Flooring customers who choose concrete instead of carpet, vinyl, or tile know they’ll save a lot on future maintenance. However, in Northern California they’ve got one more decision to make: finish with an epoxy coating or by polishing?

Both deliver a hard-wearing, easy-to-clean surface. But with humidity in the nine counties surrounding the environmentally sensitive San Francisco and San Pueblo estuaries ranging from 59% to 85%, that’s a potential deal-breaker for epoxies.

“Epoxy could trap moisture vapor coming up from the concrete slab, and the Bay Area has a lot of moisture,” says the website of Bay Area Concretes Inc. “We recommend you have the concrete slap tested for emission rate before deciding. If the moisture rate’s high, the epoxy topping can delaminate.”

The company should know what it’s talking about.

Founded in 1966, the Livermore, Calif., by Gary Price, it’s installed tens of millions of square feet of polished floors and decorative hardscapes. In 1999, son Mike Price launched the PolishedCrete division, which specializes in diamond grinding, honing, and polishing. The firms’ 75 employees have plenty of experience perfecting end runs around potential problems.

That’s why the state transportation department, Caltrans, chose polished concrete for a new maintenance facility at the entrance to the new San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.

Exceeding sustainability requirements
The award-winning bridge and modern building are two of hundreds of seismic retrofits and new construction Caltrans has launched since 1989, when a 6.9-magnitude earthquake damaged billions of dollars’ worth of streets, bridges, and buildings.

The 56,000-square-foot San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge Maintenance Complex (SFOBB) consolidates five workgroups under one roof: bridge maintenance, bridge paint maintenance, bridge electrical maintenance, bridge vehicle maintenance, and maintenance management. Of that, 30,000 square feet are dedicated to heavy equipment and vehicle service and repair.

“Caltrans was looking for a floor that was going to stand up to heavy use and be stain-resistant and easy to clean and maintain,” says Bay Area Concretes COO Jonathon Vasquez.

California requires buildings of more than 10,000 square feet to achieve Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) certification. Bay Area Concretes helped the $55 million project achieve Gold certification by providing 11,000 square feet of slip-resistant, highly reflective floor for an oil storage room, parts and tool room, and vehicle service bays.

Completed in 10 days, the company used Advanced Floor Products three-step RetroPlate system finished to an 800 grit diamond polish and colored with Welsh Slate. The project included moving storage racks and patching cracks with MM-80 Metzger McGuire industrial joint filler.

San Francisco Oakland Bay Bridge Maintenance Complex

Location: Oakland, Calif.
Owners: Caltrans and Bay Area Toll Authority
Project: 11,000 square feet of concrete polished using Advanced Floor Products’ RetroPlate system
Architect: David Evans and Associates Inc., San Francisco
Contractor: PolishedCrete Division, Bay Area Concretes Inc., Livermore, Calif.
Completion date: Aug. 14, 2015