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Retroplate: Moving from Experience to Technology in Polished Concrete

A polished concrete lobby adds a clean, sophisticated element to any building.

Because each slab of concrete is unique, polishing it can require a lot of experience and often involves the attendant mistakes. Advanced Floor Products in Provo, Utah, decided to develop a concrete-polishing technology to eliminate some of the guesswork.

Retroplate, AFP's patented system for using a special hardener during the polishing process, is the fruit of their labors.

AFP started working on the system about four years ago when a customer in Richmond, Virginia, restored a terrazzo floor. When the shine was gone and the floor started to dust after three months, he called Mark Wetherell, AFP's technical director, to help solve the problem.

Wetherell's background in the janitorial business came in very handy. He suggested exploring some of the available products in an effort to find one that would protect the shine and eliminate the dust. "We bought some products and spread them side by side on a slab. Then we started grinding them."

One seemed to do the trick. The area of the slab it covered kept its shine longer and controlled dusting after the other products were gone.

Since then, AFP was conducted a lot of research and development on hardening agents and completely reformulated that original product.

"Basically, we put it on steroids," Wetherell quipped.

The current densifying hardener is not sodium silicate, the hardener of choice for many other manufacturers and contractors. Because the formula is a trade secret, AFP is tight-lipped about its nature, saying only that it is a modified silicate.

The heart of the Retroplate system, the densifying agent penetrates the concrete from 1/16" to 1/8" and reacts chemically with the concrete salts.

"It creates crystalline growth," Vernon Talbot, AFP's sales director, said, "which densifies and solidifies the surface."

It offers significant abrasion resistance. "On a very hard floor, the abrasion resistance might increase 200 percent. Softer concrete might increase 400 percent," Talbot noted.

AFP distributes the Retroplate system only to its 60 certified applicators in North and South America, Eastern Europe, Scandinavia, Australia and New Zealand.

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