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Unless you live in the Historic Third Ward, when you visit you’ll need a place to park your car. It’s not the first thing you’re likely to think about — and you probably won’t — unless something unpleasant catches your attention.
It’s our job to make sure that doesn’t happen in the parking facilities and on the sidewalks we maintain. In the Third Ward, you’re surrounded by beautiful historic structures that have been reimagined for the 21st century. We love the stories of these buildings and thoroughly enjoy our part in preserving their facilities. Let us tell you about some of the properties we serve.
The Dye House
In September 1922, a small announcement appeared at the bottom page 93 in “The Underwear & Hosiery Review”. It said, “The Phoenix Hosiery Co., of Milwaukee, will start work soon on a new addition at Buffalo and Milwaukee Streets to cost $600,000. The building will be eight stories high and is expected to be completed about the first of the year.”
Nearly 100 years later, the P.H. Dye House is still the Third Ward’s tallest building, but has recently been completely renovated as an office and retail space that marries the industrial design of its past with the creative vision of its future.
The historic landmark is called the “Dye House” because it’s the factory where Phoenix Hosiery employees dyed the high-end silk stockings that were becoming so popular during the “Jazz Age”. The concrete building, designed by Lockwood and Greene Co,” was listed on the National Register of Historic Buildings in 1984.
In fact, Milwaukee’s Third Ward was once well-known for its factories. Roughly 18 of the 70 buildings in the National Register of Historic Places were used for manufacturing at one time or another. Today, these beautiful and well preserved buildings are home to luxury apartments, live-work spaces, restaurants, and office spaces for a variety of eclectic tenants.
The Phoenix Building
Several of those factories belonged to Phoenix Hosiery, formerly Phoenix Knitting Works. It was one of Milwaukee’s most prosperous companies in the early 20th century. In addition to the Dye House, the company eventually had six locations in Milwaukee and three in the Third Ward. The Phoenix Building, a 7-story brick structure located at 219 N. Milwaukee St., was known as building #4 when it was completed in 1917.
The Phoenix Building property record at the Wisconsin Historical Society says, “The dye and wash area was in the basement, printing, stock and shipping on the first floor, packing on the second and knitting on the floors above…Since 1956 this building has been used by several firms for offices, warehouses and light manufacturing.”
The Phoenix building is currently home to ad agencies, law firms, investment companies, and the Historic Third Ward Association. It also boasts an amazing collection of early 20th century vintage ads for women’s hosiery as an homage to the building’s past.
The Marine Terminal
The Marine Terminal Building has been occupied by a wide variety of tenants over the years, including Herb Brumder who manufactured his Porto-Power hydraulic “workshop on wheels” on the second floor in the 1930s. He may have been there for the “three freight elevators, the heavy load capacity of its floors, its fireproof construction and its location near downtown.”
The building was designed by Albert Hecht and completed in 1918. It was a sought after warehouse location because it allowed access to the lake with only one bridge opening. Today it houses 83 luxury riverfront condominiums with heated underground parking, access to all the Third Ward offers, and fantastic views.
The Mackie Building
To walk past the Mackie Building is to step back 140 years in time. It has a fascinating history as the first Chamber of Commerce in Milwaukee. The Exchange Room “contained the first trading pit ever constructed. The pit was designed by the Chamber’s secretary, William J. Langston, and was widely copied by other grain exchanges.” After the Chamber moved out in the 1930s, other tenants moved in and the interior was renovated to keep up with the times. In 1981, the Landmarks Commission noted that “the exterior of the building is essentially as it was in 1880.” (source)
The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973 and is currently home to the Mackie Flats Apartments. The apartments take up the top three floors replacing the 100-year old office buildings that used to be there. Residents are within walking distance to all the attractions of the Third Ward. As they step outside, they can glance up at the renovated clock tower where it still says “Chamber of Commerce”, take a few steps to catch the streetcar, or stroll leisurely to their destination.
