Basement floor remodels are fast becoming our number one DIY project here at Direct Colors. We talk to customers everyday about the peculiarities of basement applications and recommend products based on each project’s individual circumstances. Shawna Turner author of Direct Colors How to Guide Acid Staining Basement Floors joins us to talk about basement projects.
Amie Nolen: How would a customer get started with a basement floor remodel?
Shawna Turner: Start by evaluating 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. First 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. If you have significant paint, glue, drywall mud or other contaminants on the concrete, you might need to grind the floor instead.
AN: What about water problems in a basement? How does that affect my product choices?
ST: 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.
AN: What about general surface prep?
ST: Surface prep can sometimes be the most challenging part of any concrete project. 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. Again if the concrete is heavily soiled consider grinding the floor instead.
AN: What colors work best in a basement?
ST: Unless it is your intention to do so, you do want to be careful not to turn your basement into a dungeon by selecting overly dark colors. All 10 Direct Colors Acid Stains can be used for a basement application, but keep in mind that many basements aren’t well lit so applying the Coffee Brown and Black acid stains may make the room too 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.
AN: What about a sealer? Are there limitations?
ST: Choosing the correct sealer is the most critical decision for a basement project. Basements often have poor ventilation making solvent based sealers an unpleasant 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. We offer several excellent breathable water based sealers for basement applications, including the 550 Water-Based Polyurethane in both glossy and matte finishes, DCI Water Based Satin Gloss Sealer and DCI Penetrating Lithium Hardener Sealer. Krystal Kote High Gloss Water Based Sealer should only be used in basements with low humidity and no history of seepage.
AN: Is concrete wax absolutely required for every project?
ST: No, concrete wax is not required for every sealer option. Most residential floors sealed with an acrylic sealer 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 between applications. Chair and table legs can scratch decorative concrete flooring over time. Carefully 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 finishes don’t require wax and can be easily cleaned using water or a light dishwashing soap and water solution. Polyurethanes 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. Always avoid using harsh chemical cleansers on the floor regardless which sealer you ultimately choose. At the end of the day, choose the right sealer and wax for your home or business based on gloss level, intended use and on-going maintenance expectations.
AN: Thanks for that great step by step advice on basement floors. For more information on the Care and Maintenance of Acid Stained Floors, visit our blog at www.directcolors.com. If you’d like a free design consultation tailored to your project, send us pictures and a description by email or call us at 877-255-2656. We’re ready to help!