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  • The new concrete stairway for Woody's Library Restaurant was poured right on top of the remaining base of the old stairs, which were deteriorating badly after many decades of exposure to deicing salts and weathering.
  • Anchoring the forms for the stairway and sidewalls required drilling into the existing concrete base. Two layers of plywood were used to provide more rigid support and allow the formwork to curve up the stairway.
  • The entire stairway, including the sidewalls, was poured at one time. The concrete truck parked on a mountain of gravel at the base of the stairs so the concrete could be delivered right out of the chute without the need for a pump truck.
  • The stairway after finishing and form removal. The only decorative treatment was a light broom finish.
  • The finishing touches included installing light poles and metal handrails and sawcutting a control joint down the middle of the stairway.
  • Another view of the newly restored stairway.

The challengeLocated in the former Andrew Carnegie Library built in 1913, Woody's Library Restaurant in Carmel, Ind., is a very popular local eating establishment as well as an historic landmark. Unfortunately, the existing concrete stairway to the building had seen a lot of history as well and needed a major rehab.

“One day while eating there for lunch, we spoke with owner Kevin ‘Woody’ Rider about how his front steps were falling apart. He mentioned how the building was a landmark and how important it would be to maintain the original design without disturbing the building or surroundings during demolition,” says Dan Mattingly of Mattingly Concrete Inc. That conversation led to the subsequent hiring of his company to do the restoration work.

Despite the visible signs of deterioration, the existing stairway gave Mattingly’s crew a good base to build on. “The foundation of the old stairs was in great shape for being how old they were. But the treads, risers, sidewalls, and noses of the steps were failing terribly,” says Mattingly. “We decided to ‘surgically’ cut the top 2 feet off the stairs completely and leave the foundation there, as this would reduce the chance of damaging the actual building.”

How it was doneSince the restaurant was located in a busy area of downtown Carmel, the mayor and city council stipulated a deadline for the job to be completed within a 5-day work week. Half of that time involved assembling the complex formwork for the new stairway.

“My crew and I decided on a way to form the sides and anchor the wall sections to the foundation that we had left originally, all while cantilevering the edge. We used two layers of plywood overlapped to allow more rigid support while allowing the formwork to bend up the stairway,” says Mattingly.

The entire job, which also included the stair landing and sidewalk, required about 18 cubic yards of concrete. “We poured the entire set of steps with walls at one time. All in all, there were about seven of us there during the pour. Rather than pump the concrete and make a huge mess, we decided to make a mountain of gravel on the city sidewalk for the concrete trucks to drive up on. The city, restaurant owner, and I all agreed we could do this more easily than having a big pump truck there for an otherwise small volume of concrete,” Mattingly explains.

Because the intention was to match the look of the original concrete stairway as closely as possible, no color or other decorative treatment was used. “Other than a single sawcut control joint going up the middle of the stairs and some light poles at the ends of the walls, the design didn’t change much from the original,” says Mattingly.

A reputation for restorationAlthough Mattingly Concrete does install new decorative stamped concrete, they specialize in restoring existing concrete. “Our company has maintained a great reputation in particular for quality concrete restoration and decorative concrete work. We specialize in the toughest concrete restoration jobs out there,” says Mattingly, who started the company in 1987 with only one pickup truck and one employee. Their reputation is what has kept the company thriving for all these years and has turned out to be their best generator of new business. “We hardly advertise, other than our website. In our 25 years of business, 90% of our business is referrals, says Mattingly.

ContractorMattingly Concrete Inc., Indianapolis, Ind.

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