Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for June, 2013

Coastal Masonry and Contracting used Sure Klean Restoration Cleaner and  Sure Klean 600 to help clean and repair the masonry exterior of this late-19th Century Army barracks. It's soon to become a luxury hotel on Great Diamond Island, Maine.

Coastal Masonry and Contracting used Sure Klean Restoration Cleaner and Sure Klean 600 to help clean and repair the masonry exterior of this late-19th Century Army barracks. It’s soon to become a luxury hotel on Great Diamond Island, Maine.

Working what looks to be a great story.

Portland Builders, Portland, Maine is the general contractor converting a crumbling late-19th Century Army barracks into a luxury 44-unit hotel on Great Diamond Island in Maine’s Casco Bay.

The architect is Archetype Architects, Portland. Coastal Masonry and Contracting, Georgetown, is the mason contractor using PROSOCO products to clean the building’s walls.

Craig Wetmore, York Manufacturing took these great photos and alerted us to the project.

The barracks/hotel is part of Fort McKinley, built between 1891 and 1907 to defend Portland Harbor during the Spanish-American War. The Army retired the fort in 1945.

It’s now known as Diamond Cove and is mostly private property. Many of its buildings have been restored to become homes for some of the island’s 77-or-so year-round residents. A former storehouse is now the 5-star Diamond’s Edge Restaurant.

The barracks, however, remained untouched except by the heavy hands of time, and unoccupied, says Josh Cushman, Portland Builders, except for raccoons.

How bad was it?

This abandoned Army barracks on Great Diamond Island, Maine is being restored into a 44-unit luxury hotel. It's going to take some PROSOCO products, though.

How bad was it? “People said we’d be better off tearing it down,” says Josh Cushman, Portland Builders.

“It had trees growing out of it, says Josh Cushman, Portland Builders. “The wood floors were demolished. One major wall was collapsed. People said we’d be better off tearing it down.”

But if these photos show anything, they show the resiliency of masonry, particularly in the hands of accomplished construction professionals — especially professionals using PROSOCO products, natch. Here, builders used Sure Klean Restoration Cleaner to remove the grit and grime of the ages so that repairs could be made.

Then Sure Klean 600 masonry cleaner removed excess mortar from the walls following those repairs.

The deteriorated state of the building isn’t the only challenge the builders are facing. Great Diamond Island has no road access so everything — people, equipment, products — all must arrive by boat.

“We use a big landing craft and drive the trucks on and off,” Josh said.

The Fort McKinley Historic District is listed on the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places. The hotel is being restored to meet Federal historic standards, Josh said.

# # #

Read Full Post »

A brief rain shower wetted our back deck yesterday evening, shortly before the beginning of cleaning operations.

A brief rain shower wetted our back deck yesterday evening, shortly before the beginning of cleaning operations.

My lovely spouse, Karen, and I decided it was that time — back deck must be cleaned.

It hadn’t been cleaned for — well, awhile. When we bought the vintage-70’s house in 2002 the deck was there — a weathered platform of some indeterminate gray lumber, which I coated with something to make it look less weathered and indeterminate.

That’s the redwoodish looking coating that’s on there now. It’s actually held up pretty well since I put that most recent coat on a few years ago.

But everything outside gets dirty and must be cleaned.

Grime accumulated where we had doormats.

Grime accumulated where we had doormats.

We got heavy accumulations of muck around the doormats and flower pots, but the whole thing looked dull and dingy.

It was a job for Enviro Klean 2010 All Surface Cleaner.

PROSOCO created this amazing cleaner in the late 90’s specifically for restoration cleaning of the interior Kasota limestone of Union Station, Kansas City, Mo. The venerable train station had been abandoned nearly a decade before restoration cleaning by Mid-Continental Restoration, Fort Scott, Kan., in 1998.

And I thought my deck was a project -- Mid-Continental Restoration, Fort Scott, Kan., cleaned 116,000 square feet of Kasota limestone inside Union Station with what is now Enviro Klean 2010 All Surface Cleaner.

And I thought my deck was a project — Mid-Continental Restoration, Fort Scott, Kan., cleaned 116,000 square feet of Kasota limestone inside Union Station with what is now Enviro Klean 2010 All Surface Cleaner.

