The Importance of Surface Prep for Decorative Epoxy Flooring

One of our customers in Florida, Artistic Surfaces, is a prime example for how important it is properly prep your concrete before putting down a coating – whether it be an epoxy, overlay, etc. Below are four different epoxy jobs that their crew completed recently, courtesy of Sam Godbey, the Director of Operations at Artistic. The pictures don’t do them complete justice, but it is very evident surface preparation played a major role, and we were happy to have a part in that.

Charcoal Metallic Floor

This 3,600 square foot charcoal floor is owned by a high profile client. It’s a private residence, used to store the owner’s cars, sports memorabilia, and other appropriately coined “toys”.

Artistic prepped the surface with an HTC 800, Ermator T8600 and 25 grit HTC diamonds. This is a grey epoxy with a combo of Sterling, Onyx and Quick Silver metallic pigments.

Harley Quinn-esque Floor

This blue and pink metallic floor looks like cotton candy. It is located in a residential dressing room. Artistic partnered with Coastal Construction for this job.

They prepped the surface with an HTC 500 and 25 grit HTC diamonds. It’s an epoxy with black pigment base and metallic pigment colors Surfs Up and Merlot.

Black & Aluminum Striped Bar

This black and aluminum striped floor is located in a 5,500 square foot bar called the Escape Lounge. The epoxy was poured with a black base and then the aisles were taped out in a curved design and colored with Aluminum metallic.

An HTC 800 and 25 grit diamonds were used to prep the surface. Artistic also used CTS Rapid Set TRU self-leveling overlay in the back of the bar. The black portion of the epoxy floor was pigmented with Jet Black metallic and the stripes were pigmented with Aluminum metallic.

Intricately Designed Office Floor

Artistic recently re-did their 1,300 square foot office floor. They cut off the old white overlay and transitioned it to an epoxy metallic floor. They kept the same detailed saw-cut design work.

To prep the surface, Artistic used a 60 grit screen and floor buffer. This epoxy floor required a myriad of metallic pigment colors for all the intricate designs: Copper, Butterscotch, Merlot, Mother-of-Pearl, Surfs Up, Rose, Maui and Jet Black.

After putting down the metallics, they used a regular blade and v-blade to re-cut the saw-cut designs. Then they filled the cuts with black grout. And finally, they re-sanded the floor and put down 2 clear coats of epoxy.

About Artistic Surfaces

Artistic Surfaces was founded in 1989 by Harvey Namm after 25 years’ experience in flooring. The Company soon became an award winning flooring contractor in the Florida market installing flooring in stores like; Macy’s, Bloomingdales, Burdines, and Saks 5th Avenue. Luxury hotels, Art Galleries, Airport Terminals, Performing Arts Centers, Sporting Arenas and other venues were added as the years passed.

In the winter of 2009, Artistic Surfaces launched a new division for decorative concrete. This new division will capitalize on the emerging demand for interior and exterior decorative concrete flooring. This new division marked the company’s entry as the area’s most experienced design applicators for decorative concrete concepts.

*All photos and information courtesy of Sam Godbey – Director of Operations at Artistic Surfaces. Reach him at


Understanding & Using Diamond Tooling for Concrete Surface Preparation

From industrial facilities and manufacturing hubs to residential buildings and high-end corporate headquarters all over the world, floors made from concrete, especially polished concrete, are becoming the preferred choice for contractors and their customers. In addition to reducing maintenance costs, concrete floors are durable, long lasting, environmentally sound for LEED projects, reflect light beautifully and can give the appearance of unique stonework.

Before a floor can be transformed however, the hard work of preparing an old floor for a new application must be taken care of. Not only to clean and sanitize, but to remove all built-up residues or coatings, which, if left on the surface, will impede any successful concrete polishing job. Depending upon the type of residue, the hardness of the concrete, the desired finish and the square footage of the area, grinding removes almost any coating, epoxy, glue or mastic. Between the actual grinding machine and the concrete is the diamond tooling, the real workhorse of any equipment package. Understanding how to determine the appropriate type of diamond tooling relative to the substrate you are working on, as well as the desired end result, is crucial.

Anatomy of Diamond Tooling

Definition: Diamond tooling cuts or polishes a concrete surface using one of the hardest materials on Earth: diamond grains, a distinct advantage compared to tools that use common abrasives such as corundum and silicon carbide.

Bond: In order for a grinder to use diamonds to cut, small chips of diamonds are suspended in a bond made from metal, resin, carbides, hybrid or mixed-resin (a blend of both resin and metal bonds) or polycrystalline PCD.

  • Metal-bonded diamonds are ideal for removing brittle adhesives
  • Carbide-bonded diamonds are ideal for removing tacky adhesives, leaving a smooth finish and no damage to concrete
  • PCD-bonded diamonds are ideal for removing epoxy coatings, adhesives, leveling compounds or membranes and quite popular because they are so aggressive

To achieve the greatest productivity on hard concrete, a soft-bonded diamond needs to be used; conversely, a hard-bonded diamond needs to be used on soft concrete.

