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concrete flooring

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Joined: May 16 2006

I am a new E home owner and want to redue the floors to the concrete look. Can anyone refer me to someone that specializes in resurfacing and coloring E floors.

Please send recommendations directly to: jmberg212 AT aol DOT com

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Joined: Jul 11 2006

I am also very interested in recommendaitons for concrete floor "look" contractors. Please send any info. Many thanks.

Monique :)

Monique

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Joined: Aug 30 2003

I can't offer you a recommendation for someone to refinish your concrete slab for it to serve as a flooring surface, but can advise that it is difficult to do well. When my wife and I were planning our interior remodel (currently in progress) we researched this floor approach and decided against it. It would have required grinding and polishing the existing slab, sealing all the cracks (of which there are many in every 50 year old house!) and then coloring the surface. You really cannot color old concrete, you would have to pour a new layer of colored self-leveling concrete such as Ardex. I've seen it done, and the results can be good, or not so good. In one instance, the new concrete layer was so soft that the pressure from furniture like a typical sofa actually dented it!

That whole process is not cheap (more expensive than putting down new black slate tile, which is what we decided to do). And another disadvantage would be that when the inevitable radiant heat pipe leak had to be repaired, it is essentially impossible to fill the hole in the slab you need to make to repair the leak and make it match the existing floor in a seamless manner. With a flooring surface like slate tile, it's relatively easy.

So think long and hard before going with a bare concrete floor in an Eichler with a working radiant heat system. I advise against it.

Barry

1959 A. Quincy Jones atrium model in The Highlands, San Mateo http://www.totheweb.com/eichler

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Joined: Feb 8 2005

It is nearly impossible
to find someone to do this work. I've tried for the last year... I wound up doing one room myself, I rented a concrete grinder and went at it. $130 for a day.
Here's the lowdown. If you want to do this on a budget and want a clean look... Buy one of these grinders, they are anywhere between $600.00- $2000.00
Grind the concrete down to expose the aggregat, the tiny stones in the concrete, and then polish.
If you want to color the concrete then you are in for a mess. You need to seal all cracks, as any moisture will forever react with the stain, making a very discolored floor.
It took me 8-10 hours to do a 350 sq ft room.
The people who do this professionally quoted me as much as $25 a sq ft
If all else fails, you could rip up your current flooring, seal the cracks, and have a skim coat poured. or better yet, use cork.

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Joined: Oct 31 2005

We had concrete floors put in our Sunnyvale Eichler and like them very much (pictures at http://homepage.mac.com/costa/PhotoAlbum68.html). We used a company based in SF. Feel free to email me for contact info.

We took the flooring down to the slab (had to remove carpet and the original asbestos tiles) and then had the SF company apply what is called a "microtopping" of concrete colored a darkish grey, hand-troweled, followed by an acrylic coat.

The results are fantastic, and over a year later, we remain very happy with our choice. It can run about $7-10/sqft depending on finishes, cuts, etc. Ours was about $8/sqft

tom
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Joined: Mar 23 2003

Barry, what kind of flooring did you install in the bedroom and why?

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Joined: Aug 30 2003

Tom, I had black slate tile installed throughout the house, in every room. I like the look of a continuous floor surface (makes the house look bigger, no breaks anywhere) and the slate is great for radiant heat, plus it looks fantastic. See http://totheweb.com/eichler/2006_remodel/new_floor1.html, that photo was taken a week ago. The drywall crew is working right now, and the new floor is covered up to protect it.

Barry

1959 A. Quincy Jones atrium model in The Highlands, San Mateo http://www.totheweb.com/eichler

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Joined: Oct 3 2005

We have cleaned and painted or concrete floors thoughout half of the house (so far). It's time consuming but inexpensive and fairly easy.

Check out these pics of the kitchen floor before and after. Note we've also cut lines into the floor in a 4ft x 4 ft grid pattern.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/67928680@N00/sets/72157594295573858/

Hope this helps :)

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Joined: Jul 14 2006

MrDavros wrote:
We have cleaned and painted or concrete floors thoughout half of the house (so far). It's time consuming but inexpensive and fairly easy.

