The Reason We Have Sealed Concrete Floors
Whenever I post pictures of the inside of my house I get questions or comments about the concrete floor. I’ve never talked about it before, and just like most things there is a story behind it.
So why did we choose concrete floors for our new home? Was it because we love the look? Because they’re indestructible and easy to clean? Budget friendly? No, no, and sorta.
The only reason we have sealed concrete floors in our new house is because we can’t afford to put wood flooring in right now.
Concrete flooring is actually a very popular flooring option in our area. You can find it in homes of all price ranges, it is usually stained a shade of brown and sealed or polished. My brother and his wife chose stained concrete for their newly built home, you can see it in the pictures of the living room makeover we did last year.
Theirs was professionally done, ours was very much not.
We knew from the get-go that we wouldn’t put flooring in our house immediately, the budget just didn’t allow for it. So while they were building the house, right before the mess that is drywall began, we prepped our concrete floors. As you can see, it was one heck of a good time.
Adam and I procrastinated way too long and spent a few long cold nights cleaning (pressure washing) and scraping our foundation. We got it as clean as possible, then we covered it in a product called Ram Board to protect it from all the dirt, drywall mud, texture, and paint overspray that was soon to happen.
Ram Board is basically just big rolls of cardboard that you put down to protect your floor during construction (it’s kinda like cereal box cardboard). We had to buy $400 worth and let me tell you…buying temporary cardboard that was soon going to go in the trash was probably the least excited I’ve even been to spend $400.
I don’t have any pictures of us putting it down, but this is the Ram Board on the floor after the drywall was installed.
And THIS is why we did it….here is a little square where we ran out and just left the concrete exposed…
Scraping that one tiny area took forever, I couldn’t imagine trying to clean the whole house. It didn’t take me long to realize that $4oo spent protecting the concrete might have been the smartest $400 we ever spent.
Anyway, after the walls were finished we removed the RamBoard, gave it one final cleaning, and sealed it.
The sealer we used is nothing special, it was the cheapest stuff we could find at a Home Depot. It’s Eagle brand concrete sealer, and we sealed the whole house for about $200.
That was about a year ago, and here is what it looks like today…
Not bad right? Well, not in that picture…but it’s definitely not something people mistake for our forever flooring when they come over.
First of all, there are still holes and chips from construction, lines from framing, and rust spots from nails.
Second, there are plenty of areas that wouldn’t come clean and we just sealed in the dirt. For example, here is the area right inside the front door. It looks muddy and gross, but it’s actually freshly mopped and clean as can be.
The fact that it always looks dirty is no big deal for now, but it’s definitely not a look I want sticking around for the long haul.
So how is it living on a concrete floor?
Here is what I like about it – I really like that it is easy to clean and indestructible. There is no grout to get dirty and grimy like tile, you don’t have to be careful about getting it wet like wood, and it doesn’t trap in dirt and sippy cup spillage like carpet. In that aspect it’s the perfect flooring for our house full of boys.
What I don’t like about it – While it is a great temporary solution I would never consider a concrete floor as my forever floor, for a few reasons. The first being that I don’t like the way it looks. I’ve seen many houses that concrete looks great in, but in mine it just doesn’t feel right. Our house is a more rustic farmhouse type that needs the warmth and coziness of wood flooring, and the concrete would be better suited for a modern/industrial type space. It just feels unfinished to me, and with the high ceilings and open floor plan also a bit like a gymnasium.
I also don’t like how it feels. It’s SO hard that my feet and ankles are sore by the end of the day, plus its crazy cold in the winter. Also, my kids may not be able to hurt the floor but the floor certainly hurts them. We have had lots of bumps and bruises, plus a prematurely loose front tooth from my boys living life on this floor. Not to mention that the baby has taken to crawling on his hands and feet to try and save his knees. His bear crawl is adorable, but I also kinda feel bad for him.
