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White Concrete Poses Particular Challenges for Installers

In hopes of attracting young, hipper clients, J.C. Penney Co. and Izod chose burnished and stained white concrete for smallish “shops” in nearly 700 stores nationwide. Although the areas were typically less than 1,000 square feet, most contractors say they had a harder time achieving the desired finish here than in larger shop floors.
In hopes of attracting young, hipper clients, J.C. Penney Co. and Izod chose burnished and stained white concrete for smallish “shops” in nearly 700 stores nationwide. Although the areas were typically less than 1,000 square feet, most contractors say they had a harder time achieving the desired finish here than in larger shop floors.

The biggest issue contractors confronted during J.C. Penney Co.’s Wave 2 of renovations in August concerned the whiteness of the Izod shops’ burnished floors.

“The JCPenney corporate office was not going for a painted white look and feel, but rather a translucent stained appearance. Stains show the imperfections and character in the concrete, and coatings cover them,” says Les Davis, president of AmeriPolish Inc., one of the manufacturing companies that supplied the colorants used in the first three waves.

Although Wave 2 involved smaller Izod sections of usually about 500 square feet, many contractors say they had a harder time with it than with Wave 1. The work involved burnishing the concrete to a certain level and then staining it white. “But it’s not a true white color. The look reminds me of leather,” says Tabitha McCarter, vice president of operations of Yarbrough Concrete Polishing in Knoxville, Tenn., which did seven stores in Ohio, Kentucky and Virginia.

Since the colorants used — AmeriPolish’s ColorJuice nanopigment stain and Prosoco’s Consolideck ColorHard pigment — are transparent, “you had to do a good job grinding or the imperfections showed through,” McCarter says.

Confusion arose when some people didn’t understand the translucent look the project aimed to convey, Davis says. Consequently, a number of contractors overapplied ColorJuice when two applications would have achieved the desired white look. “Some of the troops in the field thought the concept was to cover the floor with the product and that’s really not the ColorJuice niche,” he says.

Contractors agree that getting the white right was a struggle for them.

“The biggest challenge we had in Wave 2 was when we were trying to get the Izod floor white enough. We had to apply anywhere from three to eight coats of white stain. At times, we had to grind more than once to try to get the concrete to accept the stain.”
— Dan Hennes, flooring division manager for Mark Beamish Waterproofing, Anaheim, Calif. (His company performed work in 20 stores.)

To achieve a satisfactory finish, crews has to apply anywhere from three to eight coats of the white dye. “Each piece reacted differently.”
— John Jones, owner of Budget Maintenance Concrete Services, Pottstown, Pa. (His company performed work in 14 preexisting stores and one new one.)

“There have been compatibility issues as far as the density of the concrete and application instructions. It was hard to achieve the white color (the general contractors) anticipated. I felt there was some miscommunication and the people in charge weren’t educated as to how the floor was supposed to look. Burnished concrete looks way different from polished concrete.”
— Skyler Owen, project and sales manager for Lundeen Simonson Inc., Spokane, Wash. (His company performed work in eight preexisting stores.)

“Applying the white stain was not a pleasant experience. White is not a forgiving color. It’s transparent and stains pop right through. I think a solid color stain would have been a better choice but then you wouldn’t have gotten that polished look.”
— Jeff Lukaszewski, sales manager of 3D Concrete Inc., Aledo, Ill. (His company performed work in one preexisting store.)

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