Concrete News Project Profile – Southridge Elementary School Casper, Wyoming

Who can forget the quote from the movie Armageddon when Steve Buscemi turns to Bruce Willis and says, "270,000 moving parts and all built by the lowest bidder? It really makes you feel good going into outer space on a mission doesn't it?" Today's construction business, unfortunately, isn't much different.

Students and faculty at the Southridge Elementary School in Casper, Wyoming, were shocked when they were informed that their brand, new school would not be ready for the August 19th start of the school year. The project managers cited many construction delays and quality issues, including the polished concrete floors deemed unacceptable by the architect. The building was 100% complete and ready to be occupied when the architect demanded the general contractor order a re-polish of the entire school. The cove base was in place, walls painted, carpet laid, and cabinets set. The firm had hired a well-known concrete consulting company to assess the situation. Their 20-page report indicated that the floor did not meet the standards of the specification and should be re-polished and dyed.

Re-working an existing polished concrete job is no easy task—let alone when it's in a new, completed building. Not just any polishing contractor can pull off the project. The school's floor design had very intricate dye patterns. There were thousands of linear feet of edging work to be re-done, and the entire floor had to be cut-down to the required aggregate exposure level. Several contractors, including the original low bidder that was awarded the job, turned down the general contractor's request for proposal.

Freddie Gwynn, owner of Polished Concrete of Wyoming, walked the job with the contracting superintendent of the project and discussed the potential remedy. Gwynn said, "It's not going to be cheap, but it will be right."

Gwynn and the project manager agreed upon a ridged timetable to complete the work. In order to ensure proper execution, Gwynn brought in another highly qualified FGS Permashine contractor, Shawn Weaver of Concrete Floor Systems based in Denver, Colorado.

Their first task was to cover and protect all of the walls and in-place fixtures throughout the building. Their crew put plastic down from floor to ceiling in order to minimize dust contamination and avoid damaging the finished, painted walls.

The edging work was perhaps the biggest task to tackle. Crews spent countless hours hand grinding and polishing right up to in-place carpeting and installed cove base.

The surfaces were all cut to the proper aggregate exposure. Due to impurities in the concrete sand in that area, a grout coat was necessary in order to fill all of the micro pitting in the surface. The floor was then ground to 400 grit levels followed by the first coat of L&M LiON Hard densifier. The crew then ground the floor to 800 grit levels and applied L&M VIVID DYE translucent concrete dye. They topped the VIVID DYE with the second application of LiON Hard densifier to complete rejection to lock-in the dye. Final polishing steps brought the entire building up to the specified 1,500 grit level.

Rick Skatula, Principal of the Southridge School, was thrilled with Shawn and Freddie and their polishing crew. "They should be proud," reported Rick, "we are very pleased with our floors and with the two contractors."

The moral of the story is well summed up by the old cliché by Aldo Gucci where he says: "The bitterness of poor quality is long remembered after the sweetness of low price fades from memory."

It is all too often in our quest for getting the job at all costs that we forget that the client really wants superior quality. It is the concrete polisher's job to demonstrate that in their efforts both before and after securing the work, especially performing mock-ups prior to job acceptance. Always test.

Congratulations to Polished Concrete of Wyoming and Concrete Floor Systems of Denver for a job well done!

William L. Butler
Regional Sales Manager
Phone: 920.450.2932

About the Author:
Bill Butler is a sales and tech rep for LATICRETE. He has worked in the concrete industry since 1976 and has been involved with ready mix trucks, concrete admixtures and construction products for the concrete industry. His approach to helping contractors and installers "do things right the first time" or when necessary, "doing things right the second time" is to ask good questions, be thorough, and learn from mistakes instead of repeating them.

Freddie Gwynn
Polished Concrete of Wyoming
1309 Steele St.
Laramie, WY 82070

Shawn Weaver
Concrete Floor Systems
1820 W Baker Ave.
Englewood, CO 80110

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© 2015 L&M Construction Chemicals, Inc. | ConcreteNews Summer 2015.

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