The American Society of Concrete Contractors’ Decorative Concrete Council (DCC) traveled to Chicago’s South Side in August to tackle a 4,500-square-foot flooring project in one of the city’s roughest neighborhoods. The volunteers ground and prepped floors; dyed, stenciled, and stained concrete; and applied both metallic and urethane epoxy coatings at a free daycare facility, creating a “footprints in the sand” beach design.

The Roseland Community “Good News” Day Care provides free services for children of local teen, college, and low-income mothers. Owner Pearl Willis provides these moms with a support network and the opportunity to stay in school so they can break the welfare cycle.

The daycare, which is mainly funded by donations, recently expanded by purchasing and razing an abandoned building next door, along with one of its own buildings, to construct a facility that accommodates up to 87 children. The project’s general contractor, Neil Roach of Creative Construction by Design, Danville, Ill., is a DCC board member and enlisted the organization’s help through its Community Project program, in which members donate time and materials to a selected project each year.

Kid-friendly design

For the main classroom area, which takes up half of the total square footage, Rachel Knigge Bruce, owner of Rogers, Ark.-based FLOORmap Stencil Designs, designed custom stencils to create intricately colored marine animals, including fish, clams, starfish, an oyster, and a 10x12-foot turtle and octopus. Jesus’ footprints traveling in the sand reflects the daycare’s faith-based mission. The adhesive-backed vinyl stencils incorporate registration marks similar to what’s used in four-color printing, to allow multiple layers to be precisely aligned for masking and coloring. They enabled local volunteers with limited artistic skills to help bring the design to life.

For the reception area and offices, concrete artisans created a wood-plank design with a 3D feel. They first outlined the planks, and then added texture by taking two long pieces of brown paper and cutting uneven lines down both sides of the strips. They laid the strips unevenly across each plank and lightly airbrushed dye down either side.

“It was a tedious process,” explains Rick Lobdell, owner of Concrete Mystique Engraving, Nashville. “Cutting each side of the paper gave me four different looks to work with, and I just patiently developed the main lines of the planks. Next, I took some clear stencil material and drew four different-sized knots, which I randomly placed and lightly dyed throughout the planks. The final stage included Rachel hand-brushing details to bring the wood to life.” They then masked the planks and lightly sprayed a shadow color to create the illusion of planks sitting on the sand.

Other work included applying a granite epoxy and then broadcasting vinyl chips to bathroom and kitchen floors. The next day, workers cleaned away the excess chips and applied a clear coating to bind it all together.

They also applied metallic epoxies to the staff break room and the pre-school room by first putting down a base color, next applying a second coat of wet epoxy with metallic pigments, and then a final coat of clear sealer. “The metallic pigments can move within wet epoxy by use of chemicals or air to create a flowing appearance, so we used a leaf blower to move the pigments around,” says Todd Scharich, decorative concrete specialist with the American Society of Concrete Contractors (ASCC).

They finished by sealing with two coats of water-based polyurethane.

Good deeds

DCC’s Community Project program doesn’t always choose large projects or even large-scale causes, says Scharich. “Sometimes, it’s just a driveway.” But last year the council took on a hardscape project that improved the quality of life for military veterans at a retirement home in Kentucky. This year, members’ efforts will help provide a space of learning and nurturing for the children of a gang-infested neighborhood. This was an opportunity for concrete artisans like Bruce, Lobdell, and all the volunteers who love what they do to share their talents and expertise in ways that benefit the community.

“This is a large undertaking, but it’s worthwhile,” says Scharich. “It’s easy to do the work and think this is like any jobsite. But then you see the kids, or meet the families as they stop in to see your progress, and you realize the good that’s being done here.”

Volunteers—(days onsite):
Rachel Knigge Bruce—FloorMap Stencils (5)
Rick Lobdell—Concrete Mystique (5)
Todd Scharich—ASCC (4)
Neil Roach—Creative Concrete By Design (3)
Paul Schneider—Patterned Concrete of Cincinnati/ASCC (2)
Dale Mizer—Increte (2)
Matt Meermans—Increte (2)
Rich Cofoid—Increte (2)
Ed Scott— church organization (2)
Zan Lyons— church organization (2)
Ashton Lyons— church organization (2)
Phil Miller— church organization (1)

Material, Tool, Equipment Donors
FloorMap Stencils— stencils
Increte— product plus travel costs
H&C Sherwin Williams—sundries and supplies
Decorative Concrete Resources— site materials plus travel costs
Preval— spraying equipment
CNA Insurance—8 -10 cases of water bottles