DCI News

DCI: The Choice In Restoring Historic Buildings In Minneapolis And St. Paul

Two buildings. One in downtown Minneapolis, one in St. Paul’s Midway district needed restoration help. They were historic in nature, but paint (both lead-based and non-lead) needed to be soda blasted from these grand structures so they could be converted to condominiums and not torn down.

We’ll give you one guess which contractor was selected to get the job done.

Time’s up.

Yes, they called DCI.

Using our state-of-the-art blasting equipment, DCI soda blasted away paint from more than 260,000 square feet of surfaces within the six-story building in Minneapolis.

In St. Paul, DCI removed paint from more than 180,000 square feet of surfaces in that building, which is also six stories tall.

In each case, the surfaces varied. In Minneapolis: multiple types of brick were involved (soft and hard, smooth to rough), as was basic concrete.

In St. Paul, the challenge was to remove paint (multiple types and layers) from structural wood and wood decking with minimal damage, so the exposed wood surface could be used as a finished product.

In both cases, the first move was to talk with the building owner and the Historic Landmark Society to determine the best blast media to effectively remove the multiple layers of paint and, more important, maintain the integrity of the surfaces. Minneapolis: brick and concrete. St. Paul: wood.

To get this done, several different types of blast media were tested — or considered — including sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), glass beads, walnut shells or magnesium sulphate, just to name a few.

In the end, it was determined that the same material — Black Diamond (coal slag) — was best for both buildings.

So DCI went to work, restoring and beautifying each structure. In Minneapolis, the bricks look like they’ve just been laid. In St. Paul, the wood looks like it just came from the sawmill.


Again, DCI’s more than 10 years of experience and expertise lies in performing media blasting on projects where it is critical to minimize surface damage that can occur during sand blasting or even high pressure washing.

DCI’s equipment gives us the ability to not only utilize a wide variety of blast media, but also provides the added value of adjusting air pressure to get the desired results.

Trying To Preserve History? Try DCI

When it comes to restoring historic buildings, we’re often asked why DCI is the best possible option.

Our answer (mentioned in a previous blog) is the “Three E’s”: Expertise, Experience and Equipment.

Expertise and experience. Not to be flip, but we’ve done this before. We’ve gone into 100-year-old buildings, determined what needed to be done and delivered a beautiful restoration of a given structure. And we’ve done it time and time again.

Equipment. We have invested in state-of-the-art equipment to complete any project.

That equipment, using different types of soda blasting media (i.e. baking soda, coal slag) under high pressure, will clean and restore a myriad of surfaces throughout a building. Our equipment is also adjustable. That means we just don’t go in and blast all of the character away in a single swoop.

Some customers, for example, might want just a bit of paint removed from a wall or a railing. Some might not want any taken off at all, merely to preserve the history of the structure. Our equipment allows — more than anything — flexibility. We work to suit the clients’ needs, whatever they are.

Another question we get is how is DCI’s high-pressure treatment superior to chemical treatment for removing lead paint.

Again, a simple answer. We’re kinder to the environment. Don’t get us wrong. Getting rid of lead paint via chemicals works great. It will indeed strip it off. The downside? The chemical solution is way more expensive, and much slower than our process. Plus, that paint and paint remover has to be treated as a hazardous waste.

When DCI is finished removing lead paint, the residue goes to a normal landfill. It’s not hazardous waste. And again, with our equipment, we can control how much paint can be removed. That’s not always the case with a chemical treatment.

Yes, every job is different. Every historic structure has unique challenges. We invite you to make side-by-side comparisons with other companies. But we’re extremely confident that in the end, DCI is the smartest choice for any project.

DCI’s Blasting Experience, Expertise Unmatched By Competition

What makes DCI different from our blasting competition? That’s a pretty easy question to answer.

As we tried to explain in our last blog, we have the experience to know exactly what type of blasting material (media) is needed for the job at hand.

For example, DCI recently helped restore historic properties in Minneapolis and St. Paul. In both of those instances, we blasted using Black Diamond (coal slag) media under high pressure to remove both lead based paint and non-lead paint.

