John Loughlin Discusses Garage Flooring with Liz Berman

Click to listen to John Loughlin interview Liz Berman, DiStefano Brothers’ General Manager, Coatings and Storage Division.

liz berman interviews with John Loughlin

Interview Transcription

00;00;00;00 – 00;00;15;28
John Loughlin
And we are back. John Loughlin with you. This is the John Loughlin radio broadcast. So let me tell you my sad tale of woe, which actually has a happy ending. So I’ve always been a garage guy. I like. My garage garages are nice. I spend a lot of time in my garage. I know that’s odd, but I do.

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I spend a lot of time in my garage. So when I lived in Washington, D.C., well, I didn’t live in the city. I lived in suburban Maryland, commuted in every day to Washington, D.C., which is a whole nother story in and of itself. I had a nice two car garage and kind of a, you know, a ticky tacky, identical house neighborhood in a place called Severn, which is up near Fort Meade.

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And so I wanted to do the garage. I wanted the garage floor to be perfect. I built cabinets. I built these giant cabinets in the back of the garage because I’m not a shelf guy. Shelves are okay, but no matter how you put stuff on shelves, it may it to me, it makes the garage look junky. I like something where you can close the garage door, the cabinet doors, and you don’t see anything.

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So I got a pair of big heavy rubber boots and I went to my local big box store, which at the time I can talk about them because they’re long gone, was a place called Hechinger. Hechinger was bought out by Home Depot years ago, and I bought this stuff called Muriatic Acid. Okay, so you buy this stuff called muriatic acid, and you acid wash the floor, which is just a bag of toys.

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You’re walking around in rubber boots. It smells bad. You got a garden hose in there, and so you get the whole floor washed with muriatic acid. That’s called etching the floor. Right. And then you rinse all that stuff down. And then I bought this incredibly expensive two part epoxy, which was it was gray, and it came with a little bag of, like, paint chips.

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Speaker 1And so you wheel out the two part epoxy and you sprinkle the paint chips as you go. And when you’re done, the floor looks spectacular. I mean, it looks really great. The first thing I noticed was work, because I parked cars in my garage. A lot of people use garages for storage or entertainment. I parked the cars in the garage and I had Big blue back then.

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And the first thing I noticed is that wherever the tires were on the two part epoxy, it picked up the paint. They were like a tracing of the tire on on the two part epoxy. And I learned later that’s because when you’re driving your tires heat up and then you park the car on top of this two part epoxy.

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And as the tires shrink, because when they cool, they shrink a little bit, not so much, you can actually see it. It literally lifts the paint off the concrete. Then I started noticing places where any kind of high travel heat started fading within a year and a half, that floor was a nightmare. So being incredibly stupid, when I built my house in Tiverton, I did the same thing.

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I bought the two part epoxy. I did the floor etching, I did the whole thing, and I had the same result. I even forced my wife. I didn’t force her. I kindly requested I bought a quarter inch pieces of plywood and I cut the plywood into 12 inch squares and I put them down and I said, When you pull your car into the garage, you have to make sure your tires are sitting on top of the plywood because otherwise they’re going to pick up the paint that I just put down.

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Again, after about two years, maybe three years, it looked awful again. So I went to to Florida with a buddy of mine. He’s he asked me if I would fly to Florida and help him. He purchased a new car and wanted to drive it back here to Rhode Island. Said, you know, I don’t feel like driving alone. And so would you mind flying down with me?

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I’ll pay for your flight and we’ll drive my car back from Florida. Okay, fine. I’m happy to do that. And I noticed his garage, his garage floor in Florida, because he owns a home down there in Florida, was spectacular. And it was like hard as a rock. And it was built, as I said. Steve, how old is this floor?

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He said, Well, I don’t know. I’ve had the house for about seven years and the floor was here When I got it. I said, What is that call? He’s I don’t know. He came on it came on the garage floor. What what’s wrong with you? You know, I get about garage floors, but it absolutely looked beautiful. So I did a little homework and I found out that what it’s called is a parley.

