Archive for June, 2010

The Driveway

Joe Reardon (L) and Chris Moore apply ColorHard “Light Roast” to the lithium-silicate offload area outside PROSOCO’s manufacturing plant.

I got a call from a friend – I’ll call her Lucy –who feels bad because the color stain on her driveway is failing. It’s supposed to be a penetrating stain, sort of a tan color. Instead, the 3-year-old stain has turned pink and is flaking away.

The reason it makes her feel bad is that she and her husband – I’ll call him Dan — are both construction professionals. Lucy says she and Dan should have known enough to have avoided the problem.

But the truth is, sometimes you just can’t tell how things are going to turn out till after the fact. With concrete especially, each surface is unique. The same product may have small – or large — variations in performance from surface-to-surface.

And time and weather are both jokers in the deck.

Even for professionals.

Lucy and Dan did what professionals do. They required a test panel, which produced desired results. They watched closely to ensure the stain went down in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.

What did they do wrong? Not a thing.

What went wrong with the treatment? Flaking away suggests the stain didn’t penetrate like it was supposed to. Turning pink indicates the product had an unfortunate reaction to ultraviolet light.

Can the color be restored permanently? I went out on a limb and told Lucy I believed so, and then spoke with Chris Moore, our expert Research & Development technician in the PROSOCO Lab.

Research and Development Technician Chris Moore

I can always count on Chris to give the bald truth about products and procedures, even if the truth is warty.
In this case, according to Chris, there is a wart or two, but a beautiful driveway is still possible.

Job one – remove the old stain. The new color won’t be able to penetrate with remnants of the old stain clogging up the microscopic concrete pores.

Remove as much as possible by scrubbing or powerwashing. For the rest, Chris suggested testing our Consolideck® Wax & Cure Remover, made for debonding waxes, acrylics, and cure and seals from concrete.

If that doesn’t work, Chris says, move up to Wax & Cure Remover’s stronger cousin, Cure & Seal Remover.

Dirt and algae on the driveway have to come off, too. Another wash with EnviroKlean® All Surface Cleaner gets rid of those contaminants, along with any residues left from the stain removal.

EK 2010 removes 30 years of dirt and biological growth from this patio.

Lucy told me the concrete was originally etched by powerwasher to open the pores for the penetrating stain. But since the stain appeared to not have penetrated fully, Chris suggested another etch job, this time using Consolideck® SafeEtch.

This mildly acidic cleaner won the Expert’s Choice Award in the Most Innovative Product contest when it was launched at the World of Concrete, in 2002. Lucy and Dan won’t notice any difference in the driveway, but the new color should go in more fully.

And after three washes, that driveway will be sparkling clean!

Then comes the fun part – applying the new color.

Lucy is choosing from the Consolideck® ColorHard pallet of 14 UV stable colors for exterior concrete. ColorHard includes 19 colors, but those 14 are the ones tough enough to withstand the sun’s direct ultraviolet rays, which turned the preceding stain pink.

Once she settles on a color, she’ll mix it with Consolideck® LS® (lithium-silicate) hardener/densifier. The best way to apply is with a pump-up sprayer in a circular pattern. Use a cone-tip, rather than a fan tip, Chris says. It’ll help prevent spray patterns. Use a push-broom to even out the application only if needed.

One coat is all you need, but two coats increases the depth and vividness of the color, always a good idea for outside applications.
The hardener/densifier makes the concrete more water- and abrasion-resistant, but the color still needs some protection from the weather. Lucy and Dan don’t want a glossy finish, so Chris recommends treating the driveway with Consolideck® Saltguard®, a penetrating water- and salt-repellent.

In addition to keeping water out of the concrete, Saltguard® keeps destructive winter de-icing salts from soaking in and corroding the driveway’s rebar. Both characteristics help prevent cracking and spalling.

Nevertheless – and here comes one of the warts – the abrasive action of tires on the concrete, over the course of years, will eventually remove some of the color. The hardener/densifier will slow that process, but there will be some lightening over time.

That’s another good reason for putting down two coats of ColorHard.

What won’t happen is any kind of color shift, turning pink or flaking and peeling.

Now here is another wart – Saltguard® has a service life of 10 years or more. That means Lucy and Dan won’t be able to put down another coat of ColorHard for at least that long. ColorHard, and the LS it’s mixed with are water-based – Saltguard is a water-repellent – I’m sure you get the picture.

