(For an update on how the floors are holding up, 5 months later, click here.)
We’re finishing a room in our basement as part of a Fall In Love room makeover collaboration with a bunch of other fabulous bloggers. Read more about it and find links to all the other bloggers here.
I’m here today to share with you the best kept secret in the DIY world:
Painting floors is ridiculously easy. Fun, even.
But let’s back up a bit.
First we needed to clean out all the crap out of this part of our basement. A lot of stuff got moved into the room next door; a lot more of it went to the thrift store. It started like this:
Here’s Dave taking up a pile of donation stuff to load into the car:
And all finished!
Okay, but one of the problems with getting everything out of this room is that it drew attention to the absolutely horrible floor.
Here’s the before picture of our basement floor:
My friend Kristi, whose basement I have blogged about, used an acid stain on her concrete basement floor. And it looks amazing, so I always figured I’d do the same thing.
Then I really took a good look at the floor.
So I guess what an acid stain does it it kind of reacts with your concrete over a period of time and brings out all it’s beautiful natural variations and all that. Only our floor had nothing beautiful about it, only assorted spills and stains that of every sort that had accumulated over the years. There was even one small place with paint, as if someone had decided to paint the floor and then given up after five minutes.
I also read that you could test your floor to see if it would take the stain well by putting a small amount of water on it and seeing if it soaked in (yay: go stain!) or beaded up (no stain for you!). It soaked in some places and sat stubbornly on the concrete indefinitely in others.
Our floor was not a good candidate for staining.
We weren’t really sure what to do next, since we’d just had it in our head that we’d be doing the acid stain and hadn’t really researched further than this. I did some reading online, but finally we decided to just go to a couple of stores, ask some questions, and see what our options were. We went to Lowes first, where we asked our questions to a very young, very uninformative employee who–not kidding–could not pronounce the word “skid.” We had no idea what he was saying until he actually pointed to the label on the product he was talking about while explaining that they sold “anti-skart” paint for concrete. Skart. Skid. Skart. Skid. Yeah, I don’t know, either. Kids today!
So we tried Sherwin Williams. There an older and wiser sales associate who referred casually to his “many years of painting” showed us this stuff:
So this stuff is called a stain, too. But it’s an opaque stain that says it’s fine for previously painted floors. And the Sherwin Williams guy said it would work. It was on sale (and is through the beginning of November) for around $28/gallon, and we used 2 gallons (and have a lot left over).
Everything I’d read said we’d need to “etch” the basement floor before painting or staining, and the etching stuff was on the shelf right next to this stain. But when I asked about it, my new friend said we didn’t need to mess with it–that we just had to clean the floor thoroughly and then slap the stain right on there. No primer? No topcoat? I asked. He said no. Now, it says on the back of the stain that you MUST etch the floor before you use it. In all caps just like that. So. I don’t know. All I know is that etching sounded like a big pain in the butt and our Sherwin Williams guy said we didn’t need to. I will report back in a few months and let you know how the non-etched floor is holding up.
The stain had a few different color options, but the guy told us we could also get it in any custom color. We ended up with….gray. It was a custom mix (I can’t remember the name of the gray), but I think the gray that was a standard option wouldn’t have looked much different. I really wanted black, but I got nervous at the last second and went with the gray. I wish we’d gone with the black, as I think it would have covered up the ugly spots on the floor better. Also I feel like the gray looks very basement floorish. But! Oh well. I’m planning to cover most of it up with rugs anyway. But the moral is: don’t get nervous; paint everything black!!
Dave used the power sander to try to smooth down some of the rougher spots on the floor (spilled glue? attempts to patch small cracks? who knows what all). This took awhile, and had some effect, but definitely didn’t result in a completely smooth floor. Renting a big sander would not have been overkill. But we had time constraints and also didn’t really care about having a perfectly smooth floor.
Then we scrubbed and rinsed the floor two times. Because it was really dirty. The first time we used TSP, and the second time we used Simple Green (affiliate links). This was by far the least fun part of the whole job.
We did the first scrubbing on Saturday night and the second one Sunday morning, then let it dry for several hours before we started painting.
We attached a handle (from the scrubbing brush we bought for doing the floors. But then that one broke. So we attached another one from a push broom we have) to a roller and….painted:
I can’t overemphasize how easy and fast this was. Pour stain in tray, fill roller, roll on floor. Make sure to leave an escape route. The only thing to watch out for is little specks of stuff finding their way into your wet paint and getting them out before they dry there. I did the first coat, and Dave did the second, and I’d say we spent less than half an hour doing each coat (and this is a big room–around 13 by 24). We set up a fan to help it dry faster, since basements in Georgia aren’t known for their low humidity, and it dried really fast.
And now it looks like this:
From another angle:
(I know the color looks a lot different in those; I think the second one is the better representation. Which is too bad since I like how dark it looks in the first one better). I know it’s not that exciting; that it still looks like a basic basement floor…..but just compare it to the before shot, and you’ll see why I’m so thrilled about it.
So, again, I’m a little unsure about how this is going to hold up long term, particularly since we didn’t get the scary sounding, poisonous etching stuff. But worst case scenario we have to paint the floor again relatively soon, and it turns out we LOVE painting floors, so no big deal.
Next up: hanging doors! A task that worries us even more than finishing the floor did.
Follow Along with the Basement Makeover: