Concrete floors in homes are generally covered by carpet or sheet goods. All are expensive and show wear sooner or later. An alternative is to eliminate all the coverings and revert to bare concrete.
You might think bare concrete would be ugly, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are several methods for concrete floor textures so it will rival, or exceed, the beauty and durability of any floor covering you can imagine.
I’ve worked many years with concrete and sometimes I’ve painted it. I have to admit that from all of the options, it’s my least favorite. Still, I’ll give it a run through.
Paint has limited viability when applied as a floor covering. Latex and oil-based paints adhere well but have limited durability. Epoxy paints on the other hand have durability. Still, both paints adherence is dependent upon the condition and preparation of the concrete.
How to paint concrete floor
Step 1: Prepare floor. Remove carpeting. Pull out any carpet tacks and scrape off any adhesive residue. If it’s painted already consider paint removers and follow instructions. Sand floors, use construction vacuum to clean them and wash with soap and water.
Step 2: Roll a base coat in whatever color is your choise. Allow it to dry for at least twenty-four hours before adding the next element.
Step 3: Apply the second layer of paint on the next day. A good way to paint the floor is first doing the border with a brush around the room. Then using a paint roller to finish the floor from one end to another.
It’s important to move so that you can always paint next to fresh paint. You might also paint towards the window, not sideways. Also don’t paint yourself against the wall, that has happened before.
You can also be artistic, use stencils and like if you like. Just remember that you have to live with whatever pattern you choose.
Stamped, overlays, polished, and colored concrete
I lump these together not because they are the same, but because concrete work is expensive. It’s also tough, requires skill beyond what a homeowner can expect to do. Usually must be done during initial construction and may require special concrete formulations.
Stamping concrete is applying a pattern to wet concrete during and immediately after placing the concrete. Overlays are generally thinly troweled materials with patterns and/or textures incorporated during application.
Concrete can be polished with a variety of specialized sanders and polishers. These results in a smooth, shiny surface. Colors can be added to concrete during mixing but more often are applied as powders during finishing and troweling.
How to stamp concrete pours
Stamping concrete or imprinting concrete is one of the most inexpensive ways to add texture and a design to a project. While it may be tempting to plan a large project with complicated designs, it is often best to start small for your first project. After you understand the work and techniques involved, you can try stamping a larger concrete pour.
Like said before, this is mainly done in construction phase, stamping pre existing floor would mean having to do concrete layer to stamp.
If at all possible, plan on pouring some concrete and practicing stamping or imprinting your design before you work on the finished product. You may find that the stamp you use is too detailed, or does not retain the detail that you wish to preserve into the concrete. You may also find that you must pour the concrete into sections, to ensure that you have enough time to correctly stamp the concrete before it sets.
Step 1: Create the concrete pour. This should involve extensive prep work, including creating a foundation, form work, and pouring the concrete. Like said previously, I’d not consider this on old floors without doing new pour.
Step 2: Smooth the surface of the concrete with a trowel and then a rubber float until water starts to appear on the surface of the wet concrete. Stop and wait until the water disappears. This should take no longer than an hour: the concrete may be ready in as little as 15 minutes.
Step 3: Evenly press the concrete stamp into place with your hands. The stamp should press into the concrete no more than 1 inch, depending on the design.
Step 4: If you would like to imprint the concrete with a small, recurring design, you should use a roller made for concrete imprinting. To use the roller, align one edge of the roller with the edge of the concrete pour. Roll the roller to imprint a single row of the image. Continue rolling rows of the image until you have created the pattern you wish to achieve.
Step 5: For large designs, a stamp rug can be used. This large design must carefully be placed on the concrete. Then even pressure must be applied to sink the stamp into the concrete to create the imprint. Then the stamp can be removed. This is essentially concrete stamping on a very large scale: it may help to have a helper to efficiently imprint concrete using this method.
How to polish concrete
Polishing concrete is an easy way to turn a simple slab of concrete into an intentional design element. Polishing concrete is also a good first step before adding stain to the concrete.
The even surface of polished concrete will ensure that the stain absorbs more evenly. This will create professional appearing results. Polishing and then sealing the concrete will also ensure that the concrete remains water-resistant.
If you want to polish your concrete floor, plan on renting a concrete polishing machine. Many home improvement stores will rent one to you. Keep in mind that you will be responsible for purchasing the polishing pads and other materials required to use the polishing machine properly.
Step 1: Like with paint, we need to get the floor clean of anything that we don’t want there. These include stains and dirt etc.
Step 2: Start polishing with a 40 grit diamond polishing pad on the concrete polishing machine. Start from one corner of the floor, and work your way to the opposite end. Make sure to lightly polish the entire surface of the concrete.
Step 3: Continue polishing, first using an 80 grit pad and then a 150 grit pad on the concrete surface. Sweep or hoover the surface, focusing on removing any dust from the polishing.
Step 4: Evaluate the surface of the concrete. If you like the texture and appearance of the floor, you can stop polishing and stain and seal the concrete. If you would prefer a smoother surface, you will have to complete a few additional steps.