Historic Third Ward Parking
Visitors come to the Historic Third Ward to work and to play. The 10-square block area is home to more than 500 businesses and people come year round for dining, nightlife, shopping, salons, healthcare, galleries, the performing arts, and events. The Henry W. Maier Festival Park is there, along with the Italian Community Center, the Milwaukee Public Market, and the Third Ward Riverwalk.
The historic warehouse vibe is still alive and well, only now instead of needing room for wagons, visitors need places to put their cars. They can park in the Historic Third Ward parking structures on Milwaukee Street and Chicago Street.
When you visit the Third Ward, you probably don’t think much about the parking or sidewalks and we think that’s a great thing. We keep the parking facilities and sometimes the sidewalks of these historic buildings immaculate so that visitors and residents are only aware of the beauty and history of their surroundings. We love that job!
When you think about your dream garage, what do you imagine? A high-top bar in front of a wide screen and next to a beer fridge? Your vintage red Porsche parked on a showroom quality surface? A pristine floor underneath the wheels of your immaculate Harley?
The cure for garage envy starts with the floor. While your dream garage may eventually need insulation, climate control, and the best in high tech; without stunning, showroom-quality flooring nothing else matters.
But it’s not just about looks. Garage floors take a pounding and have to hold up under the heavy demands of everyday use. You want a floor that is impervious to stains and spills from oil, gas, and other car fluids. With the Wahlen Works PolyCoat system, you can have both function and form; rugged durability and limitless chip, color, and top coat options.
Concrete Floor Finish Process
The most important contributing factor to the success of a concrete floor finishing project is the preparation work. Our meticulous process ensures that you will enjoy your dream garage for years to come and we offer a lifetime warranty to back that up. Our 5-step process includes:
- The initial inspection and project site assessment
- Determining the products to be used and the color choices
- Preparing the surface so that it is clean, sound, and dry
- Patching and priming
- Product and system installation
Most of the garage surfaces we see are deteriorating and have spalling and chipping.
Our process starts with the initial site visit where we assess the condition of the concrete and work with our customer to determine the desired end result. We check to see if the concrete is coated or uncoated and if the substrate is degraded. We measure contamination levels of grease, oil, and chemicals and we document all cracks and defects. Then we test the concrete to determine the moisture level because that determines which materials we will use. If the concrete has excess moisture we use a base coat that has a vapor barrier built into it.
From there we present an almost limitless number of color options, and we bring samples of the most popular ones so that the homeowner can get a first-hand idea of how the finished floor will look. Designer colors offer the ultimate “wow” and can achieve the look of granite, marble, or terrazzo if that’s what is desired. When we come back to do the installation, we are ready to go and can complete the project in one day.
On installation day, we start by grinding off the top layer of the concrete. We have a walk-behind planetary concrete grinder which is ideal for smoothing a garage floor and opening up the concrete at the beginning of the installation. In order to prepare the surface properly we generally remove 150-200 lbs of concrete from a standard 2-car garage.
Next, we use a repairing compound to fill in areas that have chipped or spalled and make the entire surface smooth and even. Then we put the base coat down, followed by the vinyl flake color which the homeowner has previously selected. After it cures for a few hours, we put the top coat down.
The differentiator in our service is thorough preparation. Every step in our process is important and we don’t skip any or cut corners. There are several reasons that concrete coating systems fail: poor preparation of the surface, the amount of moisture not accounted for, and low quality coating products. Our process ensures that none of this will happen to you.
Polyurea vs. Epoxy
Not all products for upgrading your garage floor are created equal. Our PolyCoat concrete coating system uses polyurea rather than epoxy. It is the best choice for your garage floor — hands down. Frankly, the two products are not even close in terms of quality, appearance and longevity.
