Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for January, 2013

Set amid the mists and trees of  its 2nd home in Oregon Garden, Frank Lloyd Wright's "Usonian" Gordon House was nearly demolished in 2001. photo by Gene Bollinger.

Set amid the mists and trees of its 2nd home in Oregon Garden, Frank Lloyd Wright’s “Usonian” Gordon House was nearly demolished in 2001. It’s a public museum now. photo by Gene Bollinger.

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Gordon House had floor issues.

Wright designed the cottage-sized house, near Wilsonville, Ore., for Conrad and Evelyn Gordon in 1957. They lived in it for more than 30 years. The home’s “Usonian” design is elegant, yet basic, utilitarian and intended for middle-income occupants.

It features an open floor plan, cantilevered roof with wide overhangs, floor-to-ceiling windows and colored concrete floors that extend beyond the walls and become steps and outdoor decks.

The Gordon’s descendants sold the property in 2000. Despite the fact that it’s Oregon’s only Frank Lloyd Wright building, the new owners planned to have the house demolished.

The Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy got permission to disassemble the house, and move it about 24 miles South to a new home in Oregon Garden, a botanical preserve in Silverton.

Craftsmen reassembled the house, but the “Cherokee Red” concrete floor had to be poured and colored anew. The restored house became a public museum in 2002.

By 2012 the approximately 2100 square feet of floor had turned an uneven salmon pink. Maintenance cleaning with caustic agents had etched the floor in spots, revealing aggregate. Outside, falling water from the roof eroded concrete and encouraged biological staining.

Oregon’s Gordon House Conservancy chose John Fotheringham, Pride Building Services, Boring, Ore., in September to fix the faded color.

John brought in expert painter Bryan Matthews of Bryan Matthews Painting & Concrete, Eugene, “because of his attention to detail and meticulous artistic touch.”

After cleaning with PROSOCO’s Enviro Klean BioWash and Consolideck SafStrip, John and Bryan re-colored the floor with Consolideck ColorHard. ColorHard combines pigment with Consolideck LS lithium-silicate hardener/densifier.

LS makes the floor’s “wear area” — the top 1/16th to 1/8th inch of concrete — more durable and sustainable by filling the concrete pores with calcium silicate hydrate — the same tough material that makes concrete hard to begin with.

PROSOCO’s Research and Development Chemist Chris Moore recreated Cherokee Red just for this project.

“It’s really not one color,” said PROSOCO Research and Development Chemist Chris Moore, who was responsible for recreating Cherokee Red for the project. “Cherokee Red combines red, brown and orange.”

Chris created five candidates. Variations were slight. It took a trained eye to really see the differences, Chris said. Slight tints of yellow or blue tilted samples toward warmer or cooler, but it was a mid-range sample that won out.

John and Bryan spray-applied the Cherokee Red ColorHard at 70-80 psi, with a 20-25 degree cone-tip pattern.

They held rags as they sprayed, to prevent drips and splatters. They clamped the rags to the nozzles when turning sprayers on and off. Since porosity varied, John and Bryan used a “feathering” technique to give the floor seamless uniformity.

Frank Lloyd Wright's signature "Cherokee Red" finished concrete floor lives again in Oregon's Gordon House, colored with Consolideck ColorHard one-step colorant and hardener/densifier. photo by Gene Bollinger

Frank Lloyd Wright’s signature “Cherokee Red” finished concrete floor lives again in Oregon’s Gordon House, colored with Consolideck ColorHard one-step colorant and hardener/densifier. photo by Gene Bollinger

They protected the restored floor with four thin coats of glossy Consolideck GuardEXT.

GuardEXT protects exterior concrete flatwork and interior unpolished concrete floors from water and spills of oil, food, drink and other contaminants. It shields against grit and grime tracked in by thousands of tourists each year and reduces maintenance costs since it doesn’t need stripping. Simple buffing and/or reapplication renews gloss and repairs worn areas.

ColorHard and GuardEXT are both third-party certified by Scientific Certification Systems, Emeryville, Calif., to meet the nation’s highest indoor air quality standards.

“There are several reasons this job went without a hitch,” John said. “First, we all had realistic expectations. The conservators understood and accepted the variable nature of the concrete. Second, they extended me the freedom to make final decisions about the job. That makes a big difference in how fast and effectively you can work.

“Third was PROSOCO’s uncompromising tech support, from color-matching to the attention we got from local field manager Gene Bollinger. PROSOCO products are easy to use and they work as advertised every time.”

John briefed the Gordon House staff on the floor’s maintenance requirements — just dust mop daily and spritz as needed with Consolideck DailyKlean and a micro-fiber pad. DailyKlean, made for finished concrete floors, uses no caustics, solvents, acids or abrasives. It won’t harm the floors like previous cleaning agents did.