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Polyaspartic poly urea coating. It’s different than epoxy. It’s not the same thing. So I started looking around and I found this company locally that does poly a spot, sporadic poly urea floor coverings called DeStefano Concrete coatings. And with me on the line right now is Elizabeth from DeStefano. And I got to tell you that it was just it was eye watering.

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The difference once we went with the polypspartic. Welcome to the broadcast.

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Hi, John. So glad to be here.

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Yeah. So you guys came over and to describe what it was like. First they kind of looked over the garage floor and then they took like a special tool of some sort, like a moisture meter and measured the moisture content in the concrete. Because I guess that when you put the new coating down, you want to make sure that the floor is relatively dry.

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And we had some moisture issues. So they first they came in, then they came in with this thing. It looks like a Zamboni almost, and it basically shaved the garage floor down, no muriatic acid, no boots, no garden hose in the garage. And it had like a giant back on it because as you can imagine, that would create a lot of dust.

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There was no dust from this thing. This thing drove around and took how much does it take off? Like maybe a 16th of an inch of concrete on the off.

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The tiles, Even less, probably even less than that. John Yeah.

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But just enough take to kind of etch the concrete. Then they put a moisture barrier down and came back the next day and put the polish reapply Espada coating down with the little paint chips I get. How many garage floors have you done. Because I was just saying earlier in the broadcast, out of all the things I purchased for my home, I still marvel at that garage floor.

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Music to my ears. John We’ve probably done around 2200 floors since we’ve started, which was we really got going in 2020. Yeah.

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I mean, it was just it’s the thing that amazes me about it too, is that I’ve got Big Blue, which is which I think you, you actually met Big Blue at one point when you stopped by.

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I did, yeah. When I was there for the concert, we met the big blue.

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Well, Big Blue, as you know, is my famous 1990 Chevy pickup, which I bought new and because it’s, what, 33 years old, it has a tendency to leak fluids of various kinds, including oil and transmission fluid. That there’s a reason why it leaks transmission fluid, which I won’t go into. But the thing that’s cool about the the Stefano’s floor covering is I can drive big blue out, get a sponge mop and some simple green soap and literally wash the oil stain right off of the coating.

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And it looks like it was never there. And why is your coating so impervious to that sort of stuff?

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Well, the non-porous it’s a non porous topcoat, so concrete in and of itself is a sponge. Anything that you spill on it onto it is going to get absorbed immediately no matter how fast you try and run at it with a rag. The second it hits that concrete floor, it gets absorbed. Once we seal everything in. With the topcoat, you have a non porous floor.

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So anything that sits on it really just sits on that surface and that’s why it’s able to get wiped up so quickly and easily.

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Yeah, it’s it’s amazing. And I think Anthony, who actually was like the foreman who came out to do the work, suggests in a great suggestion he said you know go to one of the big box stores and buy boot trays, the little trays that people put in front of their door when they take the shoes off. And he said, just put that underneath the engine block and under the transmission.

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I’m big blue and it’ll catch the oil and it’ll be easier for you to clean up. But I got to tell you how many years I did that in, what, 20, 20 or 1920, I think it was so.

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I believe it was 2020. Yeah.

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Yeah. So it’s been three years and that floor still when I wash it, when I get the hot soapy water out and I wash the thing, it looks like the day you did it. It’s insane. One of the things too, that I hear from other folks is that they’re concerned about scratching. You know, I was I was literally talking to a colleague yesterday because I was telling him that you were going to be on the show and they should listen in.

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And he’s I said, that’s not for me. That A, because I use you know, I keep my lawnmower in the garage and I you know, I keep my shovels in there and I’m just going to scratch it up and ruin it. I don’t have any scratches. And I do the same thing. The lawnmower is right inside the garage.

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I’ve got rakes and shovels there. I drop things from time to time. There are no scratches on that floor, which is incredible.

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It is hard to scratch. It’s a hard for to scratch. One thing that really helps with that is just some regular maintenance. If you hit your garage floor with a leaf blower every once in a while, get some of the dirt and sand and some, you know, all the other things that get tracked into a garage with all of that on the floor.