Step 5: Apply a coat of concrete hardener with a spray bottle or pump sprayer. Try to achieve a perfectly even layer that has no dry areas or puddles. Let the concrete hardener dry completely before continuing.
Step 6: Continue polishing the concrete with the polishing machine. Start by using a 200 grit polishing pad, then continue with a 400 girt and 800 grit polishing pad until the floor has the desired texture.
Step 7: Apply a coat of concrete stain, if desired, using a paint roller. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions when applying the stain. Some stains can be used just like paints, while others will require a special application process.
Step 8: Seal the surface of the concrete patio using a paint roller. Allow the sealant to dry at least 24 hours before walking on the patio. Plan on waiting an additional week before adding outdoor furniture or other items to the patio.
Concrete stains and dyes
This is where a homeowner can really save money and end up with a superior product. Most concrete floors with a smooth trowel finish can be stained or dyed.
Dyes penetrate concrete for long-lasting color and transparency. Stains on the other hand react chemically with ingredients in the concrete. Preparation and application are labor-intensive but not too strenuous for a handy homeowner.
With a little experimentation, there is no reason why you can’t end up with a floor that looks like the finest marble, wood, tile, or your own concoction of patterns and colors.
How to stain a concrete floor
Applying an acid stain to a concrete floor can is relatively simple and can be easily accomplished with the right supplies.
Things you’ll need: concrete acid stain, 2-gallon spray pump, water, Ammonia, standard paint roller, wet/dry vacuum cleaner, push broom with no metal components, five-gallon bucket or container, painter’s tape, and roll of postal parchment paper.
Step One: Protect your walls and baseboards to prevent acid damage and discoloration. To do this use your blue painter’s tape to completely cover the baseboards in the room you will be staining. Once your baseboards are covered, use your postal parchment and your painters tape to cover the walls.
Postal paper is relatively wide so one piece for each wall for the area over the baseboard should cover it. The wall does not need to be completely covered as this process is to protect the walls from splashing acid which can damage your paint.
Step Two: Remove any excess dirt from the floor surface before beginning the staining process. Using a push broom, sweep any dirt and debris from the floor, starting at the corners and working towards the middle.
Once the dirt is piled up in the center of the room, use your wet/dry vacuum to remove it from the area. Debris left on the floor can cause odd effects in your stain so be sure to remove as much of the dirt as possible.
Step Three: Prepare your stain mix for use. The stain should be mixed in a ratio of one part stain to four parts water and the amount you premix will directly depend on the size of the room to be stained. To mix the solution, fill your five-gallon bucket with water before measuring and adding the appropriate amount of stain solution.
Acid stain should always be added to the water last because it will help prevent splashing. It will also help you control the darkness of the stain you are mixing.
Step Four: Apply the acid stain mixture to the concrete floor using your pump sprayer. Carefully lift your five-gallon bucket and fill the tank on your pump sprayer to ready it for use.
There are a variety of sprayers that will work for this purpose. Make sure to use one that has only plastic parts as the hydrochloric acid will react violently with metal. Begin applying the stain by spraying the entire floor in a circular fashion.
Spray each area of the floor until it is thoroughly wet. Avoid over-spraying and leaving puddles as this will cause odd etching and patterns in the stain. Once the entire floor has been sprayed with the stain, allow the floor to sit untouched to dry. About an hour would be good before repeating the spraying process for a second coat.
Step Five: Once your second coat (or third depending on preference) has dried, you will need to neutralize the hydrochloric acid in the stain. This way it is no longer potent and harmful.
To do this, mix a solution of one-part ammonia to four parts water and pour it into the tank of your spray pump. Spray the solution and thoroughly soak the entire concrete floor. Avoid over-spraying and creating puddles. Allow a few hours for the solution to dry on the floor.
Step Six: Clean the floor to prepare the concrete for the sealing solution. Once your ammonia spray has dried, use a clean mop and your wet/dry vacuum to remove any excess water on the floor. Avoid using used mops and brooms because they tend to spread dirt and water instead of picking it up and absorbing it.
Step Seven: Apply a clear gloss concrete sealing solution to protect the stain from wear. The concrete seal comes in several different varieties and can be purchased easily at your local hardware store.
Follow the mixing instructions on the package and then, using a standard paint roller, roll on an even coat of sealant to the entire stained area. In most cases you will get the best result with two coats of sealant, so allow a few hours for drying in between the application of the first and second coats.
Once the second coat has been rolled, leave the room unattended for an entire day. After that remove the protective wall and baseboard coverings. At this time the room should be fully functional again and you can begin bringing furniture back in and resume activities as normal.
Concrete acid stain contains hydrochloric acid which is highly dangerous to the skin. Be sure to wear adequate protective clothing and equipment while working with this chemical.
The chemicals used in this process all put off fumes that can be potentially hazardous when inhaled. This project should be completed in a well-ventilated area to avoid accidental poisoning.
These were some of the most common DIY concrete floor textures I’ve come upon. Stamped concrete is usually its own thing while polishing and staining can be combined for the marble-like look and other options as well.
There isn’t any limit on what you can or should do. You can have your whole house full of different kinds of concrete floors as anything can be imitated.