Surface Preparation Best Practices for CTS Rapid Set Products

shot blastingRegardless of trade, preparation is often the single-most important step to ensure a professional installation. This is especially true when contractors are looking to install cement toppings. CTS Rapid Set concrete is specifically designed to harden and set within minutes of mixing, which can drastically increase contractor productivity. By setting rapidly, contractors can avoid the typical 30 day cure time many other concrete mixes require. Most CTS products allow contractors to return the next day to begin polishing or coating the placed slab. Preparation for CTS Rapid Set Products can be broken down into two steps: Surface Preparation and Priming the Surface.

Prepping the Substrate: The substrate should be clean, have an absorptive surface, be free of oil, curing compound, sealers, hardeners, or any other material that would inhibit adhesion. The surface should be mechanically prepped, with the preferred method being shot blasting or grinding. The surface of the concrete can be measured using the ICRI Concrete Surface Profile (CSP) of between 3-5. Shot Blasting is typically the easiest method for achieving this profile. See this chart below, which overviews surface profiles.

CSP Inspection Guide

putting down TRU Epoxy PrimerPriming the Substrate: Once shot blasting and/or grinding is complete, the substrate should be primed to allow for maximum adhesion when the CTS Rapid Set is placed. CTS Rapid Set offers both an acrylic primer, as well as a 2-part epoxy primer. The acrylic primer is mixed 1:1 with water and applied to the floor using a soft bristle broom at between 400-600 sq. ft. per gallon. A second coat of acrylic primer might be necessary depending on porosity of the slab.

The second option for priming the surface, is CTS TXP 2-part epoxy primer. TXP offers superior bond strength, one coat application, can withstand interior and exterior applications, and allows for placement of Rapid Set products in as little as 12 hours. The surface is prepared the same way, achieving a CSP of between 3-5. The floor is then cleaned using an auto scrubber. The TXP is mixed at 2 parts A to 1 Part B (2:1) using a slow speed drill mixer. The material is poured onto the substrate and applied using a notched squeegee and back-rolled using a 3/8″ nap roller at around 12 mils thick (0.3mm). After the coating is placed and still tacky, clean, dry silica sand should be broadcast to rejection using mesh #20-#30 sand. Once dry, the excess sand can be removed from the floor.

Once preparation and priming is complete, the floor is now ready for placement of CTS Rapid Set products. Runyon Surface Prep Carries a wide range of CTS products, as well as the tools used to install the products. Click here for our “Build Fast, Build to Last with Rapid Set Cement Products” article, outlining the process and products needed for TRU self-leveling projects.


Build Fast, Build to Last with Rapid Set Cement Products

High-gloss polished concrete with more clarity using the Rapid Set® TRU Flooring System.

CTS Cement Manufacturing Corporation has an extensive history of providing innovative, high-performance cement products to the construction industry. CTS manufacturers Rapid Set® professional-grade cement products made with Rapid Set® cement, a calcium sulfoaluminate (CSA) cement technology. These products are engineered for high performance, versatility, low shrinkage, and rapid strength gain – performance characteristics that allow contractors to save significant time and money, with reduced installation times, labor requirements, and long-term operations and maintenance costs. Rapid Set gains structural strength in one hour. And contractors can build faster, quickly put the structure or area into full service, while achieving durable, long-lasting results. Rapid Set has been used on notable landmarks like the Hoover Dam Bypass, the Pentagon, the Lincoln Tunnel, the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, as well as major roadways, airports, commercial and industrial projects worldwide. Rapid Set has grown to more than 50 specialized cement products for new construction, restoration and repair needs – including the TRU Architectural Flooring System which includes TRU Self-Leveling and TRU PC Polished Concrete.

CTS Rapid Set TRU Sell Sheet

This handy one-sheet outlines the key information you need to specify these high performance architectural toppings, from pricing and uses to specs and application procedures, as well as supplies needed to get the best results possible.

