How to Install Pentimento—A Premium-grade Concrete Microtopping

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Bob Harris of The Decorative Concrete Institute shows you how to install Duraamen’s Pentimento concrete microtopping. Bob demonstrates priming the concrete, mixing the materials, adding colorants, and applying the microtopping with a Turbo Roller and trowel for a perfectly smooth finish. Create a beautiful decorative concrete floor!

Video Transcript

I’m Bob Harris. Welcome to the Duraamen educational video series.

In this video, we’re going to discuss the re-launch of a product called Pentimento. The earlier generation of Pentimento required the material to be rolled down. You would then hand trowel it, and then at the opportune time, you would go back out on spike kneeboards, and you would have to second trowel the material.

With this formulation here, if you choose to, it only requires one trowel, so we’ll show you, demonstrate how to roll it down. We’ll hit it with a trowel. We’ll show you some Colorfast products to marble in some accent colors, and only if you desire to get a real smooth surface you can go back out and second trowel it, but it’s not mandatory so let’s get started.

We’re getting ready for the first application of the Pentimento system, which is the prime coat of CP1000. Real quick, refer back to the Duraamen website for proper surface preparation regarding cracks, concrete surface profile, bolt holes prior to putting any self-leveling or cementitious topping down.

So what we’re going to do, we’ve prepared our boards here. We have a simulated crack that we’ve repaired, and now we’re going to apply our first coat of CP1000. So for the prime coat, you use it neat. Meaning you don’t thin it down with water. So we’re going to apply a liberal amount of the CP1000. On large jobs, it’s perfectly acceptable to dump the material or pour the material right out of the 5-gallon bucket and have a secondary worker with a mop. I know that sounds a little crude, but that’s what we want. A good prime coat of that first coat so you can mop the CP1000 down.

If you’re working in a smaller area you can you can dip and roll, but it is crucial that you get that first application saturated down into the porosity of the concrete.
So this system as a prime coat requires always a minimum of two applications, so you must always apply two coats, and in some cases, if the substrate is very porous, it may require a third coat. The goal is to completely seal off the substrate to the point where it looks like you’ve put a gloss or a semi-gloss sealer on the concrete. So generally, we want a minimum of four to six hours from the time you’ve applied that first application of CP1000 before you can move to the next step, which is the application of the Pentimento.

So to recap, minimum of two coats of CP1000, sometimes on a highly porous substrate three coats, and once that second and or third coat is dry, you’re ready to move on to the application of the Pentimento. Let’s show you how it’s done.

Okay, we’ve just finished applying our first coat of CP1000. To recap, you need to wait four hours before applying a second coat.

Roughly 4 more hours have transpired, and our second coat of CP1000 is now dry. It’s tack-free. More importantly, you can see the sheen that we have. Remember, we want the surface or the substrate to look like sealed concrete. It should have a semi-gloss or up to a gloss appearance.

We talked about the mix ratio. The mixture ratio is always 4 parts CP1000 to 1 part water. Pentimento comes in a 45-pound bag, so it’s always a minimum of 1 gallon to 45 pounds of Pentimento. Depending on the ambient and substrate temperatures, we have our additional 4 ounces here if we need to add that to the mix.

So we have our 1 gallon of an already mixed 4-to-1 ratio of CP1000. We’re getting ready to mix up our Pentimento. We’re always going to start with a ratio of 4 parts CP1000 to 1 part water. The ratio never changes, 4-to-1, 4 parts CP1000. Although this is not enough, it’s for demonstration purposes. Obviously, you can get a bucket with bigger ratios. You don’t want to deviate from the 4 to 1 ratio because it affects the performance of the troweling and how the material lays down. Always maintain that 4-to-1.

From here, we’re going to go ahead and make up a larger batch, and the mix ratio is approximately 1 gallon of 4-to-1 to 1 bag of Pentimento. Sometimes if you need just a little less viscosity, you can add 4 ounces. Then the mix ratio is 1 gallon of mixed 4-to-1 to 1 bag of Pentamento or 1 gallon 4 ounces to 1 bag of Pentimento.
Pentimento is offered in either a gray base or a white base, and today we’re going to be pouring Pentimento gray.

So there’s a really interesting coloring system that’s called Colorfast. The colors on this chart are based on a 1-cup pigment load of Colorfast. Load meaning you can see we have 1 cup here. So what I would do is, I would scoop in 1 cup. If I’m doing production pouring, say we’re mixing 30 or 40 bags, I like to stir it with a stick or a level to ensure that we’re getting consistent batches from batch-to-batch. So you don’t want to have a little bit where it’s too low, or it’s mounted, so keep it uniform, and what we’ll do is based on this color chart. We’re going to use functional gray 1 cup, and we’re going to put the 1 cup of functional gray Colorfast into our pre-batched CP1000 over there. We’ll mix that for several minutes to make sure it’s good and mixed up. Then once we’ve mixed the premix the Colorfast into the CP1000, it’s time to mix our Pentimento.

