How-to: Acid Staining Basement Floors
Acid staining basement floors is becoming more and more popular finishing option. Acid stained floors are easy to maintain, clean up and add unique character to your home. Here are a few things to keep in mind when selecting products for a basement application.
Step 1: Evaluate Your Concrete. Basements and Garages are often the smoothest rooms in a house. So smooth in fact that they cannot be successfully acid stained without pre-application chemical or mechanical profiling. Pour water on the concrete to see if it beads up for several seconds or readily absorbs into the concrete. Beading or poor absorption suggests the surface is too smooth to stain and will need profiling. Most slabs can be readied for acid staining by applying DCI Hard Troweled Floor Prep. Cut the product with water 1:1, spray from a garden sprayer and wash off with clear water 15-20 minutes later. For excessively smooth concrete, apply the floor prep full strength.
Step 2: Water Problems? Many basements experience water issues as a result of drainage changes, foundation cracks and unexpectedly heavy rains. Moisture can seep into a basement or come up through the slab itself as hydrostatic pressure and will ultimately dictate which sealer you’ll select for your application. Inspect your basement thoroughly for seepage of any kind and address that before finishing the basement floor. If you have high humidity already, firmly affix a small sheet of plastic directly to the floor using duct tape and leave for at least 48 hours. If you have condensation under the plastic, select a breathable or cure and seal sealer that will also water vapor to pass through the coating.
Step 3: Cleaning the Floor. Many basement floors have been covered with carpet or sometimes paint. All debris including glue, sealer, paint and drywall mud must be completely removed before acid staining. Bean-e-Doo Glue Remover and Soy Gel Paint and Sealer Stripper are great low-order products suitable for basement use. Remember to thoroughly clean the floor of all cleanser residue using a concrete degreaser and water solution and rinse before staining.
Step 4: Choosing Acid Stain Colors. All 10 Direct Colors Acid Stains can be used for a basement application. Keep in mind that many basements aren’t well lit so applying the Coffee Brown and Black acid stains may make the room overly dark. These stains also have the strongest smell during application and would require ventilation to the outside or a respirator to apply. Testing to determine which colors or color combination works best in your basement is the best place to start.
Step 5: Selecting a Concrete Sealer. Choosing the correct sealer is the most critical decision for a basement project. Basements often have poor ventilation making solvent based sealers a poor and possibly dangerous choice. Solvent fumes can be overwhelming in confined, inadequately ventilated areas. Solvent based sealers should only be applied in walk-out basements with doors and windows open to the outside and even then exercise caution. Direct Colors offers several excellent breathable water based sealers for basement applications, including the 550 Water-Based Polyurethane, DCI Water Based Sealer and DCI Penetrating Lithium Hardener Sealer. Krystal Kote Water Based Sealer should only be used in basements with low humidity and no history of seepage.
Step 6: Wax? No Wax? Most residential floors should be re-waxed four times a year. Areas that receive more traffic or homes that have large dogs may need to re-apply more often. No stripping is necessary. Chair and table legs can scratch decorative concrete flooring over time. Placing Teflon pads or sliders under large furniture and table and chair legs and carpet square under reclining chairs will minimize floor damage. Avoid using rolling chairs without a plastic mat. Polyurethane and Acrylic Urethanes finishes don’t require wax and can be easily cleaned using water or a light dishwashing soap and water solution. Avoid using harsh chemical cleansers on the floor. Polyurethanes and Acrylic Urethanes have a life of 5-10 years depending on use. The floor will require a light sanding and sealer re-application when the finish becomes worn. Care and Maintanence for Acid Stained Floors for more information on the care and maintenance of acid stained floors.
Take care of your floor finish and it will last for many years. Choose the right sealer and wax for your home or business based on gloss level, intended use and on-going maintenance expectations. If you have questions about your project or you’re not sure which products to select, call us at 877-255-2656 or send us a design consultation online. Our expert technicians will be happy to help.