The Montage Laguna Beach is the definition of luxury. The spa resort and hotel sits on an oceanfront bluff in Laguna Beach, Calif.
One of the luxury hotel’s signatures is its dark wood foyer decorated in an intricate starburst pattern. Panels of fine wood are expertly arranged to make a 16-pointed star.
But late one night a few years ago, just before Memorial Day weekend, that star was badly damaged. A car spun out of control outside the foyer, crashed through the doors, and damaged the beautiful wooden floor.
That’s according to Terin Dumas, the owner of Terin Dumas & Company, a Fullerton, Calif.-based full-service residential and commercial property preservation and design firm. For this job, Dumas and his crew needed stealth and subterfuge, too.
“The accident happened late in the evening, and they were trying to make sure guests were unaware of what happened, so we had to try to get everything put together as quickly as possible,” Dumas said. “The damage was pretty extensive, and everything had to get cleaned up pretty quickly because they had guests that were there.”
A lot of contractors face tight deadlines, but they are usually measured in days. Not this job. “We had hours,” Dumas said. “A total of 16 hours to get everything fixed and repaired.”
Memorial Day weekend is a big and important weekend for a beach hotel.
“There were people that were walking back and forth, asking what happened, and you’re trying to be discreet,” Dumas said. “We tried to show this as just general repairs we’re trying to do before the weekend.”
Dumas showed up on the job with a crew of 4 men out of the 10 total employees at his company. They had 1,500 square feet (139.4 m²) of floor to repair.
The crew began by removing the rubber, metal, and glass embedded in the floor from the accident. “This was a tedious process,” Dumas said. “We had to go in with X-Actos and tweezers for glass. For some larger areas we had electricians’ pliers and also channel locks. The reason being is some of the glass was large and deeply embedded into the wood.”
Some pieces of the floor had been torn away, so they had to replace those with a veneer match. Next, they cleaned the substrate and lightly sanded it using a DeWalt grinder and Iwata air compressor to open the pores of the material. The crew used 3M respirators, safety glasses, and Cut-less safety gloves. “They don’t soak up material, but yet they protect you from getting cuts from blades and things like that,” Dumas said.
They also used 3M epoxy along with other clear bonding composites that had microfibers to add strength to the mended sections. “Once that was done, we had to blend the grain, then do color matching on the stain,” Dumas said. “We would float it, color match it again with filler, float it, make sure it lines up, and then apply a clear coat once it was done.”
They used DeVilbiss and Winsor and Newton color select kits for color matching.
“It’s a heavy-bodied oil that you’re able to easily mix,” Dumas said. “It’s a fine pigment because it’s used for gallery painting. The benefit to you is it’s easier to color match and blend into the wood fibers without the wood fibers degrading because sometimes the stain, which can be solvent-based, can break down the wood oil.”
Dumas used FSC Coatings’ Quick & Tuff, a cross-linked acrylic resin-based copolymer that is used not only to seal but also to even out damaged substrates from traffic abuse, overuse, scratches, and pitting.
“As it evaporates it gets stronger, so it won’t re-emulsify once it’s put down,” Dumas said. “We’re able to use it over concrete, steel; it’s a very tough, very good material.” They put down 3 mils (76.2 microns) of the Quick & Tuff using brushes and a Viper polisher.
“That allows us to apply coating and feather it out without seeing any blend marks,” Dumas explained. “Even though we will use brushes, we will use spray equipment to get a more uniform look, especially in an emergency.”
They used a Makita polishing system in between coats of resin “to adjust luster so that it matches the existing floor sheen,” Dumas said.
“So that we don’t get a burn area, on an area with sheen or that polishes to high gloss, when we come back with the Makita and various cutting pads we can actually cut the sheen the same way you would with a polyurethane or a water-based solvent lacquer,” he said. “Think of the same method that would be used on an automobile after it’s been painted: You have to go back over the surface in order for it to allow clear coat to adhere if the paint has any variations.”
On top of the Quick & Tuff, the crew put down a topcoat from FSC Coatings at 1 mil (25.4 microns) thickness as a finish.
On the star pattern, where the grain is going in a different direction, “we first had to make sure that any damage that was done to the grain pattern matched up with the existing grain look and feel,” Dumas said. They blocked out sections based on the direction of the grain and applied a clear coat separately, then the final clear coat to the whole surrounding area.
In between each layer, the crew waited 30 or 45 minutes, and they sped up the process using accelerators and dryers.
The crew used masks, gloves, and other safety equipment as needed throughout the job.
“It was mission-critical that all clients who were entering or exiting the lobby and concierge area were to remain safe at all times, so protective barriers were erected and signage was clearly visible with day-glow yellow caution tape,” Dumas said. “The floors were masked and sectioned off as well.”
They used a hazardous waste box to clean up. “Anything that has solvent, we wet down with water and then from there we put that into hazardous waste dump box and take to a local waste disposal for hazardous waste,” Dumas said.
With quick and expert work, the crew was able to repair the floor in time for the holiday weekend.
“We do really good work; we’re known for the quality of work we do,” Dumas said.