Project: St. Stephen Church
Starnet Member: Century Floors, Grand Rapids, MI
Project overview: Unique Challenge Category
Challenging installation is the understatement of the year for this one! When you look at the Starnet vendors used on this you see mostly prepping materials…and this one was 90% prep and so key to a successful install. There would be zero room for error on this project. This is a beautiful, historical parish church near downtown, and Father Scott Nolan had a vision for the remake of this wonderful church building.
Assessing the install prior to bidding, it became apparent that the existing sub-floor would be our first challenge. You see, there were three different substrates that would have to carry the load of marble tile flown in from Italy. We installed 3/4-inch-thick marble over a 5000-sf area that was part concrete, part quarry tile and part wood framing that was decades old. To make it even more interesting, the precut marble pieces were not uniform in thickness – making it literally a tile by tile installation…seeking out the thinnest and thickest in an area BEFORE putting down any prep. The surface was rough to say the least and would need at least 1/8 inch of self-leveling, but at times up to 1/2 inch. Shonox self-leveler was used, but we first had to use appropriate primer for each unique area of sub-floor and of course each area differed greatly.
As the marble arrived into West Michigan, of course they had come in from overseas and the containers were packed tightly and extremely heavy. As the crates were slowly opened up - we realized that our second challenge would be getting it to the job site unbroken and in some semblance of order! Some of the pieces were 5 feet across and weighed several hundred pounds. We built braces to keep the load secure from shifting or falling and took it in several trips with the help of the sky track to unload on site.
Once we arrived on site, we were told there was no room to store materials inside the church building due to the extensive work going on…so we had to come up with makeshift outside storage and only bring in tiles to acclimate as we were getting close to installing each area of the massive project. From the photos you can see the intended detail of several colors of marble and each and every tile had to be checked for squareness, dimensional stability and thickness had to be measured and calculated for the field of prep to receive the marble and remain level to the area being installed, and level to the entire project. If the piece was not square, then we had to field cut it to be so.
There was some darker colored marble that had to be primed before we could set it and that include each and every one of them to prevent installation issues. To top this all off, each color piece and many areas had their own grout color and many expansion joints had to be configured and put in place to accommodate leveling of the huge surface. Most of the sanctuary floor would be filled with the same church pews that had been pulled prior to construction, so everything had to be perfect.
Some of the medallions took 6 guys to place because they were so heavy. One slip, one wrong move and the project would come to a screeching halt. Not one single medallion or tile piece was lost during the install. One of the lighter colors was scarce in the needed count – in fact we were told there was not one extra piece to spare. As the job came to a close after 3 months, we put in place the final light- colored piece to complete the amazing design.
The project speaks for itself in the photos attached. It is breathtaking and stunning to see in person, and Century was proud to be chosen by Rockford Construction and architect David B. Meleca.
Greg Hadfield, CEO
Grand Rapids, MI