Segment: Segment refers to the raised part of the tool that holds the bond. More segments on the mounting plate means less head pressure, whereas a single segment withstands all of the head pressure.

Grit: Diamond tooling is available in various grits, indicating the size of the diamonds within the bond. The lower the number of grit, the larger the size of the diamond. The higher the number, the smaller or finer the diamond. Most concrete grinding jobs require a combination of diamond grits to achieve a desired end finish.

Concrete Hardness

Knowing whether the substrate you are working on is soft, medium or hard concrete determines the correct diamond bond to use, which dramatically increases productivity. You can determine concrete hardness by conducting a Mohs Hardness Test, which ranks the hardness of all minerals on a scale of 1 to 10 from softest to hardest. Concrete falls between 4 and 8 on the Mohs scale.

Surface Prep Selections

Diamabrush Mastic Removal Tool

  • Removes mastic, carpet or tile adhesive, thin-set and thin mil coatings like urethane or paint
  • Uses rigid, exposed diamond coated blades to grind stubborn coatings from concrete, creating a level floor with normal use
  • Retains sharp cutting points over the life of the tool
  • Designed to fit a wide variety rotary flooring machines
  • Low profile design enables tool to travel over gaps in the concrete
  • Simply apply water to eliminate dust and to flush debris away
  • Money saving replaceable blades

Husqvarna Pirhana PCDs

  • Rids concrete of hard-to-remove coatings, adhesives and screeds
  • Specially formulated grade of Pirahna PCD diamond scraper inserts ensure maximum wear and productivity
  • For use on the PG machinery range in conjunction with the Redi Lock system
  • Single or double quarter-round PCD with protective diamond strip
  • Tools can be re-tipped once worn out

HTC Metal-Bond T-Rex Series

  • Removes coatings as opposed to grinding them, including thick coatings such as paint, epoxy, varnish, acrylic, glue and screed residue
  • Finer scratch pattern
  • Leaves a good profile for laying down a new floor covering
  • T-Rex EZchange Gold allows the user to choose the correct grinding pressure needed

Trends In Diamond Tooling

One of the hottest trends in diamond tooling today is the use of transitional diamonds or hybrid diamond tooling, which combines the deep cutting and grinding action of metal tooling with the softer polishing action of resin tooling, making the progression from grinding to polishing easier and faster. Modern contractors are also testing the use of diamond-impregnated pads, which are easier to use and tend to last longer than traditional diamond tooling.

The HTC Ravager’s Performance As Told by 2 Concrete Contractors

The HTC Ravager is a relatively new grinding tool with the ability to remove thick coatings and expose large aggregate. Two of our customers have recently used the Ravager for small demos, one removing a coating and the other exposing aggregate. Read on for the results.

1. Coatings Removal: The first is Scioto, who removed 10-12 millimeters of urethane epoxy coating in one pass with the Ravager. They were pleased with the outcome; you can see the Ravager in action in the images and video below.

2. Exposing Aggregate: The second demo was by Applied Flooring, who did a 10′ x 10′ patch in their shop on an already polished floor. The goal was to expose large aggregate with an HTC 800 Classic and the Ravager. The Applied crew tested at various speeds (1, 5 and 10), and determined that the higher the speed, the more quickly this tool tore up the concrete. With that said, the Ravager effectively took the slab to the desired aggregate after two passes. One thing to note for anyone wanting to use the Ravager on an 800 Classic though, is that the tool makes the machine stand up tall, so you may need to adjust your shroud so as not to have a gap that allows dust and dirt to fly up. See images from this demo below.

We’re looking forward to seeing how well this tool performs with other jobs. The only question now is how long a Ravager tool lasts…time will tell. The Ravager is relatively straight forward and has many applications, so there is a lot of potential. For more information on the HTC Ravager, please refer to the product spec sheet. And if you’ve used the Ravager and would like to share your experience, please comment in the section below.

2 Proven Surface Prep Tools for Removing Glue and Mastic

You’re about to refurbish a concrete floor. Once you determine the square footage of the work area and the condition of the existing floor, you decide on the type of floor finish you want to achieve, and a budget. Before you can apply any new overlay or polish, you must first prepare the existing surface, removing any glue or mastic residue left from old floor coverings.

Glue & Mastic Residue Removal

Based on your initial assessment, use the overview below to determine which of the two most effective surface preparation tools for removing glue and mastic residue will work best for your floor revitalization project.