The Mid-Continental Restoration crews needed something powerful enough to wipe out decades worth of soot from trains, and the tobacco smoke of millions of passengers, along with water stains from a leaky roof, and accumulated grime from 10 years of neglect.

But it had to be gentle enough not to harm the sensitive, though beautiful limestone walls blanketed beneath the dirty coating.

Originally labeled “1922 Hard Surface Cleaner,” (1922 was the test formula number) PROSOCO’s custom creation took on the moniker “2010 All Surface Cleaner” after people started using it to clean, well, everything. All Surface Cleaner uses no harsh acids, caustics or solvents, which can damage sensitive surfaces, yet has most of their cleaning power.

Its secret is “chelating” agents, or “chelants.” These are molecules that chemically latch onto contaminant molecules and suspend them in solution to be rinsed away. Chelants are small enough to go into microscopic surface pores to grab soaked-in or ground-in contaminants that larger detergent molecules can’t reach.

“Chela” comes from Latin, and means “claw.” The tweezer-like ability of 2010 All Surface Cleaner to grab hard-to-nab contaminants isn’t limited to hard surfaces, either. I’ve seen fellow-employees use 2010 All Surface Cleaner to pull ink stains out of clothing.

That’s not to put down detergents, though. In addition to the chelating agents, 2010 All Surface Cleaner has a blend of detergents effective against a wide range of grease and grime. It’s really like the Swiss Army knife of cleaners — including the tweezers.

Enviro Klean 2010 All Surface Cleaner removed brown nicotine staining caused by nine decades of tobacco  smoke from the white Colorado marble interior of the Cuyahoga County Courthouse, Cleveland.

Enviro Klean 2010 All Surface Cleaner removed brown nicotine staining caused by nine decades of tobacco smoke from the white Colorado marble interior of the Cuyahoga County Courthouse, Cleveland.

Since I first wrote about 2010 All Surface Cleaner at Union Station, I’ve seen it used everywhere. It cleaned new-construction grit and grime off the precast concrete exterior of the newly built W Luxury Hotel in downtown Dallas, and interior marble at the Cuyahoga County Courthouse in Cleveland.

And let’s not forget my back deck.

Cleaning was easy. First I wet the deck with the pressure washer at about 300 psi. I hoped I’d blow the gunk off just with that, but it was too ground-in. I diluted 2010 All Surface Cleaner one part cleaner to three parts water in a plastic spray bottle, and sprayed down half the deck. I spread it around and sudsed it up with some light scrubbing with a long-handled scrub-brush. I let the cleaner “dwell” for a few minutes. Then I rinsed it off with the pressure washer.

Then I did the other half of the deck the same way.

The hardest part was winding up the hose from the pressure washer to the wand when I was finished. We can put a man on the moon, but we can’t make a hose for an electric pressure-washer that won’t kink and snarl.

The deck looked good, though, and Karen seemed impressed. She pointed out that the deck looked as good as when I’d first coated it.

I’m thinking that’s got to be worth some husband-points.

How many?

How about 2010, hon?

Everything old is new again, thanks to Enviro Klean 2010 All Surface Cleaner.

Everything old is new again, thanks to Enviro Klean 2010 All Surface Cleaner.

Read Full Post »

Kansas City skyline with Union Station (foreground) as seen from the Liberty Memorial in Penn Valley Park. PROSOCO photo

Kansas City skyline with Union Station in the foreground, seen from the Liberty Memorial in Penn Valley Park. PROSOCO photo

As Independence Day nears, we’ll all likely hear about American heroes — as we should.

Military, first-responders, teachers, farmers — these are all people who have helped make our country something special — often in the face of great odds and at significant personal sacrifice.

Two others you don’t hear much about when the talk turns to “heroes,” but who I think merit at least some consideration — architects and contractors.

Being in the construction industry myself, you might say I’m biased. I’m ok with that.

If you’re reading this, thank a teacher.

If you’re reading this indoors, thank the people who designed your building and then built it according to the design.

Our built environment is so omnipresent, I’m not sure we even see it half the time. But when you consider all the products, procedures, codes, schedules, client whims and requirements, budgets, personalities and more involved in constructing even the most modest building — it’s a marvel to me that anything ever gets built.

My hat is off to the people who are willing to tackle that, and do it right.

