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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

It is finished!

After being exiled from our home for two weeks (actually three including the first redo in February), our stained cement renovation is finally finished. We moved back into our home Sunday evening. We are so grateful for the generosity and hospitality of Steve & Shannon Ho who opened their home and hearts to us for fourteen days. We are also grateful for a finished project with which we are satisfied. There were definitely moments along the way we questioned our decision to do another stained cement floor, but all in all we have been pleased with how it turned out. It definitely doesn’t look like the original floor, but in light of the hiccups along the way, we believe this will be a more durable floor for the future. For those of you who are curious about redoing a stained cement floor, here’s the process. Too bad it isn’t scratch & sniff – that would truly give you the complete experience!


Original floor . . . notice the chip, in lower right, revealing our foundation.


The first attempt at repairing the floor – epic fail.


Just one of the areas that looked worse after the repair than before.


Twenty-four days later, our contractor starts from the ground up by soaking our floor with soy gel (horrible smell) to break down sealers & stains. Then, he uses a scraper & a buffer to remove & sand original skim layers of concrete. This process was supposed to take a day . . . it took three. Let’s just say our floor has proven to be very non-compliant.

Once the contractor is pleased with the original surface, he primes and lays a new skim layer of concrete. (I honestly was ready to seal at this point. I didn’t want to mess anything up with stain colors.)

This is how the floor looked after three layers of stain – two green layers with cola (a reddish brown stain) added on top. It is very difficult to see what the finished product will look like without wetting the stain down. For the most part, we liked the look. I had some areas I wanted retouched & Chris wanted the contractor to address the spotty areas where he dripped stain.


After the stain continues to dry, it gets lighter making it more & more difficult to tell how the final product will look.

We thought we were almost ready to seal but we wanted the contractor to address some spotted areas. So, he buffed the stain down in those areas. What happened in the process is that he buffed down to the original layer of cement while also darkening these areas because the grit from the sander actually mixed with the stain colors, creating an even bigger eyesore. We were sick. These areas looked something like the picture below.


So, the contractor had to re-skim these areas with new concrete & re-stain two times, then buff them back down. This was a two and half day process. Nothing happens fast when dealing with cement & acid stains. The following images are what the repair jobs look like after skimming, staining & buffing.




And . . . drumroll please . . . after much angst, disappointment, patience, prayer and a coat of polyurethane sealer & hardener, this was the final product. All that is left for me to do is let the floor cure a few more days and apply a special cherry wax. Oh yes, and there is oodles of clean-up and candle burning in our future. To add to the drama, the valve to the water line on our fridge was leaking into our drywall so a plumber replaced the whole valve system on Monday. We were thankful for a project that only took an evening to repair.



Lessons learned:
1)  We should probably never build a house.
2)  Perfection is the aim but rarely the result. Letting go is necessary.
3)  You have to ask a contractor the same question over & over until you understand clearly what each other wants and is going to do.
4)  Renovations take much longer than originally expected and cost even more.
5)  We will NEVER stain another floor while we are living in the house. 
6)  There is no place like home, even if your home, clothes & food smell like sealer.


  1. yay! SO glad it is done and that you all are happy with the results- over all. They look great from here!

  2. oh my what a story! welcome home!!