How do you construct a concrete temple, walkway, and fountain to last 1000+ years and withstand a 10.0 earthquake outside of Los Angeles? Build to “the extreme,” as Innovative Painting & Waterproofing President Don Dancey described it. For instance, “instead of 14 inches [36 cm] of concrete, it’s 20 inches [51 cm] of concrete.” That’s quite the way to make things last! But for the folks at this Hindu place of worship, it was worth it, as it was a labor of love.
Land of Volunteers
The facility, called the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, has taken 7 years and 2,500 craftsmen in India to carve out the marble and granite. It’s taken another 2 years to build the temple and lotus fountain in Chino Hills. Altogether, it’s a massive job to be sure…even with the help of hundreds of volunteers.
The volunteers, who also came from India, received three meals a day plus room and clothes, and they worked for a full year or more on this project. Because the volunteers had helped to install the concrete throughout the project and had limited training in concrete installation finishing, when the Innovative crew arrived on site they encountered concrete that varied a bit in thickness. That meant that the 7-person coatings crew started their work by doing a bit more surface prep than usual. “We had to do extra prep on the finish surfaces to get it ready for coating,” explained Dancey. Using 5,000-psi (35 MPa) power washers, the crew cleaned the concrete and then, with the help of the volunteers, patched any bug holes using BASF’s Gel Patch and added a parge coat to any surfaces that needed it.
Things went smoothly — on the concrete and on the job — but it was during this stage the crew encountered a few rain delays. Even though the amount of rain they encountered might be considered minor in most areas, in California, “a half inch [12 mm] is like a huge winter storm,” joked Dancey. After about a week, though, the rain delays had stopped, the concrete and Gel Patch had cured, and the crew could move onto the next stage: the coatings.
The coatings crew approached the total 26,000-square-foot (2,416 m²) job in three sections. First, the 12-inch-thick (31 cm) lotus water fountain, which was finished with a light broom texture, received a ¾-inch (2 cm) bead of BASF NP-1 Urethane Caulking in the transition between the floor and columns. The crew primed this area with two coats of Polycoat #21 epoxy at 125 square feet per gallon (12 m²/4 L) per coat. Then they applied 100 mils (2,540 microns) of Polycoat #5502 polyurea. The fountain was eventually finished with 1.5-inch-thick (4 cm) granite. “The fountain had granite panels that sat on top of the stone columns,” explained Dancey. “Below the granite was 2.5 feet [0.8 m] of water.” It was quite the setup, but it was designed to simulate the water show at the Bellagio in Las Vegas.
After the fountain, the crew then moved on to the roof section of the temple. At 16-to-18-inches (41–46 cm) thick, the roof received, yet again, a double-coat of primer. Wearing 3M charcoal respirators, safety glasses, work boots, long sleeved shirts, and gloves, the crew then topped that layer off with 125 mils (microns) of polyurea. This was finished with two coats of Polycoat Polyglaze 100 Aliphatic applied at 10 mils (254 microns) per coat, which “was tinted to match the pink stone that was used on the exterior of the temple,” explained Dancey.
The crew finished the work on the facility with the walkways. Again, this area received a double-primer, but before they could apply the polyurea topcoat, the crew had to get a little innovative. “The walkway was kind of odd because they anticipated a ton of lighting in the area, so they installed a junction box every 3 feet [0.9 m] with a piece of hard wire conduit going to the next one,” said Dancey of the facility’s designers. However, after the electricians installed all of the boxes, the designers decided to use surface-mounted light-emitting diode (LED) lighting instead. As a result, all of the installed boxes needed to be covered up before the coatings crew could apply the topcoat to the walkways.
“We actually filled the junction boxes and conduits with the hybrid polyurea,” said Dancey of the 100 percent solids, batch mix, slow cure, 30-minute hybrid polyurea product called PC260. “So we sort of made it disappear.” They filled the boxes with the polyurea product, then applied two coats of the primer, and followed that with 100 mils (2,540 microns) of the same PC260. Then the walkways were eventually finished with granite stone flooring set in mortar bed to match the rest of the façade.
Namaste New Coatings!
Although the crew approached each section of the facility differently, for every second layer of primer throughout the project, they broadcast sand into it at 5–6 pounds per 100 square feet (~2 kg/9 m²). “By adding sand, it does two things,” explained Dancey. “It increases the mechanical profile for the adhesion of the polyurea; now the coating has to go across the primer and the sand embedded. And also, if we get inclement weather, it allows us to decrease adhesion time of the primer because the sand is the mechanical bond.” Whereas normally the primer offers the chemical bond, in this case, the embedded sand offers an increased mechanical bond. Luckily, though, at this point the crew didn’t experience any more of those huge winter storms!
After about six weeks on the job, once everything was finished being coated, the Innovative Painting & Waterproofing crew left the Southern California site and headed home. The granite surfaces were put into place, and now all that’s left is for a 10-mil (254 microns) maintenance coat to be applied to the roof every 5 years. That too will be tinted a pinkish hue to match the stone installed on the exteriors.
“At the end of the day it was one of those when you finish, you can stand back and look at it,” said Dancey. “It hits high in the gratification scale as kind of a landmark project.” This landmark project just may go down as a long-lasting concrete wonder for the coatings crew, the BAPS Hindus, and the neighbors in Chino Hills.