For most people, staying at a luxury resort is an occasion to kick back and relax. But Mourad Bowen, president and owner of MOBO Construction, couldn’t help but notice the details.
Prior to starting MOBO, Bowen worked for S&A Industries, a family-owned and operated contractor in Suwanee, Georgia that specializes in hotel and resort renovation. This past year, he was asked by his former employer to assist with their renovation project for a vacation resort in Kauai, Hawaii, which is one of a series of resorts in the United States owned by a multinational hospitality company. (The client chose to remain anonymous for this story.)
During the pre-construction meeting, Bowen identified two key issues. “First, the existing balcony conditions were terrible and failing,” he said. “The engineering department was always scrapping a failed area and reapplying their coating. Second, the new prep method and application was not sufficient for optimal bonding and was disruptive to the resort guests below.”
Bowen knew he had the coating solution that would solve these issues. MOBO offered to replace the client’s delaminating traffic coatings with the Roll On Rock system supplied by Versatile Building Products (VBP). Roll On Rock is a two-part epoxy flake system with a full-flake broadcast and chemical-resistant urethane topcoat. MOBO was so confident in the effectiveness of the epoxy system that they performed a sample installation on a single balcony at a villa resort in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, owned and operated by the same hospitality company.
After MOBO presented the two-part epoxy flake system, the resort’s management team was convinced to use it for their vacation facilities, starting with Fort Lauderdale. “They didn’t recognize the versatility of the Roll On Rock coating, but we were able to show them that we could provide them with a sharp, sleek look, along with a surface that would feel great under your feet,” said MOBO Project Manager Aaron Schneider.
Such Great Heights
With MOBO installed as a subcontractor to S&A, the coating project was taken up by a five-person crew, led by Schneider as project manager. Over a 20-week period, beginning in May 2018 and ending that September, MOBO covered approximately 40,000 square feet (3,716.1 m2) of resort space consisting of 432 balconies, floor landings, and extensions. They worked 18 floors in total — or about a floor per week, on average.
Because the crew worked during a peak period in the vacation resort season, they had to go about their business quickly and quietly while resort guests were on the premises. “Demolition noise could only last for two days per floor, and in order to stay on time with the schedule, we only had one week per floor to remove preexisting overlay, properly prep substrate, and complete application,” Schneider said. To ensure the safety of crew members — and to prevent accidents that could affect resort guests — personal protective equipment (PPE) such as DEWALT safety goggles, wrist straps for equipment, face masks, knee pads, work gloves, and back braces were worn. Also, the crew utilized body harnesses that allowed them to work from great heights, as well as rail coverings to keep debris from falling over the balconies.
To remove the bulk of the failed traffic coating, MOBO relied on 7-inch (17.8 cm) and 5-inch (12.7 cm) polycrystalline diamond (PCD) cup wheels, a product provided by ProCrete Resources Inc. Schneider said the PCD diamonds “act like teeth that rip up the concrete.” The crew also performed a second grind with 30/40 grit cup wheels in order to achieve the International Concrete Repair Institute’s concrete surface profile (CSP) 3 standard, in which gouges would not be prevalent after the Roll On Rock system was applied. Throughout each step of the demolition process, a Husqvarna S26 single-phase high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) dust extractor collected substrate debris.
An 8-amp, 1-inch (2.5 cm) rotary hammer drill from Makita chipped away at coatings in balcony corners and narrow areas, while a 4-1/2-inch (11.4 cm) corded angle grinder — also from Makita — opened up cracks in the coatings underneath railings. To smooth out the balconies’ concrete substrates, the crew used 7-inch (17.8 cm) and 5-inch (12.7 cm) rapid grind, 12-segment soft bond cup wheels, as well as Metabo 7-inch (17.8 cm) and 9-inch (22.9 cm) angle grinders. Segmented crack-chasing blades created grooves that repaired cracks, and a TC-7 Stand-Up Edger from U.S. Saws was employed to grind the outer portions of the balconies. Finally, CTS Cement’s Rapid Set Cement All was used to repair any remaining cracks in the substrate, and a Zwipes 18-inch (45.7 cm) wet/dry microfiber mop frame with a pole helped wipe away remaining substrate dust.
Come Rain or Shine
With prep work completed, the MOBO crew applied the Roll On Rock epoxy flake system utilizing a five-step process. First, they used squeegee push brooms to apply the pigmented 4195 direct-to-concrete epoxy at approximately 7 mils (177.8 microns) to serve as a primer and broadcast coat. The 4195 epoxy coat was mixed with 1/8-inch (0.3 cm) blended saddle tan vinyl chips and 41 Series Epoxy Accelerator to increase cure speed within two to three hours. Into that layer, they broadcast 1/8-inch (0.3 cm) epoxy flake to achieve full coverage. Third, they collected excess flakes using a RIDGID 12-gallon (45.4 L) wet/dry vacuum, used a Q.E.P. 14-inch-wide (35.6 cm) floor surface scraper to achieve an even profile, and then vacuumed again to remove any leftover flakes. Fourth, 3005 Clear-Seal WB acrylic concrete sealer was applied at an average of 6 mils (152.4 microns). Fifth and finally, the 5400 water-borne chemical resistant urethane (CRU) clear flooring topcoat was applied at an average of 6 mils (152.4 microns).
In total, the Roll On Rock system came out to approximately 19 mils (482.6 microns). What made this system especially attractive was the 3005 concrete sealer, which was recommended by VBP Sales Director Jimmy McGhee, because it dries within 30 to 45 minutes. This was no small consideration given that inclement weather — showers, thunderstorms, and even hurricanes arising in the Caribbean — is a fact of life for resort guests and South Florida residents generally.
In fact, Schneider can point to two occasions when it rained during the project. “The first time, we had already put down the epoxy coating on the 17th floor, and it was almost dry when a small rain shower lasting about five minutes hit. But Jimmy reassured me that everything would be okay as long as there was no standing water that could stain the flakes.” And as for the second time? “The second time was on the 1st floor after we applied the concrete sealer. Thankfully, Jimmy was right and the sealer dried in time,” Schneider said.
The experience made an amateur meteorologist out of Schneider, as he monitored weather patterns throughout the project. “I couldn’t tell you how often I had the Weather Channel up — I felt like a weatherman!” he said.
Do It Right, Do It Once
Completing the project required diligent, efficient work in order to meet the client’s deadlines. This meant the MOBO crew had to pull some all-nighters. At one point, according to Schneider, the crew worked several 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. shifts, with only one off-day in a 21-day period. What’s more, the crew worked three-and-a-half days on and three days off through the remainder of the project.
Despite both natural and manmade obstacles, MOBO was able to complete the project on time and to the client’s satisfaction. Once the Roll On Rock coating was in place, resort personnel “absolutely loved the look of it,” Schneider said. “We went back a month after the project was completed with Mourad, who hadn’t seen it since the project started, and we were told how much everyone, from staff to customers, loved it.”
In short, MOBO was able to fulfill its obligation to the client and, in the process, was able to live up to its company motto: “Do it right, do it once.”