Issue 31
October 7, 2005

Dear newsletter readers: I apologize for my silence this summer. Our usual summer slump turned into a mad stampede of jobs. I learned that it is not just twice as difficult running two crews at once, but four times as hard.

Making a Concrete Patch Disappear
by Gaye Goodman

Our summer culminated in the staining of the Albuquerque Balloon Museum, a very large job with multiple colors and detailed designs of “fantasy balloons” and maps from the 18th Century etched through the stain in the entry. (Figure A)

The exterior of the building and the upstairs offices were completed last January. Eager to begin, we kept dropping by to see if we couldn’t get started on the floors. The contractor kept saying “not yet”.  We are going to walk through our experience handling this particular job, and tell you a few new things we learned along the way. Unexpected things come up on nearly every job, and it can be particularly stressful when you have time constraints.

These circumstances were the most difficult under which we have ever worked because we ended up having 5 days to do 3 weeks worth of work.  At least ten trades were working in one large room with several half-wall partitions. The architect changed his mind on colors and locations in mid-stream and was doing this with all the trades.

We hired Tamryn Doolan of Surface Gel Tek to come and train us to install the sticky-backed templates she had made for us of the designs in the entryway. We barely had time to stain these areas brown and scrub the floor before putting down the “Flattoos” and etching around them with profiling acid-gel. The amount of detail and fine line work we were able to get, however, surprised everyone. Tamryn can be contacted through  (Figure B)

In This Issue
Feature Article
Making a Concrete Patch Disappear
by Gaye Goodman


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Before we could apply our solvent-sealer to these decorations, the architect decided he wanted the colors held at their DRY value, so we had to seal first with two coats of water-based sealer and let this cure before applying our solvent-sealer. Dayton Superior assured us that their Pro Super Seal could be applied over their water-based sealer and the two would bond together. We had to seal over fresh paint blobs and tire marks hoping that we could faux paint them out later when things calmed down.

One morning we arrived to find that what had been a rectangular electrical floor outlet had been filled in with fresh patching cement. This was right at the edge of our double-globe design. After sanding the patch as smooth as we could, Rae Kozai had to paint each section of the patch to make it disappear into the globe design. We took step-by-step photos to show you some new tricks we discovered in the process.

Figure 1:  At the edge of the photo, Rae is kneeling on a rolling cart which looks like a triangular skate board with knee pads built in and a low bicycle seat. This is called a Racatac and can be purchased through Engrav-a-Crete or by calling 1-877-RACATAC. This has been a wonderful back-saver for us.  

Figure 2: Rae knew she would have to mask off parts of the design which had a layer of water-based sealer over them, so she searched at drafting supply stores until she found an extremely low-tack 3-M tape. It is called “Safe-Release for Delicate Surfaces #2080.”  It worked well over our sealer, but it was not down for many hours.

Figures 3-6: Starting at the outer edge (the background of the map) she masked off the curve and painted many small brown dots using a stippling technique. We do this so that the color is not a uniform brown, but is made up of mottled colors like the floor. Those of you who have my manual or have taken our seminars know that we use the most translucent pigments we can and that we add Golden’s Acrylic Gel Medium to all our colors to make them more transparent. Rae begins by laying out a palette of colors on a foam picnic plate and squirts gel medium over each one. (The wet gel looks white but dries clear and is made of the same base as the acrylic paints we use).

Figures 7-13: So as not to be taping over fresh paint, Rae moved to the other end of the patch and began with a new palette of colors in a lighter shade of brown to mimic the paler and more blotchy look we got inside the globe Flattoo. (These areas got lighter because the sticky Flattoo which acts as a mask, pulled off quite a bit of stain when we removed it after etching the surrounding lines). Even though there is a gray line traversing this section, it was easier to paint the whole shape brown first.

Figure 14: When this rectangle was done, Rae masked off the last gray section of the patch using five or six pieces of blue tape, each only two inches long. By placing each at a slightly different angle, one can make an outside curve quite easily.

Figure 15: On an inside curve, however, the masking tape can be laid down in one piece, stretched on the outside and crimped and pressed on the inside using one long strip.

Figures 16-20: The most difficult color to mix is the gray-white color we got after etching around the Flattoo. It is lighter than the original concrete, with tiny bits of darker color giving it a sandy look. Rae’s mixture came out lighter than the rest of the etched circle, but remember that acrylic paints dry a shade darker than they are when first applied. She used the same color after masking off the gray longitude line.

Figures 21-22:  The patch is greatly improved, but we saw that all the new colors were a bit brighter than the background. To take care of that, Rae tinted some clear sealer with a small amount of Raw Umber and Raw Sienna and brushed it over the painted area. Now the patch is barely visible.

We have found that you should charge by Time and Materials for faux painting when the necessity for it is not caused by something you did. Our present rate is $45 per hour; this job took Rae about four hours to complete and used up perhaps $15 worth of art materials.

We hope this gives your confidence a boost when the unexpected occurs on your job site. For issues you can’t figure out, please use the forum to get your questions answered so that your final product is something you can be proud of.

Happy Staining,


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2005 November Seminar

The next seminar is getting close. It will be held here in Albuquerque, NM on November 17-19. For additional information or to reserve your seat please click here for more info.

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Bridgeworks, Inc