Archive for August, 2010

Principal Galen Havner, Central Park Elementary School, Bentonville, Ark. Photo by John Young

Our videographer John Young recently went to Bentonville, Ark., where PROSOCO products were being used on a concrete floor at Central Park Elementary School. He wanted to get footage for a video we’re making about concrete floor maintenance.

While John was there, he got to interview the school’s principal, Mr. Galen Havner about his views of concrete flooring for schools.

Mr. Havner was remarkably well-versed in the different kinds of flooring schools use, including carpet and tile. He has those at Central Park Elementary, too. I guess a principal has to know something about everything in his school.

Here are some of Mr. Havner’s views about concrete floors, culled unedited from the raw video footage. And thanks to co-worker Janet Horner for the transcription!

John’s first question was “how have the concrete floors worked out for you?”

Mr. Havner replied “We have been very, very happy with them. We have a lot less work with our hall polished concrete floors than we do our carpeted rooms or our tiled lunchroom. So they’ve been great.

“We have over 900 kids here, a staff of 100, and usually probably 100 parents in/out every day. You multiply that times 2 for each foot and there is a lot of wear and tear on the floors. The kids come and go to lunch, specials. They’re back and forth constantly. They come in from outdoors. The floors take a beating in a public school.

“These floors hold up beautifully. We sweep them twice with a dry duster during the day and we run the floor machine and wash them at night. That’s all we do. We don’t do anything else. They have held up and have looked great ever since. That doesn’t count too the number of carts that go up and down the hall with supplies – just all the traffic that a very big, busy building has.”

John also asked about the floor work he was there to video.

“I decided this year I would like to redo our entry,” Mr. Havner said. “Our halls look great but our entry gets a lot more traffic than the halls do. Some of the stain was not quite as dark as it had been. So I asked if we could get the floors re-stained. I was amazed that this was going to be a couple-of-days operation to clean them, re-stain them, polish them and they will look better than new once they’re through.

Bruce Ferrell, PROSOCO, applies Consolideck GemTone Stain “Serpentine” to the polished concrete floor in the entryway of Central Park Elementary School, Bentonville, Ark. John Hodges, American Concrete Concepts, assists. Photo by John Young

“If you had terrazzo floors, you had to strip off all the wax. You had to go and take all the nicks and stains out. If you had a tile floor, you had to strip and replace bad tile. If you had carpet where you had to take out bits and pieces of the carpet that you were cleaning, all that takes the whole summer. This is a couple-day deal and we’re going to have a bright, great looking floor. It’s been five years and it really didn’t look that bad. I just wanted it to look bright again. So it’s been a very quick, easy operation.”

John wanted to know what, if anything, the concrete floors do for the school “atmosphere.”

“I think our floor – you know the term now is pop – I think it gives us a lot of pop when people walk in,” Mr. Havner said. “It’s shiny. It’s bright. We have our logo stained right in the middle of the entry. People come in and they get a great first impression of the building and I think it sets the tone for our school. They come in, they get a bright, clean, polished look. I think it changes an attitude even before they meet the people here. They have a good impression of the school.”

What about ease of care?

“One of the great things about this floor is with custodial help you don’t have to train them how to wax and how to keep your halls looking good. A terrazzo or tile floor has to be waxed and has to be done by an expert. You can’t just get anybody off the street to come in and wax a floor.

“We basically can get anyone off the street to come in and sweep and run a floor machine and our halls look great. The ease of care is a huge difference. The idea of something being dropped and spilled on the floor, it can be wiped up. We don’t have to do any process to it. We don’t have to go back and take a stain remover or anything like that. We wipe it up, wash it and go on. It’s great if there’s an accident getting up when kids are sick. We can clean it, sanitize it and go on. It’s great. It’s just a very low maintenance, easy care flooring.”

Hallway, Central Park Elementary School, Bentonville, Ark. photo by John Young

# # #

Read Full Post »

A finished concrete floor in this home-fittings showroom shows off the “grid pattern” resulting from years of being covered with VCT tiles.

VCT covered the concrete floor in the above photo for years. During those years, spent cleaner and dissolved contaminants from countless moppings, along with dirty water tracked in by foot traffic, seeped into the hairline joints between the tiles. It soaked into the concrete sub-floor, over and over again.

Just last year, Tague Lumber Company, Philadelphia, bought the old building to be a home-fittings showroom. It had been a big-box pet store. The owners wanted polished concrete floors, and tapped Jamison Masonry Restoration to do the job, based on the fact that the contractor is a restoration specialist, with formal training in finished concrete floors — and these floors definitely needed restoration!

The VCT was already off the floor when Jamison started. The floors were covered with grit and grime. Jamison cleaned them, ground them, hardened/densified them (with PROSOCO’s Consolideck LS (lithium-silicate) hardener/densifier, natch) and polished them to a high, hard gloss.

