Facilities Management: Grant Hill Garage

"If you build it, they will come" is never truer than when said in reference to parking garages. This fact has become very clear during the redevelopment of an area known as Science Park in New Haven, Connecticut where a parking garage has helped anchor the redevelopment of an entire community. "The parking garage is newly constructed on the site of the former home of the Winchester rifle manufacturer," explains Ron Rookey of Northeast Industrial Floorings, Inc., the coatings contactor who installed the floor coatings in the garage. Located just west of Yale University, the roughly 80-acre industrial center, which includes the famed firearms manufacturer, had faded into a blighted and unsafe neighborhood. Purchased by a nonprofit corporation represented by the City of New Haven, property owners, and neighborhood stakeholders, the area was slated for a large scale redevelopment project.

By the time Winchester closed its plant in 2006, city planners knew that they had hundreds of thousands of square feet of potential lease space (not only in that building, but in the surrounding neighborhood), but without the parking needed to support the growth, the area would be slow to develop. To address the issue, they not only ensured ample space for curbside parking, but by the autumn of 2009, they built a five-story parking garage to accommodate 1,186 parked cars as well.

Two Stairwells, Eight Weeks, Too Easy - Right?

"The contract was for 7500 square feet spread throughout two five-story parking towers," Rookey says. "We were responsible for two primary stairwells and the elevator lobbies on all floors in both structures." That made for a grand total of 10 lobbies (500 square feet each) and 10 landings (60 square feet each) and "so many stairs that I actually lost 10 pounds on this job," he chuckles. Actually, there were 162 steps per tower. And although the redevelopment was slow to start, this project had a fast schedule. "Originally the contract was for eight weeks, but given the other trades, that timeframe got cut down to six weeks," states Rookey. "But as flooring guys coming in at the end, we've seen that before." The experienced crew was unfazed by the two week trim in time, but they didn't know that their calm would come in handy, because just as they started, there would be an unexpected - and headline making -- delay. "We'd just started when they had to close down the entire job site for the murder investigation of a co-ed who was killed on the Yale campus. That all happened right near the Science Park. The garage was off-limits for two days." Although the tragic circumstance didn't close the job site for long, with a tight schedule, every moment counts. When Rookey and his six- to eight-man crew got back on site, they were ready to go. "Fortunately we were using Dur-A-Flex's fast-curing methyl methacrylate (MMA) system.

Ready For Prime Time

The surface preparation was intense, but since this was new construction, the crew didn't have to repair as well. Between both towers, "we diamond ground 7,200 square feet of vertical risers and landings, recut 700 lineal feet of control joints, and 300 lineal feet of expansion joints using seven-inch and four-inch Metabo hand-held grinders," Rookey says.

Next, using eight-inch Blastrac machines with 330 shot, the crew prepped all 10 elevator lobbies and all 10 stairwell landings. Once the debris had been vacuumed, they set two-inch wide by three-and-a-half-feet-long zinc edge "trip" strips on all of the landings and stairs. "We drilled in with very small anchors around all of the edges to secure the strips - all 900 lineal feet of them," explains Rookey. Prep work complete, it was now prime time. Working two floors at a time, four crew members per floor, the team used 1/2-inch nap rollers to roller apply Dur-A-Flex's Cryl-A-Prime primer to the stairs, lobbies, and landings at a thickness of approximately 100 square feet per gallon. "We started at the top of the structures and worked our way down. We definitely got a workout, because we set up mix stations on every other floor and the elevators weren't working. Everything had to be carried in buckets. It took approximately 45 minutes to an hour for the primer to cure. "Next the crew filled expansion and control joints using Cryl-A-Cove. They "spread the paste 1/16-inch over the joints using trowels. After about 45 minutes, we'd flatten the cured paste down with Metabo diamond planers.

We Can See You

Then it was time for the base coat application. "First we worked the landings. We applied the Cryl-A-Glaze 201 SL at 1/8-inch thick using 1/2-inch notched trowels and spiked rollers. We hand-broadcast the flakes, but not to excess, because this was the first of two broadcasts," Rookey explains. After an hour, the crew would return to the floor, sweeping it with medium bristle scrub brushes to remove any sharp edges and reduce the texture, and vacuuming the debris. They then reapplied a coat of 201 resin at 80 square feet per gallon and hand-broadcast the flakes to excess. After allowing the floor to cure for an hour, the crew brushed and vacuumed it clean. They then used rollers to apply the Cryl-A-Top 301 clear sealer in a flood coat application at a thickness of 80 square feet per gallon. After curing for one hour, the floor was sanded with 80-grit sand pads and vacuumed. The crew then applied the final coat of clear 301 at a thickness of 100 square feet per gallon. "The staircases were tricky because they are glassed in. There were about two inches of space between the concrete and the glass so we could not allow any of the product to run, slop, or drip, because it would show through the glass. We had to make a clean edge all the way around," describes Rookey.

To do that, they worked the stairs and vertical risers concurrently. First, they ground and primed following the same methods as on the landings. Then, they taped off all of the trip strips on the front of the stairs. This was followed by a double broadcast of flakes and the 201 resin, brushing with stiff bristle brushes, and the 301 clear sealer application. Rookey continues, "All the stair nosings had custom color black and gray non-slip strips installed two-inches by two-feet. These were areas that were taped off and installed after the main flake system had been installed. Once the stairs had been sealed with the first coat of 301, we went back and installed the anti-slip strip on the stair edges."All the landings were sanded with floor buffers, while the stairs had to be sanded by hand with 36-grit black sandpaper on palm sanders. Once the dust had been vacuumed, working from the top down, all of the stairs and landings were given a final flood coat seal of 301 at a thickness of eight to 10 mils. The elevator lobbies were the final step in the process. "Each floor was color coded to differentiate between the different floors in the garage and so we created custom flake, micro-chip blends of red, yellow, green, and blue in front of each of the doors. "The crew cut the expansion and control joints using a seven-inch saw. "We cut them 1/4-inch wide and 1 1/2-inch deep and caulked them with Sikaflex 1c," says Rookey. And with the finishing of the expansion joints, the expansive new parking garage was ready for traffic. The crew from Northeast Industrial Floorings, Inc. finished both structures in spite of the fact that they were working literally under glass and under no small amount of pressure. The parking garage is now open and the community is beginning to thrive. Maybe that old cliché should be: "If you build it, Rookey and his team can coat it."

Reprinted with permission from Coatings Pro Magazine

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