A long tale about staining our concrete floors: Part 2 of 3 (staining)

This is a continuation of my long tale about how we stained our concrete floors about a year ago. It has three parts:

  1. Preparing to stain concrete
  2. Staining and sealing concrete
  3. Caring for your floors

So now that you have finished preparing your floors, it’s time to learn about how to actually stain and seal them!

As I mentioned in the last post, we used a line of products from ecoprocrete to stain our floors because of the fact that they are non-toxic and in fact quite easy to use. We purchased the bulk of these products from House + Earth in Austin (with a 10% Go Local card discount!).

Supplies:

  • Deco-Poz polymer and cement mix
  • SoyCrete stain – we used two dark colors for the main floors and a light one to stain the fake grout lines. Espresso for the edging, leather brown for the main floor sections, and a watered down desert sand for the grout lines. A small sample of desert sand was all we needed.
  • 1/2″ tape (we used this with a laser light level and a carpenter’s square to create fake grout lines)
  • A roller to go over the tape to make sure it was stuck to the floor. We used a brayer.
  • AcriSoy sealer
  • Mixing paddle to put in a drill to mix up Deco-Poz
  • Sanding blocks and coarse sand paper (the coarser the better)
  • Shop Vac to vacuum up dust after sanding
  • Dust masks, safety glasses
  • Magic trowel for spreading Deco-Poz
  • Painters tape – masking the baseboards
  • Applicator pads for applying stain
  • Paint trim applicator (for getting the edge of the floor next to the baseboards)
  • Paint roller for applying sealer (can also use applicator pads)
  • Floor wax and sponge mop to apply it so that the floor gets a nice shine. We used Alpha 290, which is now discontinued it seems.

Ok, so you’ve got your supplies assembled, your floors clean, and large holes in the floor patched, and your baseboards covered with painter’s tape. It’s time to mix up the Deco-Poz polymer and cement mix! We followed the instructions that came with the Deco-Poz and mixed the two together to a fairly thin consistency. It took us some experimenting to get this right. We used the mixing paddle with our cordless drill to make sure the stuff was mixed correctly. We ended up applying two coats of the overlay in each room. We started in one corner and my husband poured some overlay onto the floor. Being the more artistic one, I wielded the magic trowel and used big sweeping motions to apply a thin layer to the floor. You need to start with any areas that have unpatched divots to make sure they are adequately covered. Use very light pressure on the magic trowel. The weight of the trowel itself is enough, so I would just drag it across the floor to spread the overlay. We continued this process until the entire floor was covered. We then waited the appropriate amount of time for it to dry and then applied a second coat. When walking on the fresh overlay, make sure to wear socks so that the oils in your feet do not get in the untreated Deco-Poz.

My masterful application of the overlay

Covering the patched (and some unpatched) divots while a sad doggy looks on

The first coat of overlay goes on in the dining room

After the two coats are finished, you have to sand the overlay to make it smoother. We found that the coarser the sandpaper, the faster this went. Also, it generates a lot of dust so consider a dust mask and safety glasses.

My nice helper sanding the floor

After the sanding was complete, we vacuumed up the dust and then the long and tedious process of applying the fake grout lines began. I decided on a design of diagonal tiles with a 6″ edge strip around the walls. Luckily the scientists inside my husband and I were able to flex our analytical muscles to get the design to work out. It was harder than I expected to decide where the lines needed to start so that the lines looked nice. We were up doing this until 2 am. To make sure the stain doesn’t seep under the edge of the tape, make sure it’s pressed down well. We used a brayer to do this (I’ve linked an example above).

Applying the edge lines along the walls

Diagonal 18" fake tiles in the living room

Diagonal tiles in the dining room continue from the living room. You can also see the 6" edge strip and my expert use of the carpenter's square.

In the hallway we did smaller squares because the large diagonal tiles didn't look right.