Polyurea is a two-compound, 98% solids basecoat. It is 20x stronger than epoxy and has 98% percent flexibility compared to 2% for epoxy. The higher solid content increases the long-term durability of the floor coating. The flexibility allows it to expand and contract where epoxy will crack and chip. Polyurea is UV stable so won’t discolor with sun. It can be used outdoors and epoxy can’t.
The main advantage, and the thing that sets the polyurea concrete finish system apart from all others, is that it’s a one-day install. You leave for work and when you get home, we’re done. Epoxy garage flooring requires four to seven days to complete, during which time your garage is unusable.
The cost of using epoxy is less upfront, but when your epoxy floor starts to look worn again in a few years, the disappointment will set in. You want your stunning new floor look to last for years. Isn’t it better to spend a little more and know that you’re getting the best product and expert installation?
Benefits of a Premium Garage Floor Finish
In addition to the superiority of the product, there are a number of additional benefits of our PolyCoat system.
After installation, you can begin enjoying your new garage immediately. By the end of the day, you can walk on it and, after 24 hours, it’s ready for vehicles. After-care instructions for some floor coating installations read like a complicated user manual — do this for 12-24 hours, then do this for 1-2 days, and finally do this for 3-7 days. With our floor system, you won’t need to download a pages-long care guide to avoid damaging your new floor.
Furthermore, maintenance is a breeze. The product is resistant to oil, gas, coolant, salt, abrasion, and impact. It maintains its high glossy finish and can be easily cleaned with water and a sponge. The finish also protects your floor from Wisconsin’s freeze-thaw cycle and winter deicing chemicals.
Most importantly however, a PolyCoat concrete floor finish adds to the value of your home at the same time it adds to the beauty of your garage. The modern look of a high-quality floor coating is certainly a nicer look than damaged concrete and it will make your garage and entire home stand out to prospective buyers.
Why Wahlen Works?
We know concrete.
Our track record as a company testifies to the truth of that statement. Other companies can offer lifetime warranties but they may not be in business long enough to make good on their promise. We have been a trusted service provider in Milwaukee since 1971 — almost 50 years. We are going to be here from the moment you make your first call until the moment you sell your house.
Additionally, you can count on your new PolyCoat garage floor to last at least 25 years. We offer a lifetime warranty and if you sell your house within the first year after coating, we will transfer the warranty to the new owners.
Let luxury be the first experience you have when you come home at the end of the day. A high performance PolyCoat concrete floor finish gives you the dream garage you’ve always wanted. Our product and process give you beautiful finishes and durable, long-lasting performance. Don’t settle for anything less than the best.
We talk about chloride contamination frequently because of the damage it can do to concrete that isn’t properly maintained.
Chloride contamination comes from rock salt, the primary deicing agent used in Wisconsin. Rock salt is the mineral formed from sodium chloride. WisDOT uses an average of 526,000 tons of rock salt statewide each season. Other chloride-based deicers used less frequently are calcium chloride and magnesium chloride. All chloride deicers will initiate corrosion of the steel reinforcement if they penetrate the concrete.
Implications for Parking Garages
A major contributor to parking garage deterioration is corrosion of embedded steel. The corrosion problem is not new, but awareness of the problem has been getting more attention in recent years.
As steel corrodes it expands, causing fragments of concrete to chip away, which exposes steel further, leading to even more damage. In addition, the rebar becomes more easily breakable, which in turn reduces the garage’s structural capacity. Unfortunately, by the time the damage is discovered, the corrosion of the steel is usually quite advanced.
To put it more scientifically, “There are two consequences of the corrosion of steel. First the products of corrosion occupy a volume several times larger than the original steel so that their formation results in cracking…This makes it easier for aggressive agents to ingress towards the steel, with a consequent increase in the rate of corrosion. Second, the progress of corrosion…reduces the cross-sectional area of the steel, thus reducing its load-carrying capacity.”
Reducing Chloride Contamination
There are a number of ways to lessen concrete deterioration due to chloride contamination and reduce its influence on the service life of your facility. Some, such as adding corrosion inhibiting compounds, need to be implemented during construction. For an existing structure, protection is your best option.
