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Concrete Crafters Blend Applications at Popular Microbrewery

There’s a little bit of art and a little bit of science involved in the making of beer. And when the popular Sun King Brewing Co. in Indianapolis, Ind., needed an upgrade to its floors, the local flooring contractor contacted to handle the job applied the same mixed approach.
Photos courtesy of Preferred Global Inc.

There’s a little bit of art and a little bit of science involved in the making of beer. And when the popular Sun King Brewing Co. in Indianapolis, Ind., needed an upgrade to its floors, the local flooring contractor contacted to handle the job applied the same mixed approach.

For areas subject to chemicals, spilled beer and hot-water washes, the science came from Dur-A-Flex and its Poly-Crete SLB urethane-based system. For the art, Indianapolis-based contractor Preferred Global Inc. utilized a stencil and stains to add the company’s logo to the floor of the tasting room.

The end result: floors that both client and contractor are extremely proud of.

In a growing industry, Sun King Brewery still stands out. A popular microbrewery that crafts both a premium product and numerous seasonal offerings, Sun King is the first brewery to ever win four gold medals at the prestigious Great American Beer Festival, held annually in Denver.A tale of two floors
In a growing industry, Sun King Brewery still stands out. A popular microbrewery that crafts both a premium product and numerous seasonal offerings, Sun King is the first brewery to ever win four gold medals at the prestigious Great American Beer Festival, held annually in Denver.

It’s pretty heady stuff for a company that brewed its first batch of beer in July 2009 utilizing used equipment and located in a 1950s warehouse in downtown Indianapolis.

Although the warehouse came with concrete floors, in an attempt to limit the amount of damage deposit Sun King had to put down on the rented space, co-owner and business manager Omar Robinson came up with the idea of putting down 6-mil polyethylene sheeting and pouring a second floor over it.

“It had the right slant and the drains were built into it,” he says. “Initially we poured a 50-by-30 section for our brew house. And, each time we’ve grown, we’ve done that.”

The solution might have saved on possible damages, but it had one major problem: over time, the mix of hot water, beer and chemicals hitting the concrete caused it to begin breaking down, exposing the aggregate and even creating holes.The solution might have saved on possible damages, but it had one major problem: over time, the mix of hot water, beer and chemicals hitting the concrete caused it to begin breaking down, exposing the aggregate and even creating holes.

Enter Greg Wafford, a salesman for Preferred Global, who’d been calling on Sun King regularly and who’s serviced such food and beverage industry companies as Frito-Lay and the Chipotle and On the Border Mexican restaurant chains.

“It took a little time, but after we talked Omar realized he needed something,” says Wafford. “I educated him on the systems we provide and told him the best system for his environment is a urethane mortar system that has texture, and a urethane topcoat.”

Installing the urethane system is a multistep process that begins with blasting the floor to give the concrete a profile for the urethane slurry to key into. The advantages of urethane

Installing the urethane system is a multistep process that begins with blasting the floor to give the concrete a profile for the urethane slurry to key into. Along with blasting the floor, Wafford says particular attention is paid to areas around drains and where directional work will stop and start.

“That way it’s locked into the area we’re working in and there’s no lip,” he explains.

The second day, the slurry is applied with a half-inch V-notch squeegee, allowed to cure for 20 minutes, then loop-rolled. Then, the proper texture is broadcast until it reaches the point of rejection.

The third day, the Preferred Global crew returned to sweep and vacuum the floor, then apply the urethane topcoat.

While the Dur-A-Flex system offers several advantages, including the ability to further increase the floor’s slope to drains through the use of a urethane grout on the blasted floor surface, perhaps its greatest one is that the three-day application allowed Preferred Global to work around Sun King’s own busy schedule.

Wafford explains that when the system was being installed, Sun King would simply shut down its production midafternoon on Fridays and return to new floors the following Monday.

“We just put a lot of people on it,” he says. “We can pretty much work around their schedule. There’s a little coordinating upfront, but once we begin to work, we do the job quickly and get it done.”

The schedule has certainly met Sun King’s expectations. Since the initial job in the brew house, Preferred Global has been called in to do the cooler floors and even the restroom floors as the brewery continues to grow and expand.

The hall of the Sun King

While Wafford had his eye on Sun King’s needs for a safe, clean environment for its production, he also expressed concern to Robinson about the brewery’s tasting room floor.

“Every time he’d come in, he’d say, ‘This whole area looks like hell,’” Robinson relates. “There were a lot of uneven parts and there was the new versus old issue.”

Wafford describes the area as just old, dirty and bare concrete that was hard to clean. Because Preferred Global does a lot of polishing and staining in the retail industry, he proposed polishing the floor and applying a stained image of the company’s logo, an Aztec sun god.

The logo, which also incorporates the four elements of beer — water, yeast, hops and grain — in its quadrants, was sent off to an artist as a TIF file, while the company began the business of polishing the floors, preceded by tests to assess the concrete’s hardness and whether it had been treated previously with a sealer or other coating.

The Sun King floor was ground up to 150 grit. Then resin-based polishing pads were used to polish — 100 grit, 200 grit, 400 grit, 800 grit and 1,500 grit —with Lythic Densifier applied after the 200-grit step.

Once the polishing was completed, Wafford says the 10-by-10 four-color logo was applied at the rate of one color per day. Then the whole area was treated with a densifier and burnished.

“That really works to protect what we achieved with the polishing,” he says. “It works together with the concrete to where it’s smooth, but it tightens the concrete and makes it harder.”

Robinson says the response to the floor logo has been outstanding, and while the tasting room floor isn’t receiving the same stress from heat and chemicals as the production area, it’s all holding up well.

“On a Friday we can have 700-900 people come through here between noon and 7 p.m., and while we seldom have forklift traffic on it, the foot traffic is very heavy,” Robinson says. “The way they sealed the seams and polished it, it’s still perfect.”

Ultimately, both men are pleased with their relationship. Next up for the brewery is a passageway between the production area and the tasting room, which will be getting the Dur-A-Flex treatment.

There’s even more planned in the future. Sun King will be opening a distillery next year, and Preferred Global will be on hand to do the floors — before any equipment goes in this time.

“It’s been exciting working with Omar and his partners, seeing their growth and helping us grow as a company, too,” says Wafford. “I also know we’re providing them with the latest and greatest in flooring technology.”

Project at a Glance

Client: Sun King Brewing Co., Indianapolis, Ind.

Decorative concrete contractor: Preferred Global Inc., Indianapolis, Ind. | www.preferredglobal.net

Scope of project: Protective coating for production area floors, polish and stenciled stain on tasting room floor

Products used: Dur-A-Flex Poly-Crete SLB with CF urethane topcoat in product areas, Lythic Densifier and AmeriPolish dye for the tasting room, custom stencil from local supplier Logan Street Signs & Banners

Machines used: Blastrac equipment in the production areas, HTC 800 series equipment for the polish and stencil work in the tasting room

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