Check out these pics of the kitchen floor before and after. Note we've also cut lines into the floor in a 4ft x 4 ft grid pattern.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/67928680@N00/sets/72157594295573858/

Hope this helps :)
Very interesting!
How did you paint? and what's even more interesting for me..how did you "cut"???

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Joined: Oct 3 2005

The paint is BEHR concrete paint. Simply clean, etch, prime & paint as per instructions.

The cutting requires a diamond blade in a regular circular saw. The process that worked best for us requires 4 people. 2 people stand at either end of a straight edge (a 2x4) 1 on the saw and the 4th on vacum detail.

The layout takes a while, you need to make sure the lines run well in all the rooms. I used the hallway as the start.

Hope this helps :)

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Joined: Jan 18 2008

MrDavros,

WOW your floors look great. I would not be able to tell from the photos that the floor was painted. We recently bought a Sunnyvale Eichler and ripped out the old dirty carpet immediately. To our surprise we found the old VAT tiles and after a couple of months of hard work, I’m glad that we’ve got them all out and removed the Mastic too (all by ourselves).

I am really intrigued by your floor and since we have finished cleaning the floors already, I was wondering if you could help me out with a few questions I have:
How did you level the floors to get the completely smooth look? Did you have to grind the cement?
What did you use to fill in the cracks and other blemishes? Did you use Ardex, and if yes which type? (I found a long list of them online and could not tell which one would be the best for the situation)
Does the paint wear off in the high traffic areas? Have you had to repaint?
A whole bunch of questions on the cutting of the cement… 

If you don’t mind, please email me your contact info at forhabi-at-gmail-dot-com I would love to talk with you.

Habi

All that you touch, and all that you see.
Is all your life, will ever be.
-Pink Floyd

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Joined: Jun 28 2003

We had the concrete floors done last Sept. It was the best descion for us.

The process was a lot of work initially. We had to remove all the existing flooring (Tile, carpet, asbestos tile, cork, & Linoleum) Remove all the baseboards and toilets.

We choose to have the same flooring thru out the house. Once everything was removed we were ready for the finish work to begin.

Day one, a company came in a bead-blasted the floor. Day two the came in and put plastic on all the walls and windows to protect against splatter. They also prepped the cracks and put a compound on the floor so the new layers would adhere. The next couple of days they applied/ trowled on the new layers. We choose a dark grey.

They finally finished by putting a epoxy on top. This is a option added a little to the cost. It has a very high gloss which requires very little maintenance. We choose this option since we have pets and wanted to make sure the floor had the best seal possible.

I had priced out a number of different options from tile to linoleum. The final cost on the concrete was very comparable we came out around $10 sq. foot.

http://homepage.mac.com/jeffsheldon/PhotoAlbum1.html

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Joined: Feb 14 2005

your floor looks amazing! Thanks for posting the photo. Your kitchen looks great too. Any more photos you have would be interesting to see. :)

Who did it for you or do you have any idea what brand/type of epoxy coating and topping coat they used?

Also are there trowel marks visible from the spreading of the topper? I've seen a couple of different topper coating applications and the trowel marks are definitely visible.

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Joined: Jun 28 2003

I have added a couple of more pictures which show the floor in more detail. The flloor was troweled but is absolutely smooth. If you are interested in more details please email me and I can send you more infomration or your more then welcom to come by and look at the floor.

http://homepage.mac.com/jeffsheldon/PhotoAlbum1.html

jeffsheldon at sbcglobal dot net

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Joined: Jul 14 2007

Hi Everyone,

Just thought I'd add our experiences to the forum. My husband and I are in the process of a whole house renovation, and we decided to go with polished concrete for our floors. I should clarify: we chose to have our original concrete slab polished via a mechanical grinding process. We did not go with an overlay. There are pros and cons to each, and are totally different looks. Each person needs to decide for themselves which look they prefer and which type of floor is compatible with the conditions found at their jobsite. We thoroughly researched both options and decided to go with true polished concrete.

