Vegas Artisan Puts Fresh Concrete Stamp on Venerable Casino

With its 1,149-foot “space needle,” the Stratosphere Casino, Hotel & Tower is a Las Vegas landmark. When its owners, American Casino & Entertainment Properties LLC, remodeled it inside and out in fall 2012, they asked Owen Ondrisko, of Stampco Concrete, Henderson, Nevada, to design landscaping and concrete for the approaches to the building.

“I do a lot of work for American Casino,” Ondrisko says. “These hotels remodel every two or three years.”

Stamped concrete walkway in Las Vegas

This time, the company’s managers let Ondrisko take an unusual approach: “We made it up as we went,” he says.

“Normally, every gnat’s butt is on a piece of paper quadruple-signed by the architect, the owner, and the design team,” he says. “When you get designers and architects involved, it tends to be a little overprocessed.” But on this project, “they gave me that power.”

Ondrisko’s crew was tasked with pouring and finishing a 30-foot-wide walkway and driveway without interfering with the 5,000 pedestrians and countless cars that enter and leave the complex daily.

Ondrisko’s solution was to pour the walkway and driveway in two halves, two weeks apart, so that cars and pedestrians could use the other half while one was curing. Both were stamped using Ashlar Roman Slate stamps from Proline Concrete Tools.

Stamped concrete casino entrance

Then his crew came back and antiqued the walkway and driveway with Proline’s EZ-Tique Water Based Acrylic Antiquing Wash. The main part of the walkway and driveway was brown, with bands of a contrasting shade.

Although the two slabs were at different stages of cure, there was no problem matching the colors. “That’s why color hardener was invented,” Ondrisko says. “You can’t tell where we started and where we stopped.”

Existing curbs around landscape areas were colored with a brown semitransparent water-based stain from Smith Paint Products to match the contrasting bands in the walkway. Ondrisko, who also owns Releaf Landscaping, designed and planted the landscape areas, which required moving three 40-foot palm trees with a crane. Smaller trees were surrounded with plants and new rock.

Decorative concrete walkway in Las Vegas

The new surfaces needed a sealer that would hold up under the desert sun without yellowing. Ondrisko used Arizona Polymer Flooring’s Poly 250, a two-component aliphatic polyurethane finish meant for outdoor use. “Bar none, that’s the top of the line,” he says. “Sealer doesn’t hold a candle to it, it’s not even close.”

But at about $450 for 5 gallons, “you have to find the customer who will pay for it.”

Aluminum oxide was added to the Poly 250 for slip resistance. Ondrisko expects the finish to last at least three to five years if the hotel’s cleaning crew follows his instructions. “They wax and clean it two or three times a week,” he says. “We go over what wax to use, they hand-clean it and hand-wax it. It looks like it was just sealed yesterday.”

Stampco spent a month on the job, which included not only landscaping but also seal-coating and restriping the parking lot. Meanwhile, other trades gave the lobby and front desk a makeover. “It was a complete facelift for the whole entrance,” he said. “It was a finished look all the way in to the front desk.”

Ondrisko’s happy with the results and also pleased with the trust the casino executives placed in him to do the job without a lot of design input from them. “It was pretty neat to give me that rein,” he says.

Project at a Glance

Client: American Casino & Entertainment Properties LLC, Las Vegas

Decorative concrete contractor: Stampco Concrete Inc., Henderson, Nevada

Design and project management: Owen Ondrisko, Stampco

Scope of project: Pedestrian walkways and landscaping for a casino complex

Most challenging aspect: Completing the work without interfering with the passage of 5,000 people a day

Tools and materials used: Roman Ashlar Slate stamps and EZ-Tique Water Based Acrylic Antiquing Wash from Proline Concrete Tools, Traditional Series semitransparent water-based stain from Smith Paint Products in Bark Brown (OA-980), Poly 250 two-component aliphatic polyurethane finish from Arizona Polymer Flooring

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