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.
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.”
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