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Archive for May, 2014

6 Steps for Lasting Surface Coatings

Friday, May 30th, 2014

Although coating specs don’t always detail the surface preparation standards to assure successful coating installations, the following are 6 preventive steps for lasting surface coatings as surveyed by professional contractors:


6 Preventive Steps for Lasting Surface Coatings


(1) Survey Surface to be Coated

A very important step and one that is often overlooked is a pre-inspection review of the working area prior to starting the job. A quick survey can show the defects, floor undulations, surface obstructions, surface repairs, overlays and edgework demands needed so they can be addressed with the right tooling to remove, repair and prepare the substrate for the new coating. Use of an inspection checklist or daily inspection journal form is a best practice to monitor all preparation and removal phases.


(2) Remove Any Failed Coating

After the initial survey, the contractor will have a good knowledge of what to expect, and can now bring out the right equipment and cutter tooling to remove the existing surface coatings or overlayments that would preclude a good surface bond to the new coating.


(3) Repair Any Unsound Surface

After materials are removed and the original surface is exposed, a second survey is required to repair any unsound surface. A simple chain-pull or other ASTM test can be used to uncover any surface microcracks in locations that have to be removed repaired. After surfaces are repaired, any surface undulations can be filled or leveled.


(4) Profile Surface

Another important step to surface preparation is creating the right profile pattern – SP1 (nearly flat) through SP10 (extremely rough), depending upon the new material that will be installed. The surface profile is the measurement of the average distance from the peaks of the surface to the valleys, as seen through a cross-sectional view of the prepared substrate. The texture and appearance of the profile obtained will vary depending upon the concrete and asphalt strength, composition, aggregate and finish (see our free Removal Selection Guide).

On sound surfaces, the range of variation can be controlled to represent these standards, however, as the depth of removal increases, the profile of the prepare substrate will be increasingly dominant by the type and size of the coarse aggregate. Creation of a surface profile can be accomplished using a variety of tools, equipment and materials, and is dependent upon the type of system and material thickness to be installed.

Regardless of the method selected or tools employed, the final surface must be profiled to insure a mechanical bond of the new coating to the substrate.


(5) Clean Surface

After the surface is profiled, there remains loose debris and dirt that requires vacuuming, and a HEPA filtered vacuum with excellent suction and good filter control using a floor brush pick-up tool should be used. If there is any movement of air that may relocate dust and debris back to the area prior to the final coating step, the surface should be protected.


(6) Dry and Moisture-Protect Surface

All surfaces contain moisture, and the movement of water from its source is a reason for many coating and surface failures. Preventing hydrostatic pressures from pulling up your installed coatings is important, and must be correctly addressed at this step. Primers such as two-part epoxy coatings are used to create a vapor barrier with the newly installed surface.


In conclusion . . .

After completing these 6 steps, the surface can be inspected by all parties to confirm compliance that the surface is clean, dry, profiled, sound, and ready for the coating to be installed.

Since all freshly installed coatings will make any surface look good, what separates a good installation from a great installation is in the preparation details. Assuring all 6 steps are properly managed will assure that the installed coating will perform for its entire service life.

Don’t see your step on the list, or would like to include your experience? Please send us your comments on how you achieve lasting surface finishes to Remove Faster News.

SMITH FS351 Groove-Inlaying Preform Tape

Friday, May 30th, 2014

SMITH FS351 15” Self-Propelled Surface Preparator Groove-Inlaying 3M-brand Preform Tape.

If you are looking for a cost-effective method to install markings flush with the surface and meets the 3M brand installation specifications, consider the SMITH brand FS351 outfitted with dry-cut “ultra-premium-life” stacked diamond blade drum assembly.



The equipment is designed to precisely groove a controlled slot at uniform cut depths leaving a consistent SP 2 – 3 level surface profiles at the base, ideal for preform tape installations. The FS351 is the heaviest and most powerful equipment available, offering the widest removal cut path of 15” with accurate depth, straightness and width controls to assure consistent finishes ideal for any straight line from 4” to 90” wide. A vacuum system, such as the SMITH MV-1000S, can be connected to the FS351’s dual vacuum ports to control dust and debris from the removal operations.

One of the benefits of the SMITH FS351 is its new machine design, operational controls, vacuum pick-up, and weight assures that the machine will remain in the cut path producing accurate depth feed rates and straight removal passes without bouncing. Additional cut width passes can be controlled by lowering the front guide wheels so a 24” stop-bar or 60” airport markings requiring 2 to 4 passes are uniform in depth.


