I am into concrete floors. Or so I hope.
I am about three weeks into the d-i-y house reviving biz and I already know this is gonna take some major courage. Who knew making decisions about flooring would make me excited and scare the hell out of me at the same time. We are talking floors, as in, what-we-walk-on-with-our-nasty-shoes, floors. Except floors are also the first layer of texture. Don’t quote me on that of course. This is all my humble opinion. I did not go to design school much less take an online course. I just know what I like. I like industrial floors and I cannot lie. There I said it.
Another thing I’ve learned about myself is I care and think way too much about what people walking in my house might think. The truth is most people are not going to think about it much at all. In my made up fear they are going to look at my floors and think I have lost my ever loving mind. It’s true, when I tell people I want an industrial imperfect look I usually get a blank stare. I get it. I don’t really know what to expect either but I am so willing to try. And I am willing to stop worrying about what my guests will think of my floors, my house, because they will be on to the next thought quickly anyway. Still, I think after it’s all said and done when guests see what it turns out to be they will think it’s cool. In a Debra sort of way. Meaning it’s the kind of cool that is acceptable in someone else’s house but maybe not in theirs. I am good with that. It’s kind of like a girlfriend said to me about how I dress, “I don’t know how you wear half the stuff you wear, but I like it all, on you.” She meant it as a compliment. Funny thing is I didn’t know I dressed differently than her. I didn’t tell her that.
In the last post I wrote we covered how we ripped out all of the carpet throughout the house. Over the last two weekends we spent working on reviving the concrete sub flooring on the first floor. After some research our initial plan was to sand the concrete using a concrete polisher, fill the holes left from the carpet strips, and ultimately seal the floor with a wet look sealer. We read how the sanding the floors would be really messy, we needed to find and rent a polisher, the over paint from original contractors may not come up, and it was very time consuming. Hmm. Then we read how other people put down a thin layer of self leveling concrete to create a smooth surface. This way seemed a little more costly but less time consuming. Considering we are trying to be in house by the end of the month we bought in to try less time, smooth finish, and less mess.
After making sure all of the carpet tack strips had been pulled up and any glue residue from carpet padding was sanded off we cleaned the floors. We used the dry shop vac to vacuum then “mopped” with a little drop of dish soap in the water and a scrub brush to the floor. Next wet used the wet vac to again. At this point the floor was ready for the layer of adhesive.
We used Eco Prime Grip from Lowe’s Stores. We originally went in looking for another brand but Lowe’s did not carry it. After a quick google none of the stores near us did. A Lowe’s employee and google told us this stuff was equal to the product we were looking to use. It is actually pretty simple to apply. Using a paint roller we rolled a thin layer on the clean and dry floors.
We used the directions on the packaging to determine amount of time is needed for drying the adhesive. The next step is to mix and lay the actual self leveling concrete. I don’t have many photos from this portion because things got real real fast. We had heard to have two buckets going at the same time. We mixed the concrete according to the directions adding just a bit more water. We were trying to get a tomato soup consistency. Once the first bucket was mixed one of us (EP) would use the concrete trowel to spread a thin layer of the mixture onto the floor. The other of us would move on to mixing the second bucket of concrete to have ready. This had to go pretty quickly because the concrete dries quickly.
A problem we ran into was finishing a room when we would have half a bucket of concrete left. We moved onto the next room pretty quick but evidently not quick enough as the we had two half buckets dry enough to become solid. My suggestion would be to have every room completely ready to have concrete put down. We had left some sweeping to be done here and there. In the end this ended up being frustrating and costing us about $30 in wasted concrete.
We used Lowe’s version of self leveling concrete. We bought enough for the use of a pallet. Hello, easier loading into truck! We also decided to over buy and return rather than buy and not have enough. We were covering approx. 1k square foot. We also bought a paint mixer to attach to the drill for mixing the cement and a long handled trowel for spreading. Side note: EP has said he would have rather used the back side of a iron rake.
This was our longest work day yet. We worked hard and by the end of the night we could only speak in blubber terms. We currently live about an hour from the new house. Our drive home was silent on the way home. It is usual for us to singing to the top of our lungs along with George Straight. For some reason, George tunes have been the anthem of our home reno.
After waiting two days for drying, we made the drive back over to see what was waiting for us.
When we walked into the house we saw the dining room first. It was the first room we experimented on. And it was looked pretty good. A bit darker than we thought it would dry but still pretty good.
When we walked into the living area, the master bedroom, and the office/Colt’s room (which the men have dubbed the cigar lounge - Um, no) we were less than thrilled. We had started spreading the concrete thinner than before and didn’t notice. As it leveled the bottom original concrete was showing through which I thought looked like mold. Transitions were a bit rough because we took a bit too long moving from room to room. EP and I felt slightly frustrated but thought we would buck up and lay another thin layer to get it “right”.
But when we went back to work a few days later I saw it in a different light and I made the crazy decision to seal it as is with all of it’s imperfectness. It had some “texture” in varying strokes, etc. If we put another layer down it would have been perfectly smooth and all one color. Almost like paint. I didn’t want that. However, I was freaking out when the first brush of sealant went down but it also felt exciting. Weird much? Yes.
In case you care, we used Valspar Wet Look Acrylic Sealer. Again, we were looking for a different brand but alas this is what our store had that was a viable option. It goes on using a paint roller. I thought it would be much thicker than it was. We wore masks to help with the intense fumes.
We left quickly after it was done to escape the fumes. We heard to give a good couple of days to dry. We have yet to be back and see what is waiting for us. Eek! I hope those paint lines are gone. Oh please, pretty please. I will update to add finished pics when we go back.
Next we will tackle the pine wood floors on the second floor and stairs. I’ve pretty much decided to copy the pine flooring for the entry way downstairs and in the kitchen/breakfast area. They currently have tile.