Help me out with my DIY stained/polished basement

Discussion in 'Concrete Floor Finishes' started by avionator, Aug 14, 2017.

  1. avionator

    avionator Member

    Hi all

    I'm new here and apologize if this topic has been covered before. I couldn't readily answer my own questions using the search function.

    Some background: I am an avid DIY homeowner and have experience in various bits of many aspects of building and furniture-making. However, this is my FIRST concrete experience.

    We have decided to stain and polish our basement floor. I have pulled the existing floor and made an initial cut. The surface was ROUGH. Took about 14 hours of work (or more) for 800 sq ft. That being so there were/are some depressions deeper than the grinder can get to. I plan on hand grinding those out, or just stripping the old paint off with my dremel.

    Now is where i have some confusion. I'd like to stain AND polish the floor to a "honed" finish (NOT mirror or wet look). I think this will fall somewhere around 800grit... I find various info on how to do one or the other but struggle to combine the two. My main question is when to apply stain and sealer/denser and when to polish.

    Do I apply stain now, polish to 800 then apply sealer?
    Do I apply stain, sealer and then polish to 800?
    Or do i split this up somehow?
    Stain, polish to 400, sealer, polish to 800?
    Polish to 400, stain, seal, polish? seal again?

    Oh, we also need to paint a solid border around the impossible-to-get-to edge. When do i lay that paint? The concrete slopes so badly around the edge that there is no was to get a grinder within 4 inches of the edge in many spots... and i don't feel like hand grinding and polishing the entire perimeter (about 150 liner feet or more...)

    if it makes a difference i used an EDCO single-head floor grinder with carbide blocks for my initial cut.

    i plan on using a water based stain. probably from Engrace-a-crete. they sell a water reducible concentrate.

    thank you all so much for dealing with this rookie
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 14, 2017
  2. kwfloors

    kwfloors Fuzz on the brain Charter Member I Support TFP Senior Member

    Sounds about your first option of stain,polish seal is the way. There are lots of videos on it.
  3. Mike Antonetti

    Mike Antonetti I Support TFP Senior Member

    A polish company would not use carbide bits to remove contaminates on floor. They gouge the slab and then would have to be repaired or ground down.

    It's hard to know what damage you've done. But anyway!

    What will absorb? Did you remove all residue?

    The equipment for polishing can be very costly.

    Stain would go on at the 400 range, if you're not using densifier, then I would guess sealer can be applied and then again when done. Then there are protective/maintenance coats afterward.

    Here is a video of Shawn, he trained our class, super crazy knowledgeable with many years of experimental experience. Just one specific application, but his words go deep into understanding the intricacies of the process.

    Check out this video on YouTube:

  4. avionator

    avionator Member

    haven't had a chance to watch the videos (on my way to work....) but wanted to address what you said: the grinder was used to remove the poor surface of the concrete. i was probably about a CSP 5 or 6 (or worse) and now am down to a CSP 1 or 2 in 95% of the floor. a few deeper spots will require some hand grinding. I plan on filling anything really deep with clear epoxy after the initial staining has been done, but before a seal coat.

    thanks all for the info, i will watch those vids and keep learning!
  5. avionator

    avionator Member

    maybe saying "bits" is not the right term. the EDCO machine used three blocks each with 4 rectangular, flat carbide bars that you had to use stupid wooden wedges to hold onto the machine. the bars scraped the surface and pulled up any floor paint that was there and smoothed any rough spots. I was able to stay in the "cream" of the cement for most of it, but the floor was inconsistent and I have many areas down to the aggregate. It's sort of the look i was hoping for.

    however, some areas (where the workers must've walked before the concrete was set) have deeper pits in them (up to 1/8th inch sometimes more). I plan on removing the paint using a wire brush on my 4 1/2 angle grinder in these areas. any problems with that idea?

    I don't plan on this floor looking dead flat and perfect. It's imperfections will give it the character that we are looking for.

    also, any advice on when to lay a painted border? the edges are simply way too sloped to get a grinder or polisher on.
  6. avionator

    avionator Member

    all residue other than low spots is removed. when mopping the floor water freely absorbs.

    cost will be several hundred to rent, plut a generator to run the thing (though, i'm considering plugging into a 240v circuit in our house...have an extra one from our electric stove that we no longer have)

    thanks for the info putting stain on at 400 grit. that was my main point of confusion. In terms of densifiers i am finding a lot of conflicting information. the sealer i have is valspar natural look "silicone infused." There are zero products available locally marketed as "densifiers." I have been told this sealer should also densify... any thoughts?
  7. Mike Antonetti

    Mike Antonetti I Support TFP Senior Member

    Densifier changes the chemistry of the Portland and increases hardness. Sealer penetrates into and surrounds Portland to repel liquids from absorbing into. They are two different products. Not to say you need a densifier.

