| Decorative Concrete Floor

ost people are accustomed to thinking of concrete primarily as a utilitarian substance, but it can also mimic a variety of flooring types and be a colorful and beautiful addition to your basement room.

Concrete is a hard and durable building material, but it is also porous—so it is susceptible to staining. Many stains can be removed with the proper cleaner, but sealing and painting prevents oil, grease, and other stains from penetrating the surface in the first place; and cleanup is a whole lot easier.

Even after degreasing a concrete floor, residual grease or oils can create serious adhesion problems for coatings of sealant or paint. To determine whether your floor has been adequately cleaned, pour a glass of water on the concrete floor. If it is ready for sealing, the water will soak into the surface quickly and evenly. If the water beads, you may have to clean it again. Detergent used in combination with a steam cleaner can remove stubborn stains better than a cleaner alone.

There are four important reasons to seal your concrete floor: to protect the floor from dirt, oil. grease, chemicals, and stains; to dust-proof the surface; to protect the floor from abrasion and sunlight exposure; and to repel w’ater and protect the floor from Ircc/c-1 haw damage.

Tools & Materials ►

Concrete cleaner

High-pressure washer

\cid-tolerant pump

Paintbrush

Sprayer

Respirator

Alkaline-base neutralizer

Stiff-bristle broom

Sealant

And brush

Rubber boots

Extension handle

Rubber gloves

Roller tray

Wet vacuum

Acid-tolerant bucket

Eye protection and

Work gloves

Garden hose with nozzle

Paint roller and tray

Primer

Painter’s tape

Plastic sheeting

Garden sprayer

Concrete stain

Solt-wovcn roller cover

Clean and prepare the surface by first sweeping up all debris. Next, remove all surface muck: mud, wax, and grease. Finally, remove existing paints or coatings.

Saturate the surface with clean water. The surface needs to be wet before acid etching. Use this opportunity to check for any areas where water beads up. If water beads on the surface, contaminants still need to be cleaned off with a suitable cleaner or chemical stripper.

 

Test your acid-tolerant pump sprayer with water to make sure it releases a wide, even mist. Once you have the spray nozzle set, check the manufacturer’s instructions for the etching solution and fill the pump sprayer (or sprinkling can) with the recommended amount of water.

Add the acid-etching contents to the water in the acid — tolerant pump sprayer. Follow the directions (and mixing proportions) specified by the manufacturer. Use caution and wear safety equipment.

(continued)

 

Apply the acid solution. Using the sprinkling can or acid — tolerant pump spray unit, evenly apply the diluted acid solution over the concrete floor. Do not allow acid solution to dry at any time during the etching and cleaning process. Etch small areas at a time, 10 x 10 ft. or smaller. If there is a slope, begin on the low side of the slope and work upward.

Use a stiff-bristle broom or scrubber to work the acid solution into the concrete. Let the acid sit for 5 to 10 minutes, or as indicated by the manufacturer’s directions. A mild foaming action indicates that the product is working If no bubbling or fizzing occurs, it means there is still grease, oil, or a concrete treatment on the surface that is interfering. If this occurs, follow steps 7 to 12 and then clean again.

 

Once the fizzing has stopped, the acid has finished reacting with the alkaline concrete surface and formed pH- neutral salts. Neutralize any remaining acid with an alkaline — base solution. Put 1 gal. of water in a 5-gal. bucket and then stir in an alkaline-base neutralizer. Using a stiff-bristle broom, make sure the concrete surface is completely covered with the solution. Continue to sweep until the fizzing stops.

Use a garden hose with a pressure nozzle or, ideally, a pressure washer in conjunction with a stiff-bristle broom to thoroughly rinse the concrete surface. Rinse the surface two to three times. Reapply the acid (repeat steps 5,6,7, and 8).

 

If you have any leftover acid, you can make it safe for your septic system by mixing more alkaline solution in the 5-gal. bucket and carefully pouring the acid from the spray unit into the bucket until all of the fizzing stops.

Use a wet/dry vacuum to clean up the mess. Some sitting acids and cleaning solutions can harm local vegetation, damage your drainage system, and are just plain environmentally unfriendly. Check your local disposal regulations for proper disposal of the neutralized spent acid.

 

To check for residue, rub a dark cloth over a small area of concrete. If any white residue appears, continue the rinsing process. Check for residue again.

Let the concrete dry for at least 24 hours and sweep up dust, dirt, and particles leftover from the acid-etching process. Your concrete should now have the consistency of 120-grit sandpaper and be able to accept concrete sealants.

Thoroughly clean the entire floor (see page 165). Use painter’s tape and plastic sheeting to protect any areas that won’t be stained, as well as surrounding walls and other surfaces. Test the spray of your garden sprayer using water: It should deliver a wide, even mist.

Dampen the floor with water using a garden sprayer. Mop up any pooled water, but make sure the entire floor is damp. Load sprayer with stain, and then apply the stain evenly in a circular motion until the concrete is saturated. Let the floor dry.

 

Remove the etching residue by

Soaking the floor with water and scrubbing vigorously with a stiff-bristled brush. As you work, clean up the liquid with a wet/dry vacuum. Dispose of the waste liquid safely, according to local regulations.

When the floor has dried completely (at least 18 to 24 hours), begin applying the sealer along the edges and in any hard-to-reach areas using a paintbrush.

Using a %" nap roller, apply the sealer in 2 x 6-ft. sections, maintaining a wet edge to prevent lap marks. If the sealer rapidly sinks into the concrete, apply a second coat after 2 hours. Let the floor dry for 18 to 24 hours before allowing light foot traffic and 72 hours before heavy use.

If you expect to use more than one container of paint,

Open them all and mix them together for a uniform color. You do not need to thin a paint for use on a floor, unless you use a sprayer that requires thinned paint.

Using a nylon brush, such as a 2V2" sash brush, cut in the sides and corners with primer. This creates a sharp, clean edge. Start this way for the top coat as well.

 

Using a roller pad with the nap length recommended by the manufacturer, apply a primer coat to the surface. Start at the corner farthest away from the door and back up as you work. Allow the primer to dry for at least 8 hours.

With a clean roller pad, apply the first top coat. Make the top coat even but not too thick, and then let it dry for 24 hours. If you choose to add another top coat, work the roller in another direction to cover any thin spots. Let the final coat dry another day before you walk on it.

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