Editor’s note: This is part of a special report to be published in the July-August print edition of Durability + Design, on maintenance and protection of concrete. More information on subscribing to the print magazine: Subscribe to D+D.
The butterflies are free at the Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium in New Orleans.
All photos by Combimix Inc.
|A combination of polymer-modified cementitous materials, densifier/dye technologies and epoxy sealer were used to produce new flooring surfaces at the Audubon Butterfly Garden in New Orleans.|
Free, that is, of any adverse effects of an aging flooring material in the facility, which was wearing and causing dusting.
And free of any toxic emissions from the insectarium’s attractive new cementitious flooring as well.
The butterflies were ready for a change, and the owners settled on a restoration program based on a combination of concrete-overlay, color and densification materials from Combimix Inc. and Lythic Solutions Inc.
Contractor AFF, based in Long Island, N.Y., installed the new flooring system for the butterfly exhibit area. Combimix provided polymer-modified cementious overlay materials, and Lythic color and densification products completed the visual and performance picture.
The Specified Prescription:
Low Emissions, High Performance
Eddie Le Breton, national sales manager for Combimix, worked with architect Kristen McAllister of Phoenix Design & Construction of New Orleans in formulating a low-emitting, high-performing and visually appealing solution.
| A closeup of a butterfly in the facility|
“I explained the virtues of the Combimix products, in particular the LP 740,” said Le Breton, adding that the “LP” represents “low prep.” The 740 product is a polymer-modified calcium aluminate cement.
The restoration program actually began with removal of the existing aggregate material by a subcontractor working for general contractor Courseault Commercial Inc., New Orleans.
“The material was wearing off the surface and dusting,” Le Breton said.It was a butterfly exhibit, and it wasn’t good for the environment the butterflies were living in.”
Combimix’s contribution to the project formed the basis of the replacement process, beginning with application of PP600, a styrene-acrylic primer reported to facilitate a “tenacious bond” to a variety of substrates including concrete, PVC, wood, metal, tile, and others.
Then came Combimix’s LP FiberBasic 780™ calcium aluminate polymer-modified cementitious underlayment, which incorporates a fiber component (fiberglass filaments) for added strength and elongation, or flexibility, in high-build installations where this property helps prevent cracking of the surface finish due to expansion and contraction.
The “low-prep” designation indicates that the only surface-prep requirement for the materials typically is a sweep and vacuum, with no roughening or etching needed, Le Breton says.
The primer is applied with a pump-up sprayer and brushing using an open-bristle broom to facilitate surface coverage.
The primer was given a two- to three-hour dry time, with pouring of fiber-reinforced underlayment following. A 24- to 48-hour period is recommended for cure of the underlayment; the floor was “capped” with a finish coat of the LP 740 polymer-modified cementitious material, which is characterized by a high degree of compressive strength for durability.
The LP 740 is a calcium aluminate cementitious self-leveling overlay that can be used as an underlayment for other floor coverings, or as a finished wear surface with application of a sealer based on acrylic, polyurethane or epoxy resins.
The installation required considerable skill, due to varying surface levels and slope.
“It was a challenge to get it right,” Le Breton said.
The Bite Behind the Visual Buzz
The final steps in ensuring enough brawn to go with the beauty entailed application of Lythic’s EZ Shine system, composed of a concrete densifier/color mixture and water-based epoxy/silica sealer, both applied with pump-up sprayer. The color selected was a steely gray/silver that blends well with the surrounding exhibit areas and fish pond.
The densifier is a blend of nanosized, concentrated inorganic polymer materials that penetrate and chemically bond with cementitious substrates to produce a very hard, dense floor surface with enhanced resistance to water and other substances and abrasion from foot and forklift traffic. A key element in the composition is reactive colloidal silica, the company says.
The overlay surface was colored as part of the densification process by mixing dye from Lythic’s water-based Duet Colors for Concrete product line into the colloidal silica densifier.
A key selling point for the combination of products was minimal effect on air quality, as the Combimix materials are low-VOC and certified by the GreenGuard Environmental Institute as causing no adverse effect on indoor air quality.
For assurance of the benign profile of the sealer, butterflies were actually placed in a confined container to verify that any offgassing wouldn’t bug them in any way.
The buzz from the Audubon indicates the butterflies came through the test with “flying” colors.