00;08;20;21 – 00;08;41;11

So if you’re not cleaning it very often and you have all that kind of dirt and sand, those little things on the floor, anytime you’re rolling something over that stuff, you know, with enough pressure, it can become like sandpaper, right? You end up with these little micro scratches throughout. It’s not going to really damage the floor. But what you’ll start to see are some dull spots right where the the top cut will lose a little bit of its sheen.

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But just a little bit of maintenance. Again, hitting it with a leaf blower. Right. Every once in a while.

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It’s not hard.

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To do the leaf blower before you walk inside. It’s not hard to do. You’ll get it’s the dirt and the sand and just the everyday stuff. You know, once that gets picked up more often, your glass, your floor will last you a lifetime. Yeah.

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And one of the things I my lovely bride will drive up preservation way, which is like a dirt road, basically, and pick up snow that gets packed around the wheels and it comes she comes into the garage and the garage is not heated, but it’s warmer than outside. It’s it never goes below freezing. And all that stuff drops on top of this floor.

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And then as it melts, it deposits this black looking crud that you think, I’m never getting that off the floor. That’s going to be there forever. And it comes right up. It’s incredible.

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That’s the beauty of this product. I have to I have it in my basement. I have some older dogs. Any time that there’s a mess, clean it up. It’s a breeze. You don’t get any lingering odors. Right. Because that’s when things really start to get kind of that dingy, musty type of smell that you can recognize in certain garages, because that concrete has absorbed all of the different things that have landed on it over the course of the years.

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And when you’re covering that and stopping that from happening, you’d be surprised how it can just completely transform the way you feel in the space because you don’t get that dingy, musty type of smell anymore.

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Now, do you find that when you do these jobs for various customers around the around the region, do you find it’s people like me who tried the two part epoxy stuff?

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That’s a lot of what we do probably about 60 to 70% of the floors that we do. We are removing a failed coating.

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Yep. Yeah. Because I mean, no matter how how careful you are with it and you know, and I did the etching thing and all of that with the two part epoxy and I’ll be honest with you, it looks great for like the first couple of months and then it just starts going downhill. And when it goes downhill, it goes downhill fast.

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And and if you see it, you see one of those coatings. After about five years or so, it’s like it almost looks like it’s not there.

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You are 100% correct, John. And honestly, it’s all about the chemical, right? Epoxy is great in certain situations. Temperature controlled lights controlled. That is where epoxy can really shine. So if we were in a laboratory somewhere where everything, you know never drops below 70 degrees and the sun doesn’t get into it, epoxy is going to hold up very, very well.

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But us being in New England, the majority of the spaces that we’re doing are garages. Again, they’re not necessarily freezing, but we’re having some pretty significant temperature changes in those spaces. And epoxy just does not have the flexibility to allow the concrete to move. Yeah, poly urea with the base coat and poly aspartic with the topcoat has enough flexibility in it that it can move with the concrete.

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And that’s really what sets it apart because you have to be able to withstand those freezing thaw cycles. And that’s why we chose the product that we did, because it can held up hold up in the environment we have here.

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Yeah, I just got because we have the text line and you can text the broadcast at 4389776. You can also I’m sure you’d be happy to answer questions from callers if you want to call and talk to Elizabeth as well. They wanted to know if you could do a basement with no bulkhead access.

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We can we would have to check out what the access is like. We have equipment that we need to be able to get into the space. So we would send out one of our coding specialists. It’s completely no pressure. They would come out, assess the space because we can go through the home. We have different sized grinders and different sized machines depending on the work that we have to do.

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So we would have to, you know, take a look and understand what that access is like and then we can walk you through your your solutions.

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And I just got another interesting text question which I’ve seen this before. We wanted to know if it’s slippery and it’s mine is not. My buddy in Florida. He didn’t have the the little I don’t know what you call them, the little paint chip things. He didn’t have that on his floored his floor when it got wet was like a skating rink.

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My floor even when it’s wet because it’s got those paint chips, is not slippery at all.

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You hit the nail on the head there, John. If you know the the colored chips that we put in there, add a natural texture to the floor. Now, I know people that’ll fall just standing there, Right? So somebody’s personal balance definitely plays into the is it slippery or not? You know, we do a lot of test pads here at our house.

