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HomeContentCUSTOM brings home luxury high-rise living to the Mile High City

CUSTOM brings home luxury high-rise living to the Mile High City

Parq on Speer and Ascent Union Tower wow with large-format and specialty tile 

The Mile High City is a little taller now with two new luxury high-rise buildings featuring 297,000 sq. ft. of sumptuous tile installed by Interior Logic Group (ILG). Both multi-use towers are located in downtown Denver and boast a long list of amenities, plus coverings like natural stone and gauged porcelain panels inside and out. Tile installation systems from Custom Building Products were specified on both buildings to meet the requirements of the materials, multi-story/multi-family needs and the environmental conditions encountered at this elevation. 

Parq on Speer and the Ascent Union Tower aim to wow visitors and residents with large-format and specialty tile in both common areas, and inside the apartment homes themselves. Tile is also used extensively in the outdoor living spaces such the pool complexes, a swanky dog park and multiple entertainment kitchens. In some spaces, the size of the tile and the extreme thermal cycling in the Rockies dictated use of a premium-quality, modified mortar exceeding ANSI A118.15HT to support heavy tile horizontally as well as vertically. This article focuses primarily on the products and tile installed at Parq – the larger of the two projects – since there is a great deal of similarity in the assembly systems. 

Surface preparation 

The process began with flattening the substrate to meet the tolerances for large-format tile and hardwood flooring that were installed on the project by ILG. A system of surface preparation products from CustomTech® designed for use under all floor coverings was chosen. TechPrime® A Advanced Acrylic Primer was applied to the concrete floors prior to leveling. This versatile primer prepares porous and non-porous surfaces for the application of self-leveling underlayment and improves the bond to the subsurface.

Two different CustomTech calcium aluminate-based self-leveling underlayments were used on the projects. Both products feature Low Prep Technology™ so they require no shotblasting or mechanical preparation over suitable substrates, saving money for the crews. In low areas, TechLevel™ 125 Deep Pour was placed up to 3″ deep in a single pour with no additional lifts or gravel required. Most of the slab was leveled with high-flow TechLevel 150 Premium, which can be used up to 1.5″ deep and achieves a compressive strength over 4,300 psi. These rapid-curing levelers are formulated with Controlled Cure Technology™ that prevents bond failure and crumbling common with typical underlayments. 

“CustomTech products are easy to spread and hold up well – we’ve been impressed with their technical abilities,” said Kenneth Vescio, Senior Commercial Field Manager with ILG Builder Services.

In smaller areas that needed smoothing, Silk™ Patching and Finishing Compound was applied as needed to prepare the surface. Installers used this supreme handling patch primarily as a skim coat, but it can be built up to 1″ thick. Surfaces that required grading up to 3″ called for TechPatch™ RP Ramping Patch along with SpeedSlope™ Rapid Setting Sloping Mortar, which can be used up to 5″ deep in confined spaces. 

Substrates in common areas and individual units were treated with two types of protective, multi-purpose membranes. RedGard® Waterproofing and Crack Prevention Membrane was specified with submerged tile in the pools, and many of the other wet and intermittently wet areas such as shower stalls at Ascent Union Tower and dog wash spas. RedGard exceeds ANSI A118.10 and A118.12 to provide robust waterproofing and also prevent transmission of cracks from the substrate through the tile. Liquid-applied RedGard is as easy to use as paint, provides monolithic coverage that ties directly into drain assemblies and is listed with IAPMO as a shower pan liner. 

At 16 stories and 14 stories respectively, Parq on Speer and Ascent Tower needed a sound reduction solution appropriate for their upscale residents. Subfloors throughout that were covered by tile received EasyMat® Tile and Stone Underlayment in a 5mm peel and stick format that speeds installation. EasyMat has SoundGard® Technology for high and credible impact sound reduction in multi-family environments. The 5mm size used contributes a Delta IIC rating of 20 to mitigate impact sound like footfalls from the floor above. Lightweight EasyMat also protects large-format tile by isolating cracks in subfloor movement up to 1/4″ and unlike cork, it will not rot, shrink or absorb water. 

