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Archive for 2016

Perfect Concrete Prep in Four Steps

Thursday, December 29th, 2016

Perfect Concrete Prep in Four Steps

Getting coatings to last on concrete is tough.

To assure a long-term mechanical bond on concretet, new coatings must be applied onto surfaces that are properly cleaned, dried, profiled and sound.

Most jobs specify the prep work as sweeping, power washing, or air blowing. These traditional topical treatments are not long-term solutions for stay-in-place coatings in high-traffic locations.

Some jobs specify the use of grinders or blasters to remove prior coatings, markings, dirt, oil, films, paint, coatings, cure or sealer.

The indiscriminate application of these prep tools may cause more harm than good by destabilizing, cracking, or undermining the original sound asphalt or concrete substrate.

The perfect way to prepare concrete surfaces is through a 4-step SMITHing process that not only removes surface contaminants, but creates the right concrete surface porosity to maximize mechanical bonding for the new coatings or overlayments without surface micro-cracking.

Mechanical bonding occurs when the binder seeps into the pores of the surface to create a tight mechanical bond, assuring any new coatings that are applied perform for their entire engineered life.

Let’s go over the steps:

Step 1: PREPARing

The Contractor and Engineer should evaluate the surfaces prior to commencing work so that all parties can acknowledge and record existing surface and/or joint conditions against the site plans. Write down and photograph all discrepancies and deficiencies, and include surface-improvement or concrete preservation solutions to be added back into the plans.

To ensure long-term marking success, introduce the Surface-Prep, Concrete Shaving or Removal Specifications and use the Prep/Scarify/Shaving Equipment and Cutter Tool Selection Guides, Job Logs and Surface Profile Inspection Tools  (Key, Tape, Surface Profile and Depth Tests).

Before starting, evaluate the surface condition by walking the jobsite and taking photos of the work to compare against the site plans. Write down all discrepancies and deficiencies, and include your surface-improvement solutions.


Step 2: SELECTing

After acceptance of the surface-improvement solution, the Contractor selects the appropriate rotary or drum-style removal equipment along with the correct cutter tools and validates selection prior to the start of the job with recorded results in the job log journal. 

Note: it may require more than one machine, cutter, and method to produce the desired results due to variables of surface conditions, coatings and other considerations.  After confirmation, the Contractor shall schedule and coordinate the surface-prep work with the Engineer.

Step 3: PREPping

Apply the right forward, back or side-to-side “Prep Method” while consistently operating in the “cutter impact zone”.  Confirm that the prep method is opening the pore structure and establishing the right SP (1-10) surface profiles in the substrate base suitable for the application of the specified coating, repair or overlay material as recommended by the manufacturer.  

“Cutter impact zone” is defined as the narrow band at right angles where the cutter tip contacts the surface. Performance is lost and surface profiles become inconsistent when the tips strike the surface too deeply, at the wrong angle, incorrect feed rate or when the tips are worn.

Note:  Always connect a HEPA vacuum to the vacuum ports to collect all airborne dust and debris to protect the operator, job site and environment.  Use a pickup wand to collect any remaining surface debris after the prep work is completed. 

Step 4: PERFECTing

To confirm the profiled surface meets the new binder requirements, the Inspector conducts field tests before, during and after the surface is prepared and prior to the new coating or overlay application with provisions provided under specifications and acceptable engineering practices. If corrective actions are required, the Contractor is to return back to step #2.  

Field test may include:

Key Scrape Test:   This test determines the surface integrity prior to starting any surface profiling or preparation work. With the serrated side of a key, lightly scrape the surface. If the key dislodges aggregate or some of the surface, it would receive a failing “F” grade.  A passing “P” grade indicates the surface is structurally sound.   

Should the key test fail, after the surface profiling work, the Inspector shall give immediate notice for the Contractor to remedy at Contractor’s expense and prior to receiving acceptance notice. The Contractor shall not be held responsible for the repair of any pre-existing failed surface conditions, under or adjoining the coating or repair material. If discovered, the Contractor shall notify the Engineer of the defect to take corrective action as specified under the contract plans.

