San Francisco, CA

Argonaut Hotel

Built of solid brick with wood supporting beams hewn from solid fir, the Argonaut Hotel on Fishermen’s Wharf in San Francisco is an example of the durability of 19th century construction. For over a century the 60,000-square-foot building served as a cannery and storage facility for the booming West Coast fishing industry, withstanding the devastating earthquake of 1906 and dozens of other minor quakes and tremors.

The National Park Service acquired the land on which the building stands in the 1980’s and the Haslett Warehouse began its transformation into a historic landmark hotel. Unfortunately, just before the painting and decorating were about to begin, the fourth floor of the building caught fire. 

Although the inferno was doused in a relatively short period of time, the damage was devastating: the atrium, fourth floor and roof were completely gutted. The first, second and third floors were intact, although badly damaged by smoke and the thousands of gallons of water needed to extinguish the flames.

George E. Masker Painting – one of the Bay Area’s oldest and largest painting contracting firms – was selected to complete the final phase of the restoration and it was no small task!

“We had to sandblast the interior surfaces of the brick walls and the exposed wood beams to remove the extensive soot and smoke damage caused by the fire”, said project manager, Jeff Fuchs.

While the brickwork did not significantly absorb the acrid odor caused by the fire, the wood beams certainly did. The project designers wanted to preserve the natural beauty of the wood but were concerned that the fire odor would eventually seep out and permeate the hotel.

SealCoat Enhances Wood’s Natural Beauty 
- and Seals in Fire Odors

Jeff Fuchs was unwilling to take any chances and after consulting with his local paint supplier decided to use shellac-base Bulls Eye® SealCoat™ Universal Sanding Sealer. Shellac is a natural odor barrier and two full coats will completely and permanently block any odor – no matter how strong. 

“We liked the fact that SealCoat dries quickly and since it’s compatible with all finishes, we could use the same product to seal all the affected surfaces,” said Jeff. “We spray applied two coats over the exposed beams, the plywood subfloors and even the drywall ceilings. I figure we must have used about 3,000 gallons of SealCoat to complete the job.” 

According to Jeff, the project managers wanted the beams to have a matte appearance, “so we topcoated them with two coats of flat-finish lacquer. They looked absolutely beautiful when we were finished.” The restored Argonaut is now a beautiful hotel and tourist attraction. Thanks to the fine work of the contractors at George E. Masker Painting and SealCoat, the delicate scent of freshly cut flowers in the atrium is the only fragrance that greets guests when they arrive.

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