Extreme makeover

July 10, 2006

About the author: Mark D. Thomas is director of marketing for Tnemec Co., Inc. He can be reached at 816/483-3400 or by e-mail at [email protected].


Schaumburg, Ill., located 25 miles northwest of the Chicago Loop, is recognized as the headquarters of Motorola and home to the Woodfield Mall, one of the largest malls in the U.S. with nearly 300 shops and restaurants.

The mall’s merchants are conscious of making a positive impression on the thousands of visitors they attract each day, so when paint on the mall’s elevated water storage tank started to deteriorate, the local business association decided it was time for a facelift.

“The tank was in bad shape,” said Steve Weinstock, director of engineering and public works for the village of Schaumburg. “The former paint job was peeling, and it was time for repainting.”

The elaborate logo design used on the water tank, which features the name of the mall sandwiched between a representation of blue sky and the silhouette of a cityscape, came from the local business association, Weinstock noted.

The business association paid the cost of the project under an agreement with the village of Schaumburg, which actually owns the tower and administered the project. “It’s kind of a private-public partnership,” Weinstock explained.

Since 1988, the village has obtained all of its potable water supply from Lake Michigan via Chicago and the Joint Action Water Agency (JAWA). The water system now consists of four JAWA water delivery points, six wells with a total capacity of approximately 5 mgd maintained for emergency use, five elevated storage tanks with a total capacity of 6 million gal, seven reservoirs with a total storage capacity of 18 million gal, seven booster stations with a total pumping capacity of 54 mgd, and more than 265 miles of water main, 4,100 fire hydrants and 30,000 shutoff valves. The water system serves more than 25,500 customers with an average daily pumpage of 10.5 mgd.

A special challenge

Work on the Woodfield Mall water tower started in October 2005 with surface preparation and the application of a primer and intermediate coating. Winter weather conditions delayed application of the finish coat and logo until May 2006, just in time for Schaumburg’s 50th anniversary celebration.

“The wind, weather and the amount of logo work that was involved with the project presented a special challenge,” said Steve Brend of Jetco, Ltd., a 40-year-old firm specializing in elevated water tank refinishing.

The 750,000-gal spheroid water tower had accumulated several coats of lead-based paint, which required the construction of a full containment system by Jetco to catch the spent abrasive and lead coatings that were abrasive blast-cleaned from the tank’s exterior. “We had to collect everything,” Brend said. “We used a 6-ton sand blast pot and had a four-man crew removing the old paint. The ground was completely covered with containment to capture the spent abrasive and old coatings being blast-cleaned from the exterior. We removed 75 tons of paint and abrasive using shovels and wheelbarrows.”

Off with the old

The tank’s exterior was prepared in accordance with SSPC-SP6/NACE No. 3, Commercial Blast Cleaning. A 30,000 cu ft per minute dust collector system, from EnTech Industries, Inc., was used to prevent renegade dust from escaping the jobsite adjacent to the heavily traveled mall corridor.

Worker safety required the crew to work in full-face, air-supplied respirators and sandblast hoods. The crew of experienced, union applicators wore protective clothing, safety harnesses, lifelines, rope grabs, lanyards and safety harnesses. Interior work on the tank was minimal, according to Brend. “We just touched up where we burned the paint on the inside from installing the containment system,” he said.

On with the new

The coating specification called for a two-component, moisture-cured, aromatic urethane zinc-rich primer (Series 91 H2O Hydro-Zinc), an aliphatic acrylic polyurethane inter- mediate coat (Series 73 Endura-Shield) and a two-component, fluoropolymer polyurethane exterior finish coat (Series 700 HydroFlon), all made by Tnemec.

The primer and intermediate coating were applied using a Graco King unit sprayer with airless spray poles and guns in the fall of 2005.

The “dry-fall” primer was spray applied over the entire exterior of the water tank at 2.5 to 3 mils dry film thickness (DFT), according to Erik Otten, coating consultant of Taylor Coating Sales.

The primer was followed by a roller-applied intermediate coat at 2 to 3 mils DFT to provide additional film thickness for corrosion resistance.

The finish coat was chosen for its versatile application properties, long-term gloss and color retention, and 15-plus year life expectancy, according to Otten.

“It’s an extremely long-lasting coating system that will enable the owners to put off future maintenance,” he said.

“Series 700 HydroFlon has a unique ability to be applied by brush or roller. This feature was critical for this particular water tank due to its proximity to the mall and about 10,000 cars, as well as the detailed logo. Other benefits include its 60% volume solids content, excellent coverage rates and exceptional ultraviolet protection, giving it the ability to withstand the degrading effects of sunlight,” Otten said.

A touch of class

The unique logo design was laid out by hand without the use of a stencil and painted onto the tower.

“As with any two-component material, we had to work within the product’s pot-life,” Brend said. “For the finish coat, we had one man mixing and four men painting. As for the logo, we had one man mixing and two men painting.”

“HydroFlon is a high-tech, top-of-the-line coating that’s rather new on the market,” Brend added. “Now that it’s finished, I think it looks great. I love the way it turned out. Everything looks perfect. I couldn’t be more pleased with the results that we had with it, and I think everyone else was happy with it.”

Otten echoed Brend’s assessment of the project, adding, “The unique design brings a real touch of class to the Woodfield Mall that merchants there can be proud of during the village’s 50th anniversary. And the long-lasting coating system will keep it looking that way for many years to come.”

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