Recently I had the pleasure of teaching a concrete coating class at the Cement Masons & Plasterers Training Center of Washington, Union Local 528. It was a half day long class in which we covered chip flooring systems and vinyl graphic inlays. The class was made up of about half Union Apprentices and half private concrete applicators who came to learn how to lay chip flooring systems onto concrete floors.
The Cement Masons Training Center is located on Corson Avenue in Seattle. What a tremendous place! It is an apprenticeship program that is funded by grants from different entities like the State of Washington. They are not part of the Cement Masons & Plasterers Local Union 528 however; they work very closely together. It was my experience that this place is well staffed, well attended, and on the cutting edge of our crafts. I could not have asked for a better, more attentive class or better support from the full-time instructors. Good people all the way around.
As a private concrete coating applicator,
I was invited with open arms by the union. They look for private, union and public instructors who are simply skilled in their crafts. At Integrity Garage Floors we coat about 100,000 square feet of concrete per year and then through South Fork Concrete Coatings we sell into about another 1,000,000 square feet per year. After a decade of this someone decided we better get old Lance down to teach a class before he starts losing it.
The concrete coating class centered around the placing of chip flooring systems on concrete such as we put on garage floors. There was an hour and a half of class instruction where we covered the intellectual part of what we do. What coatings to use, how to mix them, how to properly lay them down, and why great prep leads to great floors, etc.
Then we went out to the lab. This is a large area that has great, raised slabs of concrete for the use of teaching students how to applicate different coatings onto concrete floors. The students were divided into four different groups. Each group had two different 4’ x 4’ areas to apply chip floor coatings.
The day before the staff and students had prepped the floor
by grinding to a CSP of 3. Concrete Surface Profile (CSP) is the measure of the average distance from the peaks of the surface to the valleys as seen through a cross-sectional view of the concrete surface. They learned first hand why proper surface prep is so important!
Then each group went to the mixing station where Antonio Garcia the Foreman at Integrity Garage Floors showed them how to mix the Water Vapor Barrier Epoxy called Waterchip that we use every day. They took the mixed Waterchip back to their individual areas and applied it and then broadcast the chips into the wet epoxy.
The next step was to apply the polyaspartic top coat. This was done on areas that we had laid the Waterchip and chips down the day before so it would cure for them to use. They scraped the existing chips and learned why it is so important to do a great job scraping. The better job you do of scraping the better your floor will turn out. We rolled the polyaspartic top coat and this group now knows: “How we do it!”
The last part of the class was done on a section of chip floor that we laid down the day before. This was an exciting part of the day. We put on a Union 528 vinyl graphics logo and made it an inlay so that it is literally part of the floor. This turned out so cool, we placed it in front of a door and they are going to keep it.
Overall, I had a fantastic day. Got to work with a great bunch of people at the Cement Masons & Plasterers Training Center of Washington, taught a class, laid down some chip flooring and an inlay, came home tired, happy and excited that there is going to be a new generation of people who really care about the quality of floors they install.
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