Friday, February 18, 2011

Step By Step Instructions On How To Prep. And Paint Concrete Floors

This project is part of my family room makeover. Doing these projects myself has saved me thousands of dollars. To see the family room makeover click here. I started by demolishing my existing fireplace tile. To see the fireplace remodel click here. Than I textured and painted my walls. I'm not a professional concrete re-finisher, so research and decide what will work best for your project. The Kemiko concrete stains are beautiful if you want to go the staining route. I've done several concrete floor painting projects that have turned out great and have stood up to the test of time. I painted the concrete floors in our old house to look like large slabs of Travertine. We had to tell the new buyers it was concrete. They couldn't tell until they got down on to floor level that it wasn't Travertine. Sorry, I was photographically challenged back then and didn't take any pictures of it.

I painted our front entryway sidewalk around seven years ago and it shows almost no signs of wear and tear. The picture is a little crooked. I guess I'm still photographically challenged?

About a year and a half ago I ripped up the carpet in our living room and painted the concrete and it has held up great. We have lived in our house for ten years and the carpet looks really bad in our family room. New flooring is expensive. Concrete floors are a very cost effective way to update your home. They are great for people with allergies and they are super easy to clean, just sweep and damp mop.

My living room concrete floor.

Here is a picture of my latest concrete project in my family room.

Here are step by step instructions on how to prep. and paint a concrete floor. I bought all of my concrete paint and sealer at Bayside Paint in San Diego. They are the closest store to me that sells Benjamin Moore products. I did this project by myself but it would go much faster if you have two people.

You will also need:

*Box cutter

*Paint trays, rollers, and an extension pole so you can stand up and apply the base coats of paint.

*An angled brush for painting the edges of your floor.

*Quikrete fast drying concrete for patching holes and cracks in your concrete.

*A small plastic trowel

*A mixing bucket for the Quikrete.

*Rubber gloves for working with the Quikrete
*Painter's Tape (don't buy the orange tape!!! Go blue or better yet the green Frogtape)

*Plastic tarps to block all openings into your project room.

*Big plastic trash cans to hold carpet tack strip debris.

*Goggles, ear plugs, knee pads, and a good mask.

*A concrete grinder or a stand up floor buffer (rent one or the other depending on the condition of your floor)

* A Shop Vac.

*Concrete paint or stain of your choice.
*Acrylic Polyurethane sealer.
Optional things you might need depending on your project:

*Paint glaze

*Liquid nails


*Molding for floor transition.


Step #1

Remove EVERYTHING from the room!!!! Please learn from my laziness and don't make the same mistake I made. That includes all blinds, curtains, nick knacks, furniture, and wall art. If possible, tape plastic over all doors leading into the room you are working on and put plastic trash bags over hanging light fixtures and ceiling fans. This project was done in my family room and there was no way to plastic off the rest of the the kitchen and dining room because it's all one big room.

Step #2

Remove carpet. Cut the carpet and padding with a box cutter knife into manageable pieces. Roll it up and tape it. We called our trash collector and they hauled it away for us on trash day.

Step #3

Remove the carpet tack strip. Use a large trash can to dispose of the strip as you go. If you have small children or pets and you can't do this step right away, save some carpet or use card board to cover the tack strip to prevent injuries.

I used a hammer and an old screw driver to get the tack strip up.

My floor had tile moisture barrier paper, base board paint, carpet glue, fluorescent orange spray paint, tile mastic, Sharpie marker, and spray on wall texture on it that would need to be completely removed before it was ready to paint or stain.

This is what it looked like before cleaning.

At this point I also removed the fireplace floor tile.

Now we're starting to make a real mess. The tile came up fairly easy, but the tile mastic was not going to be as cooperative.

Step #4

Clean up the debris as you go. You will need to evaluate your floor and determine the best cleaning method for your project. I chose to rent a concrete grinder from Home Depot. Ask a lot of questions about whatever tool you rent. This was my first time using a concrete grinder. I used a stand up floor buffer for my living room floor project, but decided to go with the grinder because of the tile mastic. The floor buffer will cost less than half to rent than the grinder, but it will take you twice the time. Have everything prepped before you rent your tool. I rented the grinder for four hours. Anything over four hours is a 24 hour rental. It cost me $150 to rent the grinder, the vacuum canister, buy the blade (you can't rent it, you have to buy it), ear plugs, and a mask. USE A GOOD MASK! Even with the vacuum canister attachment you need the mask. You might think $150 is expensive, but not when you factor in what it would cost me to hire someone to do it. I called around when I was doing my living room floor and it would have cost me between $1000 to almost $2000 to hire someone just to grind my concrete. They wanted $7 a square foot. There aren't very many companies that want to do small residential houses, so they charge a lot. At this point of the job it would have been great to have a helper. Someone to help move the canister as I was crawling around the floor and someone to vacuum the dust with a shop vac would have been a big help. My husband and I are a great team, but he works all day. I was on my own for this part of the project.

