Atlanta Hartsfield Airport Entryway Project

In 2013 Concrete By Design was approached to aid in the process of beautifying the entryways of the Atlanta Airport.  Because the airport sees an average of 260,000 people per day, the amount of foot traffic at each entrance is significant and the wear and tear on the concrete is a direct result.  The concrete products that would be needed would have to be impressively durable while also creating a look that would be inviting.  As well as the amount of foot traffic, these areas also bear the weight of massive concrete planters that serve dual purposes; to look nice and to create a safety barrier between motor vehicles and the interior of airport itself.

In addition to the specifications for the concrete, a further obstacle to overcome was the hours that the work could be done and the timeline for completion.  The airport doesn’t close and doesn’t like to inconvenience its patrons, because of this, working hours were from 10pm until 5am and each entryway had to be completed in 3 days time.  Lastly, in order to continue to keep safety a priority, each member of our team had to undergo background checks and obtain security clearance before working on this project.

Once we knew all of the challenges, we had to create a system to be used on each entryway so that we could maximize efficiency in the removal of the current concrete product, the preparation of the surface to accept a new concrete system and the application of the new product.  Concrete By Design also had to do a significant amount of research on the innovative concrete product that would be used.  The job was done in the heat of the summer so keeping with the specifications of how fast the concrete would set was something to be considered and addressed.  Often times, the product sets faster due to increased temperatures.

The initial step to be completed was the removal of the existing surface.  When removing concrete surfaces, there are challenges that must be overcome especially when working in agreement with OSHA standards.  The reason for the extensive standards is that concrete particulates in the air contain silica dust, which is a dangerous particulate if inhaled.  The safety of both employees and airport patrons was a priority to say the least.  Before any actual work could begin, the area needed to be identified and secured from civilian traffic and extra lighting had to be brought in and set up due to the late hours and lack of sunlight.  The planters mentioned above also had to be removed so the surface had no obstacles.  The work could now get under way.  The machine we used to remove the surface is an Edco diamond bit Grinder with a high powered concrete pulsating vacuum system made by CDC Larue.

The existing resurfacing coating was an old Kooldeck product commonly used on driveways, pool decks, and walkways.  We used a series of the metal bonded diamond attachments on the Edco to achieve the proper concrete surface profile, aka CSP.  Multiple passes with these different attachments over the existing surface had to be made to ensure it was fully removed, level, and uniform.

We started off with a PCD, or polycrystalline diamond to remove the heaviest layer of the coating and worked our way to a 16 grit diamond for the lower layer which was required from the manufacturer of the new product, SureCrete, to place their product.  The vacuum was constantly emptied to keep the level of dust and concrete particulates out of the air during each stage of grinding.  This bare concrete was now prepared for the next step in the process.

Subsequently, this raw surface had to be prepared so that it could accept a new product and guarantee adherence for the required durability.  First, any cracks, imperfections, or fractures in the concrete had to be repaired using a liquid epoxy filler.  In order to properly repair cracks, we used a “V” crack chaser blade on a hand grinder to prepare the crack and remove any loose concrete chips that could pose a threat to the integrity of the epoxy.  We use liquid epoxy to fill, instead of concrete, because the process with the liquid is three fold and stands up better than a standard mortar based concrete crack filler.  The liquid epoxy is poured into the crack, then the crack is filled with silica sand to reduce voids and achieve a level surface, the more liquid epoxy is poured on top to lock everything together, adding more tensile strength.

This surface is then ground again to level out with the surrounding concrete and is ready for pressure washing.  Next, the surface had to be pressure washed using a high powered, 4000 psi pressure washer.  Next, the concrete had to be acid etched which means pouring properly diluted muriatic acid over the  surface to open the pores of the concrete enabling it to accept its next treatment.  Once the acid was applied and had ample time to react, it needed to be neutralized with a baking soda and water solution.

Following neutralization, the surface was well rinsed again and all the liquid removed using an industrial sized shop vac.  The prepared surface was ready for the application of new concrete overlay product.

Lastly, the new product was applied with the following method.  This new product was manufactured by SureCrete of Florida and was pre-approved by the airport commercial construction committees for use.  For this step, we applied a bond coat to fill any unseen imperfections that could still exist in the concrete and also to give a good surface to bond the final texture to the concrete.

The bond coat was mixed using a drill and paddle method after the proper amount of liquid was added.  This bond coat only required water as opposed to other products that require water and resin.  This single component product reduces the chance for product failure by reducing user errors and ensures consistency.  Liquid color pigment was added to this coat to make certain that if any chips in the concrete existed, the top layer of product would be applied to a integrally colored surface instead of a white surface.

Finally the bond coat was ready for application using a squeegee and hand brushes for the edges.  A nice, clean surface now existed for the application of the non-slip, final texture to be applied.  Using the same material, with same color, but at a slightly thicker consistency, this final material was placed in a Graco texture sprayer.  This sprayer created an orange peel texture to the surface and as the product began to dry, it was flattened with a steel trowel to create the tradition knockdown finish that the airport was requesting.

Once the proper cure times were met for the concrete, the overlay surface was ready for colored, protective, concrete sealer.  To ensure that we met OSHA standards for slip resistance, we added a 30/40 mesh silica sand in between the two coats of sealer.  This sealer completed the process, a required 8 hour time period had to be met before the surface was ready for foot traffic, or a 24 hour time period for heavier traffic.

