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Schönox Protects Layers of Historic Subfloor While Providing a New Subfloor for Rouses Market in New Orleans

By James Corbin, regional business manager, Schönox HPS North America


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One-hundred-plus-year old subfloors were kept in place as part of the project plan, including those made from a mixture of crushed oyster shells and mortar with ceramic tile coverings.

Schönox employed its Renotex® 3D system in New Orleans at Rouses Market, protecting history while preparing for a new floor covering. Rouses Market serves customers from its 151-year-old building on ground which has seen various local food service businesses for over 230 years. The history of the site and building as well as the needs of Rouses Market’s customers were all top of mind for the project.

As planning for the flooring project unfolded, floor and subfloor layers from throughout the address’s history were discovered. Clearly, efforts were necessary to preserve those layers and address subfloor challenges.  At the same time, a new floor covering was needed for Rouses Market’s busy grocery business. Schönox worked with Cornerstone Commercial Flooring and Rouses Market to develop the project plan. A look back at the history of the structure was warranted.

At 701 Royal Street in the French Quarter of New Orleans, history is just under the feet of shoppers at Rouses Market.  The first known business to occupy the address was Cadet’s Bakery from 1789 to 1824, where Frenchman Jacques Molon made the best brioche in New Orleans. New bakeries and confectioners would occupy the space as generations lived, developed, and baked at the famous address. A fire in 1871 destroyed much of the original buildings at the address, but rebuilding quickly took place using part of the original structures, their subfloors, and even portions of brick sidewalks remaining in place. The result is the building at 701 Royal Street today.

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Poly sheeting with a class 1 vapor rating was put in place across all subfloor areas, protecting the historic surfaces below.

Crushed oyster shells mixed with mortar with ceramic tile pressed in place make up portions of the current floor space.  Other subfloor areas were composed of concrete in various conditions – much of it vintage 1871. New Orleans’ wet climate, geographic placement, and proximity to bodies of water create an environment of constantly varying hydration with related settling and rising of surfaces. In addition, some subfloor areas had undergone chemical abatement for asbestos materials, leaving a surface difficult to cover with adhesives. All totaled, the subfloor conditions created a challenging set of factors.

Rouses Markets adds its own history to the outstanding French Quarter location. With 65 stores across Louisiana, the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and Lower Alabama, Rouses is an institution with its 62 years in business. In its third generation of family ownership, Rouses Markets is one of the largest independent grocers and fastest growing family-owned companies in the US. With its investment in the heritage of New Orleans paired with its desire to serve customer needs, it was not surprising Rouses management placed primary emphasis on preserving the site’s history, but was also mindful of a secondary emphasis to get the facility back in operation serving customers.

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Schönox Renotex® 3D, reinforcement fabric, was placed followed by a 5/8” pour of Schönox AP Rapid Plus, hybrid active- dry technology based, self-leveling compound.

The project objectives to preserve the underlying subfloor layers while creating a strong subfloor ready for a new floor covering led Schönox and Cornerstone Commercial Flooring to the Renotex® 3D system. The innovative system allows the existing subfloor materials to remain undisturbed and in place with a final smooth, strong surface with 6300 psi compressive strength. “Schönox Renotex® 3D paired with Schönox AP Rapid Plus provided the solutions to all of the project’s objectives with an efficient installation method, renovating the subfloor without need for demolition, all in just a day,” explained James Corbin, Regional Business Manager, Schönox HPS North America.

After removing any loose debris from the project area, poly sheeting with class 1 vapor barrier protection was spread across the subfloor. The barrier decouples the existing subfloor from the materials to be placed above it and retards vapor rising from beneath the subfloor. The poly sheeting was loose-laid over the surface and the seams of the sheeting taped to prevent any liquid subfloor materials from reaching the underlying surfaces.

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The Schönox Renotex® 3D system with AP Rapid Plus remains decoupled from the surface below, drying in roughly 16 hours producing a smooth, strong subfloor ready for covering.

Schönox RS 50 Foam Tape was fitted around the entire active project space, accomplishing several objectives. The foam surface decouples the self-leveling compounds to come from the project site’s walls. The decoupling prevents the sound from foot traffic transmitting up the walls, amplifying those sounds. Schönox RS 50 Foam Tape also creates a dam around the project, containing the self-leveling compounds to be used. Schönox Renotex® 3D, multi-dimensional glass fiber reinforcement fabric, was put in place across the project surface and carefully laid flat. The edges of the material are specially made to overlap. Renotex® 3D provides an outstanding reinforcement layer for the subfloor system, while decoupling the self-leveling compound to come from the surface below.

Schönox AP Rapid Plus, hybrid active-dry technology based, self-leveling compound was poured over the Schönox Renotex® 3D to a depth of at least 5/8”. Hybrid active-dry technology allows Schönox AP Rapid Plus to dry quickly and do so independently of the job site’s environmental conditions. The resulting smooth, strong surface was ready for foot traffic in 2 to 3 hours and floor covering in 16 hours. A commercial floor covering was installed, completing the renovation project with a fully decoupled floor covering and subfloor from the historic surfaces below.

“We were so excited to work with Cornerstone Commercial Flooring on the Rouses Market project in the French Quarter, meeting the objectives of historic preservation and addressing challenging subfloor conditions with an efficient project plan using integrated Schönox subfloor solutions,” commented Corbin. “We hit all the marks on this one and delivered a great subfloor for Rouses Market.”

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The dual project objectives of a smooth, strong subfloor decoupled from the subfloor beneath were accomplished with the Schönox Renotex® 3D system.

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