When choosing to mechanically polish a concrete slab, one must realize that the outcome is directly related to the condition of the existing slab. If someone promises you a perfect outcome, and your slab isn't newly poured concrete, then be prepared for disappointment. One major thing to consider prior to having an Eichler slab polished is whether or not you can live with imperfections. If after removing the tile and mastic (we went the route of professoinal asbestos abatement) you have significant grid lines on your concrete - outlines of the old tile that are permanently etched into the concrete, you need to realize that those lines will likely remain even after having the floor polished. In our case, we chose to have one small bedroom polished as a test to see if we'd like the outcome. We were really lucky in that our house never had tile in the LR, and in the rest of the houe, the lines weren't very visible. In one room, we had the polisher grind more heavily to remove the ghosting and expose the aggregate. We liked the results and went ahead with having the rest of the slab polished.

Regarding the process itself: when we decided to go this route, we had a really hard time finding reputable people to do the work. We would have preferred a dry process, but could only find people who did wet grinding. The person who did the wet grinding and polishing at our house was referred to us by our designer at the time, and while we did check their references and BBB status, they still weren't exactly careful, and I would not recommend them to even my worst enemy. The wet grinding process was an absolute mess and was far more stressful than I could have ever imagined. Our house was completely empty at the time, just 2x4's for interior walls, but it was still a huge headache (think about those in-floor electrical outlets and you'll understand). And although the floors turned out beautiful, the look didn't last long. The person who did the work applied the wrong sealer, applied it too soon and applied it incorrectly (too thick). As a result, the sealer turned completely white! We are now in the position of hiring another company to come lightly re-polish our slab in order to remove the sealer. After months and months of research, we have found a company that actually performs a dry, virtually dustless process. So after all of this, I would simply caution anyone thinking about opting for true polished concrete: make sure you go with a company that performs a dry process, and make sure you know about the densifiers and sealers, and do tons of homework. If you use the densifier, you shouldn't need a sealer, but it all depends upon the condition of your slab. I still love the look of polished concrete and believe it not, still think it will be worth it even after all we've been through. It is a truly maintenance free floor with totally natural beauty, and perfect for homes with in-floor radiant heat. I love it's understated, organic appearance. I didn't want stained concrete, I wanted natural. I love how the aggregate is exposed and polished. I love how the cracks look like veins. In some places our floors might be described as more industrial, and in other places our floors look like beautiful polished stones or sand. Regardless, we are happy. The imperfections don't bother us; for us, they tell the story of our house in the form of patina. Certainly, this look isn't for everyone, but it works for us. For those who argue that opting for true polished concrete is impossible, that isn't true. It's certainly a challenge, but as we've discovered, when you own an Eichler, EVERYTHING is a challenge! I would say that having a floor mechanically polished is no more difficult than having an overlay done. An overlay requires bead-blasting. So if you're willing to go through that, the polishing isn't much more intrusive and takes about the same amount of time as the entire overlay process.

Lastly, I'd like to bring up the topic of MVE or moisture vapor emission. If you are considering a new floor and haven't heard of this term, please do some research. Before any Eichler owner puts down a new floor, they should definitely have a calcium chloride test performed. This test is the accepted industry standard and will pretty much determine which types of flooring materials you can choose from. If your MVE readings are elevated, you need to be very careful when choosing your floor. Polished concrete is technically a breathable flooring option and fully compatible with high MVE numbers. For us, it was the look we wanted, and the MVE compatibility was a bonus. Non-breathable floors such as cementitious overlays will delaminate in time if MVE readings are too high. Floors that are non-breathable trap moisture vapor that diffuses up through the concrete slab (since these homes were built without vapor barriers). That moisture builds up and over time, mold can begin growing. If the mold comes into contact with the bottom of the walls, behind baseboards, you are done for. And if any contractor tells you that they'll put down a moisture barrier - please understand that there is no such thing. There are only vapor retardants. And they have to be properly applied to function properly. And if they fail, you have to start all over.

