How do you take an existing concrete slab and reinvent it to fit a contemporary cowboy theme? Just ask Bill Rains of Blue Diamond Services in Landsdale, Pa. In the fall of 2010, Rains spent two weeks coloring and polishing concrete floors at Go West Restaurant & Saloon just off historic Route 66 in Tulsa, Okla., to help the new owners, Johnny and Aila Wimpy, reflect their western theme.
From the start Rains met some challenges. First, the existing slab was in bad condition with an unknown type of stain on it that was failing, Rains says. Plus, Rains had a two week time frame for the job and the husband-wife duo wasn’t exactly sure what they wanted the floor to look like.
The restaurant floor totaled 4,200 square feet of concrete between the entrance lobby, main dining area with an open kitchen, private dining area and a bar area. The finished floor incorporated stains and dyes, polishing, saw cut patterns and custom logos.
Rains’ first step was to help the client decide on a design concept. The restaurant planned to serve a contemporary cowboy cuisine and wanted a soft but rugged feel for the floors. Using three acid stain variations and three custom blended shades of Vexcon Certi-Shine MicroStain, Rains created six color choice mock-ups on the concrete. The client decided on a pale tan for the main color and deep brown and barn red shades for accent colors. The existing concrete had a saw cut design that the client decided to incorporate into the new floor using the accent colors. “We were lucky because the saw cuts were cut deep enough and the floor was pretty flat to start so we did not have to recut any of the saw cut pattern,” Rains adds.
Prepping, staining and polishing
Rains and his son Christopher worked as a two-man crew. And it didn’t take long for them to run into their next challenge. “The concrete was very hard and had a dense aggregate fill,” Rains says. “So we had to do wet grinding.”
He also wanted to make sure the edging was done properly. “We did our first edge cut before grinding the main part of the floor,” Rains says. He used a Flex North America hand grinder with a cup wheel to do the edge details.
After performing the coarse cut on the edges and then the main floor he proceeded with a finer metals cut on the edges and then on the rest of the floor. “This process made sure there were no edger marks where the back end of the hand grinder might have cut deeper. It allows us to blend out the edge cut,” Rains says.
Rains started using a SASE 780 planetary grinder with a 70-grit metal abrasive to remove the previous coating and flatten the floor. “The Certi-Shine color system we were using requires the floor to be extremely flat,” Rains says. He moved up to a 150-grit metal to further refine the floor and then a hybrid resin metal 3-inch puck style tool to remove any scratches. Next he used a 100-grit resin puck style diamond to dry hone the floor further.
They cleaned the floor to prepare for the staining process. “The Certi-Shine FSR (food stain resistant) system is a pigmented densifier-based stain,” Rains says. “The pigment is locked into the gel formed when the densifier reacts with the concrete. The advantage of a pigmented stain is you can create any color you want, even colors like bright red, yellow and white.”
Before staining the floor, Rains and his crew had to acid etch it by spraying Certi-Shine Etch with a plastic pump-up sprayer. It was then cleaned using a nylon brush and a swing machine and neutralized with a baking soda and water solution. Rains then performed a water absorbency test on the dry floor to ensure there would be good stain penetration.
The stains were custom blended on site using mixing paddles and a 5-gallon pail. Rains masked the saw cut patterns and stained them first with the accent colors. He spray applied the tan Certi-Shine stain to the rest of the concrete and then rubbed it in with a swing machine equipped with a white pad.