Archive for May, 2011

A worker seals a joint with PROSOCO R-GUARD Joint & Seam Filler during construction of the Johnson County Community College Health Center in Overland Park, Kan. The real world didn't interfere with this installation, and would've had a tough time if it tried. photo by John Young, PROSOCO

Here’s a true story — happened last week — illustrating the difference between real-world requirements, industry requirements, and what happens when the real world inserts itself into a project and says “cope with me.”

First, a touch of background.

We’re doing a series of AIA- and RCI-approved free seminars across the country, Jacksonville to Seattle, with even a shot coming up in Vancouver.

The seminars, worth credit-hours for AIA and RCI members, explain why testing of construction mock-ups is crucial for ensuring building envelopes don’t fail. I’m not talking about the kind of “wink-wink” testing that’s done just to say it was done. The design verification testing these seminars talk about is on mock-ups built with the same people, products and procedures that will be used on the project.

Design verification testing subjects the mock-up to simulated weather conditions the building will actually face, until the mock-up fails. That’s how you know what your building envelope can withstand. And if your mock-up fails in the first two minutes, as many do when subjected to “real world” testing, you can fix it, before the problem occurs in your finished building, resulting in lawsuits.

That’s the seminar and the background. If you’re interested in attending one of these seminars near you, visit our seminar sign-up page. It has a really cool video that shows just how well a standard window assembly, built to AAMA standards, fares in real-world design verification testing.

So our guys are doing the seminar in New Orleans last week. They have one of the test chambers used in that video on our sign-up page. After the seminar is done, and some of the audience has left, the guys are playing around with the chamber, showing the remaining audience members how it works.

They’re using a mock-up made with our own PROSOCO R-GUARD FastFlash air & water barrier products. Of course, the pressure — upped to simulate a Category 5 hurricane — and the blasts of water have no effect on the barrier. No leaks after 5 minutes, 10 minutes and longer.

Couldn’t say the same, alas, for the peel and stick and fabric wraps they tried out.

Shawn DeRosier talks about the FastFlash air & water barrier system to contractors and architects following one of our design verification testing seminars, hosted by Masonry Products, New Orleans. At least one of the contractors was connecting the dots. photo by Ron Tatley, BEI

Anyway, this one contractor who stayed after the seminar suddenly connected the dots from what he was seeing in the after-hours demo to a seemingly unsolvable problem on his jobsite.

The job site is the four-story brick medical examiner building in downtown New Orleans. It’s getting a fifth story. The problem is that the crew only has enough brick for two of the four sides of the building. Unfortunately, the peel and stick vapor barrier they planned to use couldn’t survive exposed until October when the new brick arrives.

They couldn’t put the peel and stick on the structural wall anyway, because rain was forecast, and the peel and stick has to go on a dry surface.

None of that’s a problem for the FastFlash air and water barrier system, which is a lot faster and easier to install than a peel and stick anyway. It goes on wet or dry surfaces just fine, and is immediately waterproof, and UV-resistant for up to six months. So even without the brick on the two exposed sides of the fifth story, the construction can still dry in.

The contractor, watching the demo and talking to our guys Ron Tatley, Shawn DeRosier and Dave Pennington, has the lightbulb moment. He realizes FastFlash can protect his structural walls, and that he can install it immediately, rain or no rain. The contractor and our rep Bob Holmes, RK Holmes Company, Maypearl, Texas, worked it out with the architect and the GC, and two days later, construction continued, despite the rain and lack of brick.

I’m sure that the peel and stick product met all the industry ASTM and other requirements. But the cold fact is, WHEN NEEDED it couldn’t meet the real-world requirements.

How many other times has this story been repeated — but without the last-minute save? Maybe it’s happened to you or someone you know? The real world interfered with the project.

I find this story worth telling because it is one more proof-positive example showing that construction products and procedures must meet the requirements of the real world, including rain and construction delays, and not just the artificial standards cooked up by committees.