Rapid Set TRU Self-Leveling

Use TRU Self-Leveling as a high performance floor topping, for underlayment and resurfacing projects or for all three. Ideal for projects that require a long working time as well as a long life, TRU can both grind and polish stained, dyed, shiny or decorative aggregate flooring.

Mix a 50-pound bag with water. The cement can be applied at a minimum thickness of 5/16-inch, with an average of 3/8-inch. When making repairs less than 6-inches by 6-inches:

  • free the area of loose debris
  • clean the area completely
  • wetting the area and blow away any residual water
  • tape around the area so no TRU cement gets on the polished concrete
  • mix the TRU product “really wet” – you want a lot of the sand, not the cream
  • pour it over the area, a little higher than the rest of the floor to make sure that when you grind it off, you’re cutting down to the sand

TRU PC Polished Concrete Topping

Use Rapid Set TRU PC Polished Concrete Topping as a topping, resurfacer or underlayment. This versatile product is a professional grade, hydraulic cement-based, self-leveling product that can be ground and polished to expose aggregate, simulating the appearance of polished concrete. Delivering outstanding clarity and gloss, you can create a variety of design possibilities by incorporating colors and aggregates.

TRU PC maintains workability for up to 20 minutes and is ready for foot traffic in two to three hours; coatings in 12 hours; and grinding and polishing in 24 hours. It produces a dense surface with high bond strength, is durable in wet or dry conditions, and can be used inside and out.

When making repairs less than 6-inches by 6-inches, follow the same instruction as TRU Self-Leveling.

TRU PC Polish Job by National Concrete Polishing & Grinding

National Concrete Polishing & Grinding out of Richfield, OH just completed a polish job in Madison, WI at the new Under Armour store. The National Polishing crew put down 8,000 square feet of TRU PC, a polishable overlay material from CTS Rapid Set. Check out the results. They polished this floor up to a 1,500 grit.

Rapid Set TRU PC Polished Concrete is a professional grade, hydraulic cement-based, self-leveling topping. It can be ground and polished to expose the aggregate and simulate the appearance of polished concrete. TRU PC levels rapidly, maintains workability for up to 20 minutes, produces a dense surface, and has high bond strength. TRU PC is ready for foot traffic in 2 to 3 hours. As an interior product, TRU PC is durable in wet and dry conditions.

National Concrete Polishing & Grinding Inc. uses the latest technology in polishing equipment and dust control systems, coupled with the highest quality diamond tooling to ensure they are meeting and exceeding their clients’ expectations. Customer Satisfaction and Loyalty are the life blood to National’s success, working closely with world class companies who entrust them to help improve their image. National also takes great pride in their image and reputation for running a clean, crisp operation, with uniformed employees, and logoed trucks.

Case Study: A Successful TRU Overlay Job in Sioux Falls, SD

Dan Knuth, our technician and training specialist, assisted on a TRU job a few weeks ago in South Dakota for Custom Concrete Creations. There were some issues with material flow and color application, so he helped troubleshoot and in the end assisted in producing a successful overlay. Read on for the details of what they did and how they combatted various problems.


The floor layout was too wide to complete in one pour, so it was divided into three 10′ wide areas. The three areas were sectioned off with weatherstripping. We did this to maintain a 3/8″ depth throughout the entire floor. The wider the area is, the more difficult it becomes to get a consistent depth of at least 3/8″ because the material wants to flow as more material is placed in front of it.

The first 5 bag batch of TRU was mixed for 2.5 minutes and was too fluid. This was apparent when the mixing material was poured through an 1/8″ classifier screen to catch any unmixed material – it went through the screen like water. Fortunately, the floor had a trench that was 1-1/2″ in depth, so we just poured the material in the trench as an “underlayment.” We took 16 oz of water out of the next mix, mixed for 2.5 minutes and it was still too “watery” so we poured the second batch in the trench as well. We took another 16 oz (32 oz total) out of the third mix, mixed for 2.5 minutes and it resulted in the desired flow we were looking for, so at that point we began pouring the floor.

