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Outdoor Tropical Retreat Restaurant Gets High and Dry Facelift: St. Thomas, Virgin Islands

A five-star resort will often go the extra mile to achieve the perfect ambiance. But a resort in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, actually went an extra 2,500 miles to Sundek headquarters in Arlington, Texas, to get the decorative concrete deck it wanted for its outdoor restaurant and lounge.

The resort approached account executive Rae Cerasoli with Sundek National Accounts because Sundek had completed projects for many other hotels in the same chain. The designer approved a sample of Sundek’s Tuscan decorative concrete overlay system in a wood-plank design. Tuscan is a hand-crafted overlay made with proprietary additives, dry mix and finishing color, and protective sealers.

Sundek concrete floor
Photos courtesy of Sundek of Washington

A large awning partially covered the resort’s outdoor restaurant and lounge. Island storms would blow rainwater into the restaurant, which would collect in low spots on the concrete floor. Resort managers wanted to improve the nearly 4,000-square-foot floor’s drainage and also replace the multiple layers of painted finish with something decorative, durable and complementary to their brand.

In September 2013, project manager Armando Hernandez, project leaders Silvano Villalobos, Miguel Velazquez, Guillermo Martinez and two other artisans flew to St. Thomas and started work. The crew used two 7-inch angle grinders to remove several layers of paint.

Once Hernandez’s crew had removed the paint and pressure-washed the slab, they were able to identify the areas that did not flow toward the floor drains. In some low spots, as much as an inch and a half of water was collecting. That realization was a setback for the crew, as this was going to require additional materials. The team pulled together and was able to expedite the necessary materials. “We had estimated 20 bags, but we needed 160 bags,” Hernandez says. He had to make eight trips in his rented Hyundai to bring all the bags back to the resort.

Resort floor made of concreteThe crew began blending and pitching the low-lying area of the concrete floor toward the existing drains. They allowed the floor to dry, flooded it with water, identified remaining low spots, blended them and flooded the floor again until the whole thing was draining properly. They then topped the slab with a 1/8-inch Tuscan base coat. To make the job even more challenging, the crew had to prevent iguanas from walking through it.

The crew then measured and laid out the 8-inch-wide wood-plank pattern in 3/8-inch reinforced fiberglass tape. Laying out the pattern took a whole day because of the size of the area and the need to maneuver through the bar area, not to mention the fact that the restaurant’s walls were 8 inches out of square.

Project at a Glance

Decorative concrete contractor: Sundek of Washington, Chantilly, Virginia
Client: An international resort chain
Products used: Sundek Tuscan textured overlay, Sundek SunH20 water-based stain in Copper and Montego Stone, Sundek EcoClear polyurethane sealer
Project description: Stripping and leveling a 3,843-square-foot painted concrete floor, correcting drainage and creating a wood-plank texture stained for a natural appearance
Challenges: Addressing low-lying areas that held water and coordinating materials, equipment and crews around a fully operational five-star resort. Also, iguanas kept walking on the wet overlay.
www.sundekofwashington.com

Next, the crew applied the Tuscan material and textured it with a pull trowel to create the wood-grain effect. Then they pulled up the tape, leaving the wood-plank pattern. Using a buffer with 80-grit sandpaper, the crew then sanded down the texture to a comfortable walking surface.

After blowing off the dust, the crew used a garden-type pump-up sprayer to apply a coat of Sundek’s SunH20 water-based stain in Copper. When that was dry, they used sponges to highlight some of the planks in the darker-colored Montego Stone before applying another coat of Copper.

Eco-Clear concrete sealerThe final step was to roll on two coats of the company’s EcoClear water-based polyurethane sealer to help protect their new decorative concrete installation. Rain delayed this finale and the crew had to wait for the slab to be completely dry before they could apply the sealer.

Hernandez’s crew received many compliments. These came not only from the hotel’s managers but also from the guests, some of whom had enjoyed watching the two-week transformation of the restaurant’s floor.

Victorious over the rain, mosquitoes and iguanas, Sundek provided a one-of-a-kind concrete design for this Caribbean destination.

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