So what we’ll do is dump the CP1000 into our mixing bucket then put 1 cup of Colorfast color into the mixing bucket. Mix that up for several minutes, and then we’ll go ahead and add the Pentimento gray into that pre-tinted CP1000. And we’re ready to pour.

So as an option, you can get some very interesting effects using the same Colorfast color. Perhaps add in a different color for some contrast, and you can really get over the top looking floors with a marbleized effect, almost like a metallic epoxy, believe it or not, and it’s all cement-based.

So let’s demonstrate how that’s done. All right, we have our 1 gallon of 4-to-1 ratio, 4 parts CP1000 to 1 part water in the metal bucket, and we’re getting ready to mix our functional gray Colorfast pigment. So if you remember on the color chart, the colors listed are based on 1 cup of pigment. So we’re gonna put it in the 4-to-1 mixture, and we’re going to give it a mix for at least a minute. We want to make sure it’s all mixed up thoroughly.

All right, we’re ready to mix our Pentimento. We have our CP1000 that’s been tinted, and we’re ready to go.

Just a quick observation. Having an appropriate mixing station is very, very crucial. You need to protect the surrounding areas. You have to keep the floor free of debris and dust. So make sure that you position the mixing station far enough away from the actual installation to avoid residual dust getting onto the floor. Just as important as putting the successful floor down, it’s equally important to protect the surrounding area for your clients. It shows professionalism as well.

So be prepared to have all the bags cut open ready to go. Obviously, in the warmer parts of the year, it’s good to keep all of your materials cool, and if possible, don’t mix in the direct sunlight. Mix in a shaded area or a cool location, like always on all cement-based topping applications. Safety is important non-absorbent gloves wear a dust mask at a minimum to protect airborne dust from going into your lungs.

So we’re going to go ahead and get ready to mix our Pentamento right now. All right, normally, what we want to do is take approximately half a bag of Pentimento, put it into the bucket, gently spin it just to kind of start mixing it up. And then, once that’s mixed thoroughly, go ahead and put the remaining mixture into the bucket. Always have a margin trowel so you can scrape the residual material that’s accumulated on the side of the bucket.

It’s not a bad idea to do what’s called an induction period. Once you’ve got the mixture close to your desired consistency or viscosity, go ahead and let it sit for 30 or 40 seconds and what happens is, in that time frame, it allows the cement particles to absorb and saturate out thoroughly.
Remember we talked about 1 gallon 4 ounces that mix ratio? You can go ahead and boost it to your desired consistency and after that 30-40 second induction period. Now you’re ready to go onto the floor.

All right. This is how we’re going to put the Pentimento down, with a turbo roller that’s nine inches in width by an eighth inch in depth. You can see here that it won’t fit tight on this roller cage; it’s loose. So one of two things. You can either expand/bend the roller cage to fit snugly or use duct tape. There you go. See how that’s fitting right now.

We’re ready to start putting down the Pentimento. Okay, we’re gonna dump a ribbon of the Pentimento onto our floor. Just a word of caution. Obviously, on an actual project, remember we talked about the importance of keeping the substrate clean. It’s a good idea to go ahead and wear plastic-lined booties to keep the floor clean.
We’re going to show you a couple of coloring options you can use or not. Still, one quick, easy way to get a very nice color variation is to take the Colorfast— this happens to be kindle charcoal—and I’m just going to put it right into the ribbon. We don’t want to get this onto the substrate, so try to keep it right in the ribbon here and then what we’re going to blend it in. So this could be the primary color with no additional accent color. It gives you a really nice effect quickly and easily.
Okay, now I’ve got it roughed in. I come back and pull it. I’m applying maybe two pounds of pressure to the turbo roller. So my main goal is to quickly get the material down into place, and then I’m going to come back and refine the depth to make sure we’re at the proper depth.

So you can see I need a little material over here, so I’m going to steal. I dumped just about the appropriate amount for a half aboard with very nice self-leveling properties.

So now what I’d like to show you is one other coloring option. Once again, pour a little ribbon across there. Then I’m going to roll it down, and we’re going to hand broadcast color into the mix so you can kind of control how much or how little you would like in a designated area.

