When Eric Marks got a job to do a custom floor coating for Scottsdale, Arizona-based Spooky Fast Custom Finishing, he did not know the name would also apply to his job timeline.
Marks, who owns First Class Coatings in Phoenix, Ariz., got the job to coat the floor for the motorcycle finishing shop in October 2014. It was a high-profile job — the owner of the shop also owns the website company GoDaddy.com — with high demands.
“They wanted a state-of-the-art facility from the top down to the bottom, including the floor,” Marks said. “Something industrial, easy to clean, that has pizzazz and also went with a type of look and style that they had in their vision.”
The job sounded great, but there was a catch. Spooky Fast wanted to be open for business, well, spooky fast — by Christmas Day.
On Your Marks
Marks and his crew were up to the challenge.
Marks got the job because a contractor he had done work with in the past was awarded the construction project. “But the company made him go out and get competitive quotes,” Marks said. “I had to come in with my best strategy against four other companies. They sat us down in private interviews with each contractor and put us through the grind asking, ‘what are you going to do, how will you prep, what makes you better than the next contractor?’ We had to storybook what made us stand out and what we can do in the time frame they provided, which wasn’t a long time.”
Marks was convincing. “They selected me based on the confidence I had in my staff and their ability, and my knowledge of coatings to provide them a long-term solution,” he added.
With the job landed, Marks looked at the project in front of him. It was 20,800-square-foot (1,932 m2), newly installed concrete that had a densifier and sealer.
One thing that made the job unique was that there were different flooring systems within the project, Marks said. The crew ended up breaking the floor up in thirds.
Rules of the Road
They started off by grinding the concrete with industrial grinding machines and dust containment. While other companies might have gone with an acid bath or shot blasting, Marks decided against it. “We didn’t want to destroy the integrity of the concrete,” he said. “I decided to grind it to a reasonable smoothness — that was our means of prep.”
Next the crew used a flexible fractal epoxy in all the joints and then patched all the divots and concrete imperfections on the main floors.
Another challenge was the floor’s color. It was going to be white.
“Anyone who knows about white, who works with white, knows how difficult it is,” Marks said. “The floor has to be as perfect as possible because white shows every blemish and imperfection, so we had to keep the floor extremely clean. But we didn’t have any challenges with that; we spent a lot of time doing a lot of clean up, a lot of cleaning, a lot of sweeping.”
With a clean floor, the crew set about installing a 100 percent solid epoxy primer from Key Resin into the concrete. They applied it with a brush and roll technique at an average thickness of 10 mils (254 microns) in one coat.
After the floor dried, the crew sanded it and lightly shaded it with a 100-grit screen, and then they vacuumed it.
Next they applied one coat of Key Resin epoxy at an average thickness of 15 mils (381 microns) broadcast at about 70 percent with 1/8th-inch (3 mm) chips. These were selected in a custom color by the client.
The crew applied the epoxy using a squeegee and brush roll, and Marks himself broadcast all of it by hand.
The chips also made things interesting because the job involved six-inch (15 cm) vertical walls in certain sections. “We chipped up on the wall, but because we used 100 percent solid epoxy, the chips fell and were inconsistent,” Marks said. “We supplemented to a significantly faster drying epoxy, so they didn’t have time to fall.”
After the middle coat was down, the crew lightly shaded it again with the 100-grit screen. Then they cleaned, vacuumed, and prepared it, and finally they put down a Key Resin high-build urethane topcoat at an average of 7 mils (178 microns).
The Finish Line
While the floor was divided into three sections for coating, Marks would have preferred to divide it into two. “Making the connection between each floor section was hard to blend to perfection because you have atmosphere and temperature, so there’s always a little bit of color differentiation in the coating process,” he said. “The greatest challenge was blending the three floor sections together.”
Another aspect that made the job interesting was a giant Spooky Fast logo on the floor.
“They took the responsibility to make their own logo and install it on the floor,” Marks said. “The challenge was to put a clear topcoat above it without damaging the logo and also leaving it as perfect as possible with no bubbles. Luckily we accomplished that. We ended up getting two clear topcoats, one high-build clear epoxy on top of the logo, and a urethane to finish it. We chose the epoxy as the topcoat because there was less solvent in it. The solvent could actually melt the plastic of the logo.”
As the crew worked, the pressure was on to finish on time. First Class Coatings has between 10 and 15 people in the company, and Marks used up to 11 guys on this job. They worked nights and weekends and got the job done on time.
And the results turned out beautifully, Marks said. “I have shown up to that project from time to time; I’ve gotten to know people who work there, and they’re very pleased with the floor,” he said. “They like it — it’s user friendly, it cleans well. It’s been quite some time since the floor’s been down, and they’re very pleased with the end result. It was one of our finer larger projects, with a lot of satisfaction.”