Scored and stained concrete floors are gaining in popularity in our area, and builders are getting more requests for concrete floors in custom homes, as well as trying them in spec houses for the first time. These are a few tips that will make the experience a little easier and help you achieve the best results.
Start out with smooth concrete. – Make sure the concrete finisher knows the slab will end up as a finished floor. Though less than perfect surfaces will still make for beautiful floors, interior floors should be smooth and shiny. The finishing process is a good time to be on hand to make sure your finisher doesn’t “lose focus” as the day goes on. A good benchmark is to tell the finisher to make it look like a garage floor. The finisher needs to know to finish the concrete all the way to the edge of the slab and up to the corners, even if that involves some handwork. And… NO FOOTPRINTS!!
If there are freestanding electrical floor plugs, cut the canister housing the wires off at, or below where the surface of the concrete will be and cover the canister with duct tape or plastic top. When the slab is poured, the canister will be covered by concrete and the finisher can then finish the concrete smoothly over that area. When the concrete dries you will see a circle on the slab where the canister is and can easily tap out the concrete over the canister, so that the surrounding area will be smooth and flat. This is actually a sound practice whether or not you are doing concrete floors and will make any hardscape easier to install.
Red chalk, black chalk, markers and spray paint. – Do not use red or black chalk for framing! Use blue chalk! Red or black chalk is difficult to remove from the concrete. Also, let the subs know not to write on the concrete with anything other than pencil. NO magic markers, wax pencils, spray paint or other markers, as sometimes they cannot be removed and will detract from the finished floor’s appearance. Pencil will do the job just fine.
Nails and glue – Ask the framers to be extra careful to avoid dripping toe plate glue on the slab and do not shoot nails into the concrete or apply glue to the toeplate in doorways or areas to be stained, or to nail boards to the slab for framing struts. Nails will leave divots when they are removed, and though holes in concrete can be patched, the patch will often show. The glue may leave spots that won’t stain because the glue has sealed that spot.
Ask plumbers to cover the floor with about anything handy when gluing pvc so as not to spill the primer or glue on the concrete.
Paint – Painters must cover their work area on all parts of the slab to be stained. If they are covering the floor with paper, tell them to tape paper to paper and not to the concrete. If they do have to tape to the concrete, they must to use blue tape. Masking tape and duct tape will leave glue on the concrete that will sometimes leave permanent marks, especially after it has been down a while.
Inform your subs – If you let your subs know what’s going on with the floor and ask them to take reasonable care, they will be able to understand the few necessary precautions and the finished floor will benefit.
I hope these tips will be helpful on your next stained concrete project. If you have any questions call me.