Archive for February, 2012

Tested — An independent contractor matched Consolideck products against their counterparts from other companies in a four-month test to see which one could stand up the best against time, traffic and nightly maintenance cleaning in a Portland, Ore., “Food for Less” market. This photo shows the winning shine.

We didn’t know it was happening, but Consolideck LS (Lithium-Silicate) Hardener/Densifier and LSGuard just got put to the test, head-to-head with the products of competitors.

Fortunately, our horses won, or you’d probably be reading about this on the Brand X blog.

Here’s what happened. Our Concrete Products Group Manager Kevin Sigourney told me to call a contractor in Portland, Oregon — John Fotheringham, of Pride Building Services. John grinds, polishes and decorates concrete floors. He also has a janitorial business called Northwest Services.

In a different life he was a commercial pilot, but that’s another story.

John’s “old school” and has no website or blog. I don’t believe he even advertises. He just does real good work, so people want him and don’t mind paying top dollar. Here’s what John told me on the phone.

He has a maintenance contract with a “Food for Less” market in Portland. The place has a 70,000 square-foot slab-on-grade hard-troweled floor. Four nights a week, John’s crew scrubs and high-speed buffs the floor. Once a month the floor gets a new coat of soft acrylic wax. After six coats (and six months) the floor gets stripped and the first of six new coats of wax goes on.

John thought grinding, hardening, densifying, polishing and sealing might be a better deal, since it would eliminate the waxing and stripping, and dramatically reduce the high-speed buffing. But which products to use?

“Everyone’s trying to sell me their stuff,” he says. “It’s a nightmare. Everyone’s got a better snake oil.”

The products all look good when they first go down, John said. The key is how do they look after 4-6 months of maintenance, foot, forklift and shopping cart traffic?

The only way to find out, John said, would be a controlled test on the same floor, where the products being tested all got subjected to the same maintenance and traffic.

“So I called up the owner of the Food-for-Less store. ‘Have I got a deal for you,’ I told him.” John’s deal — Food-for-Less gets a polished floor – FREE – in exchange for letting John evaluate several different finished floorng products. The owner agreed.

John decided to test PROSOCO’s Consolideck products after one of his clients recommended them. He chose similar products from a well-known manufacturer and from a small, local manufacturer.

John ground the floor up to a 200 grit finish. He hardened and densified nearly half the floor with Consolideck LS and nearly half with the well-known competitor. The small manufacturer got about 5 percent.

Then he took the floor, in stages, up to an 800 grit finish. He high-speed burnished LSGuard onto to the Consolideck section, and did the same with the competitors’ “guard” product on their sections. It all looked good and shiny.

That’s when the test started.

Four nights a week, the floor got cleaned with an auto-scrubber and plain water.

“I know that’s not the best way to clean the floor,” John said. “But using proprietary cleaners, like LSKlean in PROSOCO’s case, just wasn’t practical for the purposes of the test. We’d have to spend too much time filling up and emptying out the auto scrubber with exact amounts of each company’s cleaners.

“So I said the floors would be on a water diet until further notice.”

It looked good at the start, but after four months of traffic and water-only maintenance cleaning, the major manufacturer's section of the floor looked worse than could be accounted for even by being in the notorious "condiments" aisle.

After four months, John said, the various areas of the floor all had different levels of shine.

The small manufacturer’s section over by the beer? “Not shiny,” John said.

Over by the check-out lanes, the well-known competitor’s section of floor lost quite a bit of shine, John said. Those products also got applied in the toughest area of all — the condiment aisle. After four months, the condiment aisle looked like nothing had ever been put down to begin with, John said. It didn’t even look polished — more like what you see after grinding with a 50-grit metal.

The Consolideck floors held a real high gloss, even in the Produce section, which gets almost as much abuse as the condiment aisle, John said. They cut a lot of acidic veggies in that area. Onions peelings for instance, get dropped on the floor, trod on, and cleaned up later when it’s convenient.

The floors stayed shiny, even so.

“That settled my hash,” John said. “I do premium jobs and I need the best products. PROSOCO is it.”

That’s what happened. True story.

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Abandoned hulk to smart apartments -- The 1904 Poehler Building in PROSOCO's hometown of Lawrence, Kan., is getting a new life with the help of PROSOCO products.

Visited an aging hundred-year-old hulk of a red-brick building in East Lawrence recently — 108 years old, actually, built in 1904.

The Poehler Building, a wholesale grocery distribution center for its first 50 years or so, is getting a complete restoration — using PROSOCO products, natch. In its second hundred years, it’ll be snazzy rent-controlled apartments. MCM Restoration Company, Fort Scott, Kan., is handling the masonry restoration, inside and out.

Not much is happening outside in the frigid February weather. But inside is active, and MCM Restoration Company President Craig McKenney took me: our graphic genius and photographer Stephen Falls; and our boss Marketing Director Scott Buscher into the guts of the Poehler Building for a glimpse of the restoration action. Stephen shot all these photos.

They’re looking at a grand opening in July.

One of the main jobs right now for Craig and company is getting the dilapidated white paint off the walls. Some places it’s easy and can be mechanically removed. Other places it has penetrated somewhat over the decades and has a steely grip on the brick. Grip or no, it’s got to come off. The walls will stay exposed.

Restoration techs use pressure washing and Sure Klean Heavy Duty Paint Stripper to remove the decades-old paint from the building's interior walls. Note the dam set up to catch the spent cleaner and dissoloved paint.

PROSOCO’s Sure Klean Heavy Duty Paint Stripper gets brushed on, breaks the bond, then is pressure-rinsed off. The rinse gets caught by dams of roofing roll and plastic sheeting, and is pumped into vats. There, the solids settle to the bottom. The spent cleaner and water get neutralized and pre-treated, then pumped into a truck which carts it off to our local certified wastewater treatment plant.

The solids dry out into a “cake” (yum) and go into the dumpster.

Sand blasting got an audition for paint remover of choice, but didn’t make the cut.

Here's the test panel done for the sand-blast method of paint-removal.

Same with crushed walnut shells, another abrasive blast media.

Crushed walnut shells also got a look as an abrasive blast media for paint removal, but that method wasn't chosen either.

MCM Restoration is also cutting the Poehler Building some new windows in the upper stories. On the top floor, the walls are three brick courses thick. On the first floor of the load-bearing masonry building, the walls are seven courses thick.

MCM Restoration masonry technicians salvage brick from a newly cut window in the top story of the Poehler Building.

More than a century old, these clay brick, salvaged from a newly cut window in the Poehler Building's masonry fabric, will be used again in repairs to the building exterior.

When the weather gets warmer, the building exterior will get a complete masonry restoration, Craig said, including 100 percent tuckpointing and cleaning and grafitti removal.

“After more than a hundred years, it may not look as good as when they built it,” Craig said, “but it’s going to come close — and be water-tight.”

By default, the Poehler Building will also be green, because as Washington, D.C. Architect Carl Elefante wrote in his famous “green” manifesto — “The greenest building is… one that is already built.”

Craig McKenney, President, MCM Restoration, takes a minute to smile for the camera. And all that grafitti? It's going away.

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