The Wind Creek Casino in Wetumpka, AL, is the second luxury casino hotel completed by American Tile and Marble of Shreveport, LA, for PCI Gaming Authority. With a compressed construction schedule and a round-the-clock, high-traffic business model to support, the specification team on the job chose a complete system of professional-quality underlayments, membranes, mortars and grouts from Custom Building Products of Seal Beach, CA, to set a wide array of glass and ceramic tile throughout the project.

The Wind Creek complex totals 512,000 square feet with over 110,000 square feet of tiled surfaces. The property is the largest casino in Alabama, and it is owned by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians — the only federally recognized tribe in the state. The casino offers a Las Vegas-style atmosphere with dramatic lighting, over 2,500 gaming machines and a raised center bar that boasts a 16,000-gallon shark tank.

Finishes range from beautiful imported glass mosaic to large-format porcelain tile to quarry tile in the kitchens of the five on-site restaurants. A 20-story hotel towers over the casino and all 283 guest rooms and suites include tiled bathroom floors, walls, showers and soaking tub surrounds.

The fast-track job offered many challenging elements for any tile contractor. Since American Tile had also installed the tile at the original Wind Creek Casino in Atmore, AL, its installation team knew precisely which products would make this even larger and more ambitious project a success.

After winning the Wetumpka job, Jeff Blanchard, project manager with American Tile, contacted Custom architectural consultant Chip O’Rear, CSI, CCPR, CTC, CCSMTT, LEED AP. Together, they reviewed the product specifications against the variety of materials to be installed. At the tile contractor’s request — based on past casino and hospitality construction experience — all tile setting materials were standardized to Custom brand products. Vann Clayton, regional technical services representative, and Scott Nalesnick, territory manager, were also part of the Custom team.

“Everyone at Custom has been extremely helpful, knowledgeable and sincere in their efforts to make this project successful,” said Blanchard. “I cannot say enough about the team.”

Surface preparation began with installing expanses of LevelQuik® Rapid Setting Self-Leveling Underlayment. LevelQuik seeks its own level in minutes and was poured up to 1-inch deep to achieve true flatness and an extra heavy rating. Its fast cure rate and early high strength allowed tiling to begin in only four hours.

CrackBuster® Pro Crack Prevention Mat underlayment was specified to help protect the 12- x 24-inch and larger format tiles. A fabric-reinforced asphaltic mat, CrackBuster Pro reduces crack transmission where traffic and subfloor conditions can increase this risk.

Tile size also dictated the choice of mortars. Marble, Granite & Travertine Premium Medium Bed Mortar is a non-slumping formula for use with heavy tiles over 15 inches on any side.  Installers applied it up to ¾ inches thick over the mat to minimize lippage and hold the large body tile in place.

Wind Creek Casino

Wetumpka, AL 

Job Conditions: A compressed construction schedule and a round-the-clock, high-traffic business model to follow for a casino

Products Used: LevelQuik® Rapid Setting Self-Leveling Underlayment; CrackBuster® Pro Crack Prevention Mat; RedGard® Waterproofing and Crack Prevention Membrane; Marble, Granite & Travertine Premium Medium Bed Mortar; ProLite® Large Format Tile & Stone Mortar; Prism® SureColor® High Performance Grout; CEG-Lite™ Commercial Grade 100% Solids Epoxy Grout — all from Custom Building Products of Seal Beach, CA

Tile Installer: American Tile and Marble, Shreveport, LA

Architect:Hnedak Bobo Group, Memphis, TN

General Contractor:Flintco Constructive Solutions, Tulsa, OK

Owner:PCI Gaming Authority, Atmore, AL

Prior to spreading mortar, RedGard® Waterproofing and Crack Prevention Membrane was applied in each hotel bathroom and kitchen. RedGard is a ready-to-use, quick-drying, elastomeric membrane that creates a continuous water and moisture vapor barrier. The application of RedGard ensures a waterproof tile installation system in all intermittently wet areas of the casino.

Tile installation materials used at Wind Creek included three different solutions from Custom’s Emerald System™ of lightweight and environmentally-friendly products. Each one is formulated with CustomLite® Technology for both ease of use and contribution towards LEED® certification. These products are part of Custom’s Build Green® program, which simplifies the selection of environmentally responsible materials. Use of an Emerald System qualified the project for over 38,000 carbon offset credits.

ProLite® Large-Format Tile & Stone Mortar was used to install large-format tile on walls and floors and for setting the extensive glass tile throughout the casino. ProLite’s excellent handling and non-slip characteristics were appreciated by the tile installers. Due to recycled components, ProLite is 40% lighter than traditional mortars — making the bags much easier to move around the jobsite.

Many of the common areas were grouted with Prism® SureColor® High Performance Grout.  “We love Prism’s color consistency, and it is super easy to use,” said Jeff Leggett, job supervisor. Prism is a unique, lightweight, polymer-modified cement-based grout. It offers stronger stain resistance compared to typical cement grouts and consistent color without shading or mottling — regardless of humidity during application. This is an important consideration in most of the country, including Alabama where the casino is located.

Select spaces with quarry tile were grouted with CEG-Lite™ Commercial Grade 100% Solids Epoxy Grout. “CEG-Lite is a great product and cleans up much easier than other epoxy grouts,” said Leggett. CEG-Lite provides exceptional stain resistance and the fast cure time permitted other trades to resume their own work quickly. Recycled components make CEG-Lite easier to spread than other epoxy grouts — without additives — and the first one that contributes to LEED®.

Once again, the team at American Tile and Marble was thrilled with the results. “All of the products performed wonderfully,” said Blanchard. The entire installation qualified for a 25-year system warranty by using a complete system of qualifying Custom products. This quality assurance provides long-term peace of mind for the tile contractor as well as the casino’s owners.