Here is the grinder blade. This one cost $69 (blue). I included it in my rental cost. They also have one for $49 (green), but after talking with the rental guy (Sergio at the Eastlake Home Depot was great), he said the tile mastic would require the tougher blade. I will be able to use this blade again for future concrete projects.

Here is the vacuum canister. The canister is supposed to suck up the concrete dust from the grinder, but a lot of dust is still thrown into the air. The hose hooks to the grinder. I am usually very healthy, but I got strep throat and an upper respiratory infection soon after completing this job. I know sickness is caused by a bacteria, germs, or a virus, but I'm not sure if the dust made me more susceptible to getting sick? It could have been a coincidence? If you have asthma or any kind of lung problems I wouldn't take on this job. I would have any family members with these problems move out of the house during the grinding step until all the dust has been cleaned up.

IMPORTANT. Don't plug the grinder and the hose into the same outlet and don't plug the grinder into an extension cord that is longer than 50' or you will blow the circuit breaker. Duct tape the hose to the canister and to the grinder. These hoses get pretty beat up from rental use and you don't want it to fall off during your project. A loose hose equals more dust.

Maybe I'm weird, but this part of the project was fun! The grinder cleaned the tile mastic off the concrete in about five minutes! I love power tools. Wear ear plugs, it's loud and glasses to protect your eyes. I also wore my volleyball knee pads. Be careful this thing can get away from you.

Can you see the haze of dust in the air? This is about an hour after I had finished grinding and it's still "foggy" in my house. At this point I looked around and realized how dumb I was for not taking EVERYTHING out of the room! The buffer doesn't make as much of a mess. The grinder actually takes a top layer off the concrete.

All along the edge of my tile there was a layer of moisture barrier paper that needed to be removed. If your floor has this, go with the grinder. Be careful along the tile. I chipped the edge when the grinder got away from me. Also, make sure you hold the grinder level or you will grind half moon circular shapes into the floor.
Tile paper before grinding.

Step #5

Clean the canister and the grinder outside. You will be charged a cleaning fee if you return it dirty to the rental. The canister is very heavy when it's full of concrete dust. At this point if you aren't strong you might need help. I had to leave the canister dis-assembled to get it back into the bed of my truck because it was so heavy and I'm a strong girl used to physical labor.
Here is the clean floor ready for the next step.

Step #6

Concrete patching. You you need to fill and patch any holes left by the carpet tack strip and any big cracks before you paint. I taped off the area that needed patching. The orange tape is fine for this part of the project. Don't put it over any painted areas because it will damage the paint.

I used quick setting concrete and mixed it with water to the consistency of pancake batter. Mix it in small batches or it gets to dry to spread. It takes longer to dry than the container says because of the extra water you are going to add.

Use a spray bottle and spray the area with water before applying the Quikrete.

I used a small plastic trowel to spread on the Quikrete.

Once dry, or in my case almost dry, remove the tape and clean up the Quikrete dust.
Wait till the Quikrete is completely dry before you start painting. It was very warm out when I did this step so it was ready to paint the next day.

Step #7

Clean, Clean, Clean. Clean the floor again because all the concrete dust in the air will have settled onto the floor. I used a mop with copious amounts of water. My mom helped me vacuum up the water with a shop vac. It was a warm day when I mopped so the floor dried quickly. Wait till the concrete is completely dry before you start painting. You want the floor to be completely clean and dust free before you paint so you get the best adhesion.

Step #8

At this point of the project you can choose to stain or paint the concrete? I chose paint.
There are many concrete paints on the market. I've found that the Benjamin Moore Porch and Floor paint is the best that I have tried. I painted my family room floors the same color as my walls, 75% of OC #10 White Sand. There is no priming involved with this product.

Apply two coats of whatever color you pick with a roller and an extension pole. This is the easiest part of the project.

Step #9

At this point you could apply 2-3 coats of polyurethane and be finished. My floor was adjacent to floor tile and it needed a piece of molding along the edge for a transition. I also chose to add a darker border, two coats of glaze, and a grid pattern of stripes. I will show you how to do the stripes tomorrow because this blog post is getting to be very long.
I used oak molding. It's durable enough to hold up to an accidental kick from a shoe. It's held up perfect in my living room. Mark the molding where it will be cut. I had to chip away a small amount of the Quikrete because it was a little high in this corner. The new molding covered it up.
I had already taped off a border at this point. It's the same width as the Quikrete repair border is. I WILL NEVER BUY CHEAP ORANGE PAINTER'S TAPE AGAIN!!! It pulled up the floor paint when I took it off. I fixed it, but I said lots of bad words about orange tape. I have since found that Frogtape is THE BEST! I will blog about Frogtape later, just know it works the best.