“I’ll be back every two months or so to check on the floor,” John said. “But I expect it’ll perform as promised.”

# # #

Read Full Post »

Foreman Ed Erazo, SparkleWash Construction Services, Omaha, Neb., uses low pressure spray to apply Sure Klean Vana Trol masonry cleaner to a mixed masonry elevation at an under-construction shopping center in Papillion, Neb. photo courtesy Craig Christensen

Foreman Ed Erazo, SparkleWash Construction Services, Omaha, Neb., uses low pressure spray to apply Sure Klean Vana Trol masonry cleaner to a mixed masonry elevation at an under-construction shopping center in Papillion, Neb. photo courtesy Craig Christensen.

The editor of a construction trade magazine called the other day.

She wanted to understand masonry cleaning, since she planned to feature this important but not-so-well-understood facet of masonry construction in an upcoming issue. She wasn’t afraid to ask about the basics, either.

She sent me a list of questions. I answered them, and after checking my answers with our in-house experts, returned the list.

Here’s the masonry cleaning Q & A:

What is the cleaner supposed to do? Simply remove excess mortar, dirt and grime from the surface of the brick, stone or CMU? Or more?

Cleaners for new masonry construction remove dried mortar smears and splashes from the masonry. They “clarify” mortar joints, removing the bit that has bulged out during tooling, so the joint has nice neat edges. On colored concrete block masonry, good cleaners also improve “color uniformity” building-wide.

This photo shows the basic purpose of new construction cleaning -- remove excess mortar and clarify mortar joints. The contractor used Sure Klean 600 new masonry cleaner to do the job.

This photo shows the basic purpose of new construction cleaning — remove excess mortar and clarify mortar joints.

Restoration cleaners remove a host of contaminants from historic building fabrics, from biological staining to atmospheric soiling from decades of air pollution caused by cars and factories.

New construction cleaners and restoration cleaners should do their jobs without damaging the masonry.

This before-and-after photo shows restoration cleaning under way on a 1928 apartment building in Gary, Ind.

This before-and-after photo shows restoration cleaning under way on a 1928 apartment building in Gary, Ind.

What isn’t it supposed to do? Sink into brick and mortar joints, because that could cause what?

Above all, cleaners should not damage the masonry. Other things they shouldn’t do include staying on the surface too long. They can dry out and become one more unsightly contaminant, especially if they contain dissolved mortar or other soiling. If applied at too high a pressure, they can penetrate the masonry too deeply to be rinsed away. If the cleaner starts to dry before the dwell is complete, reapply.

What do you mean by masonry “substrates” when talking about the mock up panel?

Whether referring to a test or mock-up panel, or the building itself, “substrate” is jargon for the particular kind of masonry material. For instance, clay brick is one kind of substrate, and concrete brick is another.

When is the bucket and brush method needed? Is that ever the best choice?

Bucket and brush is appropriate for indoor cleaning where water must be tightly controlled. Also for cleaning isolated areas and features outside. Bucket and brush doesn’t distribute the cleaner as uniformly over a large area as low-pressure spraying, however.

This is a good place to mention the 4-step method for masonry cleaning.

Why was raw acid ever used? Why isn’t it anymore? Was it always muriatic?

Pre-World War II, masonry pretty much meant red clay brick and gray mortar. Red clay brick is highly acid-resistant, so to clean the acid-soluble excess mortar, masons used cheap, abundant muriatic acid, a by-product of steel manufacturing.

Since then, manufacturers have developed an enormous range of masonry products, in all colors, both clay and acid-soluble concrete. Ingredients to create colors and effects in clay brick, such as vanadium salts (beige brick) or iron (iron spot brick), for example, can react with acid to mobilize ugly stains. So manufacturers created cleaners that use only tiny amounts of acid, controlled and enhanced with detergents and buffering agents.

These proprietary cleaners, made specifically for cleaning, come with precise application and safety instructions, and warranties. Follow directions, and you can count on the result. This is not the case with muriatic acid, which is just a byproduct, and never intended for masonry cleaning. It has no warranty, safety or application instructions, let alone any kind of tech support.

The good news - the applicator saved a couple bucks by using cheap muriatic acid to clean the masonry. The bad news - Cleaning with muriatic acid caused these ugly stains which equal thousands of dollars in damage.

The good news – the contractor saved a couple bucks by using muriatic acid to clean the masonry. The bad news – Cleaning with muriatic acid caused these ugly stains which equal thousands of dollars in damage.

As a byproduct, it contains impurities, which accounts for the yellow color. These impurities can stain mortar joints during cleaning.

Muriatic acid is cheap and abundant which is why some contractors use it, even though the Brick Industry Association, Mason Contractors Association and other industry groups have come out hard against muriatic acid. Many brick manufacturers include pallet tags with their products expressly warning against cleaning with muriatic acid. But old habits die hard.

