Randomized Masonry Stone Form Liner, Finished Wall, Duluth,MN

Natural Finish Countertop, Amery, WI Photo by Branson Interiors.

Simulated Stone Guard Wall, HWY140, El Portal Rd-Yosemite

Paul Nasvik, who describes his education as 'the school of hard rocks' says, "I left college quickly in order to learn." Nasvik's learning is deep, comprehensive and always project driven. His learning results in products like patented decorative form liner systems, precasting concrete countertops, unique mix-designs for concrete countertops, and thin concrete rock boulders. Nasvik's interest began early while working for his father's small remodeling company in Minnesota. He is full of stories about his Dad and his highly individualistic brothers, all involved in the Decorative Concrete industry. Nasvik's creativity is as a molder and a precast concrete manufacturer in Wisconsin with his company Milestones, Inc., Hudson, WI.

The Nasvik Family—Contributors to the History of Decorative Concrete

The Nasvik brothers began their construction education as teenagers, doing carpentry and stone masonry, mixing concrete and performing odd jobs for their dad. Paul said that his dad's contribution was innovation, creativity and his effort to do quality work. He adds, "He always looked at and did things differently. The down side was his problems with job organization and the chaos that resulted from too many projects happening at once—things that we laugh about now. We were usually a crew of two and dad preferred mixing his own concrete by hand. We didn't dare order ready-mix concrete. We mixed sand, aggregate and Portland in a small concrete mixer to make the concrete for a job. The two of us, hand-mixed up to 8 yards of concrete in a day. Dad wheeled concrete until he was 70." The brothers learned what not to repeat, along with the fascination for concrete they share today.

To look at the Nasvik family's contribution to decorative concrete is to see pieces of the history for the whole movement. From the oldest son Joe, through Peter, Jon and Paul, there are major contributions to this industry. Peter was the first to become involved as an early Bomanite Contractor and soon branched into artificial rockwork, bringing Glass Fiber Reinforced Concrete (GFRC) to rock creation. Jon, Paul and Joe all worked with Peter in some form coming into the industry. Jon developed the 2-part Urethane open tools while working with Peter and later on his own, worked with casting plastics to create imprinting tools that were molded from real patterned stone. Some of those first patterns commissioned by the Bomanite Corp. were Ashlar Slate and Stacked Bond Brick at the request of Disney for the Florida, Epcott Center. Paul worked with Peter leading the field in the use of GFRC to create realistic and lightweight artificial rock formations that grace theme parks, zoos, and hotel water amenities today.

Meanwhile, Joe Nasvk switched from college professor to become a Bomanite Contractor in Chicago installing projects throughout the Chicago Metro area and the state of Illinois. Paul Nasvik describes his brothers as each needing to go their own way: now Joe Nasvik is the Sr. Editor at Concrete Construction Magazine and writes prolifically on concrete technology and the decorative industry. Peter Nasvik is active with a new company, ThemeScapes, Inc. in Minnesota continuing rockwork and themeing in the U.S. and abroad. Jon Nasvik's high level of creativity drives his company, Clliffhangers, Inc. in Idaho. He continues to develop new tools, design and install creative rock formations, construct concrete countertops and be involved in high-end decorative installation. Paul's contribution with Milestones Inc. is significant including: artificial rock formations, lightweight stone masonry form liners, and most recently, self-reinforcing countertop mixes.

When others know you are an innovator, they bring interesting ideas and projects. "When you do something crazy, crazier people find you," is how Paul states it. That philosophy led to new learning and meeting right people that base each step of progress. Paul's career began with stamped concrete installations and then added artificial rockwork. He learned how to apply texture to concrete and developed mixes to mend, patch, and join artificial rock panels together. Creating form liners was a natural next step.

Randomized Stone Masonry Form Liner

Using his experience with paving, molding, texturing, and coloring vertical rock formations, Nasvik came up with a method of simulating stone masonry using lightweight from liners that he could rotate.

