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Stephens and Smith Construction Create Showroom Floor That ShinesBy Juliet Farmer, ConcreteNetwork.com Columnist
Showrooms have the unique ability to allow customers to get up close and personal with products. Yet, more often than not, the flooring used in a showroom is given about as much thought as what to have for dinner (if that).
The people at Productivity Inc., located in La Vista, Nebraska, knew it was going to take something special to set their showroom apart. They wanted a place to highlight the broad range of machine tools they sell, including machining centers, die and mold equipment, grinders and fabrication machinery, and they decided that a polished concrete floor would show off their best assets-their equipment.
Manufacturer LifeTime Floors LLC had already provided materials for some of Productivity's other showroom locations in Minnesota with great success, so the company asked LifeTime to find a local contractor trained by the manufacturer, and Stephens and Smith Construction, Co. Inc., in Lincoln, Nebraska, fit the bill.
"They wanted a nice, reflective, durable floor, with the ability to move the machines in and out with a forklift without doing any damage to a finished floor," recalls Steve Willis, Vice President of Stephens and Smith Construction.
Using LifeTime's Floors Mosaic product, Stephens and Smith's flatwork and polishing crews did just that--they created a highly-reflective, durable floor that serves to spotlight Productivity's line of machines.
Starting with a base slab of six inches of concrete that was poured two hours before Stephens and Smith arrived, Gary Ebert and his flatwork placement crew set up and started the wet on wet process. When the concrete was dry enough to walk on but still setting up, Lifetime Floors Mosaic was screeded on to the floor at a ¾" of thickness and power troweled into place. This wet on wet application provides an integral slab.
LifeTime Floors Mosaic Floor Systems are designed primarily for retail and commercial settings, but have also been applied in residential applications. The Mosaic is a special blend of aggregates, binders and integral colors that provide an architectural look by exposing the aggregate. To apply the Mosaic, Stephens and Smith rented a ready-mix truck to mix the product and then unloaded it into wheelbarrows to spread it around.
"We could do that much easier than pumping it due to the fact that it was only being applied at ¾- to 1-inch thickness," Willis explained, adding that about 5,000 square feet of topping was used and placed in about five hours.
To level the material, a crucial step in achieving a shiny floor, their crews used a vibra strike vibrating screed, followed by floats and bump rods to flatten it out.
To create the flattest surface possible, which would enable the floor to polish beautifully, Ebert and his flatwork crew then used a riding power trowel with pizza pans on it to further flatten the floor, which took another three hours.
The last step was power troweling to ensure the surface was flat, dense and ready to be polished. The entire place and finish process took approximately nine hours.
"You can't have dips or imperfections in the surface when you're going to polish it," Willis says regarding the time-consuming process. "You need to get a nice even honing with polish machines, or the floor won't look consistent when it's done. Being able to install and finish the topping, as well as polish, it definitely has its advantages. Our flatwork crews understand the flatness issues when it comes to polishing and they go the extra mile to insure flatness."
Stephens and Smith then left the floor to cure for seven days before coming in with polishing machines. Because the clients wanted a decorative aggregate exposure, Willis honed the floor with metal bonded diamonds using the HTC 800HD machine. To get just the right amount of exposure, it took two machines and about 24hours to achieve the right look.
Using progressive steps of diamonds, Willis honed the floor further, starting with a heavy, 40 grit metal diamond, then stepping to an 80 grit, then 150 grit, then 300 grit, before dropping to a 200 resin diamond. Willis says the drop from metal bonded diamonds to resin bonded diamonds is what really makes the floor pop and shine.
The floor was then polished with 200 grit resin, 400 grit resin and 800 grit resin, before Willis stopped at a 1,500 grit polish to get the shine that the customer desired. During the polishing process, a hardener densifier was also used to harden the surface of the concrete. The total polishing process took about four days.
To help protect the floor, Willis used a stain guard material applied with a micro fiber applicator, which was spread onto the floor and evened out with the applicator.
To really give the floor that extra something, Willis then burnished it with a propane burner. "The burnishing is optional," he explained," but it really makes it shine. We did it to dress it up a little bit before turning it over to the customer."
By then, the floor was completely dry, yet Willis recommended no heavy loads on it for up to 10 days to protect the finish.resulting floor is so sparkly and clean-looking it shines like diamonds and brilliantly sets off the machines it showcases. Most importantly, the clients are thrilled and have used the flooring system in many of their facilities, with plans to continue to do so.
What's more, Willis already signed another job by using the Productivity floor as a sample. "We polished the floor for an art gallery in downtown Omaha as a result of this job," Willis says, "as they were able to see the floor and liked it."
Willis says the benefits of LifeTime Floor products are numerous, including the fact that it produces a low-maintenance floor system that does not require wax and only needs to be cleaned with a PH-neutral cleanser on a regular basis. In addition, it creates a surface that's extremely light reflective and is available in 12 integral colors and 16 different specialty aggregate blends. "That way," he explains," you are able to expose as much aggregate as your customer would like and maintain consistent color."
The floor is also a breathable system. This eliminates issues of bubbling and debonding of coatings or floor applications, which can cause huge issues when moisture migration is apparent. The fact that the Mosaic Systems can double the serviceable life of concrete while producing a permanent floor finish greatly reduces the life cycle costs of the installed system. Mosaic Systems are great for theaters, restaurants, schools, shopping centers and other commercial floor applications.
Willis points out that a contractor needs to be licensed applicator and specially trained to use the product, a service that Tom Graf with LifeTime Floors of Hudson, Wisconsin, provides.
"I really like the finished product-a highly reflective surface that's beautiful," concludes Willis. "I love that at the end of every job, I know the floor will be beautiful and trouble free for a long time. It's nice to see a quality floor go down like that."
Stephens & Smith Construction, Co. Inc.
1542 So 1st
Lincoln, NE. 68502
Office: (402) 479-6433
Fax: (402) 479-6439
Mobile: (402) 525-8786
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