Nightclub at Wild Horse Pass Casino Gets Glittery Concrete Ramp

Glittering aggregate spiked ramps at casino in Arizona
Photos courtesy of Surfacing Solutions Inc

You can bet your boots that it wasn’t easy to overlay the three glittering, aggregate-spiked ramps that lead down from the VIP lounge to the dance floor in the nightclub of the Wild Horse Pass Casino in Chandler, Ariz. As Shawn Halverson, president of Surfacing Solutions Inc. and a master of understatement, says, “You could say that pouring concrete on a slant is a challenge. But fun.”

Temecula, Calif.-based Surfacing Solutions was invited to a meeting with the leaders of the casino construction project by another decorative concrete contractor, Jay Peterson, of The Art of Concrete, Oceanside, Calif. They wanted to see if Halverson’s outfit could design and install glittering floors for the nightclub that would enhance the lighting and color ideas the architect had in mind. The crew would have six weeks to finish before opening night.

By the time gamblers began placing their first bets at the new casino, Halverson’s crew of eight had completed about 3,500 square feet of floors and ramps, indoors and out, on schedule.

Halverson and Jay Peterson tested the design ideas and component materials in the Surfacing Solutions yard. Once he and the project’s architect (Kris McCain, from LPA San Diego) were satisfied with the look and performance, it was time to double down and bet they would finish on time.

The job consisted of two levels. The upper included an exterior curved balcony and VIP lounge floor with a base of plywood more than 1 inch thick, which sloped down in three places to the dance floor, all on an already-existing structural concrete slab. Each circular ramp was between 15 and 35 feet long.

As he started on the VIP level, Halverson worried that the plywood floor would crack and shift when they began the concrete overlay pour. It didn’t.

Mapei’s Ultraplan M20 Plus self-leveling concrete was used throughout because the self-leveling material could easily be mixed with aggregate and glass.

Halverson credits Jay Peterson for his help in designing the proper quantity of materials to make this work, and the glass, rock and mirror was obtained from United Terrazzo Supply of Ontario, Calif.
Halverson maintains that it is important to use the same amount and weight of glass, rock and mirror aggregate as cement when mixing the concrete. “It’s the best combination we’ve found to this point,” he says.

Since the motif was undulating lines, curved furnishings, glittering lights and mirror balls, the architect’s design included flowing lines of concrete integrally laced with the glass, mirror and rock for reflected sparkle. Westcoat Specialty Coating Systems water-based concrete stains in Bronze, Cream and Espresso were used to set off the borders, separated by terrazzo strips set at 3/8 inch tall. Then the entire floor was ground down to the finish height of 1/4 inch for a smooth, polished concrete look.

“Since we customize most of our applications, we use Westcoat products often, and on this job we used the MACoat fiber-lath reinforced deck system over the plywood and added epoxy as a primer for the concrete substructure areas,” Halverson says. Mapei was used over the concrete substructure on the lower section.

For all the areas without glass or rock, they installed a Texture-Crete smooth-troweled micro-overlay, then stained the undulating border using Westcoat’s Espresso color.

Mapei mix, glass & aggregate were used to overlay the concrete floor.
Blended with Mapei mix, glass & aggregate were used to overlay the floor.

Pouring overlays onto ramps
The biggest challenge was pouring the three circular ramps without having the self-leveling concrete drift away before setting. The first thing Halverson did was to staple expanded metal lath to the plywood, which gave the Mapei Ultraplan M20 Plus self-leveling concrete something to bite into when it was poured. “We had already tested it our shop with a variety of aggregates and glass, as well as on sloped surfaces, and we knew it would work.”

The aggregate and glass were blended into the Mapei mix during the mixing process. A consistent look was maintained by adding a specific, predetermined amount of aggregate per bag. Then when the overlay was placed on the floor, there were no issues with aggregate missing in any one spot.

Because the amount of aggregate kept the mix from flowing like normal self-leveling overlays, workers smoothed it out by screeding it off and floating it like concrete. On the ramp slopes, the aggregate helped to stiffen the concrete and kept it from flowing downhill. “It allowed us to keep it up and trowel it down without much of it slumping. Then, after hardening, it ended up being easier to grind and expose the rock and glass,” Halverson says.

Since the self-leveling overlay set up quickly, it could have actually been walked on in a couple of hours, but they didn’t. Going on to the next ramp allowed them to give each one time to cure, usually 24 hours, before starting the grinding process.

Grinding on the ramps was another adventure. Because of the slope, the larger polishers were too heavy to use, so the grinding had to be done by hand with a Metabo 7-inch angle polisher. It took three days to go over each ramp using increasingly fine grinding discs. All the remaining areas were ground and polished with Diamatic’s 780PRO grinders. Finally, all floors and ramps were finished with Westcoat’s EC-75 Polyurethane Sealer.

Halverson and his crew worked overtime to finish on time. He took pains to train the casino staff how to maintain the floors. After they had a change of personnel, he went back and did it again. “They haven’t called to yell at me so I guess it’s OK,” Halverson says. “I can only hope they’re doing what they should. We worked hard to make something pretty. I would hate it if it wasn’t maintained properly.

“We hit the jackpot doing this project. It was creative, challenging, fun and even turned out to make some money, which we managed not to bet at the casino’s tables.”

Project at a Glance

Client: Wild Horse Pass Hotel and Casino, Chandler, Ariz.

Decorative Concrete Contractor: Surfacing Solutions Inc., Temecula, Calif. |

General Contractor: Kitchell Corporation, Phoenix, Arizona |

Builder: Southwest Architectural Builders, Phoenix, Arizona |

Architect: Kris McCain, LPA San Diego |

Scope of project: Pour glittering, polished aggregate-filled ramps, a VIP area floor and an exterior balcony within a tight time frame.

Duration of project: 6 weeks

Crew size: 8

Products used: Mapei Ultraplan M20 Plus self-leveling concrete; Westcoat Specialty Coating Systems’ water-based stains, MACoat reinforced deck system, epoxy, Texture-Crete overlay and EC-75 Polyurethane Sealer; aggregate and terrazzo strips from United Terrazzo Supply

Grinders used: Diamatic 780PRO polisher, Metabo PE-12175 7-inch Angle Grinder

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