The next day the first order of business was to cut and fill the control joints. Control joints in the substrate were fairly straight, so we marked them on the wall prior to pouring so they could be recut. This was the first order of business because we were only going to use one metal-bond diamond and it is recommended to fill control joints right before your last metal-bond. We then began cutting the floor with medium soft 80 grit metal-bonds underneath an HTC 800 Classic and an HTC 800RX.

After the first cut, the skin was removed on 95% of the floor and we had good sand exposure. However, a second cut was completed with the same diamond to achieve more consistent skin removal and sand exposure. 100 grit HTC Fenix pads were then used to remove the 80 grit scratch and worked well on the three head 800 Classic, but the four head 800RX had to switch from the Fenix pads to the 100 grit HTC Big Blocks to remove the 80 grit metal-bond scratch before using the 100 grit Fenix pads. 200 grit Fenix pads were used, the floor was scrubbed, then Ameripolish’s 3DHS densifier was applied. Husqvarna’s Overlay Flex Polishing Pads were used to polish the floor (400 grit – 3000 grit) after densification was completed. Finally, a guard was applied and burnished to complete the project.

Custom Concrete Creations specializes in polished concrete flooring. They service industrial, commercial and residential clients throughout the Midwest. Other services include acid staining, sealing, joint filling and floor prep.

CTS Rapid Set® Demo – CR Concrete Resurfacer & Skim Coat

A few weeks ago, Jim Hansel from CTS Rapid Set® came to Runyon and demoed two new products for us – Concrete Resurfacer and Skim Coat. Each of these cement-based materials has its benefits and specific uses. For detailed instructions on how and when to use each, keep reading.

How to Use Rapid Set® CR Concrete Resurfacer

To resurface damaged or discolored concrete, CR Concrete Resurfacer, an advanced hydraulic cement-based mortar, can be used both indoors and outdoors to produce a smooth, durable surface that’s ready for foot traffic in as little as three hours.

In about 30 minutes work time, a thin coat of CR Concrete Resurfacer – from 1/32 inch to ½ inch – can be applied to a dry surface that has a minimum temperature of 50°F. Clean the surface of oil, curing compound, dust, mastic or other bond breakers before application. The surface needs no priming. However, for porous substrates, use Rapid Set® Acrylic Primer to minimize pinholes.

Using a power mixer, combine CR Concrete Resurfacer with 2.5, but no more than 3, quarts of water per 25-lb bag. Using less water will achieve higher strengths. The mixed product should be used within 30 minutes at 70°F. CR Concrete Resurfacer uses Rapid Set’s self-curing technology, and can be left to air cure rather than wet curing under most conditions. However, in dry, windy or hot conditions, mist the area with water for a continuously wet surface for a proper cure.

One 25-lb bag yields approximately 0.22 cubic feet. Coverage at 1/8 inch is approximately 21.1 square feet. CR Concrete Resurfacer is formulated to match the light gray color of Portland cement.

How to Use Rapid Set® Skim Coat

To easily repair, level and smooth concrete substrates prior to floor covering installations or for floor underlayments, concrete repairs, patching and skim coating, Skim Coat, a hydraulic cement-based material, can be used both indoors and outdoors to produce a smooth, high-bond surface that’s resistant to mold and mildew. However, Skim Coat cannot be used on a worn surface and will not support car or forklift traffic.

In about 30 minutes work time at temperatures of 70°F, Skim Coat is applied in thicknesses from feather-edge up to 1-inch deep to a surface that’s been mechanically abraded by scarifying, grinding, shot-blasting or other approved methods. For a good bond, remove all loose particles, oil, bond breakers, paint, acids, dirt or other materials. Priming is necessary only on porous substrates where Skim Coat is applied in multiple lifts. Rapid Set® Acrylic Primer is specially formulated for this purpose.

