone and sand.

Bonding: A structure that adheres two or more materials together.

Burnisher: A piece of ride-on or walk-behind equipment with an abrasive pad that glosses concrete through high-speed microscopic abrasion.

Cement: A substance in concrete that hardens when mixed with water and is made of finely ground powders. Many people confuse cement with concrete, but cement is just one component of concrete. Think of cement as the flour and concrete as the whole cake.

Coefficient of friction (COF): The friction force divided by weight, which represents the effort required to move an object.

Compressive strength: The pounds per square inch (psi) that represent the stress or load size concrete can tolerate.

Concrete: A mixture of cement, water, minerals, and chemicals, which may or may not include fibers or admixtures, that is used for a large variety of building uses when hardened, including floors, driveways, columns, foundations, bridges, walls, and more.

Concrete dust: Harmful crystalline silica particles that can cause disease when disturbed and inhaled.

Curing: The balancing of temperature and moisture after concrete has been placed to ensure it hardens properly and has enough hydration, using a curing compound that slows water evaporation. Because concrete cures rather than dries, hydration is very important and directly related to how hard and strong the concrete will ultimately become.

Densifier: A type of liquid hardener that combines water-based compounds and silicate to harden and protect concrete surfaces from water and stains.

Diamond tooling: Abrasive equipment with industrial-grade diamonds and rotating heads that refine and polish concrete.

Edger: 1) A tool that creates clean edges in wet concrete. 2) A specialty grinding machine designed for working the edges and up to impediments during grinding and polishing.

Finished gloss: Processing a concrete floor surface to achieve a specified level of finished gloss prior to application of any protective treatment.

Form-release agent: A substance that prevents concrete from bonding to a surface.

Grout: A filler for tight spaces made from a variety of materials, depending on the type and purpose. 

Laitance: A thin, surface-level, milky layer of concrete, usually caused by too much moisture in the concrete.

Maximum refinement: The point at which a diamond tool has refined the surface of concrete so much that the tool no longer cuts.

Metal bond tooling: A form of diamond tooling used in polishing that also uses a metallic-bonded matrix to refine concrete.

Mix design: A specific combination of materials and ingredients that create mortar or concrete.

Pass: Motion of a burnisher/grinder or polisher on the floor moving forward and backward to refine the surface of the concrete.

Pigmented micro stains: A solution comprised of small pigment fragments in silicate solution that create colorful particles when reacting to calcium hydroxide.

Pore structure: The configuration of different-sized cavities within concrete, which impacts the types of chemicals and treatments that can be used when polishing.

Processing: Refining or cutting a concrete surface with a bonded abrasive until it has reached maximum refinement.

Ready-mix concrete: A type of concrete that is typically delivered to a work site and mixed according to a formula created by a factory.

Refining: Cutting and altering concrete with abrasive equipment until its surface has a preferred finish.

Repair material: Bonding material that repairs imperfections and cracks in the surface of concrete after it has been polished.

Resin bond tooling: A type of diamond tooling that includes a resinous-bonded matrix with industrial grade diamonds that refines concrete and is used in the polishing process. 

Scaling: When hardened concrete’s surface breaks away because of thawing and freezing.

Sealer: A stain protectant that’s applied to polished, densified concrete and is either semi-impregnating, which is a film-forming material, or impregnating, which is a non-film-forming sealer.

Specular gloss: A way to measure gloss that involves shining a light on concrete’s surface and measuring the reflectance.

Stain: As a noun, stain refers to an undesired colored blemish on concrete from a discolorant, reactant, or soilant. As a verb, stain means the process of applying a colored substance to change the surface of concrete, including pigmented water-based stains, dyes, or acid stains.

Surface profile: A microscopic measurement of concrete’s surface topography, taken with metrology equipment. 

Tribometer: A device that measures the quantity of traction on a surface or floor. 

Variables: The various changes a technician may experience during polishing that will influence the process, including how hard the concrete substrate is, the grinder speed, machine weight, amount of pressure, and more.

Wet polishing: A method for polishing concrete that utilizes water to get rid of dust caused by grinding and to cool down the diamond tools.

Why Concreate?

Are you working on a concrete project and need assistance from the experts? Understanding common concrete-related terms is an important first step. 

But your concrete needs are made a lot easier with the team at Concreate. While talking the talk is helpful, walking the walk is even more so. We do everything but pour concrete, from staining to polishing to finishing to grinding to prepping. We also do joint and coatings work.

Our team brings decades of experience and a deep pool of partners to our expertise. We provide all the tools and knowledge necessary to complete great work, just for you. Our team is made up of people who love what they do and are ready to customize services to whatever project you’re dealing with. We make sure jobs get done right the first time, establishing better industry standards. 

Ready to get started? Contact us now to talk to our team about your next project.