We moved into our new space. We knew there were some projects to knock out, and we figured it would only take a few days to do them. Little did we know we were about to embark on an eight-day-long, five-person project. Thats a lot of resources! Luckily for us, this project coincided with winter break…so we had some college student help! This may have been the dirtiest, heaviest job we’ve done to date.

In the space is a 100 foot drain, covered in 44 cast iron grates. These grates were caked with years of who knows what….

Jason had the grate idea (pun definitely intended) to make the drainage ditch light up! Corey did a practice run in his garage and declared it would only take two people about 3 days to complete. Seemed reasonable until we got going.

Not only were the grates caked in crud, but the drainage ditch below it had about an inch of accumulated debris as well. Our first task was to clean, clean, clean the grates. We had the college students practice their dental skills and use hand-held wire brushes to clean out all the slots in the grates.

Then, we used an angle grinder to wire brush the remainder of the surface. We went through about 15 wire brush attachments. It was a dirty job. After the grates were clean, we flipped them upside down and started filling the slots with resin. This was not an easy task because each of the grates weighed about 100 lbs. Check out our set-up:

The grates are on top of camping mats to act as a gasket….which you can see wasn’t totally fool-proof. The camping mats are covered in saran-wrap, which made the grates come up easily after the resin had cured. Once we figured a system out, and cleaned all the grates off, we maxed out at being able to pour 14 grates a day. The resin needed 24 hours to cure, and we kept the space at a sweltering 70 degrees for about a week straight. Jason was thrilled.

After the resin was poured and cured in the slots, we poured another thin layer on top of and rolled it out with a paint roller. Then we let that sit and cure for another 24 hours.

With the resin tops curing, we cleaned out the drainage ditch and decided we should paint it white so that we could get the most reflection for the lights we planned on putting in. We placed all the grates and plugged the lights in. Totally rewarding.  The extension cord is a temporary solution for power – its placed right about where our reception desk will be, and a more permanent power method will be employed once we have the lobby area ready.

Repurposing these grates was the best solution for the space. If we hadn’t made these grates safety compliant, they would have ended up in a landfill. ):

Now we have a grate one-of-a-kind feature in our space that will outlive us all!