Using a ½” drill mixer with a mixing paddle, combine Skim Coat with no more than 4 quarts of clean water per 20-lb bag. Do not add any additives or admixtures except one packet of Rapid Set® Set Control® retarding admixture to extend working time or one packet of Rapid Set® Flow Control® to increase the flow of the product. In about an hour, top with flooring such as VCT, sheet vinyl, carpet, tile or pavers. Epoxy coatings can be applied in 16 hours.

One 20-lb bag has skim coat coverage of 66.6 square feet at 1/8-inch deep or 33.4 square feet at ¼-inch deep. Skim Coat can be compatible with water based sealers.

Applied Flooring’s Polished and Colored Concrete Success in Troy, MI

Last week one of our customers, Applied Flooring, had a job in Troy, MI at a Nordstrom store. Along with the Applied crew, the Nordstrom GC and technicians from CTS Rapid Set and Metzger/McGuire helped complete this floor. Below are the before pictures, showing the extensive structural damage. Because of so many cracks breaking up the surface, the crew wasn’t able to polish first thing. Instead, the first step was filling the cracks. Then, once the concrete floor was repaired, an overlay was applied, the control joints were cleaned and recut and the concrete was colored. Below you can see the process from initial pour to finished look.

Concrete Overlay and Color Application

Applied Flooring used CTS Rapid Set’s TRU self-leveling overlay on the floor, and colored it with AmeriPolish OS dye. The crew worked in 20-degree weather and wrangled both the water and pump hoses from outside in the parking lot up a flight of stairs to the work area. The 300′ water hose and 400′ pump hose were at their maximum lengths. Applied made it work though, and after the overlay was laid they moved into the color application stage.

One of the biggest takeaways from this particular job revolved around the importance of color intensity. Initially, OS integral color was used, but the pigment wasn’t strong enough, so the dye was applied after the fact to accommodate the time-sensitive nature of this project and to best utilize resources.

Below you can see the floor after the second pour of TRU, the floor after 3DHS densifier was applied and finally, the polishing stage.

The Finished Look

Although there were a few unexpected surprises throughout this process, as is common with any job, Nordstrom was incredibly satisfied with the final polished floor. You can see below how reflective and high-end this space appears, especially after the merchandise was moved back in.


As always, if you have any questions about the products or the processes used for this particular job, please feel free to reach out via our website or in the comment section below. We would love to hear from you! And if you ever need additional support at a job, feel free to reach out to our technical support team and we will assistant in any way possible, even if it means flying to you!

M&C Concrete’s Wide Array of Contracting Opportunities and Specialities

Concrete creates an incredibly durable surface, and rightfully so considering how common it is in many industrial and commercial environments. Look around any mall, government building, doctor’s office, or really any business and you’re likely to find concrete floors. Due to its incredible wearability and resistance to stains, foot traffic, etc. (when maintained properly that is), it’s no wonder that polished concrete is quickly taking the place of carpeting, tile or hardwood in commercial floor settings. M&C Concrete is a local Indianapolis contracting company that realizes this fact, which accounts for its wide array of clients, as evidenced below.

Brief Overview

1. Local car dealership: M&C laid the concrete, ground and polished

2. Fire station: CTS RapidSet TRU self-leveling overlay with integral color and AmeriPolish dye used for the logo

3. World of Concrete 2013: M&C helped us lay the concrete slab, grind, polish, etc.

M&C At A Glance

M&C Concrete is a leading concrete contractor in the greater Indianapolis market. Established in 1982, it has successfully completed over 10,000 projects in both residential and commercial sites. As a leader in the industry, M&C strives for customer satisfaction, on-time project completion and being at the forefront of the latest concrete design and construction.

For more information about M&C, the products, the process, etc. please feel free to contact us or leave a comment below. Also, be sure to check out our other customer features!