Archive for June, 2011

A polished concrete floor protected with Consolideck PolishGuard gleams under the lights at a Gander Mountain hunting, fishing and camping store in Lake Mary, Florida.

A major North American grocery chain is considering decorative concrete flooring for all its stores.

Before the chain’s officials make that decision, however, they want to know to what extent they can protect their decorative concrete floors from stains and etching caused by traffic and spills. It’s a valid concern.

The juice from a dropped and shattered jar of pickles did this to an otherwise durable polished concrete floor in a supermarket.

Even though finished concrete floors are durable, low-maintenance, and last the life of the building, they are still subject to stains and etching from spills of acidic food products, like the pickle juice that caused the stain in the photo.

So the grocery chain’s officials invited seven manufacturers, including us, to come to one of the chain’s warehouses in Indianapolis, and test their protective treatments against one another. The test, and the products, went down May 24. Several manufacturers sent more than one product. In all, 10 products, including our own Consolideck PolishGuard competed.

The manufacturers got to send their own reps, as well, to ensure the products got applied exactly the way they’re supposed to be applied.

R & D Chemist Chris Moore

We sent our R & D Chemist Chris Moore. Chris said the surface was an old concrete floor, freshly ground to a 200-resin finish, and autoscrubbed clean. Each rep got an area about 5 x 12 feet to work in.

Once applied, everyone went home and let the sample areas cure for seven days.

Then independent test firm CRT Concrete Consulting, LLC, Fishers, Ind., conducted stain-resistance and slip-resistance testing on each of the 10 samples.

In the stain-resistance testing, each sample was tested for 30 minutes, one hour and 24 hours with salt water, salad dressing, vinegar and motor oil. The test official assigned points for passing each test — one point for no staining after 30 minutes, two for passing the one-hour mark, and three points for 24 hours without a stain.

PolishGuard scored the most points at 13, although three other products reached as high as 12. None of the other half-dozen products scored higher than six.

In the slip resistance testing, each product was tested with DIN 51130 DCOF (Dynamic Coefficient Of Friction); ASTM F489 SCOF (Static Coefficient Of Friction); and ANSI B101.1 SCOF (Static Coefficient Of Friction). The DIN test dragged wet rubber across the sample areas, dry leather got dragged across for the ASTM test, and neolite, that interesting substance used for shoe heels, did duty for the ANSI test.

Of the four products to score at least 12 on the stain-resistance tests, PolishGuard was the only product to pass all three slip-resistance tests.

That sounds like a pretty good performance to me — one that should reassure the grocery chain officials that they can adequately protect their beautiful, money-saving, low-maintenance finished concrete floors.

After all, it’s not like they’re the first ones to ever specify finished concrete floors for their stores.

Just ask Wal-Mart.

Guess which side was protected with PolishGuard when the red wine vinegar was poured. That's right, and it also made the concrete look better.

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The Amon Carter Museum of American Art is home to this 1872 Winslow Homer oil painting, "Crossing the Pasture." Sealant, Waterproofing and Restoration Institute members recently exercised their own arts to restore the museum's deteriorating exterior.

I’m writing up this project for entry in the SWR (Sealant, Waterproofing and Restoration) Institute’s Trinity Project Awards Program.

The Amon Carter Museum of American Art Exterior Restoration involved restoration cleaning, repair and improvement.

The 50-year-old museum is a Philip Johnson design. Mr. Johnson also designed the AT&T Building in New York City. Some might say Mr. Johnson’s museum is artistically significant as any of the fabulous paintings, photos and sculptures within.

Nevertheless, after half a century, you could expect to see some wear and tear.

SWR Institute members Harper-Brawner, LLC, Arlington, Texas; Mid-Continental Restoration, Fort Scott, Kan.; and PROSOCO, Lawrence, Kan., worked together this past year to shore up the museum’s deteriorating exterior.

The shellstone exterior of the museum's front elevation doesn't look too bad in this recent photo, but get up close and you can see why they called in the pros.

The major problems started with cracks in the shellstone front of the museum. In the above photo you get just a hint of the big granite addition to the museum, which Mr. Glass also designed. It had problems too.

Museum officials originally invited Harper-Brawner to review these cracks in the shellstone exterior. While there, they identifed a few other areas that could use some attention.

The silicone sealant joints bled and stained the polished granite panels — a stain, according to project architect Bland Harper, “not typically thought possible to remove.” Also, where the granite panels went below grade, they wicked up moisture, causing water stains in the beautiful stone.

Harper-Brawner’s assessment turned up a few other problems, too, including deteriorating concrete pavers at the museum’s front pavilion, and a front sidewalk graded the wrong way that directed rainwater into the front door. Those fixes came outside the time period for the award, so I acknowledged them in the award entry write-up, but didn’t include them for consideration with the other repairs.

As I wrote about these repairs, I realized that this restoration, like most involving both aesthetics and sustainability, has artistic elements — maybe not at the level of the original design, or the collections within — but could be considered restoration “art” nonetheless.

The staining around the joints, caused by oils bleeding out of the silicone sealant, is hard, if not impossible to remove.

Water wicked up by the below-grade portion of these granite panels caused these stains.

I thought the answer to the below-grade granite wicking up the water was particularly elegant.

Mid-Continental Restoration excavated around the base of the building and installed a concrete curb. The above-grade part of the curb directs water away from the building, and sends it into the ground, where the below-grade part of the curb blocks the water from wicking up into the granite and causing stains.

They dyed the concrete curb to fit in with the granite panels. I’ll leave it to you to decide if the curb is an improvement in appearance (I think it is), but there’s no arguing that it’s an improvement in building sustainability.

The new concrete curb goes below grade to keep water away from the granite panels.

After being dyed to match the granite, the new concrete curb awaits backfill.

The finished curb improves the building's sustainability by directing rain water away from the building and into the ground, and isolating the below-grade portion of the panels from the groundwater.

Saw cutting new expansion joints into cracking areas of the shellstone fabric, and making it look like it was always meant to be that way also has a touch of the artistic about it, too, in my humble.

The new expansion joint looks a like nasty scar here, before it's finished.

The finished expansion joint fits right into the building aesthetic. Looks like art to me.

Initially, Harper-Brawner told museum officials they might not be able to remove the staining from the bleeding silicone joints. But test panels with PROSOCO’s Sure Klean Dicone NC15 Gel silicone sealant & adhesive remover showed promise. In any case, the old sealant had to come out to stop further staining, and had to be replaced with a new, non-staining sealant.

In addition to mitigating the staining around the joints, Dicone NC15 softened up the old joints for easier removal.

Though it started out messy, in the end, the old joints were neatly removed. Note also the absence of stains around the empty joints.

The new, non-staining sealant is installed as neatly as the old sealant was removed.

Mid-Continental Restoration also gave the building a thorough washing with PROSOCO’s EnviroKlean BioKlean. It’s made for safely removing both biological and atmospheric staining, and was chosen, said Howard Kinsel of Mid-Continental Restoration, because there was plenty of both contaminants on the building.

This, of course, is just the merest bare-bones description of parts of a year-long project. But I think it clearly shows the “art” of restoration in action. After all, if people who restore historic paintings are artists, I believe the people who restore historic buildings housing those paintings are artists too.

Photos provided by Bland Harper, Harper-Brawner LLC.

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