One day (probably a few years from now) we plan to install wood flooring. I want something that looks old and worn, similar to these droolworthy pictures –
Aren’t those amazing? When we first started building I got a few quotes for putting reclaimed wood throughout our house and the bids came back around $25,000 for materials alone. That number is way over our head, so we will have to find a way to get the look for a lot cheaper. One of the reclaimed wood companies sent me a 12 month calendar that featured homes with awesome old floors, and each and every month in 2016 I drooled over that thing like other women would drool over a calendar filled with chiseled fireman.
That’s all I can think to share about our floor, plus I think there’s a certain poetic beauty to ending a post about concrete flooring with “chiseled fireman”.
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I visited an amazing DIY house in Glen Rose, TX in which the owners laid the flooring themselves. They just bought different sized pine 1Xs from local lumber yard/home improvement store and randomly laid them out in the house. It looked awesome and they’ve lived there for 15 years. They said it was cheap cheap.
I have concrete flooring in some parts of my apartment (chosen by the previous owners), and I can add a new con: if one tiny part gets ruined, you can’t fix that, like you would do with wood… you have to change/re install the whole floor. That’s why I have small rugs here and there, lol!! But yes, they are easy to clean for sure!
You can always get a “lower grade” flooring, with knots and holes, etc. We got a low-grade oak for our kitchen that already had tons of 1960s oak flooring, and the new stuff had a LOT of variation, (light, dark, knots, smooth, etc) which everyone loves when they see it. It looks kinda similar to the third picture of flooring you posted. I wish it was over the whole house and not just the kitchen. And way after the fact, I found out any of the worst knotholes I could have filled in with fiberglass resin (from your gorgeous pecan countertop post, actually). That stuff is awesome, sands like a dream, and fixes any of the worst of the flooring issues. Super cheap and actually has more character than “reclaimed” lumber. Just a thought.
The wood floors are definitely more beautiful than concrete. I have stained concrete in the living room and am a huge fan of it . It is super easy to clean, no worries with spills if it is properly sealed, no grout lines to clean (huge!), dirt and dust are easily removed verses carpet. I can carry fire place ashes across it without fear of a fire. No longer worry about a spill on carpet when entertaining. A fresh waxing with high traffic wax and it looks brand new. And dang… this free flooring is already there, yet it must be protected from the construction damage. And if one changes one’s mind….anything easily goes over it,wood, tile, carpet or area rugs. Yet again, those wood floors above are gorgeous, I am just to thrifty/cheap:) I am going to admire yours!
My idiot, I mean, dear friend who lives with me who thinks he is super wonderful, decided while I was away overseas and to surprise me, to put a poured concrete floor in under the house. The house is split level and that area has three ‘rooms’ One is my workroom and the other two are like car-space for parking. He heard me saying how I wanted to convert one of them into another bedroom. He got it wrong. I wanted ONE of them to be a bedroom but not the middle one, the END one, ning nong, the end one.
So I am stuck with a room which looks like a mechanic lived there. NO way is that ever now going to be able to have floorboards like I wanted. He got it poured so high you need a couple of steps to get in and that makes the ceiling height too low and more so if i put boards down….sigh….
Now I have to hire a concrete sander to smooth it down, get a polisher and then seal it. Double sigh…..Oh well, at least it was the thought that counted I suppose. I wonder if there are any cheap rugs for sale somewhere?
Wow! Jackhammer time? O_O
Those wood floors in the pictures are gorgeous! It sounds like there are some good suggestions in the comments already for a cheaper way to go than $25 000. That’s crazy!!
I love the look of some of the polished concrete floors, but I would never want one. Concrete is just so cold, I would die. Even if I do live in the only part of Canada that’s below the 49th parallel. Plus your point about the boys getting hurt is very well taken. (I imagine the baby’s bear crawl is super adorable though!) You could consider getting those foam puzzle squares to put down in the playroom, maybe using some double sided tape on the concrete to keep them in place. That would make that area a bit more kid friendly.
Kudos to you for waiting instead of going beyond your means, back into debt. That takes discipline, but it will be worth it!