In a 2018 paper published by engineers at the University of Wisconsin – Platteville, the authors recommend the use of a penetrating solution as one option. They say, “Another method to protect concrete from deicing/anti-icing chemicals is the application of topical treatments such as penetrating sealers. Penetrating sealers can seal the concrete, hence reduce the ingress of water and chemicals.”
In the spring, when the ice and snow have melted, many property owners will be greeted by the sight of blemished concrete where the surface has flaked off. As bad as that is, the unseen damage to the steel reinforcement has also likely begun and may not be noticed until it’s become expensive to repair. Before that happens, consider applying a waterproof barrier to your concrete structure.
We’ve worked in a lot of parking structures during our 49 years in business, some as small as 5,000 sq ft and others larger than 1M sq ft. Whether yours is a parking garage, a parking ramp, or a parking lot; it is a significant part of your real estate portfolio and requires both routine and preventative maintenance to maintain its value.
As an owner or manager of a parking structure, you’re well acquainted with the damage that naturally occurs over time. Potholes, cracks in the concrete, and corrosion are bound to appear: but their presence can be minimized, and sometimes almost eliminated, with regularly scheduled maintenance.
Your parking structure is the workhorse of your business and often the first point of welcome for you customers. It experiences direct exposure to vehicle traffic, weather, chemicals, and grease on a daily basis. It only takes a few missed deep-cleans for minor deterioration to start. These can turn into problems beneath the surface of the concrete before you know it.
An effective maintenance plan should include all the periodic tasks that are required for smooth day-to-day operation, as well as the tasks performed to avoid future repairs and protect the owner’s investment.
Sweeping and Washing
Your garage needs frequent sweeping — at least monthly — and quarterly pressure washing to remove sand, dirt, and other substances that wear down its concrete surface. Because of human nature, a clean garage is more likely to stay that way because people are less likely to litter in a well-maintained environment. In addition to extending the life of the facility, a clean, well-kept garage is inviting and gives you a good reputation.
In Wisconsin, it’s especially important to schedule a pressure washing in the early spring to remove deicing products and again in the fall to remove leaves and make sure the drainage system is clear.
Pavement Marking and Signage
Your maintenance schedule should include attention paid to pavement markings and signage. Parking lot striping needs to be restored as soon as it begins to fade or wear away. Concrete walks, drives, and curb landings might need to be repainted as often as twice a year for safety purposes.
The main enemies of the structural integrity of your parking structure are water penetration, chloride penetration, and freeze/thaw damage. The best way to prevent the damage is to prevent penetration into the concrete with a waterproofing barrier. Waterproofing systems that protect the concrete surface extend the life of a garage and make routine maintenance tasks easier to complete.
The ideal waterproofing system uses a calcium silicate gel to penetrate the concrete and fill cracks, pores, and capillaries; forming a subsurface barrier that can’t be peeled, chipped, or scraped away.
A regular maintenance program is critical to preserving your garage and providing excellent service to your customers. Call us to talk about a schedule that perfectly meets your needs. (414) 771-0884
Water is the enemy of your parking structure. It can penetrate the concrete causing costly damage to its steel reinforcement. Considering the large capital investment parking structures require, it’s worth taking some time to consider how best to protect them, not only from water, but also from deicing agents and freeze/thaw cycles.
We believe that the best way to prevent concrete damage is to prevent water and chemical penetration in the first place through the use of a waterproof barrier. Membranes and silane sealant do provide some protection but have drawbacks that waterproofing does not.
For that reason, we recently partnered with Alchemco, manufacturers of the TechCrete 2500 Waterproofing system—a long-term solution that creates a waterproof barrier inside the concrete.