“This was our first time using the peel-n-stick EasyMat, what a time and money saver!” offered Vescio.

Tile setting

Designers chose a very broad array of modern and trendy tile for the two properties, from metal mosaics to engineered stone to full-size gauged porcelain panels. Vertical and exterior applications added to the challenge since many of the outdoor amenities at Parq are fully tiled. The variety of materials and conditions called for several types of bonding mortar with different characteristics. Movement and perimeter joints were included per TCNA EJ171 and filled with permanently flexible sealant, which is especially important with the movement inherent in a high rise and for tile subject to direct sunlight and seasonal temperature extremes. 

”Due to overnight temps dropping in our area it is vital to understand the freeze/thaw characteristics of tile and setting materials prior to install,” said Vescio. “Understanding how a system will react to excessive moisture or temperature extremes is key to a long-lasting installation.” 

Porcelanosa Urbatek Xlight appears in an array of colors and textures throughout the common areas of Parq on Speer. 

Porcelanosa Urbatek Xlight appears in an array of colors and textures throughout the common areas of Parq on Speer. These gauged porcelain panels were set on walls at full size – 4’x8′ – and also cut into ashlar patterns 35″ in length, and straight set at 40″ long. MegaLite® Ultimate Performance Crack Prevention Mortar was used where the panels were set full size in the lobby – or outside, such as the dog park. MegaLite has unsurpassed bond strength exceeding ANSI A118.15HT and combined with its flexural strength, is ideal for the most demanding applications. MegaLite weighs 40% less than standard mortars and includes recycled content that contributes to LEED, delivering superior handling and outstanding performance. Submerged tile in pools and hot tubs was also installed with MegaLite, as was tumbled travertine in the BBQ areas. Natural stone and any continuously-wet tile – especially in an outside location exposed to thermal cycling – are excellent candidates for using MegaLite to protect the tile assembly. 

“Installing porcelain panels on the ceiling using a scissor lift was the toughest tile challenge we faced,” offered Vescio. “Using the correct mortar provided the adhesion strength that kept the panels from sagging or shifting during the curing process.”

Many of the larger floor and wall tiles were embedded using VersaBond®-LFT Large Format Tile Mortar, a non-sag, non-slump solution for large and heavy tile that exceeds ANSI A118.4HT and A118.11.

The smaller tiles – including backsplashes like 3″x9″ and mosaic glass, ceramic subway tile, 4″x12″ porcelain in herringbone patterns and 3″x3″ shower floors – were set with VersaBond® Professional Thin-set Mortar, which cures quickly, even in cold weather. Many of the larger floor and wall tiles were embedded using VersaBond®-LFT Large Format Tile Mortar, a non-sag, non-slump solution for large and heavy tile that exceeds ANSI A118.4HT and A118.11. These tile formats included 12″x24″,
18″x36″ and 24″ square porcelain on bathroom floors, walls and corridors plus 8″x48″ plank tiles. Large-format tiles were set with industry-approved techniques such as back troweling, large-notch trowels and straight ridge combing to improve wet mortar transfer to the back of the tile and help prevent any voids under the tile.

Grouting the project

The multi-family nature of these projects called for a high performance grout in all joint widths. Specifiers selected Prism® Ultimate Performance Cement Grout. Stain-resistant and color-consistent Prism is 30% lighter than traditional grouts, contributes to LEED and does not require sealing. Formulated with calcium aluminate cement, Prism does not contribute to efflorescence and prevents color mottling regardless of environmental moisture levels during installation. This rapid-setting formula results in high early strength and dense joints for the highest stain resistance in grout joints up to 1/2″. A unique blend of lightweight recycled glass and fine aggregate sand allows for a smooth consistency that is easy to spread and clean.

“Prism is a fan favorite due to the ease of use and lack of maintenance,” offered Vescio. “And Custom’s staff are beyond compare. We always know we can count on them for accurate and detailed information,” he added. “They are always willing to help, and we wouldn’t trust our projects with anyone else!”

Parq on Speer is the recipient of the Award of Excellence for Mega Projects from the Rocky Mountain Associated Builders & Contractors, Inc. 

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