In a word … EXTREMELY!  In a painting and decorative concrete business like Shades of Color, we take prep work very seriously. We apply coatings to substrates – an overlay or micro-topping on concrete, paint on wood or drywall, for example. And if those substrates aren’t prepared properly, the coatings cannot be expected to last.

Bob Harris, founder of the Decorative Concrete Institute in Temple, Georgia put it best when he wrote in the January 2015 issue of Concrete Surfaces:  “First, it’s important to note that if you don’t do a sufficient job of preparing the substrate, all of your painstaking artistry could be a waste of time and effort.  I would bet that 90% of overlay delaminations and failures are due to inadequate surface preparation.  This critical step involves more than simply cleaning the substrate and removing existing coatings. Obtaining the proper concrete surface profile (CSP) is equally important.”

The Concrete Network (, an independent comprehensive online resource for authoritative information about concrete says:  “For proper bonding of concrete overlays and coatings, it’s important to give the surface the correct concrete surface profile, or CSP. If you plan to overlay or restore existing concrete, proper surface preparation is essential to achieving good results.”

“Lack of surface preparation causes 90% or more of overlay failures,” says Chris Sullivan, technical expert for the Concrete Network, and Vice President of Sales and Marketing for ChemSystems, Inc., a Houston-based manufacturer of architectural concrete products. He adds, “The surface needs sufficient ‘bite’ for the overlay to bond, otherwise delaminating failure can result.”  Mr. Sullivan contends that for most decorative overlay projects, contractors should devote more time to surface prep than to the actual overlay installation itself.

What is a concrete surface profile (CSP)?  It’s exactly what the name implies and is best explained by the International Concrete Repair Institute, an organization whose mission is to improve the quality of concrete restoration, repair and protection:  a CSP rating is a standardized measure for the “roughness” of a surface.  A very smooth and flat surface that needs almost no preparation would be categorized as a CSP 1, whereas a very rough surface would be rated as a CSP 9.

Concrete experts agree  – the most important step in creating a quality floor is the surface preparation. And proper concrete surface preparation goes beyond just cleaning and power washing. It involves assessing the concrete substrate and then determining the appropriate equipment or method to achieve proper surface preparation, i.e. acid etching, shotblasting, concrete grinding, or scarifying.