EDCO 10″ Propane Turbo Concrete Grinder

  • Grinding cup wheel includes 10″ diamond disc, 2″ – 3″ Multi-Vacuum Port, Water Port and Leveling Kit
  • Achieves super smooth surface profile with a working depth of 1/8″ per pass
  • Works four times faster than other conventional Edco grinders
  • Rounded shroud allows grinding within 1/2″ of any vertical surface with better dust control
  • Effective in a wet or dry environment
  • Ideal for grinding rough concrete surfaces and removing coatings
  • Rigid head assembly ideal for grinding uneven expansion joints, high spots, joint curls and bridge decks
  • Optional flex head assembly ideal for preparing a smooth, flat floor to receive a new coating
  • More costly because of diamond technology

Swing Machine with Diamabrush Concrete Prep Plus Tool

  • Can be installed on existing floor maintenance equipment
  • Ideally suited for hard-to-remove coatings and thin layers of paint or epoxy
  • Flexible blades designed to always remain in contact with the floor regardless of imperfections
  • Uses a 25 or 100 diamond grit bonded to metallic backing and assembled to flexible steel spring blades
  • Designed as the first step of a complete concrete floor preparation system that includes six different polishing tools used to achieve the level of gloss the floor application requires

When you do need specific equipment, count on Runyon Surface Prep. We carry a full line of EDCO grinders, as well as the Diamabrush Concrete Prep Plus Tool, among other Diamabrush tools.

4 Common Surface Residues Explained for More Effective Removal

Before you can revitalize a floor with a new overlay, polish or seamless coating, built-up residues left behind by old flooring coverings must be cleaned and removed. Proper surface preparation for any flooring job is key to its success, ensuring that the new treatment will bond flawlessly with the substrate surface, creating a strong, long-lasting installation. Knowing the characteristics of each residue material can help in deciding the most effective removal process. Below is an explanation of the most common built-up residues and suggestions for removal.


Mastic is an adhesive with super strong bonding properties commonly used for setting tile. Builders also use mastic to seal windows, walls and ceilings. Mastic gets its name from the mastic tree, as it is derived from its resin droplets. However, mastic is also manufactured synthetically, which is generally less expensive.

  • Available in thin liquid, thick glue or paste form
  • Typically applied with a caulking gun for construction use
  • Used to join panels of concrete or asphalt
  • Quickly forms a permanent bond for a variety of materials
  • Works best on hard, non-porous surfaces
  • Known for heat resistance and durability
  • Can seep into cracks and crevices causing discoloration and general weakening

Key Removal Methods: Grinding, Shaving


Made with cement and sand, thinset is an adhesive mortar often used to apply tile to floors, walls and countertops. Thinset gets its name because a relatively thin layer of compound – typically less than 1/4 inch (about 0.5 cm) – is used to bind objects together.

  • Available in powdered or premixed form
  • Typically applied with a notched trowel
  • Can be applied directly to the subsurface
  • Provides faster cure and dry times
  • Easier to use than mortar bed applications
  • Can be a brittle compound that tends to crack if the area shifts
  • Can be treated to increase flexibility, often with an acrylic compound additive

Key Removal Methods: Shotblasting, Buffing with a Swing Machine


Epoxy is a superior glue with high-level bonding power used to secure different types of metal, plastic or wood, and forms a hard layer of protection as well. Composed of petroleum products, epoxy gets its name from polyepoxide, which provides bonding strength. Epichlorohydrin provides its protection ability, as well as its resistance to humidity, moisture and temperature shock.

  • Uses a two-component system that requires mixing for activation just before use
  • Fast drying, strong bonds
  • Create an attractive layer of floor protection that lasts for many years
  • Virtually indestructible

Key Removal Methods: Grinding, Shaving


Glue used to install hardwood, bamboo and vinyl floors, as well as carpet can, be made from a variety of components, including modified silicone polymers (MS+), polyurethanes and acrylics.

  • MS+ products generally form a mechanical bond with wood and a chemical bond with concrete, are unaffected by water, typically zero-VOC and eco-friendly
  • Polyurethanes form a chemical bond with wood and a mechanical bond with concrete – a strong, elastic bond that is also unaffected by water
  • Low VOC and generally contains solvents
  • Acrylic adhesives usually consist of polyvinyl acetate emulsions; the polymers fuse, creating what’s called a “particle entanglement” or matrix
  • Highly susceptible to moisture and usually require a flashing off period prior to floor installation

Key Removal Methods: Grinding, Buffing with a Swing Machine

To learn more about each method of surface preparation and removal, read our blog post, Remove Residue Build-Up with 4 Proven Methods.

Remove Residue Build-Up with 4 Proven Methods

Stoops Freightliner Mastic RemovalAre you working on the existing floor of an office, warehouse or department store? Old floor coverings leave behind surface residue such as glue, black mastic, rubber membranes, even thin-set materials and epoxy coatings that must be removed before you can revitalize the floor with a new overlay or polish.

