Other than the finish on the concrete, nearly all the precautions combined that should be taken to insure the best results when staining & scoring concrete floors take very little time or expense. Here is a list of tips that will help you achieve the best results if you are planning to have concrete floors.
Before the slab is poured, make sure everyone (contractor, concrete subcontractor & finisher) is on the same page as to the surface finish on the slab, which will determine to a great degree what the finished floor will look like.
Though less than perfect surfaces can still make for beautiful floors, interior areas should be as smooth as the finisher can get them. This is a good time to be on hand to make sure that the work is done properly. Make sure the finisher knows to finish the concrete all the way to the edge of the slab. And… NO FOOTPRINTS!!
The electrician should take extra care around freestanding electrical floor plugs by setting the canisters either at or just below grade so the finisher can come over the top of it, eliminating molehills around the canister. When the concrete dries it will dry lighter in color as it is thinner and can be gently broken out and detailed around the circular edge to fit the plate.
Do not cover the slab with tarp or visqueen. It will condense water coming out of the slab and make tiger stripes on the concrete that cannot be removed.
One of the best times to score the concrete is before toe plates go down. By doing so, the scoring options are greater, and the lines will disappear under the walls like grout lines and stone joints. Make sure all subs are informed about areas of the slab that are going to be stained and end up being finished floors, and that they need to take proper precautions.
Do not write on slab with anything except pencil.
If a sub needs to cover a portion of the floor temporarily (a day or two) to cover the area they are working in they must not tape anything to the floor. Covering should be removed as soon as they are done. We will cover the floor after the stain. Covering the floor for any extended period of time can result in lines and marks that will take stain badly. If you have any questions about this please call me.
NO RED CHALK OR BLACK CHALK – Red chalk and black chalk, very often, cannot be removed from the slab. Framers must use blue chalk on all areas to be stained as it can be removed. Also, inform framers to be cautious with the adhesive they use on the toe plates.
NAILS IN THE CONCRETE – Do not shoot nails into the concrete or apply glue to the toeplate in doorways or areas that will be stained when installing toe plates. Nails will leave divots when they are removed and though holes in concrete can be patched the patch will probably still show. Also where glue residue has sealed the concrete it will not stain.
WOOD SEALER – Often framers will seal the decking on the roof or upstairs floor with wood sealer, generally applied with a roller, which will usually spill or drip through joints in the decking. Areas of the slab that will be finished floors must be covered during this process.
SPRAY FOAM INSULATION – If using spray foam insulation please cover the floor during that process in areas where foam residue can land on the slab, especially along inside walls. Wet foam overspray can seal the concrete and make staining very difficult.
NO SPRAY PAINT – MAGIC MARKERS – WAX PENCILS – Do not mark on the slab with anything but a pencil.
NO GLUES, SOLVENTS, SEALERS, CAULKS, ETC. – All subs must cover the concrete when using these types of products on portions of the slab that are or may be stained.
LIQUIDS THAT STAIN – Coffee and colas will often make stains that may not come up, so caution should be used.
SCRATCHES – Avoid dragging heavy objects that will gouge lines or make heavy scratches on areas to be stained.
If the slab is treated for termites and holed have to be drilled in areas where water pipes are in the slab make sure the exterminator knows which areas are going to be stained. Discuss with the person drilling the holes where cabinets will hide the patches or through toe plates. For example, in bathrooms, the holes by the commode can be drilled through the toe plate, which should be close enough and not show the patch when it is finished.
PAINTERS MUST cover their work area on all parts of the slab to be stained. Drop cloths may be used to protect the field. DO NOT TAPE ANYTHING TO FLOOR TO BE STAINED.
Metal objects (nails, blades, paint cans, etc.) that are left on the slab for a long time in the rain will often leave rust marks on the concrete and generally these will be permanent.
Machinery used to provide power for other tools (compressors, generators, etc.) or devices such as pipe cutters that can leak oil or hydraulic fluids should be placed either on areas that are not going to be stained or beside the slab to avoid staining.
As you can see, there are a number of things to consider to get the best outcome. The good part is that they are all pretty easy and commonsense. They are also not expensive. If your subs are informed I am sure they will do their part to make it a successful project. If you have other questions or concerns about scoring, staining or sealing please feel free to call me.