Irish Eyes Are Smiling at My Decorative Concrete

Bob Harris installed a stamped concrete floor, decorative concrete walls and concrete bathroom sinks at an Irish pub near Atlanta.

The finished bathroom vanity.
The finished bathroom vanity.

In my column "A Lasting Impression", I talked about quality work and customer satisfaction leading to more jobs. In this column, I want to share with you one of those "more jobs" - the decorative concrete work at the Olde Blind Dog Irish Pub in Milton, Ga.

Although we've been involved in more complex applications, the Irish pub project was fun because it included a variety of techniques - one-of-a-kind bathroom vanity tops, an overlayed cobblestone floor and vertically stamped Irish rock walls.

Getting Started

Since we were not able to work onsite for the first several weeks of the project, my collaborator Cody Dawkins of Create-A-Crete and I got busy with fabricating two bathroom countertops and four sink vessels in the shop. The designs were based off a countertop in our showroom that the clients liked, but they asked us to add a little more "flair" to their versions.

An in-progress shot of the bathroom vanity shows an uncolored countertop with a white micro topped vein and a engraved vein. The finished bathroom vanity.An in-progress shot of the bathroom vanity shows an uncolored countertop with a white micro topped vein and a engraved vein. The finished bathroom vanity.

On the Jobsite

With the bathroom vanities finished and the jobsite ready for us, we fought the daunting Atlanta traffic to start the overlayments for the floors and vertically stamped walls.

Before we began to create the floor's cobblestone and exposed wood plank look, we prepped for the overlayment by filling existing joints and dustless grinding the entire floor.

We applied the first application of stampable overlayment in designated areas to produce what looked like fields of stone in some areas and a wood plank in another part of the floor. The goal was to make it appear as though the cobblestone floor had chipped away and exposed these wooden plank areas which meant we had to bring our stenciled cobblestone up and over the edges of the stampable overlay.

The next day we masked the stamped overlayed sections and applied our base coat for the cobblestone stencil. Once the base coat was dry, we laid the cobblestone stencil and spray applied the next coat of overlay. We knocked down this layer with a trowel making a smoother surface less likely to catch dirt and contaminants. At the end of the day it was time for this old man to take a couple of Advil and tip back a pint or two to relieve the back pain brought on by bending over and knocking down 4,000 square feet of concrete.Foam and stampable vertical overlay were used to create a stone wall at the Irish pub.Foam and stampable vertical overlay were used to create a stone wall at the Irish pub.

The next morning it was time to clean the floor and apply water-based stain randomly to individual cobblestones which seemed to take forever because of the amount of cobbles. I must admit, spray applied stenciled concrete is not my favorite look; however, this came out nicely, especially after several coats of epoxy and polyurethane.

The last application on this project was the vertically stamped walls. This application sparked the interest of the other trades people working on site more than the previous applications. They could not believe that we were able to render a 2.5-inch-thick mortar to the wall and then mold it into what appeared to be natural stone.

To create the larger stones we cut foam and attached it to the walls using glue, screws and washers. Once primed, we applied the mix to the wall by grabbing handfuls of mud and globbing it on. Roughly three hours after the mix was applied we began carving texture into the stones. I find this a very enjoyable aspect of the vertical stamping process. After some creative coloring techniques with water-based stains, our project was complete.

This was a fun project to be a part of and more importantly, we exceeded the customer's expectations once again. If you're ever in the Atlanta area, stop by the Olde Blind Dog pub, check out some nice decorative concrete and enjoy a pint or two.

About the author

Bob Harris is the founder and president of the Decorative Concrete Institute, Temple, Ga., which provides hands-on training in architectural concrete. 

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