We know art because we work with the best airbrush painters in the country,” says Sherri Candland, CFO, ASET, Salt Lake City. “This floor is a work of art without question.” Neil Ohmie, co-owner with Erick Nay of Ky-Kan Coatings, Riverton, Utah, installed the floor that Candland describes as unorthodox. Candland originally was looking for a single color to stain the concrete floor. The floor evolved into an artwork with embedded artist's work and airbrushed flames on the floor.
There was no mastic on the 3000-square-foot floor, but the floor had been sealed with several different coatings, leaving it greasy, oily, and peeling. It also had a number of cracks. The larger cracks were filled with injectable epoxies and then the oil was removed. The floor was diamond ground to open the concrete for a better mechanical bond, to blend the epoxy fill, and to remove coatings for a clean surface. A moisture test with plastic taped to the slab determined there was no significant water vapor transmission. An application of acetone dye in walnut and saddle brown penetrated the pores of the entire floor. This left an open surface for the artwork application and had the look of chemical stain.
“Artwork was hanging on the walls everywhere such as tribal symbols and flames,” says Ohmie. “I wanted to find a way to create similar symbols on the floor and include the artists' work from ASET's Air Affair show last year.” Candland supplied a disk with the artists' works and Ohmie contracted with a graphics company to convert the photo images to vinyl. The company found a way to create a spray of flames in the same manner as an artist uses an airbrush.
Ohmie sketched the layout of the flames on the floor with a pencil and used shaped plastic foam as a freehand template to create the rounded inside base of the flame. He then applied mars red, orange, yellow, and white color layers of water-based stain from Smith Paint, Harrisburgh, Penn., using an automotive gravity fed paint sprayer. He raised the template each time spraying a little further to shape and highlight the flame. “It was the same as airbrushing but on a large scale,” he recalls.
Afterward, a coat of 100% solid clear epoxy was applied over the entire floor as the base for the vinyl photos. The 4x6-foot photos were placed on the floor and squeegeed into the epoxy. The epoxy seeped through the tiny pinholes spaced 1/16 inch apart in the vinyl and sandwiched the work. Pithane made by PPG Industries, Pittsburgh, was pigmented to create the black borders mapped around the photos and floor, and then used in its clear form as a sealer coat to protect the entire project.