But when daylight from the front windows, and the new, bright showroom lighting hit the concrete, you could see the grid pattern where the VCT had been — caused by years of dirty liquid soaking into the hairline joints between the tiles.

Some customers like it, says my friend and co-worker Joe Reardon, a PROSOCO Concrete Products Group specialist and 10-years-plus veteran of the concrete flooring industry. Officials for a certain nationwide chain of big-box stores who are changing all their store floors over to finished concrete say that the grid pattern gives the floor character.

Joe says he’s had some people see the grid pattern and apparently think it was specially created for the floor — they requested it for other floors, he said.

That’s a good thing, says Joe, because like it or not, the industry hasn’t yet come up with a way to get rid of the grid pattern. You could hide it with an overlay of self-leveling concrete, he says. As for actually removing it, that’s not going to happen.

If you get a job where the floor has had VCT or other tiles that let fluid seep into hairline joints, you need to tell the client right away about the possibility of a grid pattern, Joe says. Managing expectations is an important part of the finished concrete flooring business, and the “grid pattern” is at the top of the list.

Grid pattern in locker room floor — some say it gives the floor “character” — but it doesn’t affect the floor functionality.

The good news is that the grid pattern has zero effect on the functionality of the finished concrete floor. The floor has the same high durability, low-maintenance requirements and lengthy service life whether it has a grid pattern or not.

But the owners of Tague Lumber Company decided they didn’t care for the grid pattern, and asked Jamison Masonry Restoration to do what they could. The contractor, drawing on decades of restoration experience, hit the floor with PROSOCO’s powerful Sure Klean Restoration Cleaner, hoping to etch the stained concrete and lift out the ancient embedded contaminants.

They had partial success, managing to fade the grid to levels acceptable to their client. Of course, they had to re-polish the etched floor, but it turned out just as good as before, though with a less-apparent grid. As a matter of fact, at the showroom’s grand opening, the polished concrete floor got as much or more attention than the showroom displays, Jim Jamison told me.

As far as using Restoration Cleaner to mitigate the grid pattern, Joe, and our Lab Manager Tom Stalnaker, also an experienced concrete vet, said to their knowledge it has never been tried before, and so, can’t recommend it.

At this point, if the concrete floor has been covered by VCT or something similar, you can pretty well count on a grid pattern. Managing client expectation to begin with is generally the best bet.

# # #

Read Full Post »

Mold-free, the southern elevation of the O.T. Hogan Building, Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill., basks in July sunshine.

PROSOCO and the O.T. Hogan Biological Science Building

While they studied biology on the inside, they battled it on the outside.

The O.T. Hogan Biological Sciences Building, Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill., hosts the school’s Interdepartmental Biological Sciences Graduate Program, and a host of other biological, medical and neuroscience studies.

Designed in 1967 by Walter Netsch, the six-story “Brutalist” building features fluted limestone walls and vertical aluminum window bands. By 2009, it also featured a black tide of stone-eating mold slowly growing down from the building’s upper reaches.

“Heavy organic growth, especially on the top two stories” is how Mark Larose, JSL Restoration, Franklin Park, Ill., assessed the staining. JSL Restoration was tapped to eradicate the expanding black colonies as part of an overall restoration of the building exterior by Triumph Restoration, Mokena Park, Ill.

The project included sealant and window replacement, and cementitious and Dutchman repairs to the stone.

“It was deeply embedded,” Mr. Larose said of the organic growth. “It also protruded from the stone 1/16th to 1/8th of an inch. “You could see the spores,” he said. “They looked hairy.”

Mr. Larose saw the mold up close, from swing stages anchored to the top of the building.

“It smelled like seaweed when we cleaned it,” he said.

Black mold like that on the O.T. Hogan Building doesn’t just stain the stone. It also increases water absorption by penetrating the stone’s veins. That causes honeycomb weathering damage to the stone, according to www.inspectapedia.com. The site is an on-line encyclopedia for building and environmental inspection, testing, diagnosis and repair.

Mold marred the limestone exterior of the O.T. Hogan Building at Northwestern University until removed by JSL Restoration and Enviro Klean® BioWash®.

As Triumph Restoration wrapped up their repairs in September 2009, the JSL crews got to work.

Working from the bottom of the building up, they applied Enviro Klean® BioWash® with automatic sprayers. The job took four crews who traded off between rigging the swing stages and cleaning the stone.

Mr. Larose said they chose BioWash® for the job because of its combination of effectiveness as a cleaner and its mildness. BioWash® won’t harm plants and requires only minimum safety precautions and gear – a plus for use on a busy, green campus.