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Sometimes when we’re testing out new products or new colors and I have a pad right outside our shed, it is in full view of all of the elements we put zero added texture into it, just the chips. And when it rains, we’ll go out there and walk around on it just so we can really speak to, you know, how how slippery it can be.

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We have never had an issue with it there, you know. So is it slippery? Is can be a bit of a personal question depending on your own balance. But we can also add and remove texture. So we can add enough. We can add more or we can take take some away. But the tradeoff becomes like the more texture you add, it can be a little bit harder to clean, right?

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Because now there’s just more nooks and crannies within the floor where dirt and stuff like that can get stuck. So what I always recommend is the best way to clean it is a hard, bristled scrub brush because like a loop mop will leave low spots. You know, it won’t get in all all the nooks and crannies, but a hard bristle scrub every once in a while will clean out all those low spots and regain some of your texture too.

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Because sometimes these floors are becoming slippery just because they haven’t been cleaned in a long time. So there’s a layer of dirt and grime that are kind of filling in all those low spots that originally gave it texture.

00;14;28;28 – 00;14;44;12

I got a bunch more questions for you. This is obviously a very popular topic, but before I do, I’m going to go a little selfish. I’m going to ask you, do you guys do now after since you visited my home and put that beautiful floor down, which I will tell you and I’m not exaggerating when I say I marvel at that floor virtually every day.

00;14;44;17 – 00;15;04;19

In fact, I get more pleasure out of that garage floor than I do out of the hardwoods I put in the dining room and in the living room. I mean, the hardwoods are nice. They’re nice, but that garage floor is something very, very special. But since you guys visited, I poured a 12 foot by 40 foot concrete slab off the back of the house.

00;15;04;22 – 00;15;21;21

And then I built a ten foot by 40 foot wooden deck off the back of the concrete slab. And my question is, can you do an outdoor concrete surface in this one? Was it just got the concrete and did what they call a brush texture push broom, I guess.

00;15;21;23 – 00;15;23;08

Texture, broom, finish? Yeah.

00;15;23;10 – 00;15;27;10

Is that something that you guys can can quote outside?

00;15;27;12 – 00;15;41;08

Yes, it is. Absolutely. You know, another reason why we use poly and specifically poly aspartic for that topcoat is because it is a UV stable product, unlike an epoxy, which would start to, you know, green or yellow over time.

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Yeah, I haven’t I literally haven’t done anything with this slab because I’m you know, some people have recommended, you can stain concrete, you can, you know, you can put a clear coat, a sealer on it. I’ve done nothing with it and it’s about I was 20, 20, it’s about three years it’s been sitting out there, but it is exposed to direct sun on a daily basis.

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Once the house the sun gets over that side of the house. And will the will the coating stand up into direct sun or will it fade over time?

00;16;07;22 – 00;16;14;26

No, it will. It is a UV stable product, so it is meant to go interior and exterior. We can absolutely take care of that patio for you.

00;16;14;28 – 00;16;15;16

Elizabeth.

00;16;15;16 – 00;16;18;15

The trick is going to be getting around, getting around the back of the house. So I’ve.

00;16;18;17 – 00;16;18;28

Got that.

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Sample down there.

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So got that. Actually have that solved? That’s wonderful. Yeah. Again, since you were there, I took down a whole bunch of trees and I built like a little gravel way down to the concrete slab. So it’s easy to get to and you’ll be you’ll have no problem at all getting the Zamboni in there. Trust me, some of these questions are absolutely great.

00;16;37;26 – 00;16;55;15

And I will tell you that there’s a bunch and I don’t know if any realtors run the numbers, but if it makes your house more valuable. But I got to believe that, you know, when when someone walks into the garage and sees that for the first time, they’re going to be blown away. In fact, you guys force me to paint the walls and I put up cabinets because I don’t like store shelves.

00;16;55;15 – 00;17;13;08

Shelves to me always looked junky. So I had to put up cabinets. I had to paint all kinds of crazy stuff. So because I got a bunch of questions that I need you to answer, Elizabeth, if you can. And one of them is a guy is Stephen Smithfield. He runs an automotive shop in Smithfield, and he was wondering how this type of coating would hold up for his business.

