Stair Renovation Improves Safety at National Harbor Parking Garage


Stair Renovation Improves Safety at National Harbor Parking Garage

Tim Brennen


With an array of fine and casual dining, drinking, shopping, hotels, and activities along the Potomac River, The National Harbor in National Harbor, Maryland, truly is a unique waterfront destination. Visitors can take a spin on the Capital Wheel, a 180-foot Ferris wheel which offers breathtaking views of the National Harbor and the Potomac River, the Washington Monument, Alexandria, Virginia, Georgetown, and more. There is also the Carousel at National Harbor, a 36-foot Americana-themed carousel featuring whimsical creatures for those who want to keep their feet closer to the ground. 


The Fleet Garage is conveniently located adjacent to both attractions, providing drivers with a convenient, covered garage with ample parking spaces. While the Fleet Garage is easy to get to, deteriorating nosing strips on the steps within the facility posed a challenge for visitors who had to methodically work their way down the interior stairwells. This was until Consolidated Waterproofing Contractors rejuvenated the steps with Stairmaster safety renovation treads – now the non-slip surface allows visitors to hurry to their intended destination without fear of spinning out on the deteriorating steps.


Scope of the project


The Fleet Garage is a multi-level covered garage housing 1,490 parking spots that was constructed in 2008. It is open 24/7, including holidays, and offers self-serve amenities including air, vacuuming, window cleaning and EV charging on the second level. While Fleet Garage protects vehicles housed within it from the elements, the walkways leading to the Carousel, Capital Wheel, and the many establishments along the Fleets Street entertainment district are not covered. 


So, National Harbor visitors inadvertently bring the salt, calcium chloride, and other de-icing and snow melting techniques used on walkways into the garage. These wreaked havoc on the precast concrete stair nosing strips that were originally installed, degrading the surface and causing the concrete to flake and chip in many spots.


Rather than replace the stairs, a monumentally expensive undertaking, or simply skim coat the affected surfaces, which would undoubtedly result in repeated degradation in the future, Beltsville, Maryland’s Consolidated Waterproofing Contractors Inc. installed Stairmaster safety renovation treads in the three public access stairwells to the garage, covering 352 stairs. The engineer of record that had designed and directed CWC is Desman, a Virginia based group of engineers.


The Installation Process


A heat treated, corrosion resistant extruded aluminum substrate with a mill finish forms the base of the Stairmaster product. It has a beveled edge and countersunk holes and is supplied with concrete screws to serve as anchors. The aluminum base is filled with a nearly diamond-hard aluminum oxide filler that provides sure footing, even when wet. Nine-inch deep nosings were supplied in widths to match the stairs onto which they were to be installed. 


All materials were shipped from Wooster Products’ Wooster, Ohio factory on skids that were clearly marked with the nosing dimensions, so that they could be placed at the appropriate locations on site. 


The first step of the installation process saw Consolidated crews removed original embedded cast aluminum 3” grip treads with demolition equipment. Each step was then refinished with air entrained concrete to level the structural surface. Then, leveling compound was troweled on to a feathered edge with a board held against the front edge of the step allowing the concrete to cure for several days. 


Once the concrete was fully cured, CWC crews placed the designated tread on the respective step and drilled a pilot hole using a 5/32” masonry drill bit into the steps, aligned with the corresponding countersunk holes on the treads. The step and the back of the tread were then coated with Wooster Products’ rubber-based construction adhesive. With the tread placed in position, anchors were driven through the tread with a Phillips head screwdriver. 


After the treads were fastened, the stairwell was freshened up with a new coat of paint on the risers, stringers, and around the treads. Consolidated Waterproofing crews completed the stair tread installations in each stairwell in approximately three weeks per stairwell, yielding nine weeks of work.


With a high coefficient of friction, even when wet, Stairmaster provides an anti-slip surface that is impervious to the effects of salt, calcium chloride, and other materials that can be detrimental to bare concrete. This 2015 IFC code compliant product is guaranteed to last five years, but typically lasts much longer. That’s good news for the owners of the Fleet Garage, but even better news for the customers who are, no doubt, hurrying to the many dining, drinking, shopping, and recreational opportunities that await them at the National Harbor.


Tim Brennen, Wooster Products, can be reached at (800) 321-4936, or

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Tim Brennen, Wooster Products
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