Nevertheless, the JSL crew used enclosed canopies to shield passersby from the spray of pressure-washers during the work.

They diluted one part cleaner to one part water for the less-heavily stained lower parts of the building, according to JSL Project Superintendant Kevin Jendras. They saturated the dry surface, achieving a 6-inch rundown, then agitated lightly with soft-bristle brushes.

The techs let the scrubbed-in BioWash® do its work over a 15-minute dwell, then pressure-washed away the spent cleaner and the mold it removed. The crewmembers had to pressure-wash a little more slowly than usual to make sure they got into the recesses of the uneven, fluted surface, Mr. Larose said.

Where the mold ran rampant at the building top, the JSL crew simply hit it with undiluted BioWash® – twice.

“The BioWash® worked great, even on the heavy staining,” Mr. Larose said.

Even going slowly, the crews reclaimed about 2,000 square feet a day from the mold.

In all, the JSL team cleaned more than 48,000 square feet of limestone by the time they finished in October.

They’re still studying the biological sciences inside the O.T. Hogan Biological Sciences Building, but the battle for the exterior is over.

And the good guys won.

# # #

Read Full Post »

We got our second video PROSOCO News up.

Our fabulous anchor is Jennifer Sawyer, who actually is in real life, an HR Department specialist and assistant to Ann Connor, our director of HR. The video director, producer and cameraman is our multi-media specialist John Young.

Yours truly writes the things and holds the cue cards for Jennifer.

This one is an improvement, imho, over our first PROSOCO video news. Jennifer is a little more light-hearted, and John has gotten something called a “Chromakey” and some motion software, which lets him make some great effects.

I write about this in our sustainability blog because the brief video news story is about our recent partnership with fellow air barrier manufacturer BEI, Clackamas, Ore. And air barriers have a whole lot to do with sustainability, from decreasing the chances of mold and rot in structural walls, to increasing energy effiency of buildings.

More later!


Read Full Post »

Freeze/thaw cycling and exposure to de-icing salts turned this sidewalk to rubble in less than 10 years, when, with proper care, it could've gone 30 years or more.

Freeze/thaw cycling
1. A winter storm dumps snow on your driveway or sidewalk.
2. The sun comes out and melts what you haven’t shoveled away.
3. The meltwater soaks into the concrete’s microscopic pores.
4. Temperatures drop, and the water in the concrete freezes and expands. As ice, it increases in volume about 9 percent. That stresses the concrete from inside.
5. Temperatures rise and the ice melts, relieving the internal pressure. But the concrete is slightly weakened.
6. The cycle repeats. Renewed pressure causes microscopic cracks that let in more water, which speeds up the process.
7. The cracks don’t stay microscopic.

Salt corrosion
1. Along with shoveling your drive or sidewalk, you may have put de-icing salts down to help melt the snow and ice. You could also have brought de-icing salts home caked up in the wheel wells of your car. It drops onto the driveway.
2. The de-icing salts increase the frequency of freeze/thaw cycling by creating more meltwater faster.
3. In addition to more freeze/thaw, the meltwater carries dissolved salts into the concrete.
4. The salty meltwater contacts the reinforcing steel rebar embedded in the concrete.
5. The water rusts the rebar, and the salts dramatically increase the reaction, causing the bars’ surfaces to expand, further stressing the concrete.
6. Cracks let in more water, speeding up the cycle.

Dealing with it
Keeping water OUT of the concrete is the best way to interrupt freeze/thaw cycling, and to keep salts from reaching the rebar. The best way to do that is with a breathable, penetrating water repellent (like the ones PROSOCO makes, natch, which is how I know about this subject).

Before spraying your driveway, sidewalk or patio with the sealer, the concrete must be clean, dry and in good repair. We make plenty of products for cleaning the concrete, but you’ll have to go to your local hardware store to find stuff to fix cracks if your driveway has some already.

Sealers won’t bridge cracks.

Unable to penetrate this protected concrete, water beads up and waits to evaporate.

The best sealers will soak into the concrete, imparting water-repellency from within. One advantage of penetrating sealers is that they can’t be worn or abraded off, so you get a service life of years. They are also breathable. That means they let moisture already in the concrete (there’s always some) evaporate out, but won’t let liquid water in.

These hundred-degree temps of late definitely have me thinking about the pleasures and beauties of winter. Snow days off from work, snow shoeing with the dogs, no bugs, no poison ivy — but winter can also do a number on your horizontal concrete. Now’s the time to take care of that little job, especially if your area is prone to early snow fall.

Where'd that come from? It wasn't there last year!

Read Full Post »

If you…

Found this on the web at http://baileydereus.tumblr.com/. Liked it. Wanted to share it. Here it is.


Read Full Post »