Is there a maximum PSI for water pressure?

For rinsing masonry, 1,000 psi is probably as high as you want to go. Again it’s quantity of water used (gpm) rather than psi that governs the effectiveness of the rinse. The higher the psi, the more chance you have of scarring the masonry with “wand marks.” In the dimensional stone industry, as you may know, super-high psi is used to cut stone.

Another element to consider in pressure rinsing is the radius of the spray, commonly referred to as the “degree of fan.” A thousand psi at zero degrees of fan would basically be a laser beam, scarring the masonry. The same psi at 40 degrees of fan (recommended) will give you a good rinse.

PSI also refers to the water just as it leaves the nozzle. The stream loses some of its velocity between nozzle and wall. Keeping the nozzle about 18 inches from the masonry is recommended.

High pressure and a narrow fan have scarred this concrete masonry -- without doing a very good  job of cleaning,

High pressure and a narrow fan have scarred this concrete masonry — without doing a very good job of cleaning,

If a cleaning plan is discussed in pre-construction, should it also be specified?

The cleaning plan should always be discussed pre-construction, and proper products and procedures specified. It isn’t always, and projects often pay the price.

Whose job is it to design the cleaning plan and to approve of the job when done?

G.C., architect, mason and cleaning sub should work together to design the cleaning plan, with input from the masonry manufacturer. Whoever has overall responsibility to deliver the building to the client – usually the architect — should approve the completed project.

Is the cleaning typically done by the mason contractor or is that work sub-contracted out?

It can and is done either way. If sub-contracted, the mason contractor still needs to ensure proper products and procedures are used.

Bad cleaning looks bad but may also damage masonry. How?

On clay masonry, some forms of improper cleaning, like using muriatic acid or not properly pre-wetting or rinsing can etch mortar joints. Exposing the softer layers beneath the surface decreases the mortar joint service life by making it more vulnerable to freeze-thaw cycling and other forms of deterioration. Eventually, water gets in the building envelope.

The same can happen with concrete masonry, only the CMU is also vulnerable along with the joint.

Above all, cleaners should not damage the masonry. Here, a cleaner not made for concrete masonry etched the joints and the block surface.

Above all, cleaners should not damage the masonry. Here, a cleaner not made for concrete masonry etched the joints and the block surface. In addition, the masonry was likely not properly pre-wet or rinsed.

Does masonry with a water repellent coating need different treatment than “raw” masonry?

New-construction cleaning – removing excess mortar and clarifying mortar joints – should be conducted before applying a water repellent. A finished building with a water-repellent applied will still need maintenance cleaning. But this will be a different type of cleaner than used for new-construction cleaning, because the soiling to be removed is different.

In general, maintenance cleaners are less complex and less aggressive than new construction cleaners.

Is it appropriate to ask about cleaning historic or existing buildings?

Yes, because anything outside gets dirty and needs to be cleaned — especially after half a century or so.

Anything outside gets dirty -- just how dirty a building can get is shown here during restoration cleaning of Chicago's Randolph Tower.

Anything outside gets dirty — just how dirty a building can get is shown here during restoration cleaning of Chicago’s Randolph Tower, with PROSOCO’s Sure Klean Restoration Cleaner, natch.

Is that process different?

The basic procedure – soak or “prewet” the surface; apply the cleaner; dwell and agitate; rinse – is usually the same for restoration and maintenance cleaning as it is for new construction cleaning.

Is the product used different?

The products are different from new-construction cleaning, because the contaminants and masonries are different. You always want a cleaner specifically designed for the masonry you’re cleaning and the contaminants you’re removing. Just as there are different products for different kinds of new construction cleaning – clay and concrete, for instance, so there are different kinds of cleaners in restoration cleaning for, say, granite and limestone.

Removing biological soiling from old acid-soluble limestone takes a much different kind of cleaner than removing dried mortar from new acid-resistant clay brick.

Can you list, generically, the best kinds of products for different masonry materials (one for brick, another for block, another for limestone, etc) without using brand names?

Your best bet for cleaning any kind of new masonry is to locate a cleaner designed for that specific kind of masonry. Cleaning red clay brick? There’s a cleaner made for it.

Cleaning cast stone (a concrete product)? Use a product specifically designed for cast stone.

Removing atmospheric soiling from 100-year-old limestone? Make sure the cleaner is designed specifically for that chore.

If you’re in doubt, call the manufacturer’s toll-free customer care number. If there is no number, don’t use that product. Use only cleaning products backed by free, readily available manufacturer tech support.

The cost of damaging a building is too great to be anything but one hundred percent certain that you’ve got the right cleaners and procedures.

If you see one product that claims to clean every kind of masonry – and there are some out there – run. One product cannot clean every kind of masonry and every kind of soiling any more than one kind of saw can cut every kind of material, or one kind of hammer can do every construction job.

