You need to read less and think more!

This blog is about getting stoked and getting worthwhile things done. There is a sea of useless information bombarding you, and this is a desert island where you beach your boat and build a hut. There are also some clever little construction tricks to be presented.



Sunday, June 26, 2011

All's well that ends well - Correcting Construction Errors Episode 5

We did it!  It was a long day of grinding, scrubbing, head-scratching, re-staining, and rinsing, but we did it.  The floor described earlier in "Avoiding Construction Errors" now looks pretty sweet.  Like so many before it, the floor is actually better now than if everything would've gone as we hoped it would have.

Because of a mishap with my iPhone, and the SD card for my camera doubling as a vehicle for an audiobook I wanted our interns to hear, I have no pictures of the corrected floor to share here now.  Photos of floors in homes without proper walls or trim stink anyhow.  I know it sounds like I am trying show the bright side of "the dog eating my homework" and I might be.  I will try to get some proper pictures when we do the final polish and will post them to http://www.facebook.com/pages/Element7-concrete-design/105210402870801
(please click "like" there if you haven't already) and put them on twitter as well.  You can follow us there @element_7.

What we did to fix it is hone the floor with bonded-diamond-abrasives (blocks of metal and resin with little bits of diamond in them), re-stain it, rinse it, densify (apply a chemical that makes the concrete hard and dust-proof), and then come back the following day and finish it out with a stone oil/paste wax.  The stamping done outside by the concrete contractor is not the best I've seen, so it's not likely that'll make it into our portfolio, but the interior floor is first-class.  The low spots of the floor kept a bit more of the dark walnut stain from before, and the overall texture is buttery smooth now.  There is good color movement and the finish is refined, yet rustic.  Like much of work when it's right on, it looks brand new and 100 years old at the same time.  Sorry if that seems a bit self-promoting, but after all the blood and sweat poured into this one, I am really stoked with the finished floor.  

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Avoiding construction errors.

They say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  Today we find ourselves doling out that pound with our HTC machines and a lot of power and diamond tooling.


The builder following this little link on our website could have saved today and tomorrow's work for us.

http://www.element7concrete.com/builder_awareness.html

Behold the culprit:

This was one of three drinks we found on the framing when we started the project.  Who knows how many more were in the house and spilled on the floor so far?  I would guess about 5 or 6 based on the spots on the slab.  If you zoom in, you can see one in the room behind the can.

The point is unprocessed concrete is like a big hard sponge, and chemical staining is like that black light they use in scary evening "news" shows (Dateline, 20/20, etc.) that shows all the gnarly stuff on the bedding of a hotel room.  If the concrete is to be stained without a lot of grinding, stuff like spilled sodas is going to show up.  Now, if you root through the insights given on element7concrete.com, you'll read about how much we like leaving the cream of the concrete intact, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.  So we are slogging it out in the Texas heat, grinding a floor that should've been protected a bit better.

Now to be fair, the builder on this project is a good one.  He and I have worked together many times before and I don't blame him entirely for the mistakes.  Concrete flooring is a great way to create value when building, but it's frankly a pain for the GC to have to protect the floor as much as the have to.  Most importantly, the communication has to be better.  The link given will soon have an easy to print sign in PDF format that can be hung around jobsites where stained concrete is specified.  Until then, please contact us for a copy of this so we can all build efficiently and keep moving forward.