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  • Decorative epoxy floor offers brilliant, coppery sheen.
  • A shotblaster removes mastic left behind by old vinyl tile covering.
  • An underlayment leveled the floor and filled in pockmarks. It was then buffed with an orbital sander.
  • Two coats of charcoal-pigmented cementitious topping create a dark base coat.
  • A close-up of the finished floor, showing the swirls of color and the glittery accents.

Customers who visit the upscale ITan salon in Norwalk, Conn., may leave with a sun-kissed glow, but it will pale in comparison to the brilliant, coppery sheen of the tanning salon's decorative epoxy floor. The 1,800-square-foot overlay, installed by Don Pinger of Custom Concrete Solutions, delivers all the razzle dazzle the salon owner was after, glistening with russet-orange tones that complement the bright color scheme used throughout the space.

Custom Concrete Solutions specializes in decorative concrete resurfacing for both residential and commercial clients. They view each project as a new canvas on which to practice their artistry, using custom color blends, pattern, and other special effects to embellish their work. On this project, an interplay of three different metallic color additives, enhanced by accents of glitter, provided the drama.

"The owner had a flare for lively colors and wanted an ultra-modern look to tie in not only with the rest of the d├ęcor, but also with the state-of-the-art tanning equipment," says Pinger. After meeting with the owner and his designer, Pinger prepared a few samples for approval. "The first sample I made was exactly what he wanted," Pinger says. "The owner has three other tanning salons where he's used tile or vinyl flooring, but he was never happy with the look."

The entire project took six days to complete, including one day devoted to shotblasting the existing floor, patchwork, and leveling. "We had to remove vinyl tile and mastic from a pretty nasty, uneven concrete floor," Pinger explains. "Because the aggregate in the concrete contained volcanic rock, thousands of pockmarks were left in the floor after we shotblasted."

To fill the holes and level the floor, Pinger and his crew applied a fast-setting concrete underlayment (Ardex SD-P) prior to resurfacing. Once the underlayment set, they buffed the floor with an orbital sander and then applied two coats of charcoal-pigmented cementitious topping (Thin-Finish from Elite Crete) to create a rustic counterpoint to the metallic sheen the customer wanted. The dark base coats also helped to hide all of the ghosting from the pattern lines left behind by the tiles.

How the look was achievedPinger achieved the shimmery effects by infusing two epoxy coatings with metallic pigments (Reflector Enhancer from Elite Crete) in three different color blends: russet, orange-gold, and charcoal. Reflector contains micro-particles designed to reflect and refract light to create a natural metallic or aged-stone patina when used in high-build clear resin epoxies. It will reflect light differently depending on the color of the surface it's applied to and the viewing angle.

By adding the metallic additives in different concentrations, Pinger was able to create varying degrees of opacity. "The concentration you use is based on the substrate you start with and the look you're after," says Pinger. "Sometimes you want to hide it, sometimes you want a little of it to show through as a counterpoint, like we did here." To give the floor a celestial look, Pinger's crew randomly dusted on two different colors of glitter (SpectraLock Dazzle from Laticrete), using gold to complement the orange-gold metallic tones and opalescent pearl to enhance the more transparent charcoal pigment.

As a final sealer for the epoxy coatings and to enhance the glossy sheen, the crew applied a high-solids clear urethane. This was followed by three coats of a super-high-gloss finish wax (NCL One from National Chemical Laboratories). The 100%-solids epoxy and urethane combination makes for an extremely durable floor, Pinger says. "If the owner maintains it by sweeping regularly and an occasional light mopping, this floor will last for a good 15 years or more."

Tools and techniquesPinger has used Elite Crete's Reflector-enhanced epoxy with great success on other jobs, but says that it requires some practice and finesse to achieve the exact look you're after. "If you are doing multiple colors, it's often helpful to place a base or primer coat of epoxy with the predominant Reflector color. Then the subsequent coats can be played with a little to get the effect you want."

He also likes to use a variety of tools when applying the epoxy to create unique decorative effects. On this job, the base coat went down with a basic squeegee and a back roller. To apply the second, more decorative coat, however, he used three different sizes of magic trowels. Then, to create dramatic swirls of color, he swept over select areas with pool trowels attached to long wood clamps. For the finishing touch, he sprinkled on the SpectraLock Dazzle glitter using a simple gadget found in the kitchen: a powdered-sugar shaker.

"A lot depends on the look you're after," says Pinger. "Each job is slightly different in its approach, and that's what makes it so much fun."

Custom Concrete Solutions, LLC
West Hartford, CT 06107

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