After your grout lines are applied (which is optional by the way) it’s time to move on to staining! In order to be economical, we cut each applicator pad in half and then stapled it to a piece of 2×4 wood so that we could have a good grip when applying the stain. We poured stain into a paint tray and then dipped the applicator or edger in. We used the edger to go along the baseboards with the darker stains and the applicator to do the main color. We just applied the stain right over the tape. Hand applying the stain with a small applicator instead of using the large t-bar applicator that you can buy gives you more variation in color like real tiles (I think, but I didn’t use the the larger applicator).  Read the instructions for applying the stain, but keep in mind that you should really rub in the stain.

Here I am applying the main stain color. It took some effort to really rub it in.

Look at all that stain!

After two coats of stain and the appropriate drying time, we were ready to remove the tape.

Removing the tape in the dining room

After the tape was removed, we realized that the grout lines were very very white. I watered down one of the stain samples I had and used a paint brush to apply a very slight amount of cream color to the white to tone it down a bit. I think it turned out really well.

The final step was the application of the AcriSoy sealer. Again, you should follow the instructions for the appropriate amount of drying time. We used a paint roller on a long handle to apply two coats of the sealer. You can also rub it in with the applicator pads but after two coats of stain, we were ready to stand up to apply the next two coatings.

The AcriSoy sealer is a matte coating and doesn’t leave the floor shiny at all. I was interested in having a slightly shiny floor without having to use an epoxy coating or something equally as toxic. During our research phase, the employees at Eco-Wise in Austin recommended that we use Alpha 290, a floor wax that is super easy to use and unfortunately now discontinued. Basically, you just sponge mop it on and 15 minutes later it’s dry. You need to apply a few coats to get maximum shine. It’s not too shiny though, which is why I like it. I applied 4 coats after the sealer was dry.

After that, we were done! Our new floors were ready to be lived on 🙂

The cats were SO happy to be allowed out of the computer room.

You can see the full set of our concrete floor photos here and here.

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7 thoughts on “A long tale about staining our concrete floors: Part 2 of 3 (staining)

  1. Pingback: A long tale about staining our concrete floors: Part 1 of 3 (preparation) | Laura Makes
  2. I’m curious to know how well the floors are holding up. Any scratches from the pup? What do you do for regular maintanence? Did you apply a wax afterwards?

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    • Hi Jason,
      They are holding up well. Our dog did leave little nicks with her claws that were easily repaired with left over stain and a q-tip. I’ve written about that in part 3 of my concrete floor series. We did use a floor wax called Alpha 290 which is eco-friendly and easily applied with a sponge mop. Periodically I would reapply it, but the product itself is discontinued. I think other manufacturers make similar products. One update we did make very recently that I will write about soon is to re-seal the floors with the harder eco-tuff coating because we converted this house into a rental property. That sealant makes the floors very shiny but much tougher. As we just did it, I don’t have any data on how well the coating is holding up yet, but it definitely does not need a floor wax.

      Thanks for reading!
      Laura

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      • It’ll be great to hear how well eco-tuff is treating the floors. I am debating between acri-soy with ecoflorz or eco-tuff primer/sealer and eco-tuff high traffic right now for a basement floor primarily used as a work out room. The cost difference is $400 to go with eco-tuff. I may go the cheaper route for now and see how well the floors hold up.

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      • If you use felt or rubber pads on the bottom of the work out equipment, I bet you’ll be OK. I learned that since we already had Acri-Soy on the floors and then coated with eco-tuff primer / sealer, I used WAY less eco-tuff than the specifications actually called for. Less than half. So if you do decide to go to eco-tuff in the future, it may be cheaper.

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  3. I have been researching and reading until I’m nuts about staining a concrete floor I have. I love the eco-friendly options in your blog. Is the Overlay absolutely necessary? The concrete is in great shape. Has never had anything on it other than carpet that wasn’t glued. We have repaired the divets with concrete filler. The concrete is 16 years old

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    • So I can’t comment on whether the overlay is always necessary since I’ve only done this once. However, the overlay is very porous and therefore soaks up the stain very well. You could do a test on your floors to see how applying the stain works. If you have a supplier in your area, they should also be able to give you good advice.

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