We selected that blasting medium after studying the paint on the surfaces of what needed to be cleaned.

There are also instances where we blasted glass beads to clean or restore a surface, as well as a high-pressure soda blast using baking soda (sodium bicarbonate).

Baking soda? Yes, common baking soda has — over the past several years — emerged as an environmentally-friendly alternative to sand blasting as a way to clean various surfaces.

There are several reasons for this. The primary benefit of blasting with baking soda is that it’s 100 percent biodegradable. It’s also non-abrasive, won’t pit surfaces (if applied properly) and can be utilized safely on multiple materials and surfaces.

Sand blasting — which works very quickly to remove paint, for example — has been known to damage surfaces due to its high abrasion. It also creates excessive heat from impact, which may warp or deform the surface being treated.

Whatever media DCI would choose to use, people should always remember that we use state-of-the-art equipment to make sure that material is applied properly. Blasting pressure too high? We adjust to make sure underlying surfaces are not damaged or destroyed.

The bottom line: We know our media, we know our equipment and through years of experience, we know what to do to provide the best — and responsible — service to our customers.

Why DCI For Mold Remediation?

That’s a pretty strong headline for a blog: ‘We know what we’re doing.’ But to be honest, it’s not only the truth, but the core of our service. We have experience dating back to 1980. That’s 32 years — and counting.

If you look at our website, under ‘Our Services’ — we list 10 areas of expertise. One area we’re most proud of is Mold Remediation, the safe elimination of a potentially-hazardous, always-ugly mold and the mess that comes with it.

When DCI tackled its first mold remediation projects, we went to residential homes to not only remove mold, but clean the areas affected by the mold so you couldn’t tell there was a problem in the first place.

As word spread that we knew how to tackle the devastation mold can leave behind, it wasn’t long before hospitals called us. Hospitals. Let that sink in a bit. A building that relies on keeping people safe so they can recover from illness or injury calls DCI to ask us to solve their mold problems. That’s flattering for us, and hopefully impressive for you. From there, commercial buildings and hi-tech manufacturers became part of our mold remediation rotation.

Again, why us? Let’s call it the ‘Three E’s: Expertise, Experience and Equipment. In 2012, you can have a wealth of knowledge of how to correct a problem, but you also need the right tools to the get the job done right. DCI has invested in those tools and we’re now a leader in the mold remediation sector of the service industry.

Mold remediation. That’s just one of 10 areas where we can help you. Other areas include Fire and Water Restoration, Asbestos Abatement and Soda Blasting, just to name a few. Please click around on our website, get familiar with what we do, and give us a call.

Why? Because we know what we’re doing. And sometimes, you can’t always put a price on that.

State Fair Calls DCI For Sidewalk Cleaning

Cheese curds. Ketchup. Petrified French Fries. Those are just some of the stains DCI soda blasted away on more than 12,000 square feet of concrete sidewalks on the Minnesota State Fairgrounds this summer.

DCI used a process called media blasting to not only get rid of the stains, but remove the existing coating and sealer on the selected sidewalks. The State Fair is testing a new concrete sealer, and called in DCI to help prepare the way.

DCI used two types of ‘media’ for the blasting project: Sodium Bicarbonate (baking soda) and glass beads. Those, according to DCI experts, were the best ways to minimize surface damage to the concrete and remove the concrete sealer. Some companies will use sand blasting or high pressure washing to get the job done, but sometimes that can further damage the concrete surface.

Armed with experience and knowledge, DCI found that those two materials — Sodium Bicarbonate and glass beads — performed best in this case given the existing concrete conditions.

DCI has more than 10 years experience in performing media blasting on projects as an alternative to sand blasting. Our equipment gives us the ability to use a wide variety of blast media depending on the conditions of the concrete. DCI also provides the added value of adjusting air pressure to get the desired results.

What’s next? We’re hoping the Fair will have us clean all the concrete surfaces on the grounds, which — as you might imagine — will get a huge workout during the fair!