Dan Bishop never dreamed of building a boat deck with polished concrete. But when a loyal customer asked Bishop, president of Moderncrete Concrete Design of Austin, Texas, to recreate the deck of a fishing boat, his team of concrete artisans went to work.
Pete Bell, the owner of High Cotton Ranch near La Grange, Texas, had hired Moderncrete for several large residential jobs. He was partial to concrete's durability and rustic look, and open to Bishop's suggestions about using decorative concrete finishes. When he decided to build a house to resemble an old barn on the property, he shared his vision with Bishop.
He wanted a simple but elegant look. And he wanted the bar area to look just like the teakwood “fighting deck” of his beloved fishing boat, complete with authentic wooden fishing chairs as bar stools.
Building a deck
Although Moderncrete had not ever attempted to create a wood grain look with polished and stained concrete, the team dove in. Led by Ben Durkop and Steve Dolezalik II, they first brought the floor to a 400 level polish using HTC equipment and diamond tooling. They densified the floor using RetroPlate by Advanced Floor Products, and polished it again to a 1500 grit.
To create the wooden deck design, they cut a pattern of alternating 5-inch planks and 1-inch strips and added color with a tan acid stain. They then hand-painted each plank with modified paintbrushes using a darker red stain. Long brush strokes created a wood grain look.
After successfully testing the painstaking process underneath adjacent cabinets, the team replicated the look over an 800-square-foot area.
The finished floor was stunning, and it was time-consuming. It took the team a week and a half just to complete the bar area.
The contractors stained and polished the remaining 3800-square-foot floor using the same color palette of tan and red tone stains. They designed custom patterns to complement the organic look of the bar floor.
Their work extended outside, where they applied an acid stain and peel to the 2000-square-foot patio. For a decorative touch, they scored the concrete in a standard tile pattern before sealing it.
Although Bishop anticipated some hiccups using new decorative techniques, his team's greatest setback came from an unexpected source. A scissor lift began leaking battery acid in the bar area and removed some of the custom wood grain color before anyone discovered it in time. Since the stain had been hand-painted, the artisans were never able to precisely recreate it. Bishop learned a painful lesson: Always diaper hydraulic machines to keep acid or oil from leaking on expensive custom work.
Moderncrete sacrificed some of its profit on the labor-intensive process, but Bishop would gladly do it again, now with a better understanding of its demands. “The job was more time-consuming than we expected,” he says. “But the compliments we received made it well worth it. People loved it.”
The guests were impressed at the grand opening of the High Cotton Ranch party house. Bishop and his team were most flattered when many people asked them, “How did you get the wood installed so flush with the concrete?”
Visit www.moderncrete.com for more information.
OWNER: Pete Bell, La Grange, Texas
GENERAL CONTRACTOR: Cotton Restoration, Houston
CONCRETE CONTRACTOR: Moderncrete Concrete Design LLC, Austin, Texas
MATERIALS SUPPLIERS: Kemiko Concrete Stains, Whittier, Calif.; Advanced Floor Products, Provo, Utah