Tape Pull Test: This test is used to determine surface cleanliness prior to the coating application. Cut a 10” length of duct tape and hand tamp the adhesive side to the prepared area. Quickly peel the tape off the surface and reposition the tape with the adhesive side up. Measure the captured dirt/debris and record the results. If dirt covers more than 1”, representing 10% of the overall coverage area, the surface requires additional cleaning. Continue cleaning until the Inspector gives a passing “P” grade.

Surface Profile Comparison:   Confirm that the desired profile SP# (1-10) of the surface has been achieved by visually inspecting and comparing the prepared surface and outlying areas to the profiles depicted by replica profile pads, replica putty, replica tape, or SP photos.  Record all findings in a journal. Should the profiles not meet the specified range, the Inspector shall give immediate notice for the Contractor to remedy at Contractor’s expense.

Cut Depth Test for Surface Shaving or Grooving: Measure the slot cut depths using depth plates or a dial depth gauge. Take several measurements to obtain an average to accurately measure the depth of the slot.  Should the slot dimensions and surface conditions not be met, the Inspector shall give immediate notice for the Contractor to remedy at Contractor’s expense. 


Following the 4-step prep process will assure that the surface is properly prepared and ready for the final application.

Prep-before-coating specifications should be intentionally separate from the materials application specification portion of the project to assure all parties (Contractor, Engineer and Inspector) have clear guidelines and expectations on what is the acceptable and not acceptable surface conditions for the new application.  The specifications should describe the prep process controls to achieve the correct SP roughness, surface soundness and cleanliness to assure the successful bond between the binder and the surface.

The details of the location of the prepared surface work shall be designated on the plan drawings or as required by the Engineer. The Contractor and Engineer should evaluate the surfaces prior to commencing work so that all parties can acknowledge and record existing concrete and/or joint conditions. The Contractor shall schedule and coordinate the surface-prep work with the Engineer prior to the start of any coating, marking, repair or overlay work.


Prep-Before-Coating work: defined as creating the right surface profile (SP) after the removal of any dirt, oil, films, paint, coatings, cure, sealer and unsound concrete or other materials that will interfere with the adhesion or penetration of any applied binder, coating or marking material.

Surface Profile (SP): is the measure of the average distance from the peaks of the surface to the valleys as seen through a cross sectional view of the hard surface. The dimension is defined pictorially and through physical samples in the SP Profile Chart as is expressed as a Surface Profile Number SP1 – 10 (SP1 is a nearly flat smooth surface and SP10 is an extremely rough with amplitude greater than 1⁄4”). Surface Profiles can be accomplished by a variety of tools, equipment and materials and is dependent upon the type of surface to be prepared, plus the type of system and material thickness to be installed. All factors play an important role in the selection process.

For further details, please contact your SMITH Rep.

Season’s Greetings from SMITH

Wednesday, December 21st, 2016


The Happiest of Holidays to You and Yours!

During the holidays, we reflect on how fortunate we are to be in a position of giving. We take pride in serving our customers and are most thankful and humble for the many families we support.

As our tradition of giving this season continues, these charities will receive a special donation in honor of you, our friends and family.

Have a very Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a healthy, happy, and transformative new year!


SMITH Holiday Hours

SMITH offices will be closed from Friday, December 23 at 12:00 pm until Tuesday, December 27 at 8:00 am in observation of Christmas.

In addition, SMITH will be closed from 3:00 pm on Friday, December 30, until Tuesday, January 3, 2017 at 8:00 am in observance of the New Year holiday.

We will be monitoring our phones and email during this time.

Season’s Greetings from SMITH!



Make 2017 Transformative

Wednesday, December 21st, 2016

Let’s Make 2017 Transformative


Transformative, as in causing someone’s experience to be different or better in some important way.

Offer your customers a transformative experience by SMITHing.

The SMITH Surface-Prep solution helps your customers achieve the right surface profile condition so products applied on concrete and asphalt last longer.

  • Lasting markings save lives
  • Safer walkways improves lives
  • Sustainability enriches lives

That’s transformational!

Let us help you make 2017 transformative for you and your customers!


© 2017 SMITH Surface-Prep Solutions - 1610 S. Dixie Highway, Pompano Beach, FL 33060-8913
Toll Free: 1-800-653-9311 | Ph: 954-941-9744 | Fax: 954-545-0348
Specifications and data are subject to change without notice.