In addition, the water vapor carries salt (efflorescense) and changes the pH of the slab surface. The elevated pH associated with effloresence will cause many floor adhesives to delaminate. Ceramic tile thinset for instance, cannot withstand pH levels over 9. So I realize this is a really long post, but from our experience, it is an area in which most home owners, most contractors and even many architects are severely lacking in knowledge. It just so happens that flooring failure due to MVE is the number one cause of litigation in the building industry. Anyone living in a home that is slab-on-grade needs to be aware of this issue and needs to address it when choosing a new floor. I hope that perhaps the Eichler network will write a feature story on this topic in the future. In the meantime, I hope this opens a few eyes and makes people stop and think before spending thousands of dollars on a new floor.

Carolyn Piotroski

Joined: May 10 2008

Carolyn - Thanks a lot for that detailed description of your experience with your polished concrete floors. My fiance' are in escrow on a an Eichler in Orange, and we are planning to take out a lot of existing ceramic tile, and have the concrete floors polished. The company we have a quote from uses a dry polish system too. I would love to hear who you are using and more about your process. We are planning to have the floors polished next month so your timing was quite excellent for us.

If you get a chance, can you email me the contractor who is doing the dry polish system? I might be interested in getting another quote. My email is blinkbeforebeauty@yahoo.com
thanks
Brian

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Joined: Jul 20 2008

Carolyn,

You certainly have done your homework. I guess by the number of views on this subject, a lot of people are looking at what we all have to say about the concrete floors.

I would also be very interested in hearing about this contractor who does the dry refinishing of the concrete. Please email me at live2ridetahoe at yahoo dot com. I have a couple of other questions about your floor as well.

JG

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Joined: Jul 20 2008

We have found a contractor in the East Bay that does the dry polishing as well as microtopping and decorative work. He will be coming out a week from Monday to give us the estimate. Before then, we will tear up the existing 7 x 7 tile and expose the slab. We will also be tearing up the existing carpet.

We are going to rent an electric tile remover and possibly a pneumatic hammer to get rid of the tile. The tile remover is essentially a large scraper that vibrates and rips up the tile. We are optomistic. Of course we will have a scraper and a slegde at the ready....

Wish us luck.

JG

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Joined: Jun 28 2003

Good Luck. We went thru the entire process last year. A couple of factors to keep in mind:

1. If the tiels are 9"x9", which ws typical for the Eiclers in our era, they are most likely aspestos. If you are using a Electric Tile Remover this will break the tiles.

2. IF you still have a Radiant System, be careful we actually had radient pipes touching the surface.

If you have any questions feel free to contact me jeffsheldon at sbcglobal dot net

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Joined: Sep 7 2009

would you be so kind as to post a few pictures of your polished /exposed/ ground concrete floors ? really enjoyed reading your post with so much useful information. Currently we have concrete floors with Benjamin Moore Porch floor paint on them, and I am tryng to learn how to perform the moisture MV level test before deciding to spend 30k on tile - I am attracted to the ground old concrete look, but we do have plenty of running cracks and imperfections throughout the central kitchen space, which is a very large and prominent room in the house. Also, paint was applied into these cracks and I don't know if it will show up in the finished grind cement floor, i suspect it will....

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Joined: Apr 17 2014

I know this is a very old thread - but was hoping to see if there's been anyone else recently who has brought their concrete floors back. We're getting very close to finalizing some decisions to get our slab cleaned up. We also have asbestos tiles/mastic throughout our home that needs to be abated and then we were going to polish the concrete slab (hoping to remove any grid marks from the original tiles) 

Great information here, especially about the "grinding" of the concrete during the abetment process. That would have been a shame if they ground down into the floors that we're hoping to have smoothed and polished. 

If anyone recently has any companies that they've used for the abetment and then to to dry sand the floors that they could recommend, that would be greatly appreciated. 

Many thanks

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