The Burlington Mall, located in the greater Boston area, is one of the busiest shopping centers in New England. With over 150 specialty stores that include Filenes, Lord & Taylor and Macy's, it is an upscale center built in the early 1970s. Like most centers of that vintage, the mall was in clear need of an aesthetic update to continue attracting preferred customers.

To accomplish this, a warm, neutral palette of unpolished porcelain tile with sandstone and marble accents was selected.

The team assembled to bring the Burlington Mall up-to-date was led by general contractor Whiting-Turner of Baltimore and well-known tile contractor ProFast Commercial Flooring of Ijamsville, Md. ProFast used a complete tile installation system from Custom® Building Products for the project, and Custom provided consulting expertise to determine job specifications and help ensure the desired results.

"We always prefer to use installation products from Custom because we know from experience that they perform to our standards. We also know that Custom will provide support unlike any other manufacturer," said Kevin Killian, owner of ProFast. "In this case, Custom's lifetime warranty also played into our decision. It gives Simon Property peace of mind to know that the installation is covered for life against failure."

According to Killian, the greatest challenge his team of tile installation professionals faced with this project was surface preparation. "When we began the demolition phase, it was more like an archeological dig. Beneath the old ceramic tile, we found sections of 4-inch mud bed, extensive flash patching and some original brick and concrete that dated back decades," he said.

ProFast professionals removed the mud bed and the brick, ground down to the flash patching and reached the original concrete substrate. LevelQuik® RS Rapid-Setting Self-Leveling Underlayment, from Custom, was then applied generously throughout the entire space to fill gaps, correct slopes and create a level, even surface. "We used truckloads of LevelQuik because of the condition of the substrate," said Killian. "All those years of repair and patching left a real mess, but LevelQuik gave us a clean, fresh, level place to start with the new installation."

Custom's RapidSetting Mortar System, a premium, two-part system formulated for time-critical commercial installations, was used to set all floor tile, including the difficult-to-bond porcelain. Its combination of superior bond strength and fast curing allowed ProFast to complete the project quickly, with minimal interruption to the Burlington Mall's operations or inconvenience to its customers. Custom's Marble & Granite Fortified Premium Mortar was used to set marble accents found on the elevator casings, columns and planters. PolyBlend® Grout was used throughout to complete the project.

"This is one of the highest quality tile installations that I have seen," said David deBear, architectural consultant for Custom Building Products. "The tile work is so even that you could roll a marble straight down the entire length of the mall. This is especially impressive considering the challenging demolition and surface preparation that ProFast faced on this job."

The Burlington Mall renovation project was completed in time to welcome shoppers for the 2004 holiday shopping season.