Just a note about the super distressed wood floors as far as practicality and children. They are absolute crumb catchers and you have to vacuum for sure. I am not at neat freak by any means but omg the visible dirt in the cracks drives me bonkers. Also, spilled milk or food that you don’t clean immediately in one of the worn areas becomes something you have to scrub with a brush to get the gunk out. The grooves and uneven boards are also a big pain for little ones learning to walk. They will trip on every groove. As beautiful as they are, I curse them daily lol. I really wish I had a nice quality laminate “wood” or wood grain tile with super thin grout.
Poly is what messed up….the cloudy and being able to scratch it up..
Urethane…is what you need to ….Poly is plastic…..it gets old quick..
Love how your house is coming together!
I really wanted the look of reclaimed wood floors, but the real thing was too expensive and even laminate options were put of our budget. We ended up putting in utility grade oak, and we love it! It was by far the biggest diy project we’ve undertaken yet, but it was great for our budget and gave us a similar look to the reclaimed wood.
I live in a house with concrete floors and always would wear crocs, those rubber shoes. But my sister gave me a pair of sandals called Havaianas, they are flip flops from Brazil and honestly my back and knees never, ever hurt on the concrete floor when I would wear those flip flops, it is amazing. They are thin rubber but amazingly comfortable. Hope they can help you in the meant time until you get your wooden floors.
My wife and I have been thinking about having a concrete slab flooring installed in our house. I agree that it is a temporary solution. I want to do it until I can put wood in ontop also.
I think your floors look great! I am doing the exact same thing. What order did you do everything in? I’m wondering at what point we seal the floors, before paint and drywall or after.
Can you tell me the steps to sealing the floor? What did you use to sand it before sealing it?
What did you do to prep the concrete before sealing (besides cleaning it). Did you etch it? How smooth was the surface before it sealed?
I love the color of your brothers floor. Is that a stain? What color? I like the dark look.
Love the wood floors in your drool worthy photos. We had several large pine trees cut down into logs (8, 10 and 12 feet long, stacked in a pile, and then we painted the ends of the logs to keep them from splitting) Then had a guy come over and cut those logs into boards for flooring. The overall price of cutting the boards on site was nominal, a couple thousand, and the same guy has a kiln and a mill to finish the boards into planks for flooring. That will cost another $2 or 3 thousand. We plan to put down the floors and finish them ourselves after the home is completed. Hoping they look like the photos you posted, it will be a lot of work, but the idea of using our own trees is a huge motivator and cost saver. In the meantime we’ll likely seal the concrete floors like you did, so THANK YOU for your post, will invest in that RAM BOARD product you recommended.
Tom & Linda
Hi: I built a house two years ago — sustainable, green yada yada, so of course we have concrete floors. The builder didn’t like the stain so we just sealed it. At first I loved the light gray industrial look. But now I hate it. Nasty stains everywhere. Looks dirty. Especially around the toilet and kitchen. Yuch. I spend half my life scrubbing, polishing. I will either sell it or install hardwood. Hate it.
What a beautiful home!! The benefits of concrete floors are many, but I think what really shows here is how unique and customizable it can make any space. Great work!
Your home looks like the home I’ve had my eye on for a long time. JW Moore Construction built a house that looks like yours but won’t share the plans because they said it was a custom built home by the customers. Do you mind sharing where you found your plans? You should check out the house on their Facebook page… you will love it!!
By the way I love the concrete floors!
ME IN THE OTHER HAND THINK THAT YOUR FLOORS LOOK AMAZING. THE LOOK I’M FOR.I DO NOT LIKE THE WOOD FLOORS. ITS OK ITS ABOUT WHAT PEOPLE LIKE AND DISLIKE.GOOD LICK WITH YOU FLOOR IN THE FUTURE
Just a question, Would it be better to seal at first instead of at the end?
Yes, it would have. In the house I am building right now I had my concrete floors professionally sealed fight after it was framed, and then covered it for the rest of the build. Must easier to keep the imperfections away if you do it sooner.
Have you had to polish them again to keep the shine ? We had ours done a few months ago and I’m not sure how often they should have a quick polish ?
Use this once a year – ZEP floor polish