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Click the pic for yours truly starring in John Young's epic masterpiece "Maintaining your polished concrete floors."

I love this new video, not just because I wrote the script and “star” as “The Narrator,” but because it really is a nice piece of work as filmed and directed by our Multimedia Specialist John “Francois Truffaut” Young.

Oh, and also it has some tremendously useful insights about how to keep polished concrete floors as gleaming and glossy as when they were installed. The video starts with an example of a 4-year-old fitness center floor that still looks as good as day one.

As for my performance — don’t know if you’ll be able to tell, but a cold was creeping up on me and I felt funky. My pipes were getting hoarse. I soldiered on however, and it seemed to come out ok.

Anyway, watch this video if you have polished concrete floors, or are thinking of getting them. Also watch if you do floor maintenance, or are thinking of getting into floor maintenance.

Of course, you don’t need any special reason to view — but you never know when info about maintaining polished concrete floors might come in handy. At a party, perhaps — who wouldn’t be impressed by your knowledge of polished concrete floor maintenance?

“Gather round, everyone, let me tell you about maintaining polished concrete floors. . .”

You’ll be a hit, guaranteed.

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Of course it looks good - it's new. We created this ColorHard exterior concrete design in November as practice for our 2011 outdoor display at World of Concrete. The real question is -- how's it going to look seven months later after non-stop exposure to the harsh Kansas climate?

We showcased our Consolideck ColorHard line of one-step hardening-densifying colorants for unpolished and outdoor concrete surfaces at World of Concrete this past January with a terrific, colorful design including new colors “White” and “Black.”

To make sure we’d know exactly what we were doing on the slab at World of Concrete, we made a practice design here at PROSOCO, in Lawrence, Kan., home of the mighty Jayhawks. Shawn Wardell, Specialized Inc., Waterloo, Wis., provided the artistry. We provided the slab and the ColorHard.

Shawn Wardell, Specialized Inc., provided the artistry for our practice slab here at PROSOCO and the finished product at World of Concrete.

ColorHard is a pre-measured color concentrate. You pour a 4-ounce packet into a gallon of Consolideck LS (lithium-silicate) Hardener-Densifier and stir. It gives you a colorant for concrete that also hardens and densifies, increasing the stain, abrasion and weather-resistance of the concrete — and also making it easier on the eyes.

Of the 21-color ColorHard palette, 14 are designed for outdoors. We can simulate and accelerate weathering on samples in the Lab. But nothing tells you how well a product stands up to the environment like actually sitting in that environment for seven months.

So here are some shots I took of the slab Wednesday — you be the judge about how well it’s held up.

Here's our "Bustin' Out" theme design, after sitting through heat, cold, sun, rain, snow, sleet and hail for seven months.

Traffic was one challenge the slab didn’t have to face. However, it was frequently used as a platform for building other test structures. So it did have a certain amount of lumber and masonry shoved around on it.

Here’s a long shot, showing in the background a wall-assembly mock-up that we hammered together on the slab.

The slab didn't get any real traffic, but was often used as a construction platform for building mock-ups like the one in the background.

I thought the slab resisted weathering pretty well, probably because of the hardening/densifying. But the parts of the design left uncolored, and without the benefit of the lithium-silicate hardening/densification, appeared to have weathered slightly.

Seven months of uncontrolled climate appears to have given the gray, uncolored concrete a somewhat mottled appearance. The colored concrete, which is also hardened and densified, is still fairly uniform in appearance. The color, by the way, is "Desert Sand."

I should add that this slab has had no cleaning or maintenance since it was created. In fact, except for when we needed it for a utilitarian platform, we just forgot about it, leaving it to the tender mercies of ultraviolet radiation and the other elements.

The trade pubs always show the glossy glamor shots of brilliantly colored floors and outdoor flatwork. I’ve sent in my share! But I think the true test is how the surface looks after having taken months of what its environment can dish out.

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