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Ewa Makai Middle School in Ewa Beach, Hawaii, has taken the concept of school colors to a new level, using a dynamic blend of teal, robin’s egg blue, and lilac throughout its facility to rev up school spirit. The colors form an array of geometric patterns on the concrete floors in the classrooms, hallways, and recreation areas. Coordinating accent colors were used on the school’s doors, cabinets, and desks.

Ewa Makai opened to students in January 2011 and is the first school in Hawaii to achieve LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council for sustainable construction, design, and operation. It is also the first public school in the state to receive a National Green Ribbon School award from the U.S. Department of Education, which honors schools that take a comprehensive approach to creating green environments by reducing environmental impact and promoting health.

Part of that approach to sustainable construction was the decision by the architect to stain the school’s concrete floors rather than cover them with vinyl tile. The ORIGINAL Solid Color Stain™ from NewLook was chosen not only because it could be custom blended to match the architect’s color scheme, but also because the stain is eco-friendly and free of VOCs and toxic fumes.

The 104,000-square-foot project involved meticulous prep work to create the ideal surface for stain application. Contractor Ken Tyson of Tyson's Inc., Kailua, Hawaii, and his crew started by grinding the floor with diamond tooling and then applying NewLook’s EcoAcid, an environmentally friendly exfoliating cleanser to open up the pores. To keep the stain colors separate, score marks were cut into the concrete using an angle grinder.

“At the beginning of each day our foreman, Malena Santos, would lay out laminated colored paper which matched the color to be applied. Each worker would have their own color. We were very careful not to color the other sections,” says Tyson. To apply the stain, the crew used brushes rather than sprayers to keep the color contained. After staining, the floor was sealed with two coats of water-based sealer and two coats of floor wax.

Tyson says he uses The ORIGINAL Solid Color Stain™ from NewLook on many of his projects because the colors are reliable. “I can always guarantee the color on the chart will match the color of the finished floor. With acid stains, you are at the will of the concrete. You have an idea of what the end results will be, but there is no way to show the customer, since no two concrete slabs are the same. With NewLook concrete stains, I can make a sample off site and it will be the same as the finished project.”

Materials used
Concrete stains: The ORIGINAL Solid Color Stain™ in custom blended colors, NewLook
Water-based sealer: NewLook SmartSeal WB
Concrete cleaner and etching compound: NewLook EcoAci

Staining contractor
Ken Tyson
Tyson's Inc., Kailua, Hawaii

Mitsunaga & Associates, Honolulu

General contractor
Nordic PCL Construction, Honolulu

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