00;17;13;10 – 00;17;28;02

We had actually done a fair amount of automotive shops. We did a Kochi Honda over in Newport. We did their entire service bay, all of their different rooms. You know, it’s a more heavy duty system than what we would put in somebody’s home, but we can absolutely tackle that for you.

00;17;28;10 – 00;17;45;22

Yeah, one another advantage, Steve, if you’re still listening, is that when you when you drop something on a regular concrete floor that has a little bit of camouflage from oil stains on it so you can’t see very well, it’s like it can be difficult to find, you know, if you drop a cotter pin or something like that, you’re working on the car.

00;17;45;25 – 00;18;00;29

And I found with with Big Blue that I find stuff a lot easier because the floor is clean, it’s kind of uniform in appearance. And you can you can very quickly find whatever it is that you dropped, which is kind of cool. Sure. Another caller, another listener who wants to know if it’s practical for pool decks.

00;18;01;06 – 00;18;22;21

So we actually do not do pool decks anymore. We had we had done them for years. Honestly, what we kept finding is most of the pool decks around here are in very, very rough shape. They have taken a lot of abuse for many years. Many years of freeze and thaw cycles. So, you know, it was our more expensive.

00;18;22;21 – 00;18;39;06

It was our most expensive type of surface that we would do just based on all the handwork from plastic coping and having to cut around all the control joints and all the pool anchors. So it became incredibly expensive. And a lot of the ones that we were going to see, we couldn’t coat them even if we wanted to.

00;18;39;06 – 00;18;56;12

I mean, we do come across things that are uncomfortable. You know, our coating can only do so much, it can only repair so much. And what we ended up finding is people would have some unrealistic expectations as to what it could and could not do. Right. So unfortunately, we are not we’re no longer doing pools.

00;18;56;14 – 00;19;11;24

Now, where can people see samples of it? In other words, if I just, you know, before I call and have some is there any place I don’t know if you did the parking garage at the VA, but that’s a similar type coating that they did on all of the floors inside the parking garage.

00;19;11;26 – 00;19;35;04

We did not do that coating. But there I mean, there’s a number of public businesses that we have done there, floors where, you know, we can give you a list where anybody could just walk in. Right? So, you know, reference lists are always available upon request when you reach out to the office. And then you can also always visit one of our two offices in one in Wakefield, Rhode Island, and then one in North Kingstown, Rhode Island as well.

00;19;35;11 – 00;19;53;11

Yeah. And I think I think once you see this coating, once you see it in action, you’re going to be hooked. And it’s obviously impractical to get everybody to come to my house and see it. But it’s also off the table to let me let me be clear about that. Another quick question. Good for a small outdoor walkway question Mark.

00;19;53;15 – 00;20;23;13

Absolutely. Absolutely. You know, the smaller the space, obviously per square foot kind of gets more expensive, right? Because our team has to be out there for a full day no matter what, based on drying Times Square times and things like that. So if somebody has a very small space that they’re looking at doing, I would encourage to think about if there’s any other space that you might want at some point, because we might be able to do the patio and your garage all within one day and then your cost per square foot will go significantly down.

00;20;23;15 – 00;20;28;15

Another question Would this work for a restaurant slash nightclub?

00;20;28;17 – 00;20;47;27

Absolutely. Absolutely. We have done many commercial kitchens. We have done dining rooms for restaurants as well. Again, it all comes back to that basic maintenance. If you’re going to clean it, you know you’re going to clean it well. It’s going to hold up for a long time. Right. But if you let a lot of that dirt and grime just build up, you’re going to get micro scratches and that topcoat is going to eventually go out.

00;20;48;02 – 00;20;58;15

And in commercial applications, again, we are putting on extra layers of different types of top coats to give you that added durability that you need in a commercial space that you don’t residentially.

00;20;58;19 – 00;21;00;20

Now how long do you warranty your work for?

00;21;00;20 – 00;21;23;21

So we are mainly it’s a manufacturers warranty and and actually just switched to from a 15 year warranty to a lifetime warranty against peeling and shipping and lamination, which are the common failures that you see within these types of floors. So it does protect against those things. You know, just one important thing that’s always I always like to call out to our customers that people have good expectations.