The way that we’re putting this material down, we’re putting it down at 1/8” thick. If you choose to, you could use a traditional gauge rake that has the cams set to the desired depth. You never want to exceed 3/16” deep. The turbo roller puts it down at the appropriate thickness.

All right, we’re about right where we want to be. A little bit in this corner looks good now. As an alternative coloring method, this is where you can hand broadcast the coloring. What you have to be very careful about is clumping it. You don’t want to clump it. So you can see I’m holding it in my hand and shaking it instead of throwing a big clump like that, which is what you don’t want to do. It’s really important to note that a little bit goes a long way on this coloring method. I really like the first method we showed you, which is broadcasting the Colorfast powder into the ribbon because it gives it a very organic look—kind of personal preference.

So when you’re actually putting it down, you need to work in unison with a team member. So for best results, while one person is rolling, say a three-foot-wide path, you’ll have a second person like I’m positioning myself right here with knee pads following whoever is rolling with a trowel, or you could go back out with spiked kneeboards.

Now we want to use a flat trowel, something that doesn’t have a lot of giving or flex to it because we’re trying to put down a nice smooth surface. So our boards are elevated up above the material, so it doesn’t suction onto the material. So I’m just going to come in here, and my goal is two things. To just simply lay it flat and then blend the color.

So you’ll notice what I’m doing. I don’t do the traditional concrete finisher’s half-moon like this. We don’t want to see a floor that has a half-moon. So I’m trying to blend the color. You notice I’m moving the trowel, you see the streak, so I’m going to go perpendicular, and all of a sudden, it has a beautiful organic mottled look.
Now I’m going to work my way down on where I hand broadcast. I love this look, and getting this look for a micro-topping that’s only an eighth of an inch thick is pretty dynamic.

So here’s where I broadcast. You can see it’s a lot more intense in color, and it’s really a matter of personal preference. The cool thing is I can blend it, so if I have too much here, I can steal the color here and perhaps add some there. I am trying to get my edges here to be all tight. You see how I’m going in opposing directions to blend the color. What’s different about this formulation from previous formulations of Pentimento is the fact of the self-leveling properties. This formulation self-levels much better, so really, there’s no reason for me even to consider second troweling. For the purpose of this video, probably here in the next hour, maybe we’ll show you how to second trowel, but this product has dynamite self-leveling properties.

All right, this formulation is much easier than past formulations because, on previous applications, we’d have to go back out on the spiked kneeboards, but this laid down beautifully. This is very flat, and really there’s no reason to go back out on it a second time unless there’s a particular, you know, color blend that you’d want to go back out and try to hit. A simple one-time trowel and some pretty stunning results.

All right, roughly 25 minutes have elapsed, and again, this could be a great surface. Come back the following day and run a 100, maybe a 120 grit sanding screen real quick to knock anything out. There is really no need for a second trowel. However, for demonstration reasons, we want to show you. Like I said, about 25 minutes have elapsed. Most surface moisture dissolves off, and I don’t know if the camera can see.

You can see a low spot. So this is one reason that if you chose to retrowel, you could come in, and you could kind of fix some of these areas.
So I’ll demonstrate one last time. Also, If I choose to, I can come in and blend the color even better. See how I just filled those trowel marks here. Now I’m applying quite a bit of pressure. This is almost getting to where it becomes almost like a polished surface pretty slick. You don’t want to overdo it. Get on it, and then get right off of it.

If you’re working from kneeboards, you always want to start at the kneeboard and finish back behind the kneeboard. What I mean is don’t reach out here like this because I’ve just left a line. Always start either from behind it and finish behind it. You’re always going to have to come back and get the spike marks off from the kneeboards. I’ll show you. We can see a little spike mark there, so we need to get rid of that.

If you choose to second trowel like I’m doing right here for demonstration purposes, you have to have a team that’s pretty confident at troweling the surface quickly because time is of the essence. You don’t have a lot of time, but you can see the end result when you go back out, and the re-trowel gives it a very smooth surface.
You can see two entirely different looks on the Pentimento. Over here, we had where we just broadcast the Colorfast into the ribbon and then used the roller to mix it up. We broadcast it into the fresh Pentimento on this side and then trowelled that—two different looks.

So again, the next day, we’ll come back, and we’ll use like a 120 grit sanding screen real quick, just real fast over the floor. Clean up the residual dust, and then you’re ready to go to the next step.

You can use an acid stain or a Deso dies to get additional accents and highlights if you choose to. Then you can seal it. Use a typical water-based acrylic sealer. You can also use epoxies, urethanes, and polyaspartics. For more on sealers, visit the Duraamen website, and good luck with your Pentimento application.

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