Concrete Decor Puts on a Really Big Show for 2020 Decorative Concrete LIVE!

Attendees gather to see decorative concrete at the World of Concrete display Decorative Concrete LIVE! put on by Concrete Decor magazine.

The jury’s in for the most recent rendition of Decorative Concrete LIVE! presented Feb. 4-7 during World of Concrete 2020 in Las Vegas.

A representative of Fox Blocks speaks with attendees at Decorative Concrete LIVE! on the benefits of insulated concrete forms (ICF) construction. A vapor barrier by Viper II is placed on the parking lot before concrete is poured. An aerial shot of the structure built with ICFs at the Decorative Concrete LIVE! display at World of Concrete.

“We put on one hell of a show this year,” says Emil Gera of Gera Concrete out of Pennsylvania. Gera served as the “official” unofficial general manager for Decorative Concrete LIVE! Matt Sampson, Gera’s buddy aided again also. “Projects got finished, we also pulled the fountain off at the 11th hour and everything came together. I’m also thrilled with the amount of work that got done. As a result, out of all the projects I’ve been involved with, this ranks up there in the top five.”

Fox Blocks ICF were used to create different areas of Decorative Concrete LIVE! Concrete is being poured and placed by industry experts. Braces were placed on the external walls of the ICFs as a precaution for the wind to help hold the pieces in place before their final application of concrete.

Chris Becker, the Fenix Group vice president of marketing and brand management who headed up the SureCrete crew, echoed Gera’s sentiment. “The many comments I heard resonated that this was the best managed (Decorative Concrete LIVE!) from beginning to end. Because of that, it resulted in a much more complete presentation.”

An aerial view of the structure created at Decorative Concrete LIVE complete with a wood terrace

In the past, unforeseen turns in the weather or projects that were more ambitious than what people could execute in the given time resulted in too many loose ends. This year, Becker says, show participants demonstrated their skills at a healthy pace and completed most projects while onlookers watched. “People enjoyed seeing the process as well as the conclusion,” he says.

A sphere suspended between two rock features covered in concrete ready to be carved. A look between two concrete rock features at polished concrete that has been dyed in a gradiant color. Polished concrete complete with exposed aggregate and blue dye.

“We couldn’t have asked for a better outcome,” Gera says. “In my wildest dreams, I couldn’t have picked a better team than the one we had. We worked together well. We busted our butts but we had a good time doing it. Also, no one’s ego got in the way, either.”

Setting the stage

This year’s theme was Colorful Cityscapes. What was delivered was a loosely interpreted “contemporary street scape,” Becker says, who along with Gera and Bent Mikkelsen, the show’s producer, was heavily involved with the show’s design and setup.

Cutting foam for concrete applications Applying a scratch coat to a concrete rock formation. Kingdom Products logo carved into concrete rock feature.

“It’s cool to have a theme but a lot of folks like to put their own signature on what they do,” Becker says. “It would have taken the joy out of it if we had to stick to a predetermined blueprint. We had a nice cross of things that were very clever and very artistic.”

After all, he continues, “The real purpose of Decorative Concrete LIVE! is to inspire others and show creativity. To make people say ‘wow,’ this is something I can get into. They don’t want something abstract. They’re looking for ideas that they can incorporate into their business and utilize on a regular basis.”

Cutting a foam sphere with a foam cutter. Using a grinder to polish concrete Creating a GFRC water feature using an MDF mold

“It’s cool to have a theme but a lot of folks like to put their own signature on what they do,” Becker says. “It would have taken the joy out of it if we had to stick to a predetermined blueprint. We had a nice cross of things that were very clever and very artistic.”

Before any of the forms were set or concrete was placed, Gera says, a moisture barrier consisting of Viper II from ISI Building Products was put down to protect the parking lot. Fritz-Pak additives were used to dose the delivered ready-mix concrete to improve workability and better control set times. A Putzmeister truck’s boom pump rose up over the area where Decorative Concrete LIVE! came to life, helping people understand the building of ICF walls.

It was time for the real work to begin.

A group moving the basin of a GFRC fountain. A waterfall type fountain made of GFRC concrete. Jake Brady putting the finishing touches on a concrete fountain basin.