I had to cut the molding to match the angle of the tile.

Glue the molding down with liquid nails.

Caulk the joint between the tile and the molding.

Apply the caulk with your finger and smoosh into any cracks.

Wipe away any residue for a clean edge.

I mixed the border color to tie into the existing tile. I painted the oak molding and border this color.

I made two glazes. One is more beige and one is more gray. One part paint to four parts glaze.

I applied the glaze in a random pattern and used a plastic grocery bag to blend the brush marks. My hands got so messy I didn't get a picture of the bag technique.

Here is a close up of the glazed floor. It's very subtle.

Seal the floor with 2-3 coats of Benwood Stays Clear Acrylic Polyurethane. Another Benjamin Moore product. I'm not endorsed by them in any way, I just like their stuff the best.

At this point I thought I was finished. Come back tomorrow and see what I did next.

Here are some more pictures of my living room floor. I started by painting two coats of a choclate brown and then added three different glazes on top. One coat in black, one in an amber brown, and a third in gray. All were made with Benjamin Moore paint. I added a stencil from the Royal Design Studio along the border.

I won't lie, this project was challenging. It was messy, hard, and time consuming, but totally worth it! There is something very satisfying about doing a project like this on my own. I love the change and I love saving money.

Thanks for checking it out and good luck with your DYI projects!


  1. Shannon,
    you know I don't mind hard work....but this looks like a lot of hard work. I'm totally impressed. It's beautiful.

  2. Wow, that is absolutely amazing! I need to paint my porch because I accidentally got green paint on it.

  3. AWESOME!!!! Do you think this technique would work the same with concrete countertops?

  4. OH MY GOODNESS!!! I am thinking about doing the same thing & this looks like an enormous amount of work.... I am going to try though, as yours turned out Beautifully.
    Great job... Great Tutorial... Thanks for the info

  5. Wow that is pretty! I LOVE concrete floors! I just did a post about them last week and was wondering how difficult it would be to rip up existing flooring and paint the slab under it...your step-by-step is great!

  6. fantastic step by step. thanks for sharing, lovely end product

  7. OK, you've convinced me. I think I can do this. Added to today to encourage others.

  8. Regardless I am here by mistake but would just like to say cheers for a marvelous post and a all round exciting blog.

    Concrete Floors

    1. You got a really useful blog I have been here reading for about an hour. I am a newbie and your success is very much an inspiration for me.....:)
      concrete coatings


  10. Only a woman could explain these step by step instructions so simply. It does
    seem like a lot of work but the end result is amazing...

  11. For those who have not yet tried doing some improvement in their homes and want to start with the walk ways and patios, your post will be of great help to them. The photos are very inspiring, I am certain that other home owners and even contractors will appreciate what you have shared here. Thanks!

  12. The amount of detail you put into this is amazing. Making concrete floors look beautiful should not be expensive. It is hard to believe that the floors are actually concrete. In a normal person’s eye it would look to be made out of marble. This is definitely going to take a lot of time, but I am sure that doing it yourself or hiring a professional would definitely be worth it in the end.

  13. Your work is really astonishing! And your very detailed instructions can turn a novice to a pro that you are! I love the details on the border of the black coat, it brings magnificence and sophistication to your living room.

    Alanna Yamamoto

  14. Hi. I'm thinking of painting our bedrooms floors (not all together, of course..) and your post gave me hope I could actually do it! I love your explanations and instructions, but I'm not sure about the "glaze"... could you detail, please? Thank you!

  15. I really enjoyed reading this. I am trying to find some good tips for painting my concrete steps in Chicago IL. Thanks for the great information.

  16. Thanks for the tips! I wanted to do my concrete steps in Chicago IL the same way. I just have no idea where to start or where to get the resources.

  17. This is great! Perfect steps on how to do som concrete steps in Chicago IL! That is just what I was looking for, thanks for taking the time to put all of this on here!

  18. I have been looking into making new concrete steps for my house but I do not now how to do it myself. I would like to do it and this has been really informative, but I do not know if I can do it or not. I could use the help if anyone has any suggestions.

  19. Awesome cleaning steps.. My concrete floors are in very bad shape and I am looking to hire Brisbane bond Cleaners for cleaning them..

  20. You did an AMAZING job. I have been a General Contractor here in New Mexico for 19 yrs and I would offer you all my flooring contracts. If you decide to take on another project there is a much better "power tool" available for the concrete grinding/prep work. I thank you for sharing your beautiful DIY project.


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