Polished concrete is the new frontier of architectural concrete. As a leader in the architectural concrete market, Solomon Colors is proud to meet these needs with Lythic® polishing products, an innovative line of colloidal silica polishing chemicals for concrete.
Lythic® began with the discovery of reactive Colloidal Silica as a new way to add strength and durability to concrete floors, by two veterans of concrete polishing in 2004. Intimately familiar with the advantages of exposed concrete floors, both polished and unpolished, they were also acutely aware of the drawbacks of the existing chemistry available. They recognized the benefits of this advance in concrete densification chemistry as they used it for their own projects. From this direct experience new products and processes were developed and have expanded possibilities for concrete floor finishes. Lythic is unique in providing expertise in product and processes that are advancing concrete flooring beyond the costs, risks, and limitations of polished concrete floors.
To understand why Lythic products work, one must first understand the effect Colloidal Silica has on concrete chemistry. As cement reacts with water and begins curing, Calcium Silicate Hydrate (CSH, or cement paste) forms with Calcium Hydroxide (lime) as a by-product in the. Lime can compose up to 25% of the cement paste, yet it has no benefit and can even contribute to efflorescence. This by-product material can be problematic in concrete.
Pozzolans, such as fly ash and silica fume, can be added to the mix to reduce formation of lime and create more cement paste. Densifiers are topically applied pozzolans that can be added after placement, hardening the upper layers of the concrete through this cement past formation. Colloidal Silica is a densifier, unique because it does not contain reactive metals such as lithium, sodium, and potassium.
These reactive metals, combined with silica are classified as silicates. The mineral salts present in these silicates can make them dangerous to handle and classify them as hazardous material. Mineral salts can also contribute to the formation of residue and whiting that necessitates scrubbing and film removal. Colloidal Silica, on the other hand, is a nearly pure silica suspended in liquid. The lack of contaminating materials means Colloidal Silica can react faster, and more efficiently with no residue formation. Colloidal Silica not only reacts with Calcium Hydroxide, but bonds to itself for faster build-up of hardened material. Furthermore, Colloidal Silica is not as caustic as other densifiers, making it safer to handle.
Keeping It Green
The greenest floor is the one that’s already there, and in most cases, concrete is the substrate for both new and existing floors. Transforming the surface into a finished floor is far more sustainable than consuming additional flooring materials, adhesives, and transportation-related energy to install a floor covering. Moreover, most of the processes used in making decorative concrete floors – including all Lythic products – release low or no VOC’s.
Concrete floors are also more sustainable in long-term service. They are maintained with mild cleansers, not harsh solvents. They do not require the frequent waxing and stripping of vinyl tile (VCT) floors. They do not release fibers, or provide a growth environment for mold, bacteria, allergens, or dust mites, as does carpet. Concrete lasts for decades, and the finish on it is nearly as long-lasting if properly maintained.