CCS-5(16) Placing and Finishing Decorative Concrete Flatwork

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Proper placing and finishing of decorative concrete requires specialized skills using decorative concrete products and techniques not required for most concrete placements. These skills are in addition to the proper placing, finishing, and curing skills needed for routine concrete placements that are covered by existing flatwork finisher resources and programs.

The decorative concrete industry is growing fast. As a result, there is a need for education and information from credible sources. The standards of quality for this growing industry must be maintained and increased. This document was produced with the intent of raising the quality of education for the decorative concrete industry. Quality of construction will progress by continually improving the level of craftsmanship.

Many of the skills associated with decorative concrete flatwork are not presently covered in existing concrete flatwork resources. This document supplements existing resources by providing knowledge of the materials, equipment, and techniques required to successfully install decorative concrete flatwork. Knowledge of traditional concrete flatwork techniques is recommended for full understanding of this document. Decorative concrete topics covered herein include:

 Mixture design for decorative concrete mixtures;

 The use of integral color and dry shake color hardeners;

 The identification and uses of decorative finishing tools and equipment (such as stamping mats and stencils);

 The use of surface retarders and set-retarding admixtures to produce exposed aggregate surfaces;

 Stamping and texturing concrete;

 Seeding fresh concrete surfaces with decorative aggregate;

 Decorative treatments for stair treads and risers; and

 Cleaning and sealing methods for decorative concrete.

 This document also covers topics that are universal to concrete flatwork construction:

 Jobsite and personal safety;

 Ensuring the design adheres to Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines;

 Preplacement site preparation; and Identification and uses of concrete finishing tools.

 Additionally, two chapters of texture samples and project examples are included. Architectural cast-in-place walls, chemical stains, decorative overlays, decorative scoring, and other topical finishes are not included in this document.

Keywords: flatwork, decorative concrete, decorative finishing, concrete flatwork, concrete surfaces, stamping, texturing, coatings, sealing, decorative


Document Details

Author: ACI Committee E703

Publication Year: 2015

ISBN: 9781942727590

Categories: Decorative Concrete

Formats: Printed Document or Protected PDF/Web View

Table of Contents


Chapter 1: Safety

Chapter 2: Layout Considerations

ADA Guidelines

Terms used in ADA

Requirements for Flatwork

Accessible Route

Curb Ramps



Detectable Warnings on Walking Surfaces


Chapter 3: Soils, Subgrade, and Base Requirements

Soils Report

Subgrade Preparation

Cement Type and Corrosion Protection

Other Information

Chapter 4: Forming, Reinforcement, Dowels, and Jointing

Allowance for Accessibility and Production


Welded Wire Reinforcement

Reinforcing Steel Bar

Spacer Blocks


Microfibers and Macrofibers


Isolation Joints

Contraction Joints

Residential driveway and front entry

Commercial Project

Joints between Adjacent Concrete Placements

Contraction Joints

Tooled Joints

Saw-cut Joints

Chapter 5: Basic Decorative Concrete Components

Mixtures for Decorative Concrete

Nominal Maximum Size of Aggregate

Portland Cement and Other Cementitious Materials

Amount of Cementitious Materials

Air Content for Air-Entrained Concrete

Concrete Slump and Use of Admixtures

Type and Amount of Pigment for Integrally Colored Concrete

Types of Color

Basic Tools for Decorative Flatwork

Strikeoffs or Straightedges

Bull Floats and Darbies



Hand Floats

Hand Trowel

Fresno Trowel

Margin Trowels


Brooms and Brushes


Tools Used Specifically for Decorative Flatwork

Stamping Mats


Dry-Shake Spreaders

Tampico Brushes

Flex Mats

Texturing Skins


Pattern Rollers

Hand Rollers and Chisels

Pump-Type Sprayers

Concrete Tools

Chapter 6: Surface Retarders

General Uses

Top-Surface Retarders

Guidelines for Use


Applying the Surface Retarder

Removing the Surface Retarder

Environmental Note:

Tools Required

Curing and Sealing

Durability and Sustainability

Chapter 7: Stamped Concrete

Planning and Organization

Subgrade Preparation

Concrete Mixture Proportions and Admixtures


Coloring Stamped Concrete

Release Agents

Stamping/Texturing Tools

Seamless Texturing Tools

Patterned Texturing Tools

Curing the Concrete

Early Carbonation

Wash Down


Chapter 8: Seeding Special Aggregates

Chapter 9: Decorative Treatment of Stairs

Code Requirements

Color and Texture of Cast-in-Place Concrete Stairs

Required Tools (Specialty Tools Required)


Finishing Practices


Integral Color

Stamped Treads and Risers

Exposed Aggregate or Sand Finish

Contraction Joints

Building Stairs with a Stamped Texture

Summary of Stamped Steps

Cast-in-Place Steps with a Surface Retarder

Chapter 10: Sealing Decorative Concrete

Curing Compounds


Cure and Seals


VOC Regulations — How They Affect the Products You Use

Preventing Moisture Problems

The Effects of Deicing Salts on Sealer Performance

The Effects of Temperature on Sealer Reactivity

Low Temperature

High Temperature

Dealing with Condensation on Sealers

Preparing Surfaces for Sealer Application

Choosing the Best Applicator

Sealer Application Tips

Chapter 11: Color and Texture Samples

Seeded Aggregate Finishes

Integral Color with Seeded Aggregates

Sand Finishes Using Top Surface Retarder


Stamped Concrete with Color Hardener and Contrasting Release Agent

Chapter 12: Project Samples

Coastal Resort and Spa

Civic Center Library and City Hall

Decorative Concrete Parking Lot

Hospital/Medical Center

Church Plaza

Office Building Motor Court

Regional Aquatics Center

Medical Research Building

Office Building

Appendix A


Any applicable errata are included with individual documents at the time of purchase. Errata are not included for collections or sets of documents such as the ACI Collection. For a listing of and access to all product errata, visit the Errata page.

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