Methods of Surface Preparation

Each floor brings with it a unique set of challenges based on a number of determining factors:

  • Condition of the floor
  • Type of surface residue
  • Concrete profile
  • Square footage of the job
  • Desired finished floor
  • Budget

After this initial assessment, contractors choose among several solutions for surface preparation, each with specific benefits and specialties for removing residue build-up. Below is an overview of the four most effective methods:

1. Grinding

  • Ideal for removing almost any coating or mastic, especially epoxy and glue
  • Ideal for large square footage
  • Best for purely polished concrete jobs
  • Achieves super smooth surface profile
  • More costly because of diamond technology
  • 3 tooling options available:
    • Conventional segments or metal-bonded diamonds remove brittle adhesives
    • Carbides remove tacky adhesives, leaving a smooth finish
    • PCDs (polycrystalline diamonds) are best for removing thicker residues or epoxy coatings

2. Shotblasting

  • Ideal for cleaning off thin coatings and paint
  • Ideal for large square footage
  • Best for jobs that first require a concrete overlay application
  • Can weaken a concrete surface or make it uneven
  • Moderate cost
  • Dust-free and dry
    • Accurate blast pattern
    • Wide abrasive selection

3. Shaving

  • Ideal for removing epoxy, mastics and paint
  • Ideal for a job that first requires a concrete overlay application
  • Best for uneven concrete, bumpy surface and to remove failed concrete overlays
  • Achieves moderately smooth surface profile
  • More costly because of diamond technology
  • Cuts deeper in one pass
    • Creating evenly spaced grooves for traction
    • Creating trenches or troughs
    • Leveling and flattening surface

4. Buffing with a Swing Machine

  • Ideal for removing glue and thin-set, floating easily over rough surfaces
  • Best for smaller square footage
  • Achieves a smoother surface profile
  • Most economical cost
  • 2 buffing options available:

Surface Prep Specialty

Nowadays, surface preparation is becoming a specialty among contractors in the concrete polishing business. To eliminate costs and procurement, work with the equipment you already own to deliver effective ways to prepare floors for new surfaces.

When you do need specific equipment, count on Runyon Surface Prep. We carry a full line of EDCO concrete floor removal surface scabblers, walk-behind, self-propelled floor surface scarifiers and accessories, in addition to HTC and Husqvarna grinders and tooling, Contec shavers and shotblasters, and Clarke swing machines.

Ask An Expert: Meet the Newest Runyon Surface Prep Team Members

In an effort to constantly expand the knowledge and skills of our employees, we would like to introduce the three newest members to the Runyon Surface Prep team. They each contribute invaluable expertise and come from unique backgrounds. Improving the customer experience by offering guidance, advice and facilitating hands-on training is a high priority, so they are all here for any questions you may have. In addition, our new outside sales rep, Jason Campbell is available to work with you on-site to provide instruction. Contact Jason directly if you would like him to visit you – he can travel anywhere within the U.S.

New Runyon Surface Prep Team MembersJason Campbell |

Jason has been in the concrete industry for over 10 years. He started out as the head of operations for a concrete company and eventually worked his way to the leadership development team of one of the biggest players in the industry. He has experience in a wide array of functions, specifically product testing, product application and broad knowledge of each stage of the polished concrete process. He was head of tech support in a previous role and worked in sales for a time due to his ability to talk intelligently about all things concrete. Thus, he has a background in the technical/spec side of things, as well as knowing how to actually do the work through job site experience with contractors. Not to mention, he did training for 7-8 years, so he is an apt teacher and does an excellent job of demonstrating how to properly perform any concrete application.

John Cavallaro |

John has over 30 years of experience in electrical motor repair, including work with: gear boxes, pumps and AC/DC fractional to high voltage motors, to name a few. He has intimate knowledge of floor repair and polishing machines, hand grinders and an array of other concrete tools and equipment. He was the head of maintenance for a concrete flooring company, in addition to being part of the technical support team, so John adds a high level of mechanical knowledge. He contributes a unique insight into the inner workings of our machines, the grinding and polishing process from a technical standpoint and how to appropriately use and maintain equipment so it lasts longer and performs better.

Travis Maulden |

Travis was raised in the industry, with exposure through his family’s concrete business. His extensive history includes knowledge of stains, dyes, grinding, and work in the residential concrete side of the business, as well as the commercial side. He in essence brings the contractor perspective, and with it a hands-on skill-set. Travis can pour traditional concrete slabs, in addition to counter-tops and other home construction surfaces. He proves invaluable in regards to customer interaction, the surface preparation, grinding and decorative application processes and understanding contractor concerns to better meet your needs. Travis also plays an integral role in the shipping and receiving department.

Be on the lookout for these experts – soon to be authors of the blog. And if you have any customer stories you would like us to feature, then by all means let us know! Also, if there is anything you want to read about, the above three experts would be more than happy to share their knowledge, so comment or contact us.