Nothing lasts forever, though, and the driveway will eventually need reapplication of ColorHard and Saltguard®.

Then it should be good for another 10 years or more.

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Spill removal took too long. Pickle juice etched this finished concrete floor after someone dropped a jar of pickles.

The advantages of polished concrete floors are many. They’re beautiful. They’re sustainable. They’re easy to clean. They last the life of the building.

But the fact is, concrete is reactive with acid. I’m not talking about the serious scary stuff like hydrofluoric acid, either. Did you know milk is acidic? It’s got lactic acid. Vinegar, fruit juices — all have enough acid, though mild, to etch polished concrete floors if left long enough.

Some of the products ladies use on their hair can etch concrete, too.

Solvents, like bleach, lighter fluid, alcohol and even some floor cleaners, while they won’t harm the concrete, can dissolve the dyes or stains used to color concrete floors.

So quick spill clean up is important. And just like anything else, there’s a right way and a wrong way to do it.

Here are some tips that may save the time, trouble and expense of repair work.

1. Be prepared.
Keep spill-removal materials close to the places where spills could happen. Protective treatments can buy you time, but the sooner you can get the spill off the floor, the better. If it’s simply polished concrete with no shield or penetrating protective treatment — minutes count.

2. Identify the spill.
Usually pretty easy, since the containers, or pieces of them, are usually still around. It’s a good idea to know what you’re cleaning up for safety’s sake. Cleaning bleach or other hazardous spills usually requires specific safety gear.

3. Surround and blot
Surround the spill with an absorbent material like kitty litter or Fullers Earth. Your best bet is to use a proprietary absorbent made for this purpose. Then, cover the spill with the absorbent to blot it up. Don’t wipe or mop. You’ll drive the liquid into the concrete’s microscopic pores, where it continues to damage the surface, even though to the unaided eye it appears gone.

4. Clean
Remove the spent absorbent and soaked-up spill with broom and dustpan, or other appropriate tools. Gently clean the stained area with an appropriate cleaner. Again, a proprietary cleaner specifically made for polished concrete floors will give you best results.

5. Dispose
Dispose of spilled material, spent absorbent, cleaner and other materials responsibly, following the guidelines of your location.

Don’t worry too much if you can’t get the spill off in time and you end up with an etched or bleached area of concrete. This type of damage is nearly always fixable. But that’s another story.
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Polished concrete floors are beautiful, sustainable and durable. Nevertheless, clean up spills quick as you can.

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Our camp on the Laurel Fork in Highland County, Va.

Took a little time off from work last week to go camping and hiking in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia with my roommate from Virginia Commonwealth University, Nick Pollok, from about 35 years ago.

Nick took all the pics, except for the one of him. I left my camera in the truck, three miles back up the mountain. Doh!

We camped on a river called the Laurel Fork, in Highland County. Hiked up and down it, and bushwhacked up Middle Mountain to a beautiful meadow about 4,000 feet above sea level.

This has little to do with concrete flooring and air- and water-resistive barriers, but I include this post in “Green Journey” because the trip was a literal green journey. These photos from the Blue Ridge make me think, as vividly as anything coming out of the Gulf of Mexico, of all that’s still in the balance, that could slip away as easily as a dream.

According to the topo map, this meadow
is called “The Stamp.” Not sure why.

Blue Ridge Mountains stretching away to the Southwest.

I cross the Laurel Fork near the end of a day of hiking. Boy did that clear, cool water feel good on the tired feet!

Nick, at dinner.

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California Gov. Arnold Schwarzeneggar announced “CALGreen,” the Golden State’s upcoming mandatory green building codes in January. CALGreen takes effect Jan. 1, 2011.

As you probably already know, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced the nation’s first statewide MANDATORY Green Building Standards Code — CALGreen (or CALGREEN depending on where you look) for short. It’s effective Jan. 1, 2011.

PROSOCO’s Regulatory Affairs Director Dwayne Fuhlhage has written the following report on how CALGreen affects users of PROSOCO products specifically, and construction professionals in general.

CALGreen: What does it mean?
by Dwayne Fuhlhage
Regulatory Affairs Director

California specifiers and builders are beginning to ask about CALGreen and what it means for concrete and masonry construction coatings and sealers. CALGreen is the common name for the California Green Building Standards Code. Formerly a voluntary standard, it was substantially modified and reissued as a statewide mandatory code for state-owned buildings, low-rise residential buildings, qualified historical buildings, general acute care hospitals, and public elementary and secondary schools effective January 1, 2011.