Formliners Fit to Construction Form, Completed Wall in Back

That technology produced non-repetitive stone pattern form liner for multiple or limited use. It's designed to hide liner shapes and pattern repeats. He used Urethane plastic composites to manufacture incredibly realistic stone patterns with as much a 12" of relief. The key was to make them lightweight (approximately 5.5 lbs./sq.ft), but still able to withstand the lateral pressures of fresh concrete. His completed projects include the historic bridge reconstructions on the Merritt Parkway, CT, bridges retaining walls and guard-walls in Yellowstone, Mount Rainier, Sequoia and Yosemite National Parks, as well as numerous walls and bridges around the U.S.

Pre-casting Concrete Countertops...Finding the Filament

Thin Mix Countertop, Gray with Crushed Red and White Glass, Cast and Polished by Milestones, Inc., Installation, Design and Photo, Branson Interiors.

Paul Nasvik says that he likes the control of variables available to a precast manufacturer. Inspired by his brother Jon's cast-in-place countertops, Paul began a search for a reliable mix design using the precast method.

Paul wanted to solve problems associated with long countertops, sink cut outs and tight corners...distributing the load away from those loaded stress areas. Re-bar often creates a weakened plane doing more damage than good. Steel fiber was an option but is hard to work with and dangerous to handle. Trying an Alkaline resistant structural fiberglass reinforcement turned out to be the solution for safely producing a ¾ inch thick panel up to 14 feet long with a sink in the middle. The glass fiber reinforced concrete (GFRC), sprayed into the mold, Paul likens to casting a fiberglass boat. The magic of the fibers is that they slide against each other without breaking apart. There is no direct shear point inside, and the bound fibers keep their integrity. Paul explains, "If the filaments are loose, it weakens the panel." However, GFRC doesn't polish well—fibers can easily be seen on the polished surface.

The Search for A Unique Countertop Mix

Granite City Tool needed a countertop mix for their Granite contractors. Their contractors owned polishing equipment and were receiving requests to install concrete countertops. Granite City challenged Paul to supply mix material that could flow into molds without vibrating, de-mold quickly and then be polished like stone. Paul was energized by the request. He wanted a mix that was self-consolidating, easy to mix, quick curing, self-reinforcing and that had a continuous look no matter how deep it was polished. He searched for a different fiber than fiberglass, and fine enough to polish. The structural rated fiber he discovered is finer than a strand of hair. This new synthetic product has good tensile strength and achieves an incredible natural bond to concrete. The fiber controls shrinkage cracking and adds reinforcing strength. And it polishes with no fibers visible. The new mix is called Milestone's Thin Mix.

Milestone's Thin Mix comes as a natural grey colored rich mix, one part Portland and one part small aggregate fines. Super plasticizers and self-consolidating technology play a role, but the mix is not completely self-leveling. You have to move the material around in the mold. Thin mix comes as 2-components: the Liquid component with fibers and the dry ingredients. Using a paddle mixer, mix the ingredients all at once so color does not vary and the complete top can be cast all at once. Colorant, special aggregates, or colored glass may be added. For decorative options, polish for a final finish, leave it natural, or apply chemical stain.

Veined Top, Custom Color, Router Beveled Edges. Designed, Cast and Polished by Countertops Unlimited, Morgantown, WV. Photo Courtesy of Countertops Unlimited.

There Is More to Come

There are always new ideas at Milestone Inc. One is to make re-usable countertop molds with different profiles. Another is to develop new mixes for countertops with sink block outs. The new mix would tolerate lengths to 25 feet, ¾ inch thick with 1 ½ inch drop edge fronts. "I dreams of finding a product I can just manufacture but my greatest strength seems to be innovating new products," says Paul. To that end, a wood veneer artist came to Nasvik with an idea to create pattern and graphics in concrete similar to what he already did in wood. The concrete would reflect light almost as though digitalized. The two explored a way to cast the patterns and presented the idea to highway designers as an inexpensive way to dress up sound walls. Maybe Paul is one of the "crazy-creative" types that others look to for solutions. Clearly, his gifts and energies turn innovative ideas into practical products.

For More Product Information:

Go to www.milestones-online.com

Or call 1-888-381-9660

For Milestones "Thin Mix" and or countertop molds and profiles contact Nick at Granite City Tool 1-800-328-7094

Or call toll free 1-888-381-9660

Jeanne Fields is the owner of Fields Marketing, which provides marketing services for contractors and manufacturers in the decorative concrete industry.