Case Histories (Real-World Solutions)

Concrete Floors Deliver the 'Wow' Factor

concrete floors

Flooring with a polished concrete overlay adds the “wow” factor to the new Environmental Science Building on the campus of Skyline College in San Bruno, CA.

In San Bruno, CA, Skyline College recently unveiled the newest addition to its campus—the 21,000-square-foot, $40.7-million, multipurpose Environmental Science Building. Overlooking the Pacific Ocean, this building houses laboratory classrooms, lecture halls, academic offices, a catering kitchen, and a gallery that optimizes its dazzling ocean views. Though the gallery floors aren’t the primary spectacle in this space, they offer their own “wow” factor.

“Usually there’s not a lot of decorative flooring thrown into county and state campuses,” says Bonnie Boden, senior project manager with flooring contractor Floor Seal Technology. “However, this project is very exclusive, very different, very private. It looks over the Pacific Ocean, it sits on the back side of the college, and their intent is to sell it as a luxury, exclusive event center. We are in the Bay Area. We have a lot of high-tech companies and private events that will utilize this space.”

For a floor befitting this use, terrazzo was originally proposed, as per the vision of Ron Galatolo, chancellor of Skyline College and the San Mateo County Community College District to which it belongs.

“Originally this was supposed to be terrazzo, but Ron didn’t like the way that terrazzo tends to be wavy, and if it does scratch, it turns white,” Boden says. “He had the idea of a black overlay colored concrete floor.”

His idea led Boden’s team to a new product from PROSOCO called Integral Color for Overlays, a liquid concentrated pigment that colors cement mixtures in overlay applications on concrete floors. There was more than one advantage to the flooring option of a polished concrete overlay, a self-leveling floor topping experiencing a recent surge in popularity.

“One of the highlights of doing an overlay cementitious floor versus terrazzo is the cost difference,” Boden says. “The cost could be substantially less, if not twice as less than a typical terrazzo floor. When you do add a little more decorative aggregate, the (cost per) square foot does go up a little bit, but you’re still talking about at least $20 a square foot less than the terrazzo.”

As it turned out, the overlay option would deliver Galatolo’s desired aesthetic effect at a lower cost than terrazzo.