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Coating GRP to match natural stonework

THE PROJECTstone coating

The reconstruction of a prominent apartment building in Southend-on-Sea following a devastating fire has included the use of GRP mouldings around a large part of the upper levels, specified to match natural stonework featured on lower parts of the elevation. Despite being of high quality, the surface reflectance of the GRP led to it being easily distinguishable from the real stone when the sun was shining and Plastic Surgeon was invited to try and correct the effect.

THE CHALLENGES

Six floors above street level with the building close to being handed over, Plastic Surgeon had to organize a hydraulic platform or cherry picker to provide safe access after the new client, Randall Watts confirmed acceptance of a quote to carry out the work.

In addition to trying to match the surface texture and reflectance of the natural stone masonry, the three Finishers on the job also had to create an authentic joint pattern, and contend with the sun causing the materials they were using from drying out very rapidly.

THE HIGHLIGHTScoating stone

The Senior Finisher in the team began by surveying the 23 metre wide stretch of the upper elevation across where there were three distinct areas of GRP to be addressed. He then marked out each moulding with the positions to produce fake joint lines to help give the appearance of individual blocks of masonry.

These were then covered by layers of masking tape to the width of the joint detail and prepared by gently sanding away the surface sheen in order to achieve a good key.

The Finishers then employed Plastic Surgeon’s bespoke System 120 pigments to match the colour of the stonework; tinting quantities of the company’s Screedcoat, which features in many of its masonry and brickwork projects.

This was sprayed across sections up to 1500 mm high and approaching the width of the access platform. The wet surface was then dusted with coloured sand using a special air powered gun and allowed to cure before the tape was removed to produce a joint line with perceptible depth. The colour achieved was in fact nuanced to reflect the look of natural stone as it weathers in this exposed coastal environment.

KEY OUTCOMES FOR CLIENTmatch natural stone

  • Over a period of three and a half days the Finishers treated a total of 20 separate sections of GRP, ensuring they blended in with the genuine stonework and harmonising the appearance of the building façade as a whole.
  • The new client was completely satisfied with the effect achieved, and the work was completed within budget and on time.
  • A seemingly insoluble aesthetic problem was overcome at an affordable price.
  • The client was able to meet the original challenge of replacing a property which formed an important part of Southend’s architectural heritage.

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