Casino Takes a Gamble on Grinding for a Decorative Concrete River

Concrete polishing contractor John Jones, who runs the Concrete Services division of Budget Maintenance, Pottstown, Pa., spends most of his days working on traditional concrete polishing projects, grinding, densifying and taking his floors up to 800-, 1,500- and 3,000-grit finishes. But once in a while he finds a project that isn’t right for polishing but is right for his company. The Skygarden at Atlantic City, N.J.’s new beachfront Revel Casino is one of those projects.

The sixth-floor outdoor patio area was originally designed to feature a man-made, decorative river that created the illusion of flowing into the Atlantic Ocean. Concrete subcontractor on the project, Tri-State Construction, Millville, N.J., suggested Budget Maintenance could create a comparable effect with ground concrete that would save the casino money and most importantly, future maintenance costs and labor.

The redesigned river project consisted of 11,000 square feet of dyed concrete seeded with mirror and recycled glass aggregates. The combination of the mirror and the glass makes the concrete river shimmer when people walk next to it. The concrete river is not an area that people are allowed to walk on, but it instead winds next to designated walkways throughout the patio overlooking the ocean.

Budget Maintenance’s work on the project began with the concrete pour. Budget Maintenance employees worked alongside the concrete subcontractor’s crew to broadcast the aggregates at the correct time during the pour. “It’s a timing issue when you are seeding the glass and mirror because you need it to stay near the top of the slab so when you grind the slab you expose the right amount of aggregate,” Jones says.

The area was poured in four sections. For each pour, the concrete was pumped up 140 feet and hardlined (pumped horizontally) another 350 feet. After the aggregates were seeded, crews used walk-behind trowels from outside the edges of the slab. They had to avoid walking on the concrete during the finishing process, which would have sunk the aggregates too far down into the slab.

After the concrete was placed, seeded and finished, Budget Maintenance let the slab sit seven days before beginning the grinding process. Using its SASE 780 grinders, crews ground with 40-grit metals, 80-grit metals and 150-grit metals. After the three-step grinding process that exposed the glass and mirror aggregates, crews applied Prosoco’s Consolideck ColorHard UV-stable pigment in Blue Stone mixed with LS/CS hardener. They followed up with an application of Consolideck Guard EXT to achieve a shine that would enhance the shimmering effect.

Weather was a unique challenge for the Budget Maintenance crews, dealing with high winds and heavy rains on an outdoor jobsite. The project took place in the summer of 2011 and the site was shut down for a few days because of Hurricane Irene. Jones recalls a few mornings on the jobsite when the fog was so thick crew members couldn’t see in front of the grinders.

Despite the weather, the project was a success. In the end, the owner’s decision to choose a decorative concrete river over a man-made one saved him money on the project and future savings on maintenance. It also gave Budget Maintenance a chance to utilize its concrete polishing skills and equipment on a project out of the realm of its normal routine.