The owners of a high-end steakhouse in downtown Calgary go after the “wow” factor for their concrete floor
Project submitted by Carl Cokes, Concrete Inspirations, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
For their new steakhouse in downtown Calgary, the owners wanted the décor to be upscale yet understated to match their style of cuisine, which focuses on using high-quality ingredients prepared simply. The architects recommended applying a traditional acid stain to the restaurant’s bare-gray concrete floor. However, the owners chose to keep the floor gray, but wanted to give it more of a “wow” factor.
“The restaurant owners wanted a contemporary look, but not a painted dull-gray floor,” says Carl Cokes of Concrete Inspirations, Calgary, Alberta, which specializes in custom one-of-a-kind floors and precast concrete elements for residential and commercial clients. “We had done many gray floors using water-based coloring products, but they did not have the ‘wow’ factor our clients were looking for. After showing them projects we had done using a metallic coating, they knew this was the look they had envisioned.” The total project involved 2,500 square feet of decorative flooring in all the public areas of the restaurant, including the washrooms. The only flooring that was not decorative concrete was in the kitchen and food prep areas.
Secrets to success
- To achieve the silvery-gray shimmer, Cokes used Metal Essence metallic epoxy from Cohills Building Specialties, a product he has had great success with on other commercial and residential projects. Its metallic appearance can be enhanced by different application techniques to achieve a variety of special effects. The product is also available in an array of colors, which can be custom blended for each project.
- To achieve a variegated look, Cokes’ crew first applied a 100%-solids low-viscosity epoxy primer pigmented with half the recommended dosage of Cohills Metal Essence, which resulted in a semi-solid background color. The topcoat was tinted with a higher dosage of color (a custom blend of two different silver pigments) to achieve the exact effect the clients desired. This coat was applied by squeegee at 30 mils, and then back rolled and trowel finished.
- To further enhance the two-toned metallic shimmer, Cokes spray applied methyl ethyl ketone (MEK), a water-soluble solvent, over the topcoat. “This dissipates over the epoxy to create natural color variations,” says Cokes. “Timing on this step is critical. We applied the solvent 30 to 45 minutes after we placed the topcoat, walking out across the floor on spiked shoes. If you are too late or early with this process, it will dramatically affect the overall look of the floor. Perfection comes with practice.”
- For the final finish, the crew applied two coats of a water-based acrylic urethane with a satin finish. “We also added a nonslip additive to the urethane, since slip resistance was an issue by the kitchens and at the main entrance,” says Cokes.
Metallic epoxy floor coating: Cohills Metal Essence metallic epoxy
Epoxy primer: Key Resin
Water-based acrylic urethane: 2K Arcylic Urethane WB, from Niagara Protective Coatings
Nonslip additive: SharkGrip, from H&C Concrete
Proving gray can be beautiful
Cokes says that he has seen an increase in the demand for decorative concrete floors in the commercial market over the past year, but he also does a lot of residential floors, usually in high-end modern homes and condos. “Our pricing is comparative to traditional flooring systems, however all of our floors are custom designed and installed to meet our clients’ needs,” he says. And many of his clients are requesting gray, after seeing Cokes’ ability to take this natural look to another level. “We do a lot of gray floors in our area,” he says. “In addition to the steakhouse project, we have recently done a design studio in Calgary, yoga studios in Calgary and Edmonton, and we have three more floors to do, all in gray.”