Eye on Installation: Putting Concrete Polishing Education Front and Center

Written by INSTALL / August 20, 2019

*This article by INSTALL executive director John T. McGrath, Jr. was featured in Floor Covering News.

Along with the growth in popularity of concrete polishing, there is an increasing need for proper training and education on the subject. INSTALL is leading the charge in developing and implementing a comprehensive concrete polishing curriculum by working hand-in-hand with manufacturers, contractors and industry influencers to craft a new curriculum based on real-world challenges.

INSTALL’s ever-evolving curriculum is designed to adapt to trends in the flooring industry—and polished concrete is one of the biggest growth opportunities in the market. This is illustrated by two recent training events held in conjunction with leading voices and authorities on concrete polishing. The events entailed an apprentice course held at the Thomas C. Ober Carpenters Training Center in Hammonton, N.J., and a three-day roundtable at the Carpenters International Training Center (CITC) in Las Vegas.

The Thomas C. Ober Carpenters Training Center is home to a wide variety of education and training, and it serves a unique role in preparing the future tradesmen and women of New Jersey. Earlier this year, INSTALL leadership gathered at the center to observe an apprentice concrete polishing class. The 40-hour course, which is required for students to complete their apprenticeship, covers vocabulary, industry news, machines, tooling, chemicals and processes. It also illustrates the evolution of concrete polishing methods and some of the latest trends in the industry. In addition to the classroom portion, students received intensive, hands-on training.

Jennifer Faller of Concrete Insite, a well-respected independent technical consultant in the concrete industry, was the guest of honor during the February event. She helped lead the course and brought a wealth of real-world experience and a tremendous amount of technical knowledge to the classroom.

“Faller’s passion and energy were contagious, and the apprentices were impressed by her attention to detail,” said David Gross, INSTALL instructor. “Her experience in concrete construction, manufacturing and installation allowed her to really connect with the students and provide unique insights.”

Gross and Faller also worked with the apprentices to complete a five-step wet polish, finishing with a 3000-grit resin. The edges were also completed with a coordinating grit.

“As an instructor, it’s always satisfying to see the class transform from no knowledge of polishing concrete to having specialized, marketable polished concrete installation skills,” Gross said. “By working as a team and showing initiative, they are able to build their skill set together.”

Faller played such an integral part in the success of the apprentice class that INSTALL invited her to join a dozen other concrete industry professionals for the roundtable working session at the CITC in Las Vegas. The group discussed the future of INSTALL’s polished concrete curriculum and provided insight into hands-on training components of the course.

“The curriculum development session was a highly professional, well-run and organized experience,” Faller stated. “It was a great use of time, and people gave respect and attention to the curriculum advisors. This is something that is lacking in our industry.”

While the curriculum is only 75% complete, INSTALL has made great strides in this effort. The group is aiming for a late 2019 release.

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