Leading polished concrete specialist Geocrete holds the record for polishing Australia’s largest area of concrete.
Airports are more than just gateways to cities; they reflect the quality of life and style their destinations offer. So it’s clear why the designers of Melbourne’s international airport chose a stunning polished concrete floor that radiates contemporary style and beauty to overseas passengers as they touch down in Australia.
But the designers took it to another level by creating a floor of record breaking proportions.
One of Melbourne’s leading polished concreting specialists, Geocrete, was asked to undertake the mammoth task of polishing the Tiger Airways terminal upgrade, an incredible 15,000m2.
The floor, made with an off-white base with 90% quartzite and 10% basalt polished to a brilliant glossy sheen, is by far the biggest polished concrete floor in Australia.
Style and durability
Geocrete owner Paul Warner said the airport’s architects wanted to move away from the tiled terrazzo look that dates many tired old airports, and chose polished concrete for its modern aesthetics.
“Not many floors have to withstand such relentless foot traffic as an airport, so it was also important to choose a floor that could cop that and still shine, year after year. The shine and the finish is integrated into the concrete and it won’t flake, scratch or chip like other coatings do, which is one of the reasons it is so popular as an architectural design product,” he said.
Paul, whose work is mainly in the high end residential space, had already had success in the commercial realm, polishing 2000m2 at a time at the Kenworth truck factory during short shutdown periods.
“Despite my commercial experience, I was hesitant to accept the airport project because I wasn’t set up with a large workforce. So I had to quickly pull together a team to do the best possible job, day in day out, in a high pressure environment.”
Paul, who employed a team of nine men for the job, said the scale of the work was a “back-breaking” challenge.
“It was 100 times bigger than our usual work polishing residential floors. Whereas in a home you will have 120 lineal metres of edging, the airport had 35 lineal kilometres, and this all had to be polished by hand. I was going through one pair of knee pads a week, and you can imagine what was happening to my joints!”
Paul said the building environment at the airport was highly stressed. The builders had run overtime by nine months and were working under liquidation damages, making it an “emergency battle station”.
“With the airport’s construction so far behind, we didn’t have the luxury of an empty floor to work on. Time constraints meant we had to polish around an array of other tradesman who were also working on the floor.”
“Because the conditions that I had quoted on were not met, the job was so much more difficult and I couldn’t finish as quickly as I had expected.” Adding to the on-site tension was a highly rigid building union who policed the site.
On sturdy ground
There was also a lot of pressure to ensure the floor was made to the right slip rating first time, so that the entire surface didn’t need to be redone.
Before securing the job, Geocrete had to supply a 300m2 sample that met strict slip ratings, under both wet and dry conditions.
During construction, the floor was tested after each 1000m2 to ensure the slip tests was met.
Paul said the difficulty of the job was what made it so satisfying.
“I felt very blessed and privileged that I was asked to work on such an iconic piece of Australian architecture. It looked brilliant when completed and I was so proud that I could deliver a floor of that scale with a look as consistent and beautiful as my residential projects. But it did take its toll on all levels, physically, mentally and emotionally.”
He said the job opened doors to Geocrete for more work in the commercial space, and he has even had enquiries about other international airport opportunities.
“It’s been really great exposure for Geocrete and I have made many great connections in the building world, but I decided I would leave this type of work on a winning note. It was a lifetime achievement, and it made me reflect on how much I love doing high end domestic polishing.”
So after setting an Australian record, Paul has decided to stick with what he loves.
“It’s my absolute passion to work with clients to create beautiful spaces in their homes, and to bring people so much joy and pleasure.”