What Are The Pros And Cons Of Stained Concrete Flooring In Homes Decorator Advice

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Stained Concrete Floors - Building Your New House

If you’re in search of a floor treatment that is absolutely indestructible and almost completely maintenance-free, consider an acid-stained concrete treatment. Stained concrete is a technique applied directly to the concrete foundation of your house. The goal is to create a marble or a glazed stone finish at a fraction of the cost.

Specialists apply color directly onto the concrete with an acid stain solution. They use a muriatic acid base. It’s the same thing they use in swimming pools, because it’s chlorine-based. Muriatic acid reacts chemically with the lime in your concrete floor. The color base (a liquid solution) also contains particles of steel, so it rusts into your concrete floor.

You can choose to stain your concrete floor with a single color wash for a marbleized look, or you can choose a detailed pattern that may involve a number of colors. Depending on the finished look you want, the staining specialists may have to cut into your concrete to outline a specific design pattern.

A single design on a brand-new new floor with a large number of cuts (like our three-dimensional kitchen pattern) usually takes about two days, start to finish. The first stain application dries within six hours, then the specialists come back the next day for a second pass.

There are four major steps in the concrete staining process. First, the specialists clean and prepare the floor. They clean the concrete with a mild cleaner like TSP (Tri-Sodium Phosphate) – it’s available in any hardware store or home center. You don’t want to clean with an acid wash, because that acid process will interfere with the acid process that stains and colors the concrete.

Next the specialists cut the pattern you’ve chosen into your concrete floor. For patterns that require fine cutting for very defined lines, they first lay out the pattern like a stencil on the cleaned concrete floor. They recommend that you don’t cut any deeper than an eighth of an inch into the concrete, otherwise those cuts will collect a lot of dirt. Cuts for the Compass Rose are scored 1/8” wide and 1/16” deep.

Timing is everything. Your foundation has to cure for at least six weeks before the specialists can begin to color. If you know you want to stain your concrete floors before you build your new house, then you can cut your chosen pattern into the foundation as soon as three or four days after the foundation is poured.

In the third step, the specialists actually apply the stain mixture to the floor. They use a liquid stain mixed with water. It’s applied with a low-pressure mister, like the kind of mister you’d use to spray for bugs in your garden.

The volume of liquid applied to the concrete determines the depth and intensity of the finished color. When the specialists spray the stain mixture, color doesn’t appear instantly. Immediately after spraying, the floor looks like you’ve simply spread dirt or dust everywhere. That residue is a by-product of the chemical reaction between the lime in your concrete floor and the acid in the staining mixture. It washes away easily with a brush and water once the staining process is complete. Underneath that layer of residue, the chemical reaction occurs, and the concrete accepts colors over time.

The specialists tell us every job is different and unpredictable. Since every concrete foundation has its own unique chemical mixture, every concrete floor reacts differently with the color mixture. It usually takes two or sometimes three applications of acid stain to achieve the color you want. In the first pass, some areas simply won’t react very much. The second or third pass will eventually affect the areas that don’t react the first time.

After a few hours, you’ll see some color emerge. That’s when the specialists determine if you’ll need a second or third pass at applying color to achieve your desired finished look.

You should wax or seal the finished floor to complete the process. The crew doing this house recommends waxing over sealing because the finished look is nicer, and the paste wax won’t peel off or scratch. They apply one or two coats of wax with a machine buffer to give the stained concrete a nice shine.

The acid staining specialists tell us the stained floor will not chip, fade or peel. It will last the lifetime of the concrete floor. The floor “activity” is no different than a tile floor. It stays cool in summer because it’s in direct contact with the ground. If you apply acid stain to your concrete floors in cold climates, you should consider running iron water pipes through the foundation before the concrete pours to heat the floor in winter.

The acid staining process costs less than a tile or hardwood application and about the same as a quality carpet. Since there are no carpet allergens or dust mites to deal with, stained concrete is a smart alternative to conventional flooring for people with allergies. Other than the required re-waxing or re-sealing, these floors are maintenance-free.

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