For many, working out at the gym usually results in being in better shape or higher fitness, but for the four- to six-person crew from Abbruzzese Floors Inc., they got something special out of their gym membership: a coatings job.
Mr. D’s Ultimate Fitness was moving to a new location, which started out as an old wedding venue. To turn it into a gym, the building needed to be rehabbed using the right backdrop for squats, dead lifts, and cardio.
“He knew that I did these types of coatings so he’d asked me for some suggestions on what to do,” said Tony Abbruzzese, president and owner of the coatings contracting firm and member of Mr. D’s. Abbruzzese’s suggestion: a metallic epoxy floor for the foyer. “I showed him the different colors and he loved everything about it,” Abbruzzese continued.
To get to that metallic finish, the crew had to start with a good warmup.
When the crew arrived at the new venue, the floor, which had originally been carpeted, was covered in glue and patching. Abbruzzese had no idea what the concrete looked like underneath; they just had to go for it.
Over the course of three days, the crew worked to prep the 1,500 square feet (139.4 m²) of concrete. They used HTC 500 diamond grinders with 40-grit diamonds on the open areas and 7-inch (17.8 cm) Metabo grinders around the edges of the room.
“It’s all about the prep in this industry,” Abbruzzese explained. “There are no shortcuts with epoxy because if you try a shortcut, you’re going to have a failure.” The crew worked to achieve an International Concrete Repair Institute (ICRI) Concrete Surface Profile (CSP) 3, and they took no shortcuts with safety while doing so.
Not only did the crew wear respirators that Abbruzzese bought from Aramsco when grinding, but they also used prep equipment that was hooked up to vacuums with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)-approved high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters. They continued the safety measures with weekly toolbox talks where Abbruzzese gave the crew members the opportunity to ask questions or voice concerns or ideas.
Abbruzzese said he is always looking for ways to improve, so “if they have a different idea or if they have a special tool in mind that they see is more efficient, safe, or anything like that, we’ll go out and give it a shot and try it. Because if it does, you know, money is no object [when it comes] to safety.”
Despite not knowing what was underneath the glue, it turned out that what they found was concrete in great condition. “We got a nice smooth and flat floor and, actually, it was in very good shape,” Abbruzzese explained. “There were some cracks that we replaced with an epoxy mortar repair and holes that we filled in with an epoxy sand mix, and then once we grinded the floor nice and flat, we left ourselves a nice, perfect floor to start with.”
Once the floor was prepped, the crew shut the ventilation off for 24 hours. They taped any spaces around the doors to ensure there were no drafts. And they wrapped the area in caution tape to keep people from walking on the wet floors.
For the system, the Abbruzzese Floors crew started by laying down a moisture mitigation coating from CMP Specialty Products called Lockdown. “It’s a two-part, 100 percent epoxy that will stop any moisture from permeating through the floor and disbanding the epoxy,” Abbruzzese explained. “Being that it was on grade, I didn’t want to take any chances.”
The crew applied the Lockdown and all other layers at 80 square feet (7.4 m²) per gallon (3.8 L). They also used 3/16th inch (0.5 cm) notch squeegees, loop rollers (because they don’t leave lint in the epoxy), and walk-in cleats. “You have to walk into the material,” Abbruzzese said. “If you’re just operating from a distance you’re not doing it correctly.”
On top of the Lockdown, the crew installed a flood coat from Dur-A-Flex called Dur-A-Gard. That black coating “took care of any deviations that were in the floor: highs, lows, any small little areas,” Abbruzzese said. “It acted basically as a self-level, and we started with a black floor now.”
The final layer was Dur-A-Flex’s ReFLEXions Designer Flooring. In contrast to other systems, the metallic materials in this coating settle in a way unique to each floor. “That’s one of the beauties of the metallic epoxy: It’s going to create its own design and every floor will turn out different. No floor will be the same,” Abbruzzese said.
The job, like the new floor, ended up smooth. It helped that crew members have worked at the company for 5, 8, 12, and even 20 years. “We try to hire guys that have some experience. And actually the last several guys that we hired all had experience and that was good,” Abbruzzese said. When hiring new people, he’s sure to watch how they work to ensure they’ll be a good fit with his crew members. “Sometimes it’s worse to hire a guy who has experience because if he wasn’t taught correctly, it’s hard to teach a guy the correct way unless he wants to learn,” he continued. “But the crew that we do have is a very, very polished crew and they have very good experience.”
Flexibility and Endurance
As far as Abbruzzese is concerned, one of the main keys to the success of this and any other coating project is having extra people. That’s just one of what he calls a “just in case.” “You need plenty of guys when you’re doing this in case something happens because once you start mixing you can’t stop,” he said. If a drill or spikes break, if there’s an electric failure, or any number of other potential issues, the crew has a truck full of extras just in case.
And the preparation — on the floor and with the crew — paid off. “They love it,” Abbruzzese said of Mr. D. “He even said, ‘this actually makes the gym because it’s one of the best parts of the gym.’” And even though, as Abbruzzese joked, no one has any idea what the floor is made of, they all love the look of the new foyer. “Everybody compliments the floor.”
Mr. D has kept up his end of the bargain too. Not only was he sure that “nobody stepped foot on our area,” according to Abbruzzese, but he has also been keeping it clean.
“We’re there a few days a week, and it’s good to see how it’s holding up. It’s holding up fantastic,” Abbruzzese said. “There are very few scratches — you can hardly see anything. It looks just as nice as the day I put it down. He’s doing all the proper maintenance, too: sweeping out the mats, making sure that the approach is dirt-free, sand-free so that the people are not walking in, and he has walk off mats for the people to clean their feet. It’s perfect.”