When a popular crafts material manufacturer decided to completely renovate its visitor center, one of the goals was to create a fun and innovative lobby and entranceway that would reflect the imaginative spirit of the attractions and interactive exhibits housed inside. Installing a unique and colorful flooring system was part of the plan to rejuvenate the building and demonstrate to visitors the power of creativity. Read on to learn how Durex Coverings and Key Resin Company teamed up to give the lobby and exhibit entrance a vibrant new flooring system that is truly a work of art.
Located in downtown Easton, Pa., this one-of-a-kind venue offers 21 attractions and interactive exhibits designed to spark the imaginations of children and adults alike. The visitor center is open to the public and also caters to school children and groups who are interested in having a colorful and creative experience. “The entire visitor center underwent a revitalization and remodel. It was closed to the public for several months in 2013, and it was during this time that Durex Coverings installed the new flooring system in the lobby and entrance areas,” said Jon Lattin of Key Resin Company. However, according to Dean Bucher of Durex, the design phase of the project began months before the coatings application occurred.
To create just the right look and feel for the floor, Bucher and his team worked with Key Resin, the building owner, architect, designer, and general contractor to come up with the right color palette as well as the best design and application method of the “splats” of color that are featured throughout the 4,700-square-foot (437 m²) area.
“In about June 2012, we began meeting about the visitor center’s floor. The old floor was comprised of a 30-year-old vinyl flake and clear finish system of unknown chemistry. The original plan was to go with a standard chip system, but as we began investigating options, it was decided to apply Key Resin’s Key Luster Metallic coating system,” explained Bucher.
According to Lattin, the Key Luster Metallic system is a blend of clear resins and metallic pigments that allow coatings applicators to use their creativity and expertise to create works of art on the floor. Once it was decided to go with the Key Luster Metallic system, the next step was to determine the color palette and placement of the splats, as well as how to create the splats with clean, crisp lines. Bucher described the process as a collaborative effort with all team members working together to reach a final decision.
Although the ultimate method that Durex used for the splat application is proprietary, Bucher revealed the following: “We simulated creating the splats in our warehouse to get the process perfected before we applied the coating system on the lobby floor of the visitor center. Luckily, we had ample time to consider exactly how we were going to design and install the color splats.” Ultimately, the team decided upon a basecoat in a coral color and five splat colors that would create a fresh, modern, and fun look.
Ready, Set, Prep
With the color palette and splat method finalized, it was time for the 4-to-6-man Durex crew to get started on the surface preparation process. “The existing 60–70-mil [1,524–1,178 microns] floor system was found to be structurally intact, so we didn’t have to remove the coating entirely,” said Bucher. However, the crew did need to prepare the substrate to receive the new coating system. They used Terrco diamond grinders and Milwaukee high-speed grinders in the first step of the surface prep process, and then they used a Blastrac shot blaster to create the profile necessary for proper adhesion of the Key Luster Metallic coating system. All dust and debris created during the surface prep process was vacuumed up with CDC Larue pulsebac vacuums.
During all grinding and shot blasting, as well as throughout the project, the crew wore safety goggles and face masks when needed. And because the upper levels of the facility were being used by employees, Bucher and his crew were especially aware of all safety requirements. “As we do on all our jobs, we complied with OSHA [Occupational Safety and Health Administration] standards while we were working on each aspect of the installation of the flooring system.”
Time to Get Creative
Once the surface prep was completed, the crew laid down a white primer coat (Key Resin #502) at a thickness of 12–14 mils [305–356 microns]. This primer coat not only acted as a protective layer on the newly prepared substrate but also as “clean canvas” for the applicators. “The white primer created one uniform undercoat for the application of the Key Luster Metallic system,” explained Lattin.
At this point, it was time for the installation of the Key Luster Metallic. Two coats were applied at a thickness of approximately 16 mils [406 microns] each. The crew squeegeed the material onto the floor and then back-rolled in a random figure-eight pattern over the wet resin. “This process causes the luster pigment to catch the light and disperse it in different ways. This is what gives the floor its unique metallic look,” said Lattin.
And now it was time for the crew to get creative! “After the second coat of the Key Luster Metallic was applied, we inlaid the splats in designated areas throughout the lobby,” said Bucher. For the splats, pigment packs were added to Key Resin’s #470 Polyaspartic, a rapidly curing, aliphatic polyaspartic polyurea coating.
With the splats carefully and artistically applied, the crew installed a clear coat of Key Resin’s #470 Polyaspartic throughout the entire area at a thickness of just over four mils [102 microns]. “The #470 Polyaspartic provides a high-gloss, UV [ultraviolet] stable, and highly durable surface,” explained Lattin. The crew also included a fine, non-skid additive in the topcoat for the safety of visitors, as well as to enhance the durability of the floor. For the final touch, Bucher and his crew used 15-inch [38 cm] Clarke sanders to screen disc the floor.
Grand Opening Time Crunch
Bucher is quick to admit that this job was unusual and a great deal of fun; however, it was not without its challenges. Because of the renovation that was happening throughout the building, Bucher and his crew were at the mercy of other trades as far as their work schedule was concerned. When it was time for the Durex crew to get down to business, they were put in a serious time crunch. “The job took 10 days to complete, but because of the schedule for the grand opening, we had to work those days straight in a row to make sure we finished on time,” said Bucher. Fortunately, the expert crew pushed through and completed the job on schedule — and with artistic flair.
Creative and Collaborative Spirit
For both Lattin and Bucher, the ability to do something creative in a facility that is devoted to stimulating the imagination was one of the most rewarding aspects of the job. Bucher was also happy to be part of a project that is located in an area of town that is being revitalized. “Easton is a cool little city on the rebound. It’s neat to be a part of the restoration of a great visitor attraction in that part of town,” said Bucher. He was also impressed with the degree of cooperation that existed between each of the parties involved. “It was a collaborative effort, and every person involved worked cooperatively towards coming up with the best possible outcome.”