We built this city

What was anticipated to be the entrance to the exhibit — a pair of rock-like formations holding up a ball that alluded to the World of Concrete — morphed into something found in a canyon sooner than a downtown plaza.

Under the direction of Josh Russell of Beyond Vertical Concrete, who labored on the project for days, a combination of products from Kingdom Products, Quikrete, SureCrete, Poraver and Stone Edge Surfaces was used to build the vertical elements. Kingdom Products’ Olde World Stain was also used to color. Universal Foam Products provided the large blocks of expanded polystyrene used to form the rocks and orb, as well as for the rockwork in the exhibit’s overflowing pizza parlor.

Moving a waterfall portion of a fountain into place. Placing a water fountain into the GFRC basin. Concrete that has been stained in a gradiant from yellow to blue.

Glass from American Specialty Glass and aggregate were broadcast around the structure. Rachel Knigge Bruce of Floormaps used Ameripolish dyes to color parts of the surrounding area to resemble sand and water. The bulk of the area was polished with a Rhino RL500 from New Grind operated by Jeremy Wilkerson of DreamKrete.

Applying a microtopping on a wall that is flanked with a concrete stencil. Concrete pump applying a vertical concrete mix to a wall covered with SpiderLath product. Applying a floor coat to concrete to give a smooth look.

Jake Brady of Jake Brady Concrete by Design used Kingdom Products materials mixed with Poraver Expanded Glass, globular glass grains made from post-consumer recycled glass, to build a massive fountain with a fire feature for the plaza. Poraver’s addition to the mix reduced the structures’ overall weight and improved the mixture’s workability. Twenty pounds of Poraver can handily replace 100 pounds of sand.

The exterior wall of the area dubbed the pizza parlor featured Dominick Cardone of Diversified Decorative Finishes applying Skraffino.  Skraffino is a high-performance architectural coating from Duraamen, for use on both walls and floors.

Concrete artisans enjoying their hard work at Decorative Concrete LIVE!

The parlor’s exterior wall featured a stencil from Floormaps, as did another outside the Marketplace Store. Rebecca and Gaetano Fuscardo of Fuscardo Concrete applied the vines stencil. Rebecca Gaetano also carved a figurehead on the store’s column nearby. Her son, who seemed to be everywhere, pitched in wherever needed.

An artistic and whimsical face carved into the end of a concrete countertop. Emil Gera creates textures on his vertical concrete wall that mimics large rocks. A group of attendees learning about decorative concrete
Carved concrete makes its mark

The interior of the parlor featured a pizza oven door and stone walls made and colored with products from Stone Edge Surfaces including its MicroTop, Stamp, Spray and Wall mixes, Liquid Colors and Mountain Dry Stack Stamp. Gera did much of the carving aided by Gregg Hensley of Stone Edge. In addition, the scratch coat was lightweight stucco from Quikrete. Danny Carrillo of Graco using a Graco S340 stucco sprayer fed with a CM20 continuous mixer, applied the scratchcoat.

Another mixer to help get the jobs done was the Imer 120 vertical mixer. In addition, the use of a workhorse mixer from Multiquip that easily handles bag mixes was imperitive. To help keep down the airborne dust and the entire area tidy, a vacuum from Dustcontrol was constantly in use also.

Graco pump sprayers being used in the space as attendees look on. Placing a concrete stamp Using dust collection on the space to create a desired look at Decorative Concrete LIVE!
Outdoor patio wows the crowd

Next door, SureCrete set up shop with an extension of the pizza parlor that featured a rock formation, water features and three concrete tables, all made on-site. Becker and his crew from SureCrete and the Cement Sisters, namely Tracy and Krissy Musetti and Danielle Johanson, and Danielle’s husband, Joshua, did much of the work.

Applying a stencil on a vertical wall to look like trees. A group shot of the people who made Decorative Concrete LIVE possible. A close up of the stencil being removed.

SureCrete’s MicroTek, a microtopping that is for use on floors and walls, was also applied in multiple lifts in coordination with the custom-made tree-line stencil colored with SureCrete Eco-Stain.   The “river” table, a Butterfield log mold table, columns and a “warp” table made with XS-Precast countertop mix completed the space.

The floor was made of a 16-inch Boardwark stamp from Proline that was colored with three shades and also sealed for the finished look.

An outdoor patio inspiration.