TechCrete 2500 offers the following benefits:
It has no volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOCs are “any compound of carbon, excluding carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, carbonic acid, metallic carbides or carbonates, and ammonium carbonate, which participates in atmospheric photochemical reactions.” In other words, emitted gases from certain solids and liquids. Because TechCrete 2500 is VOC-free, if the concrete structure is ever demolished, the concrete remains recyclable, which is good for the environment.
It is a penetrating solution that forms a calcium silicate gel which fills cracks and capillaries up to 2mm wide. Because it forms a subsurface barrier, it can’t be chipped or scraped away by snow plow blades and it will continue to seal future cracks up to .04mm wide.
There’s no need to close your parking facility during business hours in order to complete the installation.
One of the best features of TechCrete 2500 is its longevity. It makes the concrete surface more dense which allows it to stand up to traffic from people and cars. It also has the best warranty in the industry ranging from 15-30 years depending on the current condition of the structure.
A TechCrete 2500 treated surface is easy and inexpensive to maintain, requiring only regular sweeping and a yearly pressure wash.
Parking areas are a large capital investment. The longer they last, the greater the return on your investment. While the value of regular cleaning and maintenance can’t be overstated, the best protection comes from not allowing the water to penetrate the concrete in the first place. Read more about our concrete waterproofing service here.
January through March
April through June
July through September
October through December
- Trash and debris removal
- Concrete floor cleaning, polishing — and sealing if necessary
- Removal of oil, dirt, mineral residue, and paint from masonry
- Washing of walkways, entries, driveways, and parking areas
- Exterior building cleaning
- General pavement cleaning
The importance of concrete can’t be overstated. It is the most widely used man-made material on the planet.
A recent blog post by Bill Gates is titled, “Have You Hugged a Concrete Pillar Today?” He quotes Vaclav Smill who “argues that the most important man-made material is concrete, both in terms of the amount we produce each year and the total mass we’ve laid down. It is the foundation (literally) for the massive expansion of urban areas of the past several decades, which has been a big factor in cutting the rate of extreme poverty in half since 1990.”
What is Concrete?
According to the University of Illinois Department of Materials Science and Engineering, concrete is a composite material which is made up of a filler and a binder. The binder (cement paste) “glues” the filler together to form a synthetic conglomerate. The constituents used for the binder are cement and water, while the filler can be fine or coarse aggregate… It is important to distinguish between cement and concrete as they are not the same.”
Cement is not used on its own. When it’s mixed with fine filler you get mortar for masonry. When it’s mixed with coarse sand and gravel you get concrete. Another key piece of the equation is water. The amount of water you use determines the strength of the aggregate. “Low water to cement ratio leads to high strength but low workability. High water to cement ratio leads to low strength, but good workability.” It can be further strengthened by adding rebar – reinforcing steel bars.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Concrete is strong enough to bear the heavy load of a skyscraper without compressing. It can resist the pressure of water behind a dam. It can support thousands of cars, trucks, and busses on a bridge. There is a reason that concrete structures from the Roman Empire still exist.
Concrete can also deteriorate. In places like Wisconsin, where the temperatures drop below freezing every year, water from snow and rain can penetrate its surface. The water expands about 9% in volume as it freezes. When it melts during warmer weather it causes the material to weaken over time. Concrete also deteriorates when exposed to certain chemicals such as acids which are present in spills, or salts and alkalis which are used to treat driving surfaces in winter.
At Wahlen Works, we know concrete. We understand it’s properties and we know how to preserve it. The surface needs regular washing to remove acids, salts, and alkalis. It needs to be sealed once every five years or so. We are ready to bring our expertise to your unique property challenges and save you money over the long-term.
- The first concrete street in America was built in Bellefontaine, Ohio in 1891.
- The heaviest concrete structure in the world today is the Three Gorges Dam in China, which opened in 2003. It weighs 144,309,356,753.51 pounds.
- In 1819, the first known parking garage was built for the Hotel La Salle in Chicago.
- The Pantheon in Rome has the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome.
- In the modern world, only water is used more than concrete.