This job was a success, though it posed many challenges along the way.  Concrete By Design was grateful for the opportunity to work in a high profile location and we are willing and able to work for the Atlanta Airport should they ever need our services again.

A Reading Garden For Wesleyan School

In late 2013, Concrete by Design had the opportunity to bid on a project for New South Construction of Atlanta, GA overseeing new construction for the Wesleyan School, a private Christian K-12 school located in Norcross, Georgia.  New South focuses on bringing together clients, such as Delta, Coca-Cola, several Universities and many other varied companies with trusted contractors to provide a turn-key service for those clients.  Their portfolio spans from criminal justice to sports clubs to educational facilities.

Wesleyan was building an addition for the lower school onto their existing campus and needed extensive concrete work done in what they called the “reading garden” for the younger children.  This area is a courtyard that lies between two buildings at the top of a 60 foot hill.  After going through a long and tedious bid process, Concrete By Design in conjunction with Dixie Stamped Concrete were awarded the job.

This job was unlike any other we had set out to accomplish.  The requirements for the “reading garden” were to create a space for the young children to play, read, and take time to enjoy the surroundings.  The architect, HGOR, that designed this concrete vision was brilliant in their dream for this space.  HGOR is also located in Atlanta and they too have an extensive portfolio ranging from Turner Enterprises to Mercer University.

The job was to construct a two part decorative sidewalk, one part was a serpentine sidewalk that alternated between exposed aggregate and light broom finished integral colored concrete, the other part was a decorative bookshelf with “A” and “Z” bookends.  The pictures speak for themselves as this was unconventional but beautiful and unique.  The attention to detail for this job was critical because of that unique transformation from plain concrete to a bookshelf walkway.

Concrete By Design had several options to explore when determining how to approach and execute this project.  Some of the varying options and their pros/cons are listed here; an engraving process using concrete impression tooling for the book titles and authors or thick vinyl adhesive stencils with traditional sandblasting techniques to create the impression of the titles and authors.  After much investigation and several samples of each option which went back to HGOR and New South Construction for approval, the vinyl adhesive stencils were the approved and chosen method.  The L.M. Scofield colors that were used for the integral colored concrete were also purchased and sampled for approval.  There were two colors that were denied and replaced with others before the process could begin.

The initial step in the process was the forming and pouring of the concrete for the bookshelf.  The formwork posed a challenge in itself because each of the 26 books was a different color and size, as you would expect with a bookshelf.  The form boards were placed in the shape of the bookshelf, with a space between each for the varying colors.  The books alternated in color so more than one book worth of concrete was poured for each color.  Every color required a separate concrete truck and had to be poured on different days, allowing the previously poured concrete to set.   Because of the location of the project, the L.M. Scofield integrally colored concrete, mixed by Ernst Concrete of Atlanta, was transported using a Georgia buggy.  A Georgia buggy is a mechanical large capacity wheelbarrow used to transport concrete where traditional concrete trucks can’t transport it.

Following this process, the books were ready to have their titles and authors placed on them.  For the vinyl adhesive stencils, we used Sign-A-Rama of Fayetteville, GA.  Each stencil had varying fonts and sizes that were created to exactly replicate the books.  The versatility and cost effectiveness of the stencils were appealing features for Concrete By Design and they kept the overall total cost down for New South and HGOR.  During this stage in the project, the weather and timeline for completion collided and created yet another challenge to overcome.

It was late December/Early January and the Atlanta area was experiencing snow, sleet, and other unsightly conditions.  When working outside with concrete and vinyl adhesive, the level of difficulty increased.  Once the humidity subsided, we had only the cold to contend with.  We used a series of space heaters and thick plastic coverings to get the concrete to a temperature that would allow for adhesion between the stencil and the surface.  Once the temperature was acceptable, we laid out the stencils in their proper locations just off the concrete to reduce mistakes after the process over adhering them had begun.  One at a time, the stencils were placed over the concrete and measurements were performed to guarantee proper alignment.  When we were sure the stencils were adhered, we used silica sand for the sand blasting system to etch the titles and authors on the “binder” of the book.

Following the sandblasting process, the surface was blown using a blower and then vacuumed to remove particulates and silica from the surface.  The titles and authors were then ready for the concrete staining process.  The tree bark color for the lettering was a UV-stable, non-fading, concrete dye and was purchased from Decorative Concrete Institute (DCI) of Douglasville, GA.  The stain was applied in two coats using a high volume low pressure (HVLP) sprayer and small paint brushes for any areas that need to be touched up.  The stencils were then able to be removed from the surface.

The last step in creating the bookshelf sidewalk was to seal the surface using a clear SurfKoat Acrylic sealer.  The sealer was sprayed to ensure that there was no bleeding in the color of the dye, there was a small wait time, 4-6 hours, between the coats which guaranteed proper curing of the last step.

Despite the harsh weather conditions, the timeline with which we had to complete the job, and any other obstacles we faced, Concrete By Design considered it an honor to work with New South Construction and HGOR Architects.  This is one of our more sophisticated projects and we are proud to show it off and feature it for our business.


Concrete By Design, LLC

97 Appaloosa Way
Sharpsburg, GA 30277
(678) 378-5963

Providing Residential & Commercial Concrete
 to Atlanta and Surrounding areas!


Concrete By Design's personal goal is to be our client’s first choice for all their concrete design needs by concentrating on providing exceptional customer service and high quality concrete services for residential and commercial projects.

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