3-D space perfected for selfies

Heralded as a photo op for selfie enthusiasts, the 3-D drawings on the floor and walls as well as the metallic floors in the Marketplace store adjacent to SureCrete’s space, were a hit.  Rick Lobdell of Concrete Mystique and also his helper, Tim Maloney of Maloney’s Decorative, and others creating the 3-D drawings using SurfKoat products. Materials included high-performance urethane coatings, color dyes, the polyaspartic PolyKoat GL80 with metallics as well as Deco Guard sealer with Acrylpack.

Concrete wood planks stamped and stained to look authentic. An artisan works on vertical concrete application at Decorative Concrete LIVE! in Las Vegas. A 3-D design to make it look like the flat space is actually multi-dimensional.

A concrete countertop at one end of the store was cast in a Z-Countertop form from Concrete Countertop Solutions. Kingdom Product’s Imperial Countertop mix in white was used and then the countertop was seeded with American Specialty Glass. Allowing contractors to cast countertops in place, Z-Countertops designed this form specifically. Other forms this year also include reusable varieties from Elite PlastiForm that form curves and radius edges in the plaza area.

Concrete stains were used to achieve the look of a 3-D design on both the floor and the walls of this space.

An Engrave-A-Crete Mongoose also etched the plaza with circles.  The circles stood out due to the use of Nox-Crete Acryl-Pen silane-based stains. In addition, contractors sealed the space with Sparkl-Seal, a high-gloss decorative acrylic sealer. Marty O’Mara of Nox-Crete also demonstrated the company’s Deco Peel. Deco-Peel is an innovative coating remover that involves a cellulose fabric blanket as well as a stripper that are rolled out and then pulled up to achieve bare concrete.

Casting a concrete countertop. Creating a concrete countertop for Decorative Concrete LIVE! Adding in glass aggregate to a concrete countertop to create the desired final look.

A treasured ending

The adjoining concrete expanse leading up to Cindee Lundin’s public work of art featured Top-Cast, a surface retarder line from Dayton Superior. The Top-Cast can also produce a range of etched finishes from full stone exposure to sand. Touted for its ease of use, Top-Cast also doesn’t need plastic covering.

Mady and Danny Barrera take in the sites at Decorative Concrete LIVE! A circle design was implemented on the concrete courtyard using an engraving machine and concrete stains. Engraved circles on concrete.

Lundin’s art exhibit began with a wall formed out of 12-foot-long pieces of forming plywood from Eagle Plywood. Also, Sansoe Snapties bonded together with foam from Universal Foam. These walls were representing adjoining walls like the ones found in parking garages around the country. They were also covered with a wide array of Kingdom Products. Products used ranged from the Imperial Core Bond base as well as Vertical Carving Mix. Also in use in the space, the Feather-Fast mortar, Metallic FX mica and the acrylic Regal Seal.

Attendees taking in the sites at Decorative Concrete LIVE! Nox-Crete Decopeel being demonstrated on the concrete. Dayton Superior Products being featured in the sunset in Las Vegas at Decorative Concrete LIVE!

A stone bench underneath a faux bois umbrella welcomes weary travelers to sit and rest awhile. They will be sheltered from the elements and as a result surrounded by the beauty of a rain shower.

Against a swirl textured gray background representing the wind, individually molded raindrops dance along the walls in all colors of the rainbow. The attendees then brought the art project to life. Collectively, they colored their own raindrops and then attached them to the wall.

Cindee Lundin discusses her work with attendee of Decorative Concrete LIVE! onlookers. Applying the raindrops to the wall to achieve its desired design. A close up look of the raindrops that have been stained by attendees far and wide.

“This will truly represent all people coming together to result in art composition at the World of Concrete,” Lundin writes in her interpretation.

“And at the end of the day,” Gera concludes, “it all worked. To get through something like this in a short amount of time with so many different manufacturers, products and people? As a result, it means we did something right.”

An artisan carves custom leaves into a bench that is placed in the space at Decorative Concrete LIVE! Cindee Lundin creates a swirl backdrop for her artwork. A group of artisans working at Decorative Concrete LIVE! with Cindee Lundin.
A faux bios bench with an umbrella over the top and stained raindrops cascading all around. featured at Decorative Concrete LIVE! Up close staining of concrete raindrops painted by World of Concrete attendees.

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