Because every facet of our lives, birth to death, is framed by our built environment. Hospitals, schools, factories, offices, stores, churches, homes; yes, and even prisons, barracks, cutting-edge scientific research facilities — all designed and built by architects and contractors.

Sure, just like our other heroes they get paid. And if something goes wrong, they get sued.

Design and construction are professions not without risk, and definitely not for the faint of heart.

Many an architect starts with a vision of something fine and beautiful, only to be forced to watch as others hammer away at it in the name of budgets, schedules, politics and who-knows-what-else, until it’s almost unrecognizable.

They may be the lucky ones. Architectural Record reports thousands of architects lost their jobs, and even left the profession during the recession and its aftermath.

Construction firms suffered, too. Even many who stayed in business had to let people go — old and valued employees in some cases. The “tool belt recession,” they called it.

Sure, things are tough all over, not just in the construction business. But in my humble opinion, construction pros got more than their share of grief during our recent economic problems, considering what they’ve done for this country.

Just look at any city skyline, New York City to Dallas to Denver to Los Angeles. Or check out this great AIA slideshow of Americans’ 150 favorite buildings — they are something to see.

All of us together — paper-pushers like me, lawyers, grocers, doctors, politicians, engineers, athletes, entertainers and everyone else you can think of — we all do our part to make this country what it is.

But when we talk about people who built this nation — literally built it — we’re talking architects and contractors.

In my opinion, we’re talking heroes.

# # #

Read Full Post »

photos by Tim Blankenship, Blankenship Concrete Specialties

Blankenship Concrete Specialties created this gleaming concrete finish for the new Nordstrom “Rack” store in Birmingham, Ala., by hardening/densifying, polishing to a 1500 resin grit finish, and burnishing on a glossy, ultra-thin “guard” treatment.

Upscale fashion retailer Nordstrom opened a new “Rack” store in Birmingham, Ala., May 16, with a polished concrete floor installed by Tim Blankenship of Blankenship Concrete Specialties.

Tim used Consolideck LS lithium-silicate hardener/densifier and LSGuard, a glossy ultra-thin sealer, to help get that gleaming finish on 7,000 square feet of the 35,000 square-foot store. Architectural firm Callison, Seattle, specified the products, and Erie, Pa.-based Niagara Machine supplied them from its Charlotte, N.C., location, Tim said.

He kindly shared these photos from just before the grand opening.

Polished concrete accounts for about 7,000 square feet of the 35,000 square-foot store.

Polished concrete accounts for about 7,000 square feet of the 35,000 square-foot store.

Tim created the finish from an existing floor in a space formerly occupied by tenant Linens ‘n Things. He began with a 46 grit metal bond wet grind and took the finish to a 200-grit resin, where he spray-applied LS and spread it with micro-fiber applicators.

The lithium-silicate hardener-densifier penetrates the concrete’s microscopic pores and fills them with rock-hard calcium silicate hydrate. That’s the same ultra-durable material that makes concrete hard as it cures.

Along with dust-proofing the floor, hardening-densifying also makes the floor polish faster, easier and more effectively because it’s less porous.

The floor showed some gloss at 200 grit, but another LS application at 400 grit made the floor even less porous and “popped” the shine, Tim said.

Nordstrom Rack stores are the “off price” locations for Nordstrom, billed as where “style meets savings.” The Seattle-based chain counts 231 stores in 31 states, according to Wikipedia. Rack stores account for 110 of them.

Nordstrom Rack stores are the “off price” locations for Nordstrom, billed as where “style meets savings.” The Seattle-based chain counts 231 stores in 31 states, according to Wikipedia. Rack stores account for 110 of them.

From a 400-grit resin finish, Tim polished the hardened/densified floor to a 1500 resin grit finish in successive stages. He burnished on a micro-thin coating of LSGuard for increased protection against stains and abrasion. LSGuard has “LS” in its name because it contains lithium silicate for an added hardening/densifying effect.

Though LSGuard can be re-burnished or refreshed with additional coats if required, it never needs stripping or replacing. That can amount to an enormous savings in maintenance costs over time.

Tim and his crew completed the work over three weeks in March and April. The most challenging part, he said, was working around all the other trades who were also trying to get their work done in time for the May 16 opening.

