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(picture from our home tour on The Gathered Home)
First off, we had to use nasty chemicals because of the glue from carpet and linoleum so we tried a bunch of stuff but ended up working with adhesive remover with methanol and methyl chloride and scrapers.. Down on our knees. For hours. It was tiring. I have memories of slipping in said chemical and falling onto a puddle of it. It burns. I had to run to the shower and jump in fully clothed. It's obvious, but don't fall into this stuff.
I told you we went in stages, we did the girls room and the guest bath first, because I knew that would be a nursery someday and wanted it done before any babies were in existence.
I must say, I think these two rooms turned out the best and have held up the best. I think I have an idea why so I'll make sure and share that.
We used Etching Stain in the color 'coffee' which you can find on amazon or we originally bought ours at Lowe's. At least when we first bought it, there was an instructional DVD with steps and ideas. After we prepped the floor, you get the floors wet with tap water and then use a garden sprayer to apply the stain to the floor. We did this before we had baseboards in any rooms. The sprayer wand gives you good control over where the spray goes, so we didn't have to tape off walls or anything before starting. If you do have baseboards and don't want to repaint them, I suggest being careful but also using painters tape.
Another precious memory of mine and something you can learn from... After our first go round with the girls rooms, we did the laundry room and kitchen into the dining room. When you have lots of pressure built into the garden sprayer DON'T OPEN THE LID. The etching CHEMICALS will spray out all over you and leave spots on your clothes and body. Luckily the spots weren't permanently etched onto my skin but they also stung... DIY is not for the faint of heart, y'all. This stuff smells too, only do it when the weather is nice enough to have the windows open to whole time.
After you spray the stain, there's a wait time before you can keep working. I want to say it's 24 hours but I don't remember anymore. Also, don't be freaked out if the stain looks bright orange on the floors. It won't for long. Promise.
Once the wait period is up you mix water and baking soda in a bucket and pour it onto the floor. This neutralizes the acid and turns the stain lime green. Again, don't freak out. You're supposed to keep mopping and cleaning the floors until the water is clear. Let me just tell you, this NEVER happened. I don't know how much longer we would have had to mop but we never got clear water. We used a wet vac and a squeegee to get the floors clean and dry.
After this, we put fans on the floors and let them dry for 24 hours I think. After the floors are dry, it's time to paint on the epoxy. Use a paint roller for smooth surfaces with one of these so you don't kill your back. The epoxy coating we used is here. The epoxy goes much further than the stain. Because we did it in sections, we ended up throwing some of the epoxy away (it doesn't keep because it's formulated to harden). It just worked better for us to do it in sections so we were willing to re-buy the product a few times. If you aren't living in the house as your staining the floors, it's way more economical to use a whole gallon at a time if you can.
We got pregnant and had a big trip to Italy planned so since I was with child, while we were in Italy, our sweet families came over and finished the living rooms and hallway for us. That was the best gift ever, let me tell ya. We moved all of our furniture into the dining room and kitchen before we left and they stained and sealed it, let it set and put all of our furniture back before we got home. I highly recommend this type of DIY if you can swing it. ; )
Nickerbean One came along and when she was about 1, I stained the playroom floor because we wanted it to be her room when we had another baby. Then like I said, our room and bathroom came much later. A lot of that was because we knew we wanted to redo the layout of our bathroom and didn't want to have spots of grey where the walls had been moved. You can read about our bathroom design decisions here.
Ok, so if you're thinking stained concrete might be the floors for you, here are some things to consider. If you're a perfectionist, and you live in an old house, these are NOT the floors for you.
You can see paint spots left over from your contractor, you can see glue spots that you might have missed during the horrible scraping process and if your slab has cracks, you can see those too.
I've mentioned before that we removed walls, you can see those lines on our floors too. And see the holes? Those were left from carpet strips.
You can patch those with concrete and we did in a few of the bigger spots but we like having holey floors so there ya go. You can see some patches in the picture below. They are cloudy around the edges because the concrete must not have dried out all the way before we epoxied.
The picture below, where there's grey, is where we didn't get all the glue off the floors before staining. The wear and tear seems to have chipped away the color and the sheen. This is the playroom so it really does get tons of wear and tear.
I told you earlier that the girls room and the guest bathroom have held up the longest. Here's what I think is different about those rooms.When you mix the epoxy, there's an option to add a packet of clear sand stuff that creates a non slip texture to the floors. I believe it comes with it but I linked to some here. I'm not sure that this is the difference and I only used half of the bag in these rooms but I feel like it makes the finish stronger or the grit helps from things scrapping or sticking to the floors. Since then, I used the same stuff in our room and bathroom so hopefully they'll stay stronger too.
Once you paint on the epoxy, it needs like 24 hours to dry to foot traffic and then about 72 hours before you can put furniture back in the room.
If you look closely at the picture below, you can see some spots where the finish has come up. See how they are greyer? That's what it looks like. Sometimes when I stand at the end of the bar part of our kitchen, its like my bare feet stick to the floor there and sometimes pick up the finish.. I should really stop standing there but it's my thing.. Every now and then I paint some modpodge over the spots that are chipping in order to protect them from chipping further.
Ok so lets review. We love our stained concrete floors. They are such an affordable option for flooring and someday, if we want to, we can install flooring right over what we've got with no problems. The close ups that I've shown you are really only noticeable to us in real life and we always get compliments on the floors when new people come over.
I think I've remembered most of the details. The instructions with the stain will give you the step by step and the actual timeline for dry times. Not the ones I just made up. : )
If you have any questions, please let me know! I'd love to hear if you're considering stained concrete.
Thanks for reading, friends.
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