1846 Homestead Renovation

A Colossal Error in Concrete Staining

The stained floor in the kitchen

We decided that stained concrete was the way we wanted to go with flooring in the new addition.  Stained concrete is inexpensive and it is durable..  Unfortunately, ours has big problems and I am not sure how to fix it.

It Started Off So Well…

Jerry and I went to Dallas to a concrete staining store.  They had everything we would ever need to be successful.  We looked at all the products, colors, and tools.  We were ready to commit that day to purchasing what we needed.  I had a clear idea of what I wanted the floor to look like.  Neither of us wanted a solid color.  We liked the marbled-effect that we had seen on the Internet.  Jerry and I viewed how-to videos and images of stained floors until we were fairly certain we were ready to decide what color and effect we wanted.

That was the easy part.  We entered the showroom and looked at our options.  Jerry and I found a floor that we really liked and began our conversation with the salesman.  He, the salesman, calculated the amount of product we needed and sold us a truck load of materials.  We brought it all to the house. While Jerry was at work, I began the process of staining the floor.

We also watched countless videos on how to stain concrete floors and, once we had decided on a product, we quizzed the salesman for even more information.  We knew that there could be problems associated with stained concrete flooring and we wanted to make certain we did everything we could to avoid them.

First, the Acid

The first step in avoiding stained concrete flooring problems is to get the right concrete.  The foundation guys knew that we were planning on staining the concrete and made sure that we had the concrete that would accept stain.  We began the staining process before there was any sheet rock installed to prevent splatter disasters (another set of stained concrete flooring problems to avoid!).  There I was, in stocking feet, spraying acid everywhere and then rinsing the acid off with water.  The fireplace had not been installed yet so there was a huge gaping hole in the living room through which the acid rinse water gladly escaped.  Things were going so well.

I worked until after dark spraying the stain so that it would be dry the next morning.  Then, I would paint on the two or three coats of sealant.  Jerry and I would then cover the floor with paper and welcome in the spray foam guys, the sheet rock guys, and the painter.  We really were trying to avoid as many stained concrete flooring problems as we could and we thought we were doing a great job.  With that much care and concern, what could go wrong?  Everything it would seem.

The Floor Looked Great

We were thrilled with the way the floor turned out.  It was a blue-gray and black swirly marble effect.  The sealant was glossy.  It was just a beautiful floor.  I was so excited!  We covered the beautiful floor with paper and let the building process continue.

When the paper was removed, we had a problem.  The spray foam guys had used a huge lift in order to spray the ceiling.  They realized they were tearing the paper and brought in a huge canvas to cover the floor.  Unfortunately, we had sticky foam adhered to the floor in places.  When the spray foam guys were gone, we put down another layer of fresh paper to protect the floor.  The sheet rock guys came in and threw screws and nails in the floor.  They then walked on them, ripping the paper and scratching the floor.  Great.

Where the first piece of tape removed the stain.

We put down another layer of paper before the painter showed up to paint the ceiling and the walls.  However, we removed the paper so we could install the baseboards and begin to clean up.  That is when the painter suggested we put a strip of tape on the floor in order to prevent getting paint on the floor while painting the baseboards.  Guess what?  The paint pulled the water-based concrete stain off of the floor.

Now, not only do we have scratches and gouges, we also have patches where the color is just flaking off the floor.

What Went Wrong?

Great question.  I have been all over the Internet trying to figure this out.  Obviously, screws and nails and heavy equipment are going to scratch a floor no matter what.  Tape should not pull stain up unless the concrete didn’t accept the stain to begin with.  I found that there are a couple of reasons why this could happen.  One, if the concrete isn’t mixed to accept stain, it won’t.  Two, if you apply too much product, the product will flake up.  We returned more than half of the product we purchased, so I am pretty confident that isn’t the issue.  I can’t verify if the concrete mix was compatible for staining.

Possible Solutions

The Q-tip repair method

At this point, none of that matters.  I have a floor in need of rescuing and, of course, that floor now has rugs and furniture sitting on it.  It isn’t going to be an easy fix.  In fact, I think it is going to be a major pain in my backside.  I have started trying out methods to repair the floor.  We kept some of the staining product.  In the master bathroom, I sat in the floor with a puddle of stain in front of me and used Q-tips and patted the product around.  This made a nice mottled pattern, much like the original.  It took way too long.

The spray-bottle method

In the guest bathroom, I used a small spray bottle to mist stain over problem areas.  Sure enough, I got stain on the baseboards even though I used a shield and was being very careful.  The spray bottle dripped and so I have nice big drip marks in the floor that do not look like the original pattern, but are better than the holy mess that I did have.

I think I will try a couple of other methods in small areas before I commit to doing the big open area in the kitchen, living room and dining room.

Is the Sealant the Problem?

I also need to figure out if another issue is the sealant.  Maybe I need to use a poly for concrete to seal it.  We have to figure out how to protect the floor once I repair it, or we will be repairing it again and again.  That wasn’t the plan when we opted for low maintenance, stained concrete floors.  My biggest fear is that to get the beautiful floors we dreamed of, we may need to start from scratch.  That would involve sanding the floors and that would be a huge mess.  I wish I could learn to love the imperfections in the floor (I do love the cracks), but neither Jerry or I are too excited about the finish peeling up all over the house.

Wish us luck…or let me know if you find any rugs on sale.

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