# # #

Clothing waits for shoppers like low-hanging fruit along a polished concrete aisle

Clothing waits for shoppers like low-hanging fruit along a polished concrete aisle

Read Full Post »

The Grand Canyon, Arizona, 277 miles long, 18 miles wide,  6,000 feet deep, carved through the rock of the Colorado Plateau. By water. -- photo courtesy Grand Canyon National Park and ace-clipart.com.

The Grand Canyon, Arizona, 277 miles long, 18 miles wide, 6,000 feet deep, carved through the rock of the Colorado Plateau. By water. — photo courtesy Grand Canyon National Park and ace-clipart.com.

When you design and construct buildings, you are challenging the number-one enemy of the built environment.

Water.

Think you’ll prevail? Think again, my friend. Water always wins.

You’re going to build an apartment building? Water wears down mountains. It dug out the Grand Canyon. It sank the Titanic.

You might keep water out of your roof or walls for today or tomorrow. Water will bide its time. It’s been around several billion years already, just on this planet. Eventually, it’ll find a way in.

Maybe you’ll try to keep it out with an impermeable air and water barrier — the way the French tried to keep the invading German Army out with the Maginot Line during World War II.

“You shall not pass!” you are, in effect, saying to water.

Prudence Ferreira, CPHC Principal, Integral Impact Inc [i3]

Prudence Ferreira, CPHC
Principal, Integral Impact Inc [i3]

It won’t work, says LEED AP Prudence Ferreira, Certified Passive House Consultant and founder and principal of Integral Impact Inc., San Francisco. i3 specializes in using building science and systems-thinking to help design and build ultra-durable, sustainable, energy-efficient and low-impact commercial and residential buildings.

Integral Impact Inc has a long list of such projects throughout California — sustainable buildings that perform at Passive House and Net-Zero levels of energy-efficiency because of their air- and water-tightness.

And yet, it’s a fact, Ms. Ferreira says. No construction is perfect. Water will eventually get in.

Water in liquid or vapor form won’t penetrate an impermeable air and water barrier. But it can bypass the barrier through vulnerable roof-wall or wall-foundation connections.

It can get in through rough openings where window installation may have torn the barrier fabric or peel and stick flashing.

It might bypass the barrier via a leaky pipe.

In cold weather, positive pressure pushes warm moist air from living spaces into the walls through plumbing and electrical penetrations. When that air hits a cold-enough surface, the vapor it carries condenses, and you have water in the walls.

Water has countless ways to get in walls, and it’s been getting in since there were walls. Like the Germans with the Maginot Line, water will flank the air and water barrier.

If the air and water barrier is seamless, continuous and durable like it should be, then likely just a little moisture will get in. If it’s vapor-permeable, that little bit of water can evaporate out again, and no harm done.

But if the air and water barrier is impermeable, the moisture stays. That’s how rot and conditions for mold begin.

Harm done.

It’s the same principle as when you wear impermeable vinyl or plastic rain gear. Sure, you keep the rain off, but you end up soaked anyway, from your own sweat. The human body itself, after all, is more than 60 percent water. Brain — 75 percent water.

Water wins again.

“I advise our construction teams to use materials with the greatest vapor permeability possible,” Ms. Ferreira says.

Ms. Ferreira, who teaches the Certified Passive House Consultant (NaCPHC) training and advanced Passive House technical workshops for Passive House Institute US, assumes walls will get wet at some point, one way or another, even with the seamless, continuous, durable air and water barriers she includes in her design recommendations.

She just wants the walls to be able to dry out again. “If the assembly can dry, there’s no rot. There’s no mold,” she says. Simple.

That can only happen if the air and water barrier, among other building envelope components, is vapor-permeable.

chart

But if a vapor-permeable barrier lets water vapor out, won’t it also let vapor in?

In a 1997 study titled Preventing Indoor Air Quality Problems in Educational Facilities: Guidelines for Hot, Humid Climates by CH2MHill in cooperation with Disney Development Company, researchers determined that diffusion results in a negligible amount of water ingress compared to water vapor carried in through air leaks.

That means stopping air leaks, rather than diffusion, is key to preventing water-condensation from developing in walls. And for that, you need a seamless, continuous, durable air and water barrier. And make it vapor-permeable.

Because as Ms. Ferreira puts it, “If you keep the vapor out, you’ll keep the moisture in.”

# # #

Read Full Post »