Graco Inc.

Polyurea Applicator Finds Niche Resurfacing Showers

Challenge

In 2004 officials in Minnesota were looking for a viable solution to waterproof some single-user showers at a state correctional facility. The ceramic-tiled showers leaked shower water into the buildings and became a concern for mold and mildew growth.

Solution

Tom Seabloom, the owner of Eco Chic Coatings (ECC), had experience in applying protective coatings and was pioneering a polyurea dispensing technology. He was asked to develop samples of a waterproof coating system that used a static mixed air atomized polyurea.

As a pioneer with spraying static mixed polyurea, Seabloom was also invited to work with Graco engineers to design the Unheated Reactor E-10. The Graco Unheated Reactor E-10 has been for Tom a low maintenance fixed ratio 1:1 proportioner that requires a 110-volt outlet and clean compressed air to dispense a polyurea. It features 7-gallon day tanks that positively feed the fluid section and store material between projects when filled to their proper minimums.

The E-10 uses positive displacement pumps and is a fully wetted closed-loop system. The E-10 also features a “park” mode that can be used to prevent the crystallization of the isocyanate on the pump shaft and seals during storage. The double-ended, single electric motor powers equally sized fluid pumps. By both pumps being powered off of the same motor it eliminates off-ratio mixing while the machine is operating and properly filled with material.

Tom also uses the Graco MD2 Cold Spray Gun which has air atomizing controls. Having the air-atomization control on the spray gun helps the operator start and stop spraying as often as necessary. It makes fine adjustments, and enables ECC operators to go from a fine spray to a stream of materials to trowel their polyurea material on floors, walls and into perimeter saw cuts.

ECC applies polyurea at one-quarter the pressure of impingement spray gun technology. The atomization control allows for a much larger droplet to be applied and significantly reduces overspray. This is particularly important when working in a small space, like a shower, where visibility can become a problem from excessive spray dust.

Proper preparation of the substrate is recommended for good polyurea adhesion. To do this Tom grinds the surface glaze off of the tiles, which allows for moisture to escape and provides good surface profile for the polyurea to adhere. Tom also uses a LGR dehumidifier and some fans inside of a containment to dry the shower structure before applying the first coat of polyurea.

Results

For over 12 years, ECC has used the Unheated Reactor E-10 to successfully resurface hundreds of single-user showers in state prisons, county jails, and college dormitories in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan.

Tom notes that polyurea sprayed through a static mix gun has not become a popular polyurea application technique. Tom thinks this is because people using competitive gear pumps may experience pump slippage, that may result in off-ratio applications. Tom’s spray operators love the NEW MD2 dispensing gun with more ergonomic air controls than its predecessor, an easy to flip trigger safety, a large threaded static mix retaining nut, smooth action air cylinder, better balance and of course the detailed instructions and accurate diagrams that Graco provides.

In addition to single-user showers, Tom has used the E-10 to line water features, repair roofs, coat wood decks, stairwells, cooling tower basins, waterproof concrete and performed joint filler work with the versatile polyurea chemistry. To improve the polyurea shower membrane Tom applies additional coatings. You would need to talk to him about that.

Specifications

Contractor: Creative Fabrications

Industry: Polyurea Application

Application: Resurfacing Showers

Graco Equipment: Unheated Reactor E-10, MD2 Cold Spray Gun

Damaged shower - before

Before: single-user shower at state correctional facility with corrosion and tile damage.

Loose tiles breaking off

Tile damage is not easy or cheap to repair.

After: The newly sprayed shower looked like new

After: successfully resurfaced and esthetically pleasing single-user shower sprayed with polyurea using an unheated Reactor E-10.