00;21;23;27 – 00;21;44;06

Is that failure due to hydrostatic pressure, which is, you know, moisture and that kind of stuff with moving up the slab is not covered under your warranty. So if the product fails and starts to peel, ship and eliminate and we’re not seeing high moisture that is absolutely covered under your warranty, if it does start to fail due to high moisture, there are different things that we can work out with our customers.

00;21;44;06 – 00;21;54;05

But again, that’s why we take out that trim x meter, which you spoke about earlier, John. We test the moisture. We make sure that our clients are very, very aware of all the things that could happen with the floor.

00;21;54;10 – 00;22;03;04

Excellent. Elizabeth from DeStefano, how do people learn more and where how do they follow you on your on social media and how do they get to your website? What’s the next step?

00;22;03;04 – 00;22;32;22

So lately it’s it’s DiStefano brothers concrete coding so you can always go to our website D b concrete coatings dot com search. DiStefano Brothers, we’re on Facebook, we’re on Instagram where you can give our office a call, which is 4012561196. And then one of our amazing admin team members will get you hooked up with a coding specialist who will come out to your house free of charge and be able to give you an estimate down to the penny for your specific project.

00;22;32;29 – 00;22;43;20

And it is a no pressure estimate. So if you decide you don’t want to buy, you’re not going to have to kick us out of your house. My guys will say thank you and they will walk out and let you go about your day.

00;22;43;20 – 00;23;01;06

Yeah, I think in my case you guys came out, looked it over, and I said, I got it. I got to think about that. Let me, let me Newlander. Okay, fine. Give us a call if and when you’re ready. Best move I ever made apps. It just exactly. It’s game changing. And also you have additional services where you put up stuff on the walls.

00;23;01;06 – 00;23;08;01

Right. To kind of address because I had to do that all myself. I had to paint it and I put up cabinets and whatnot. But you guys do that as well, right?

00;23;08;03 – 00;23;32;22

That is correct, John. We are we are launching a brand new line in our family of brands with the Stefano brothers. It’s going to be inspired. Closet’s a lot more than just closets. It’s really all about him. Organization. So in closets, pantry is laundry room too. The garage solutions that you are looking for and whether it be some sort of flat wall to him, hooks cabinetry so that you don’t have to see anything or just some shelving to get things up off the floor.

00;23;32;28 – 00;23;39;19

We have options that can fit within any budget and we’re going to be launching that new showroom on Main Street in East Greenwich within a couple of months.

00;23;39;24 – 00;23;53;18

Excellent. Elizabeth, thank you for joining us here on the John Loughlin Show. And and thanks for that great work. And I’ll give I’ll give the call at 256 1196. I’ll give you guys a call to see if we can’t get a price on that that slab out in the back.

00;23;53;20 – 00;23;55;06

Fantastic. Thank you so much, John.

00;23;55;11 – 00;23;56;07

Thank you, Elizabeth.

About John

John Loughlin is a radio host, political analyst, and former state representative. He is the host of The John Loughlin Show on WPRO Radio in Providence, Rhode Island, which airs Saturdays from 11am to 2pm. He is also a frequent contributor to WJAR-TV (NBC) as a political analyst.

Loughlin is a former three-term Republican state representative who served in the Rhode Island House of Representatives from 2006 to 2010. He also served as a combat helicopter pilot in the Army Reserve and was mobilized for tours in Bosnia and Iraq. He retired from the reserves as a lieutenant colonel.

Loughlin is a graduate of the University of Rhode Island and the New England School of Communications. He is married with two daughters.

In addition to his work in radio and television, Loughlin is also a business owner and consultant. He is the owner of Loughlin Productions, a television, radio, and film production company. He is also a consultant to businesses and organizations on a variety of topics, including public relations, marketing, and crisis communications.

Loughlin is a well-known and respected figure in Rhode Island politics and media. He is known for his sharp wit, his deep knowledge of Rhode Island issues, and his ability to engage his audience in thought-provoking discussions.

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