If you are planning to recess preform or other durable markings and are looking for a cost-effective solution, the SMITH FS351 is the fastest and easiest way to do it.

For pricing and availability, please contact your SMITH Representative today!

Three Questions to Get Longer Cutter Life

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

You get that dreaded call from your grinding truck operator:

“Boss, the cutters I just loaded on the drum burned up after only 2 hours of use! I think we got a bad batch!”

Are you prepared for this call? What do you do next?


Great leaders are prepared to respond in a crisis. Even though you are in the middle of preparing a bid and are pressed for time, you are prepared to offer your operator guidance.

You process the information and review the job details. Here’s what you know:

  1. Based on prior experience, the estimated life for Flail-it cutters removing preform tapes on flat concrete surfaces is approximately 25 hours.
  2. The truck has been recently serviced with new bearings, but has a cutter control box that requires active operator management to continuously re-set the depth and pitch when working on uneven surfaces.
  3. The operator was working the night shift, and is the one guy in the crew who pushes truck speeds, RPMs and cut depths to maximize removal rates. You know that the operator was promoted from drum builder and seems to always set the teeth pattern on the drum with the correct spacing set-up array.
  4. Your supplier is a leading brand of ultra-premium-life cutters with a long track record with your company.

So you ask, “Do we have enough cutters in stock to keep working?”

He says, “Yes, but not enough to finish the job the way we are grinding…”

Armed with this information, you say, Answer these three critical questions:

“Was there anything in my job estimations, listed in your job log, that appeared different from the stretch of roadway you were working on?”

“Not from what I can tell, boss. I was doing my job and the cutters now are very worn.”

“Were you operating the truck and cutter rotation at any different speeds then previous operations?”

“Just pushing the truck as fast as I can while getting complete preform tape removal on this concrete highway.” 

“What can you grade the condition of the concrete road, from flat (SP1) to rough with many uneven control joints (SP10), and were you removing solid center, skips or edge lines, straight, or curved lines?”

“Boss, the surface was in all conditions – from flat to uneven – with control joints every 100 feet, and the work we were doing was ripping up the preform tape on straightaway skip lines.”

cutter impact zone

“From what you have answered and from working with the SMITH University Job Log12-Step Guide, here are the five things you need to do:”

  1.  “It seems to me that the road surface is putting a lot of pressure on the face of the cutters causing premature wear. Until we can add a depth/pitch-control stop on the cutter box, we need to keep the cutter tips off any high spots so they just rub on the surface without striking a joint.”
    “Set the box at the highest spot on the road surface to remove only the top layer of tape (and any concrete) without undercutting the carbide pins. This will require removing at several passes until the surface can be leveled. Then repeat, going at progressively deeper passes (but not too deep) until the surface becomes level and the tape can be removed by the cutter tips alone.”
  2. “Since you are working on skips where the drum carriage must be raised and lowered, we are not certain if the carriage-lowering mechanism is causing deep grind marks. This most be avoided at all costs, so the tips alone gently are lowered with the box. Striking too hard will cause flat spots due to the weight of the carriage, and the downward force on the hard, uneven concrete surface will create a negative impact on the cutters. This must be carefully controlled to get the required performance.”
  3. “When we finish the job and get back to the shop, we will add a wheeled carriage depth control so you will not have to eyeball or use the truck speed to determine cut depths.”
  4. Finally, I’ll send a completed job log to my supplier with all the job data so they can assist in anything we could have missed.  I’ll also make certain that the cutter batches we received meet specifications, if we selected the right cutters for the job, and ask them to have more cutters ready to ship out.”
  5. “I’m going to send you the 12-Step Guide and a Job Log so we can record our cutter performance results during the job. I would like you to take some photos on your phone of the surface condition, before and after the removal so I can see how deep the grind marks have penetrated. This will give us both a good indication on how the cutters failed, and allow us to dial in pro-active controls going forward.”

“I am certain that if we actively manage these variables – and keep the tips in the cutter impact zone – we will get the life I estimated, based on the surface conditions requiring more removal passes, and we will all be better prepared for future projects.”

“Anything else?”

“No boss, but I’ll start watching my cutter tips, remove in shallower passes to avoid joints and will record all details in the job log.”

Are you prepared to answer the call?  How will you respond?

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