Leather isn’t just for boots, purses, or saddles anymore. In Glastonbury, Connecticut, the site of an old leather mill has been converted into a modern mixed-use apartment complex called the Tannery. The complex boasts a restaurant, pool, gym, and firepit, as well as an area called the Founders Club, which includes the main social area, kitchen, and a dog grooming facility.
It’s located southeast of Hartford, and it required the use of two different general contractors and a seasoned coating contractor to get the rehab finished in time for future residents.
Originally, the owners wanted most of the concrete floors to be polished. But the 1,900-square-foot (176.5 m²) Founders Club area was right near the entrance to the pool, which meant that water might be tracked in by residents. Atlantic Concrete Coating, which also worked on the exterior concrete and restaurant floors, convinced the powers that be that a coating system with slip resistance was safer. So it was up to their three-person crew to prove it and make the coating system work with the building’s industrial aesthetic.
Coats of Colors
Converting an old mill may create a rustic backdrop for a new apartment building, but it can also offer other less-than-perfect conditions for the contracting crews. The original concrete floors in the Founders Club area had “big holes and craters,” according to Kevin Doyle, owner of Atlantic Concrete Coatings. That’s not the best setup for a floor finish, so new concrete was poured to offer a much better backdrop. “It was in very good condition,” Doyle said of the new pour. The coatings crew came in six months later, when the concrete was all cured and ready to go.
Once onsite, the crew used a Lavina 20N-X grinder with 30/40-grit and then 25-grit diamonds with a Ruwac Red Raider vacuum on the open areas of the floors. Around the edges, they used Metabo hand grinders, which they also used to key in the doorways to promote adhesion of the coatings. They wore safety glasses and dust masks when working on the surface prep portion of the job.
In total, the surface prep took one day of the total five-day project. The team had to stay in constant communication with the management teams to allow coordination between trades. “We worked alongside the electricians, plumbers, every trade possible,” Doyle said. “We work with them as much as possible.” That was especially true once the crew started laying down the coatings because, as he explained, at that time “they had to get out.”
Wearing gloves and glasses, the crew started in on the first layer, Dur-A-Glaze #4 WB Primer, which was rolled out to an average of 200 square feet per gallon (4.9 m²/L). The crew pigmented the primer to add to the solid background for the decorative layer later.
Next, the crew applied the body coat, Dur-A-Gard, at an average of 100 square feet per gallon (2.5 m²/L). Again, a solid color was used for that layer, this time gray, to help hide any joints or imperfections in the concrete. It’s “kind of a precaution,” Doyle explained.
The third layer in the system was the main star of the show: ReFLEXions. The crew applied this in a titanium color at an average of 80 square feet per gallon (2.0 m²/L). Here, the crew used an uneven rolling pattern to encourage the way the pigment laid down. Uneven rolling patterns in this layer helped give the floor its granite-like finish.
And the final coat, Armor Top in satin, was applied to an average of 750 square feet per gallon (18.4 m²/L). Into the Armor Top kit, the crew mixed Dur-A-Grit, the aluminum oxide used to help resist slippage for those pool-goers.
Using Dur-A-Flex products certainly helped as far as safety protocols that were needed on this job. With low volatile organic compounds (VOCs), the crew didn’t have to worry about ventilation or respirators. But, as with any other flooring job, they did have to worry about people affecting the cure.
According to Doyle, this project had “constant foot traffic.” Lots of other trades on site will do that! Luckily, none of the trespassers entered the area before the coatings cured, which just meant that during the sanding phase in between each layer of the coating system, the Atlantic Concrete Coatings crew had to use tack rags with a solvent to ensure all dust, oils, and dirt were removed — something they’d do anyway to remove any remaining sanded particles. For that step, the crew used 100-grit sandpaper on stand-up floor buffers and wore glasses and ear protection.
There was one potential unexpected “trespasser” that they hadn’t planned on. “We had one hiccup where the sprinkler system was needing to be tested,” Doyle said. They didn’t know exactly when that would happen, but, regardless, the prospect of having water on the floor before any coatings had cured was “pretty scary,” he continued. Luckily, that didn’t come to pass and the floors were left sprinkle-free.
On top of those stressors, Doyle was also dealing with a 1.5-hour commute from home to the jobsite every day and his wife had just recently delivered their first baby right before the start of this job. “It certainly made it difficult,” he said succinctly. Of course, he would have preferred to have been home taking care of his growing family, but this was already a tight timeframe and delaying the start wasn’t possible.
Leavin’ It Clean
Doyle’s goal is to have his crew leave the site and for people to not even know that they were there. They usually clean up any trash, spills, or leftover materials, and this job was no different.
By the time the crew got to the floors in the Founders Club, they’d already completed all other work at the Tannery. That meant that after the final coating was laid down, it was time for the Atlantic Concrete Coatings crew to hit the road.
The crew has been back to the Tannery since they left this past July. The complex hosted an event to thank everyone involved and to throw a grand opening. The crew’s work continues to stand up despite all of the partygoers. If properly maintained, there should be no well-worn leathery looks for these floors!