Coatings Lock Down
By Jen Kramer
It is always good to work outside of your comfort zone. For one Minnesota coatings contractor, that meant going to jail. “We were hired to solve the delamination and moisture issue at the Carver County Jail in Chaska, Minnesota,” says Greg Stier, the owner of Bulwark Coatings. Although the concrete flooring in the 111-bed capacity jail seemed to be in good condition, the laminate flooring was coming up throughout the 17 year-old facility.
“The vinyl composition tile (VCT) flooring on top of the concrete was pushing up everywhere and the jail’s owners knew that they had a problem,” Stier explains. “So they did some research and found my contracting company, Bulwark Coatings, and Citadel Polyurea Coatings.”
The location may have been out of Stier’s comfort zone, but the proposed products were not. Bulwark Coatings and Citadel have been working together for years. “I apply Citadel polyurea systems in both residential and commercial settings. The jail’s specs called for removal of the delaminated VCT, sealing the concrete with Citadel’s Ultra Hydro-Stop H2O, applying Citadel’s Poly100-SC coating, followed by Citadel’s Polyurea-1 HD Top Coat. That was the proposed solution.” And it was one he’d successfully applied many times before. The only thing that remained was for the Bulwark crew to join the inmates in “the big house.”
The Safest Jobsite Ever
The first phase of the project encompassed 5,000 square feet (464.5m2), to which they ultimately added another 3,000 square feet (278.71m2). “But these floors aren’t straightforward like a garage or a warehouse,” Stier enthusiastically explains. “The square footage is divided between cells, walkways, dining areas—it is a real mixed bag. And never boring.”
That lack of boredom naturally translates from the wide variety of flooring substrates to the location itself. Before the crew, which varied between four and six men, could enter the jail, the officials conducted background checks on each of them. “We joked that if we had anything outstanding, it would be the shortest day at work ever,” Stier laughs. Once they were on the job, they were given an armed escort who provided security at all times.
“We were issued badges that had to be turned in at the end of every shift. If we had to go back out to the trailer, it could be a 45 minute process because the areas where we were working were essentially ‘locked down’ and isolated from the rest of the jail. We had to go through an elaborate process of checking in and out with our guard and other guards to get out and then back in. The only time we ever saw any inmates was from a distance. It was unnerving at first, but as we got into the swing of the job, that feeling lessened. At least we didn’t have to worry about our tools and product disappearing—every spot in that place is on video.”
Lockdown also had its advantages when it came to surface prep and odor control. The security doors functioned as containment. “We also placed rugs outside of the doors for any dust containment, even though the equipment is vacuum-shrouded,” Stier says. “Using Hilti DG150 tile scrapers equipped with carbide scrapers and 6-grit diamonds, we removed the VCT—which was gummy in some areas and brittle in others—it was a very inconsistent removal process given the vapor drive problems.” It was also a very labor-intensive process given the inconsistencies of the site itself.” For example, in the cells, the beds and other amenities are bolted to the walls, creating tight spaces which must be maneuvered around. Once the VCT was finally removed however, the crew found that, “Fortunately, the concrete was in good condition throughout.”
After prepping the surface using BlastPro BP9 shotblasters from Blastrac and Citadel’s O2 shot media, the Bulwark crew cleaned the concrete with pulse vacuums.
Coating The Cell Blocks
With the concrete cleaned and prepped, it was time to address the moisture vapor transmission problem. “The jail can’t afford a failure,” Stier says. The way to prevent that was to lock out the moisture. Using notched squeegees, the crew applied Ultra-Hydro Stop Primer onto the floor at a thickness of 80 to 100 square feet per gallon and at a dry film thickness (DFT) of 16 mils (406.4 microns). Ultra-Hydro Stop Primer is a two-component, 100% solids, moisture vapor transmission (MVT) blocking and pH resistant epoxy primer used to block high moisture levels in concrete floors. Capable of holding back up to 25 pounds (11.34kg) of MVT, this primer is designed to adhere to even the most moisture laden concrete slabs.
“All six guys worked on the primer application, because I like to apply it all at the same time in one day,” Stier says. Then the floors were left to cure overnight. When the crew returned the next day, they sanded the primed floors, vacuuming the dust and solvent, wiping the surface using white rags and acetone. “The primer will be hard dry in eight to 12 hours—it is amazing how fast this system turns around.”
Applying the intermediate coat, Poly100-SC, required a dip and roll technique. The single-component, 100% solids, aromatic polyurea was roller-applied at a thickness of 400 square feet per gallon and at a DFT of 3.6 mils (91.44 microns). “We tinted the Poly100-SC tan,” Stier says disproving the notion that all jails are institutional green.
“We hand-broadcast a custom blend of ¼" (0.64cm) chips into the wet coating to the point-of-refusal for non-skid,” he explains. “Then we had lunch and let the floor sit for an hour, the process was that fast.”
The crew returned to find the floor dried to tack-free. “It can be recoated within three hours, so first we used leaf blowers to remove and recover the excess chips,” Stier states. “To remove the jagged pieces of chip that stick up from the coating we use 20" (50.8cm) wall board scrappers to plane the floor. I’ve found that these are flexible and will contour with the floor, removing any rough pieces without gouging the surface.” After a thorough vacuuming, the floor was ready for the top coat.
To apply the Polyurea-1 HD Top Coat, the crew again reached for their squeegees. “I call this a ‘flooded top coat’,” Stier says. “We poured the polyurea onto the floor, squeegeed it, and cross-rolled at a rate of 170 square feet per gallon and 8.0 mils (203.2 microns) DFT.”
Citadel’s Polyurea-1 HD is a single-component, 90% solids, VOC-compliant, aliphatic polyurea that was developed for high gloss UV-stability, chemical resistance, and corrosion control. It is an industrial quality floor with a decorative looking finish.
“And 14 working days from when we started, we handed the floors back to the jail. By far, the most labor intensive part was removing the failed laminate. The coating system is a fast permanent flooring solution,” Stier says. “The Carver County Jail was very pleased with the timing and overall appearance of the job. Budget permitting, we’ll be back soon to finish the rest of the floors.” Who knew going to jail could be such a positive experience?
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