Beer, Basketball, and Permalac

Did you ever have a relative that seemed to have an opinion on just about anything?  If so, you’ll be able to relate to this story.  If placing a label on just about everything is a foreign concept, you might enjoy learning about our latest project.  When it comes to a city known for beer and a basketball team, Permalac’s specialized matte finish needed some refinement to meet the architect’s specifications.

When the designer specifies a particular design feature to a building, it is often an opportunity for innovation.  And so it was with the new stadium in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  Because of our speed to market and having on-staff innovation specialists we were able to create an ultra-flat reformulation that met the demands of the project timeline and quality standard.  We therefore were the chosen awardee for the project.

Beer and Basketball

With nicknames like Miltown, Brew City, Milburg, The Mil, and most confusing, Cream City (more on this in a moment), surely there will come a new nickname with the completion of the new stadium for the Milwaukee Bucks.  With its zinc panels encapsulating the structure, there’s no doubt that it will generate yet another moniker worthy of this striking façade. 

As for innovation, we’re not bashful when it comes to competition, nor to creating something unique.

“Permalac has a long history of protecting exterior metals.  For this project, the architects wanted an ultra-flat finish on the metal. Permalac has a matte finish, but they needed more than that.  We tweaked our formulation to adjust the sheen level and arrived at an ultra-flat that did the job.  We competed with a number of other products, but it was our willingness to move quickly and our flexibility that helped us win this project.”

The small section of panels in the photo above is merely for demonstration purposes, but the end of November should complete the entire structure’s exterior. All in all, there will be 317,000 square feet of metal panels covering the exterior.

Permalac’s ultra-flat finish will maintain the patina for decades to come.  However, this design didn’t come to fruition without some resistance. One critic likened the proposed structure to a giant taco.

The zinc touch will come during the summer. Those panels stirred some of the most passionate debate over the design of the arena, with some detractors saying they would give the arena a “Rust Belt” feel. Project designers, however, said the zinc panels can take on the look of wood or leather and will change appearance in varying degrees of light.

A sample of those panels is on display outside in the warren of pre-fab offices on the northeast side of the construction site along the Park East corridor. Up close, the panels have a sturdy, rough feel, with a ruddy bronze hue.

One of the most-asked questions about the project is will the zinc panels change color over time like copper or other metallic building finishes.

Callahan’s answer: Nope. “No noticeable change with age,” he said.

Frankly, I don’t see it, the giant taco that is.  However, to me it looks like a segment of an old, wooden beer barrel.  Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, or so the saying goes.  You decide.  We’re just proud to be part of this $500 million project.  For additional information and more photos of the project, go here.

Oh, getting back to the unusual nickname for Milwaukee; Cream City.  It seems that in the late 1830’s, newly constructed homes and businesses to be built included the local clay found on the western shore of Lake Michigan, which when molded into bricks and fired creates a creamy, golden yellow patina to the bricks.  They became so popular much of the Midwest began using them.  They were more resilient than others of the region, held their color, and were utilized for both private and public projects.  Many of Michigan’s remote lighthouses were constructed with Cream City bricks.

It’s amazing the name didn’t come from my great, great aunt Betsy.

Keywords: Permalac flat finish, Milwaukee Bucks, VM Zinc, zinc panels, wall panels

Antiqueing With Permalac

The original finish

If you’ve been in a high end furniture store in the last few years you will have noticed a proliferation of faux antique finishes. Whether it’s layers of paint artfully worn through to show different colors or wood, crazing, chipping, old or the appearance of old is very big right now. Of course, there is a difference between a fashionable faux finish and just plain beat up. What we want to achieve here is to take a low value, unattractive item, and turn it into something unique and beautiful.

We are going to start with this chair. In terms of low value you can’t get much lower, I found it behind a dumpster. The chair itself if actually a good solid, if somewhat plain, piece made of oak and finished in polyurethane. There is a bit of buildup of gunk on the arm rests, and some places on the seat where water has lifted the finish. All in all a perfectly acceptable chair for a dorm room or a seedier dive bar.

The first step in bringing this chair to life is smoothing it out a bit. For the finish I’m applying we don’t need to go to bare wood, we just want to level out some blemishes and remove the gunky buildup. For this I used 220 grit paper. Again the main thing you are looking for here is texture. Certain imperfections, like divots and chips in the wood itself, are actually in keeping with the look we are aiming for. Others, like the water spots, are not. But it’s largely a matter of personal taste.

After sanding, take your time and fully remSnapshot(0)ove all the dust. I started with a dry rag, and then used a tack cloth to get any that remains. Be sure to go over the whole piece, leave no dust behind.

Permalac EF Copper

The first layer of this antique finish is done with Permalac EF Copper. I sprayed, so I took 8 oz of EF copper and cut it with 2 oz #281 thinner. I’ve found that the best results come from doing light coats, and reapplying wet on wet, until the coating flows together. This will give you the best coverage and finish without runs. For this project, I used this technique to spray until I had full coverage with the EF copper. This used about 8 oz. of the material I had mixed up.

Permalac EF Black

It was the end of the day, so I let the chair dry over night. The next morning I applied Permalac EF Black. I again mixed 8 oz of the EF black with 2 oz of the #281 thinner. I used the same spraying method as with the copper. After I finished, the chair appeared completely black.

copper floats
Copper highlights coming through.

I let the layer of black rest for 2 hours. Now it was ready for the antiquing process. Using very fine sandpaper, in this case 800 grit, I lightly wet sanded the whole chair. On any corners, or any area where natural wear would occur, I sanded heavier, fully penetrating the coat of black, and sometimes the coat of copper. I found that it was useful to continually clean the areas I was working with a rag. This removed the wet black dust which obscured the surface. Once I was happy with the results, I dried the chair with a rag, and removed any leftover dust.

The final step in this project is applying to coats of Permalac EF clear satin. I did this using the same mix ratio and methods as before, allowing 1 hour between coats.  As the clear is applied and begins to set up you will see some of the copper come to the surface. And that’s it, I let the chair set for 24 hours and brought it home.

The finished product
The finished product

Ten Years of Maine Winters

We just received these picture from Robert A. in Maine. Ten years ago Robert coated the copper copula on the roof of his barn with Permalac. Though the copper was still bright, he thought it was time to add a few more coats for peace of mind. Robert was relieved to find that he wouldn’t have to strip the old coating, a light cleaning with acetone to remove foreign material and he was ready to reapply. Good luck and we’ll talk to you again in 10 years Robert.