CALGreen represents a tremendous change in how green construction is done as it provides a code requirement for many of the building components and systems rated in the voluntary US Green Building Council LEED ratings systems. CALGreen’s reach extends outside California as it was used as a building block in the new International Green Construction Code (IGCC) by the International Code Council.
If you want to learn more about the thought process behind the creation of CALGreen, Green Technology magazine featured a very informative interview with Dave Walls, the executive director of the California Building Standards Commission (CBSC).

David Walls, executive director of the California Building Standards Commission.

CALGreen contains a number of prescriptive mandatory and elective measures designed to improve building energy efficiency as well as reduce water usage and improve the working environment. The Environmental Quality sections (Division 4.5 and 5.5) prescribe usage of low emitting and reduced VOC content building materials including sealants, caulks, coatings and sealers. Unlike LEED standards and the first public version of the International Green Construction Code (IGCC), CALGreen’s limits cover both interior and exterior product applications.

Water-based, fluid-applied PROSOCO R-GUARD Air & Water-Resistive Barrier complies with South Coast Air Quality Management District Rule 1168 categories and limits incorporated into CALGreen.

The rules covering sealant and caulk VOC limits are well known to the industry. CALGreen incorporates by reference the South Coast Air Quality Management Disctrict (SCAQMD) Rule 1168 categories and limits. PROSOCO R-GUARD® branded air and water barrier products comply with this CALGreen requirement.

The rules for paints and coatings may cause specifier, manufacturer and user confusion. CALGreen incorporates by reference the new California Air Resource Board (CARB) 2007 Suggested Control Measure (SCM) categories and limits. In 2007, CARB performed a top to bottom review and rewrite of this model rule used by districts outside of the SCAQMD. Many categories were merged and renamed and the majority feature reduced VOC limits. The vast majority of PROSOCO’s current California-compliant products conform to the CALGreen requirement.

Our white paper LEED® Ratings System and PROSOCO’s Cleaners, Sealers & Coatings — Applying LEED to PROSOCO’s Exterior and Interior Use Products offers a reference chart matching PROSOCO products to the applicable LEED credit.

PROSOCO participated in the CARB 2007 SCM stakeholder process and was instrumental in the creation of new categories for high-performance silane and siloxane sealers and specialty stone consolidants. Other than these niche categories and the unchanged Low Solids category, the limit for the new Concrete/Masonry Sealers category drops to 100 g/L.

The CARB 2007 SCM is less clear on how it covers fluid applied air and water resistive coatings. This class of coating was an emerging technology as CARB began its data gathering and rulemaking process in 2005. As a result, there is no clear category that fits a fluid applied coating designed and labeled for application over multiple substrates including masonry block, plywood sheathing and other sheathing materials. The old Waterproofing Sealer category disappears in 2011 and the Waterproofing Membrane category definition is constrained to specific below grade and hydrostatic applications.

PROSOCO’s interpretation is that products such as those found in the R-GUARD line would default to the Flat Coatings category and limit of 50 g/L. R-GUARD products comply with this CALGreen requirement.

Here’s the full text of the CARB 2007 SCM.

So what does this all mean for specifiers and users of PROSOCO’s products? The technical answer is that it will be business as usual. Since PROSOCO is fully engaged in AIM VOC regulatory and green building standards development our key technologies will still be available in the California market. The non-technical, gut answer is that we can all expect a lot of confusion.

Many manufacturers don’t even know about the CARB 2007 SCM and its revised category definitions. There will be inadvertent errors in product categorization and potentially erroneous CALGreen conformance claims. The situation will be complicated as local code officials come up the learning curve on CALGreen and its technical requirements.

From my perspective, there are many upsides to CALGreen. More buildings will be designed with sustainability and energy performance in mind. That represents opportunity for manufacturers who already understand the LEED building market. The new CALGreen market also represents an opportunity to get to know the green building codes world. This will help prepare building product specifiers and suppliers as municipalities begin adopting the International Green Construction Code in 2012.

The bottom line: green building codes are here and represent the future. We might as well learn to know and love them, because they aren’t going away.

Question or comments? Contact me at dwayne.fuhlhage@prosoco.com.

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