Protective Coatings

Reflection Pool Gets New Life in Las Vegas, Nevada

by Del Williams, technical writer, Ulitzer

As the old adage goes, if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.  So, when Las Vegas’ New York-New York Hotel and Casino recently replaced its largest reflection pool, the challenge for contractors was how to make it stand out above the bright lights and eye-catching architectural designs littering Las Vegas Boulevard, and stay on budget.  The solution came with a cost-effective way to install multiple water features using a seamless, spray-on, waterproof, protective coating.  “In high-end hotels, resorts, and homes, traditional plaster, epoxy, tile, and fiberglass materials have limited the design options and slowed project completion,” says Tim Singleton, a project manager at Water FX(TM), a Las Vegas-based builder and renovator of dramatic pools, spas, water features, and thematic props, including the large reflection pool on the Strip.  As a solution to the dilemma, Water FX has turned to a new breed of seamless, spray-on, waterproof, protective coatings that dramatically expand the water feature, architectural decor, and themed prop design palette.

         According to Singleton, pools and water features are traditionally lined with a plaster-type material that is time-consuming to apply and difficult to color consistently.  It may also require a waterproofing topcoat such as a two-part epoxy, which is similarly laborious to mix and apply in multiple coats, and which does not always offer the desired design options.  “Plaster has to be troweled on by hand, which requires craftsmanship to get right, particularly on wavy, irregular, or angular surfaces,” says Singleton.  Often this is followed by, or substituted with, a two-part epoxy topcoat, which cannot be mixed too soon before it is applied.  Because epoxy has a short pot life, it typically must be mixed in small batches shortly before use, which is time-consuming and leads to waste.

         Singleton says that on a construction job the size of the large reflection pool, it would have required up to 20 men mixing and hand-troweling plaster, coordinated with mixing and applying two-part epoxy coatings to complete the job in the necessary timeframe.  Instead, Water FX sprayed the reflection pool with an innovative polyurea coating and decorative topcoat, with six men in two days.  Large culverts directly below the vessel limited the depth of the reflection pool.  The dark topcoat selected, according to Singleton, enabled the water feature to appear much deeper than its actual safety-regulated 18″ depth.  “The GelFlex® topcoat offers hundreds of UV stable colors, which allows you to match any color,” says Singleton.  “You get the look of multiple epoxy coatings in a single, seamless, durable waterproof topcoat without all the work and hassle.”

         GelFlex is an aliphatic UV color-stable, 100% solids, chemical-resistant, polyurea topcoat by VersaFlex®, a global supplier of high-performance polyurea coatings, liners, and joint sealants for a wide variety of architectural design environments.  As part of this protective, waterproof coating system, the GelFlex polyurea topcoat is typically applied over an aromatic pure polyurea basecoat, which serves as the main seamless waterproof membrane of the pool.  The spray-applied polyurea basecoat membrane creates a seamless, waterproof, durable protective liner that stops leaks and strengthens the integrity of the entire structure.  The polyurea coatings exhibit physical properties such as high elongation, crack-bridging, hardness, and tensile strength to create a robust, resilient, puncture-resistant liner.  The coating system is designed to withstand wide variations of temperature and humidity including decades of freeze-thaw cycling.

         Since the polyurea products are quick-setting and -curing, they can be walked on in minutes.  This typically allows projects to be returned to service a few hours after application of the topcoat.  The GelFlex topcoat is then spray-applied over the polyurea waterproofing membrane at a 10-15mil thickness to provide color stability, high gloss, and distinctness of image (DOI).  Spraying of the polyurea basecoat and topcoat is achieved with a plural component spray gun connected to a long heated hose and pump machine.  Unlike a traditional two-part epoxy topcoat with a short pot life, the polyurea products’ components are mixed in the spray gun nozzle during application so there is no pre-mixing needed and essentially no waste in the process.

         “No one really wants a boring white plaster pool, and two-part epoxies are limited in color, too,” says Singleton.  “The polyurea topcoat can customize the design and color of swimming and decorative pools, ponds, fountains, water walls, waterfalls, and water features.  It is fun, for instance, to match the bright colors of kids water toy structures with complementary designs and colors in kids pools.”

         The efficiencies achieved with the polyurea coating system are particularly significant compared to costly, labor-intensive tiling and other traditional pool finishes.  “While a large vessel could take months to tile, using VersaFlex’s polyurea coating system and GelFlex topcoat, we could save months and tens of thousands of dollars in application,” says Singleton.  “The maintenance savings would be significant as well because tile grout is susceptible to chemicals and notoriously hard to clean, while the polyurea topcoat is chemical-resistant and easy to clean.” With all of the benefits of polyurea, it is easy to see why its use is a no-brainer.

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