Since the mid 20th Century when visionary Swiss architect Le Corbusier coined the phrase “Béton Brut” to describe his raw concrete buildings, designers have had a love-hate relationship with the “Brutalist” aesthetic. The use of concrete as a purely decorative surface finish is a relatively modern practise but one that has now become an integral part of the designer’s palette and the juxtaposition of contrasting surfaces such as wood and concrete have become extremely desirable in modern spaces
Until now concrete surfaces have been available as poured concrete or cast polished concrete tiles which look and feel great but involve energy hungry production. To achieve a good finish these conventional concrete surfaces involve labour intensive installation and often require excessive amounts of structural support which means that otherwise necessary materials have to be added to building to support heavy loads.
With the emphasis for new buildings being on producing high end finishes with low carbon footprints, designers are constantly looking for ways to lessen that footprint, and this can be achieved lighter decorative finishes and therefore less materials overall.
So a brief was conceived by the team at Concreate to develop a lightweight concrete type surface with the Brutalist aesthetic using more sustainable materials which was prefaced and ready-to-install by skilled professionals quickly and with the minimum of added building materials.
Concrete Flooring Innovation
Concreate floor panels are made from two a two layer construction: The top, decorative wear layer is made from a portland-type, micro-fibre portland type cement which is sealed with natural high solid oil to maintain the raw tactile surface. The surface has a distinctive mottled patina which is unique to Concreate and is produced in a choice of five colours, Natural Grey, Dark Grey, Metal Grey, Titanium Black and Mineral White; The base layer is a non- portland mineral cement. Its honeycomb structure is reinforced with recycled textile sheets and it is this layer that enables the floor panels to be just 14 mm thick and weigh just over 7kg.
Tongue & Groove Installation
Concreate floor panels are designed to be installed like a parquet floor utilising a revolutionary but brilliantly simple idea of a tongue and grooved fitting system. The floor panels are tongue and grooved on all 4 sides so that they slot together, which means there is no grouting required.
Seamless Wood & Polished Concrete Combination
The emerging trend in interiors for using different surfaces to demarcate open plan spaces, has until now been a headache for designers who want to achieve a seamless transition from concrete to wood, as conventional wood floors require an expansion gap so that the timber can expand and contract without causing damage. Concreate have overcome this issue with wooden surfaced panels which can be installed with the concrete panels without the need for clumsy expansion gaps.
The Smoke White Oak panel uses a real oak top layer bonded to the mineral cement T&G base which allows it to connect to the concrete panels at the same level without fear of movement, it can also be installed as a stand alone floor and is a great option for use with underfloor heating systems, when wood is required with a good thermal transfer.
Large format concrete wall tiles have in the past been cumbersome objects precast in thick concrete which must be fixed to load bearing walls and reinforced structures. Concreate has revolutionised the way the concrete aesthetic can now be applied with large format panels which are just 4 mm thick and weigh just over 7kg per square metre. They are so light that they can be conned with Concreate wall adhesive to just about any flat surface, including, walls, ceilings, furniture and counter tops. The panels are so thin they can even be cut by scoring with a sharp blade. As with the floor the surface has the same textured raw feel and is sealed with 3 coats of Concreate high solid oil making them stain and water resistant.
The wall panels can be cut to fit any flat shape and in some instances have been heated and curved to fit rounded walls and bars. Due to the micro fibre make up of the cement, the panels can be drilled and screwed without fear of cracks. The precision squared edges are fitted with simple butt joins and do not require grout.
Corner joints can be butt joined, filled with Concreate repair powder and sanded for a smooth finish. Cut with a diamond blade the panels can also be mitre joined for precision detailing on furniture pieces. With modern CNC and routing tools the panels can be embellished with patterns and logos can be cut into the face with great effect.
The Wall panels are made from the same top layer as the floor panels and come in the same selection of colours to match the floor. Now designers can create heavy looking concrete structures with a lightweight construction, or retro fit concrete without the need for drastic rebuilds.