In 2005, race-car driver Dan Wheldon received the first-place title at the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race (also known as the Indy 500) and, along with it, the 2005 Indy 500 Pace Car, a new Corvette convertible.
Wheldon stored the Pace Car at a location outside his St. Petersburg, Fla., home, but several years later, he decided to place the Corvette on display as if it were a work of art in his three-car garage. To set the stage, he made plans to turn the garage floor into a masterpiece too.
In January 2009, decorative concrete artisan Rod Burton of A Gorgeous Floor installed a high-sheen, acid-stained concrete floor in shades of brown and black in the garage, creating a stunning yet not overpowering backdrop for the prized automobile. Using mostly products manufactured in-house by A Gorgeous Floor, Burton followed his company’s patented installation process of overlay material application, acid staining and sealing to transform the floor in five days.
Burton said the project began when Wheldon’s wife, Susie, made a cold call to his company. After visiting the Wheldons’ home and solidifying a look for the floor, Burton got to work.
“Dan wanted a showroom floor to show off a one-of-a-kind car,” Burton says. “He wanted something really flashy.”
First, Burton lightly ground the existing concrete and applied A Gorgeous Floor Moisture Barrier, his company’s two-part epoxy moisture barrier. Due to Wheldon’s close proximity to the Florida shoreline, a high level of moisture was present in the ground beneath his home, which made a moisture barrier necessary to prevent bubbles from forming underneath the overlay material.
“When you apply overlays in areas with high water tables, the moisture can cause the overlay to re-emulsify, creating bubbles that cause the floor to fail,” he says. “Using the moisture barrier is a good policy for us in any area that might have high moisture.”
Once the moisture barrier was completely dry the following day, Burton troweled down his company’s acrylic overlay material, A Gorgeous Floor Overlay. On day three, he applied a Kemiko acid stain in Black Stain, a black tortoiseshell color that produces brown marbling effects.
Burton then completed his three-step sealing process. First, he applied A Gorgeous Floor Primer, a two-part, low-viscosity epoxy that penetrates and bonds to the overlay surface. After seven hours of drying time, he applied the second coat, A Gorgeous Floor Hi Build, a two-part, high-viscosity epoxy that helps level the surface and requires 14 hours of drying time. He finished with a coat of A Gorgeous Floor Top Seal, a two-part, abrasion-resistant aliphatic urethane designed for high-traffic surfaces.
Extra care regarding the driveway that extends out from the garage was taken throughout the project, Burton says. To avoid drops and spills, he masked the driveway near the door openings with two layers of plastic.
“Dan pays a lot of attention to detail,” Burton says. “He didn’t want a single drop of stain or sealer on his driveway.”
Burton says he began developing his sealers about six years ago when he found that other sealers on the market would often yellow, bubble or fail to adhere. He then spent a solid three years perfecting the formula. After exclusive use in-house, A Gorgeous Floor’s sealers are now available for sale directly from the company to members of the trade. The sealers do not require maintenance, and Burton says out of every floor he’s sealed with his products, he’s only had to reseal one in a high-traffic salon due to normal wear and tear.
“Our number-one priority is hardness,” Burton says. “Epoxies are pretty good, but they’re not really scratch-resistant. That’s why we go over it with the aliphatic urethane. It’s the toughest nonbaked surface you can get, and that’s what we’re looking for — durability.”
The Wheldons were very happy with the results of their new garage floor. “Susie said, ‘I wish we didn’t have hardwood floors in the house so you could do another floor!’” Burton says.
As a thank-you gift, Dan Wheldon presented Burton with an autographed copy of his book, “Lionheart,” and inscribed a note on the inside cover stating that Burton was great to work with and that the floor “looks amazing.”
Part of Burton’s success on the Wheldon garage floor project may be due to the fact that he lets his customers lead the way in color, texture and sheen level choice. In this case, he spent time reviewing color samples with Dan and Susie and discussed what they liked and didn’t like before getting to work.
“I let the customer decide how intense they want the color to be,” he says. “I let them pull the plug.”
Project at a Glance
Client: IZOD IndyCar Series race-car driver Dan Wheldon
Decorative Concrete Artisan/Designer: Rod Burton, A Gorgeous Floor, Palm Harbor, Fla., and Union, Maine | www.gorgeousfloor.com
Scope of project: An acid-stained floor in Wheldon’s oversized, three-car garage
Duration of project: Five days
Material Suppliers: A Gorgeous Floor, Kemiko
Materials Used: A Gorgeous Floor Moisture Barrier, A Gorgeous Floor Overlay, Kemiko Acid Stain: Black Stain, A Gorgeous Floor Primer, A Gorgeous Floor Hi Build, A Gorgeous Floor Top Seal