No more Gray Concrete for 2018, Change the way you think concrete should look
DADE CITY, Fla. April 30, 2018
Whether your dinner arrives in a cardboard box or your company’s latest policy change gets hammered out in an office that has no desks, massive changes in the way people work and live are evident in all phases of daily life. Putting a roof, walls, and floor around massive shifts in the shape of work and other activities is a constant challenge to the building industry. Keeping pace means using materials that already respond to some of the problems facing designers and builders, created by a company that will stay ahead of developing issues. SureCrete is that kind of company, and its Eco Stain™ line of concrete stains sets the gold standard for building materials that respond to growing human changes, needs, and concerns.
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Current LEED standards represent widespread agreement that buildings must meet human needs in ways that minimize harmful interaction with the environment. Green building standards lower buildings’ demands for natural resources; heating, cooling, and lighting systems increasingly give back to their surroundings in the forms of more green-space creation, increased climate sensitivity and better waste disposal. Big changes in materials for insulation, light management and especially surface-coverage keep problems from arising. In the surfacing area, the new concrete stains stand out, both for their environmental neutrality and ease of maintenance.
Semi-transparent, penetrating and water-based, Eco-Stain contains no VOC (volatile organic compounds), making them ideal for both indoors and out. Maintained with simple regular applications of clear sealer, Eco Stains are suitable for high-traffic situations. Both original applications and maintenance are far less disruptive, regarding both time and space, to necessary activity in the area than most other types of surface sealers. Their environmental neutrality makes them a superior choice for areas serving vulnerable populations like children or older adults. Unlike concrete paints, their penetrating qualities prevent peeling and sharply reduce both water-related damage and exposure to UV light. Acid-based stains developed to address some of the paint’s weaknesses, lack this versatility. Results are often beautiful but always unpredictable, and the chemicals they contain increasingly restrict their usefulness in an environmentally-compatible building.
Expect stains like Eco-Stain to appear in more and more locations throughout 2018 and beyond. They provide a reliable, easy-to-use stable alternative to other coatings. A wide range of colors, 31 in all, lets you meet a wide range of customer demands as color gradually returns to design in both public and private spaces.
Healthy and Flexible Workspaces
2018 will bring the WELL Standard and biophilic philosophy into the discussion of building design and décor in workplaces of all kinds. A workplace is no longer regarded as healthy because there’s free yogurt every Friday and a stack of gym-membership coupons next to the philodendron on the front desk. The WELL Standard can be regarded as a LEED standard for the people who work inside the buildings, intended to form the basis for practices that keep employees healthy, mentally fit and positively engaged. Biophilic design examines the usefulness of work structures and their furnishings, asking questions about sourcing and manufacturing processes as well as function and durability. It is the relationship between people and their work environment that will lead workplace design for a sustained time. Similar equations between physical comfort, mental and physical health, social confidence and productivity can be expected to influence design in many kinds of public spaces, including hotels, transportation hubs, government buildings and commercial entertainment venues.
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One continuing thread of discussion might be labeled “home-sweet-office.” Builders can expect to put up fewer box-like offices and follow designers’ leads in new ways to create flexible space. The home-model has a number of sources. While comedy shows still get mileage out of living in your mother’s basement, for young workers, introductions to the world of work may begin with a laptop in a rec-room corner. As rents and other living costs continue to rise, early explorations of the world may be confined to a steady path from bedroom to classroom and back, and multi-use spaces become the norm. In such an atmosphere, older, experienced workers have begun to question the utility of the necktie and the requirement to take a refreshing walk on an authorized break rather than when you need it. Physical comfort and space for healthy habits will have increasing impacts on the spaces where adults spend so much of their lives. This means several possible avenues for home-and-office crossovers in terms of building materials. Both avenues emphasize color.
What better way to make large spaces responsive to a variety of flexible activities? Eco-Stain can be used to create a series of “carpets” on a large monotonous surface. “We’re having a team meeting in the blue zone in twenty minutes” says it all. And the yoga class continues on the brown “rug” as it does every day. Even when furniture and activities are not flexible, these creative color signals can help visitors and customers find their way around large and unfamiliar areas: “Follow the brown hallway till you see the green floor—that’s the clinic.”
In the home, color signals can also work to manage traffic, especially when you want to tie outdoor and indoor areas together in a unified décor scheme. Yes, color. In home décor, color is the biggest news of 2018—it’s coming back. Monotone and neutral color schemes will continue to occupy major space. The hectic pace of work life is felt at home as well. Homeowners want natural materials with healthy origins and easy maintenance, and forward-looking décor maintains a sleek, lean minimalism that emphasizes using possessions rather than taking care of them. The love affair with all-white or several-shades-of-gray has, however, become slightly anemic. One sign of that is Pantone’s choice of Ultra-Violet as Color of 2018. While we are not on the verge of a paint-the-kitchen-canary explosion, the choice of a near-electric, energy-drenched purple tone enables the measured return of colors to homes that had become nearly lab-like. Designers are responding to this change with jewel-tone strategies. Color can range from a narrow cobalt ribbon that traces the outline of white kitchen walls to a moody, singular room with burgundy, teal or near-navy walls and richly-patterned furnishings and fabrics.
The color zones that work so well in commercial spaces have more subtle uses at home. The deep, resonant colors of Eco-Stain make them a logical candidate to tie the pool deck, patio, outdoor kitchen and adjacent indoor family room together. The simplest strategy is a single-toned avenue leading all the way from water’s edge to the bathroom where you hang up your suit; even little ones learn that you stay on the gray when you’re coming in from a swim. Far more entertaining is the use of some of the wide range of stamping and scoring materials that, along with a large color-palette, make Eco Stains such an asset. Carrying a stamped border or tile motif throughout indoor/outdoor areas can pull several surface colors together beautifully. Varying techniques let you use great materials in numerous ways.
A hot trend that just keeps growing is using Eco Stains and custom stamps to create a wood-look on your surface. Finished results range from classic flooring to plank effects. In both residential and commercial settings, this technique lets you introduce the look of wood where it has not been possible before. Concrete lumber-looks hold up where chronic soil-dampness or heavy humidity make real timber construction a fragile choice.
Meeting the Challenges
This creative use of surfacing materials illustrates, in small, the way the building industry as a whole will respond to its greatest challenge for 2018: resilience. The combination of deteriorating infrastructure and massive natural disasters has brought a new fragility to all phases of building. Questions raise more questions. The strength of the industry, however, has always been creative in the face of difficulties. What builders of all kinds share is a greater interest in the solution than in the problem. SureCrete’s eco-smart stains are just one example of this attitude at work, and just one sign that the challenge is in good hands.
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