# # #

Read Full Post »

What PROSOCO does

We're proud of PROSOCO's industry-best field-support. Here, Joe Reardon (center), Concrete Products Group, consults about a finished concrete floor going into a big box store.

We’re proud of PROSOCO’s industry-best field-support. Here, Joe Reardon (center), Concrete Products Group consults about a finished concrete floor going into a big box store.

I’m talking to a fellow PROSOCO employee. I’ll call her “Peggy,” since she’s shy and asked me not to use her real name when I told her about my idea for this post.

Anyway, one of Peggy’s friends asked her the other day — “what do they do where you work?”

PROSOCO Headquarters, Lawrence, Kan.

PROSOCO Headquarters, Lawrence, Kan.

Peggy said she immediately flashed on old buildings being restored; new ones being cleaned and protected; concrete floors getting polished and decorated; air and water barriers making buildings more sustainable and energy-efficient; our toll-free telephone Customer Care Reps and field representatives helping with knotty construction problems; free training for contractors, distributors, specifiers and architects; and a lot more.

The trouble, she said, is how do you sum all that up into one short description? Peggy said she didn’t want to deliver a lecture. She just wanted to answer the question “What does PROSOCO do?” briefly but accurately.

Great challenge for a writer. Because admittedly, we do a lot at PROSOCO.

A fluorescein dye test reveals where these window assemblies will fail, and under what conditions.

We do a lot of testing at PROSOCO, because as Tom Schneider, BEI says — “If you’re not testing, you’re guessing.” Here, a fluorescein dye test in our Design Verification Test Chamber reveals where these window assemblies will fail, and under what conditions. Nice to know, BEFORE you install the windows.

So I came up with a spectrum of responses. Which one you use depends on the level of interest of the person asking, and the amount of time you have to respond. There’s the micro- and short-versions for the elevator. There’s longer versions for when we’re in front of groups.

Here they are.

WHAT DOES PROSOCO DO?

Micro version
Makes construction products.

Short version
Makes products for construction of new buildings and restoration of old buildings.

Windows on Dalton Apartments North elevation show what skilled restoration cleaning can achieve. Much of the embedded soiling and staining shown here began before the people who removed it were born.

Windows on Dalton Apartments, (1928) Gary, Ind., show what skilled restoration cleaning (with PROSOCO products, natch) can achieve. Much of the embedded soiling and staining shown here began before the people who removed it were born.

Standard version
PROSOCO makes products that improve the appearance, durability and energy-efficiency of buildings new and old.

Long version
PROSOCO products make architecture new or old look better and last longer. They do it by cleaning and protecting concrete, brick, and stone buildings. They make concrete floors look better and last longer. And PROSOCO products make buildings energy-efficient and sustainable by stopping costly air and water leaks through walls.

Unable to penetrate, water beads up on  masonry treated with PROSOCO's penetrating protective treatment Sure Klean Weather Seal Siloxane PD. By keeping water out, you keep out water-related problems -- like destructive freeze-thaw cycyling

Unable to penetrate, water beads up on masonry treated with PROSOCO’s penetrating protective treatment Sure Klean Weather Seal Siloxane PD.

Got all day version
PROSOCO makes products for three areas of building construction. They include:

Sure Klean, Enviro Klean and Weather Seal cleaners and protective treatments for new, existing and historic concrete, brick and stone architecture.

Consolideck products that improve the appearance and performance of finished concrete floors by cleaning; hardening-densifying; adding gloss, shine, and color; and protecting against stains and etching.

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

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

PROSOCO R-GUARD Air and water barrier systems that stop costly, destructive air and water leakage through the building envelope. R-GUARD FastFlash products are also used in window retrofits and waterproofing walls and vulnerable building transition areas.

PROSOCO products are well-known for industry-best customer support that backs up every gallon. They are also known for ease of application, working as promised and being made for the real-world job site conditions construction professionals face every day.

Peggy, I hope that helps.

Aaron Quint, Hammer and Hand, seals a rough opening at Karuna House, a Passive House in Yamhill County, Ore., with gun and spread R-GUARD FastFlash. Like many PROSOCO products,FastFlash helps builders cope with real world job site conditions. Gun-and-spread FastFlash, for instance, flashes rough openings much more easily than peel and stick membranes -- there's no folding, cutting or taping. And FastFlash can go on even if the surface is still wet.

Aaron Quint, Hammer and Hand, seals a rough opening at Karuna House, a Passive House in Yamhill County, Ore., with gun and spread R-GUARD FastFlash. Like many PROSOCO products, FastFlash helps builders cope with real world job site conditions. FastFlash, for instance, flashes rough openings much more easily than peel and stick membranes — there’s no folding, cutting or taping. And FastFlash can go on even if the surface is still wet.

Read Full Post »