I made a lot of mistakes when I was finishing my basement, but this one really hurt.
This one cost me a couple hundred bucks.
But more than that it was a complete waste of 2 straight weekends!
And to top it all off, at first, it looked like I hadn't made a mistake at all. In fact for about 3 months I thought I was the "Mac Daddy" of basement finishing. I thought HGTV might be calling my number to host my own show. Everyone who saw my work was singing my praises.
Then one day I started to notice some problems. Aaaahhh, that' s nothing a little bit of brown Sharpie pen can't fix. I'll just touch that up, no problem. Yes, I fix lots of dings with Sharpie pens. But two days later… another ding and then another.
It was at that moment that I knew. My 25 hours of work staining my concrete basement floor would all be for nothing.
You're the lucky one! You get to learn from my mistake. And for less than $5, know exactly how to stain your basement floor. More on that in a minute.
Staining a Concrete Basement Floor - (The wrong way)
It's not like I didn't do any research. I looked around on the internet for hours. I just couldn't find any good resources. I saw tons of awesome pictures of stained concrete floors but no one really went over how to do it.
Yet, I was determined. I wanted that really cool stained concrete look. Plus I wanted the kids to be able to right their little cars and bikes in the basement.
I moved everything back into the storage area. Not an easy undertaking. I bought several gallons worth of concrete cleaner solution. I bought steel brushes and nylon brushes to really make sure I removed all possible dirt and cat poop stains (disgusting but true).
I literally got on my hands and knees and scrubbed every square inch of the floor. Then I sucked it up with a wet-vac. Then poured fresh water on the floor and washed it again. Then sucked it up with the wet-vac and so on. (the wet-vac was a real time saver!)
Finally, I bought the stain, the rollers, and a bunch of other misc supplies. I rolled the stain on. It looked awesome! I thought I might cry.
Basement Floor Problems Start to Creep In
About two weeks after I finished the kids complained that they were slipping all over the place. Sure enough, the floor was really slippery. I almost broke my arm. Not wanting a huge hospital bill I had to wipe the floor down again and seal it with some grippy anti-slip sandy stuff.
Slippy problem solved, it was still looking like the best finished basement floor ever. I was king of the basement. Lord of home improvement. And I reigned as king for several weeks, a month even.
Then chips in the floor finish started to appear. I fixed the first few with my brown Sharpie pen but it soon became a lost cause as more and more chips appeared.
The stain had not penetrated the concrete. I had not prepped it correctly.
"Disappointed" isn't a strong enough word. Is heart-stricken a word? That's what I was, real word or not. It felt like someone had poked a hole in my basement heart.
I still haven't decided what to do. The kids want carpet. I think I want a vinyl strip wood product or take another crack at staining it. But this time, do it the right way.
Now this is where you can benefit from my mistakes. I finally found a great resource for how to do it right.
Chris Dreyer is a guy who is as obsessed with staining concrete as I am with finishing basements. His website, www.
No, Chris is not paying me, nor do I earn any money from his book sales. This is just an all around good resource if you're doing this project.
Still Young Enough to Cut Corners
At least I learned something. I learned that I'm still young enough to think that I can take shortcuts, even though I know doing it the right way from the start is the only real answer.
The corner I cut was not continuing my research just because I didn't find something right away. I knew I didn't have the write info, but I pushed ahead anyway. A touch more patience and I'd have a perfect stained floor right now.
At least I no longer have cat poop stains on my basement floor.
Have you ever stained a concrete floor? How did it turn out? Check out Chris's website and let us know if you decide to try it.
Cheers - Jason
Linktastic Links :
- Are you ready to finish your own basement?
- For more basement design ideas check out the basement ideas page.
- Are you ready to buy trim, check out my trim tips.