    I'm familiar with that Edco machine, junk, failed me a few times, blocks falling off during operation, barbaric.

    I would do border first, then the field of stain. None of the dust should be inhaled, from the possible lead in existing floor paint? Or the silica created from grinding. The wire brush will remove surface, but a stain will not soak into slab. Here's a analogy. My driveway is not sealed. When changing my oil, any drips will soak deep into concrete. So, I get the water hose and thoroughly saturate the surrounding area. When oil spills all over the place due to metal brackets in the way, wind, etc. the oil stays on surface, the slab absorbed all the water to rejection. Then I just hose off oil on surface, no staining. Similar to trying to stain concrete, if it has contaminants it won't soak in.
  8. avionator

    avionator Member

    that was always what i figured about densifiers vs sealers.
    yes, the blocks would fall off sometimes... never in my direction, luckily.
    i will use my 4 1/2 grinder to hit those extra low spots. i don't mind that I will create an even LOWER spot. I do not plan on a high gloss floor. 800 is more than enough, so those low spots and imperfections will be not as glaring as if I'd gone 1500 or 3000 grit.

    if i do the border first, how would you recommend protecting it from the stain? or will the stain simply wipe off of the paint since it shouldn't absorb? i'm concerned about taping in that i worry about pulling up paint when i remove the tape.

    there is a large crack in the field. it does not extend to the sides of the house. i plan on filling with clear epoxy. any thoughts on this?
  9. kwfloors

    kwfloors Fuzz on the brain Charter Member I Support TFP Senior Member

    I would bet the crack with epoxy would show like that, not accept the stain.
  10. avionator

    avionator Member

    in terms of needing a densifier: there will be a pool table down there. think an errant pool ball could/would damage the concrete floor?

    i would stain first, then epoxy, then seal that way the stain is visible through the epoxy.
  11. Mike Antonetti

    Mike Antonetti I Support TFP Senior Member

    Test it now. I have no clue for how hard concrete is anywhere. It can vary extremely just at neighbors house. My current slab is hard, the last house we had was poor quality soft.

    For the paint border I might try a more solid stain designed for concrete floors.
  12. avionator

    avionator Member

    alright, i will check if my local places have a hardness tester. solid stain makes sense.
  13. tsb

    tsb well dressed

    I suggest using a dye instead of a water based stain. That's pretty much what everyone uses nowadays. Most water based stains use larger pigments that are more like paint that mimics acid stains. Don't think it'll work with polished concrete.

    I'd also recommend using a water based dye as opposed to solvent based as it's a basement. Doesn't look like Engrave-a-crete has a water based dye.

    Apply the dye after 400 grit. Densify immediately after cleaning up residue to lock in the color. Hit it with your 800 resins then apply your stain guard. Burnish the guard with a high speed burnisher equipped with a diamond impregnated pad to pop the shine and you're done (I think there's some guards that don't require a burnisher but you'd have to research that). Ameripolish has some good tech data that outlines what steps to take.

    I would recommend grinding more with the larger grinder as opposed to bird bathing your low spots if you haven't hit them already. They'll stick out pretty bad.
    • Like Like x 2
  14. Graeme

    Graeme Pro Member

    For our system, we densify after our transitional tooling is complete (typically 100g) The concrete is still very open, allowing the densifier to absorb easily. Just make sure your transitional tooling work is complete. It is more difficult to go back and remove tooling marks after densification.

    For the color application (stain or dye) the manufacturer will spec when they want it applied - anywhere from 200g to 800g. Follow their instructions.

    One other suggestion... take your time on your first cut. Pack a big box of patience and spend the time cutting that floor, removing as many of the "issues" and flattening it as possible. This step takes longer than you think. We generally spend 40% of our time on that first cut. It feels slow, but that time spent will pay you back as you go up through the grits, as well as for the the look and longevity of the floor.

    Hope that helps!
    • Like Like x 2
  15. tsb

    tsb well dressed

    You don't want to densify until after you dye the floor.

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