WSO CREATIVE CONCRETE
The three-man team at WSO Creative Concrete in Bohemia, N.Y., specializes in small, unique decorative projects, including hand-troweled, poured-in-place countertops; vertical jobs; acid staining and stamp work. The company started out doing monument work in cemeteries and discovered that the unique forming skills they gained in that business could be easily applied to formwork for intricate countertop systems and about five years ago started hand-picking decorative projects to take on.
Bill Orenzow of WSO says his favorite decorative tool is the square-headed margin trowel. "It's not a tool that will finish the job, but it comes in handy for finishing edges of countertops. It's my favorite edge finishing tool," he says.
Orenzow also points out the importance of another tool his team uses on each job. "Our hands are our most important tools - without them we'd get nothing done," he says. "Without that tool there would be no true meaning to the phrase 'hand crafted.'"
BILL'S TOOLBOX INCLUDES:
TOM RALSTON CONCRETE
Santa Cruz, Calif.
Tom Ralston of Tom Ralston Concrete in Santa Cruz, Calif., is a third generation concrete contractor, getting his first introduction to the business as a young boy in 1964. Ralston wasn't sure about making concrete his life's work until he took on his first decorative project in 1989; since then he has shaped a company that performs all types of decorative concrete work, structural concrete and masonry. Ralston now employs 36 people and does work mainly in a 50-mile radius in the San Francisco and Monterey bay areas. Other projects, demonstrations and consulting have taken him and his company to Italy, Hawaii, New York, Atlanta, Las Vegas and most recently Panama.
Ralston's list of often-used products includes acid stains, acrylic stains, colloidal dyes, alcohol dyes, wood dyes, silicon carbide grit, color hardeners and even shoe polish. He often keeps seashells, aquarium sand and beach glass handy for certain projects such as decorative floors and countertops, and uses copper and brass imbeds for drain boards and trivets on countertop jobs.
When it comes to equipment, Ralston utilizes a few unique items that allow him to achieve the one-of-a-kind finishes his customers want. By pressing wrinkled plastic on a wet acid stain floor, Ralston can create the distinctive look of batik, an ancient textile dying technique. And for a recent project, Ralston turned to a tool more traditionally used in the kitchen. "I just finished a job in Panama on which I used a turkey baster to apply droplets of retardant on the floor, so when the floor was washed the retardant created crater-like pockets to replicate seaside shelves along the coastline. It is a very cool treatment," Ralston says.
One of Ralston's favorite decorative tools is an ordinary small spray bottle. He fills multiple spray bottles with different colors of stain and uses them to apply and blend colors on a project. "The reason the spray bottles work so well for acid staining is they produce a very natural variegated finish similar to colorations you might seen in a natural hardscape," Ralston explains. "We always spray wet on wet, which leaves a randomly blended coloration that you cannot easily get any other way. This technique is especially important when using two or more colors together."
Tom's Toolbox Includes: