Last updated August 17, 2023
Whenever I post pictures of the inside of my house I get questions and comments about the DIY sealed 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 my area (Texas). You can find it in homes of all price ranges, it is usually stained a shade of brown and sealed. 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 that putting wood flooring flooring in our house wouldn’t happen immediately, becasue the budget 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 for sealing. As you can see, it was one heck of a good time.
Sealing a concrete floor is all about the prep work. Actually applying the sealer to your floor is super easy (like painting a wall, but even easier), and hard part (and where you will spend 90% of your time and enery) is prepping the concrete for the sealer.
How to Seal a Concrete Floor Yourself
Dust and Debris Removal: Clear the area, and then use a broom, dust mop, or vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment to remove dirt, dust, and debris from the floor.
Deep Cleaning: For this part, we used a pressure washer with a surface cleaning attachment, which looks like this –
You don’t have to use a pressure washer for this step, but I highly recommend it. Also, we did this before the drywall was installed, so it didn’t matter if we got water everywhere. If you are in a more finished home, hand cleaning is likely the wisest choice.
Also, use a concrete cleaner/degreaser to get a squeaky clean surface.
Rinse and Repeat as Necessary: Keep cleaning and rinsing until the surface is clean. We did this twice.
Allow Drying Time: Let the concrete dry completely. This might take a day or more, depending on the climate and humidity levels.
Cover with Floor: It is up to you if you want to seal your floor and then cover it during the rest of construction, or cover it and then seal it when construction is complete. We chose to seal it later, becaue the drywall crew was coming the next day and we were out of time. Either way, you will have to do this step.
We covered the floor with a product called Ram Board. Ram Board is basically just big rolls of thin cardboard that you put down to protect your floor during construction. This keeps all the dirt, drywall mud, texture, and paint overspray from ruining your clean concrete.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 ever 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 the $400 spent protecting the concrete might have been the smartest $400 we’ve ever spent. On that note, don’t be cheap and buy the brown paper instead, it will not hold up and your floor will get destroyed. Spend the money and get the good stuff.
Seal the Floor: After the walls were finished we removed the RamBoard, gave it one final cleaning, and sealed it (trim was installed after we sealed the floor).
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. Aplly it was easy, we just used a roller and painted it on.
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.
These defects exist becasue be didn’t plan ahead on having a sealed concrete floor. If you know that is what you want ahead of time, tell your builder and they will spread the word the the crews need to take extra care to protect it during the build.
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 drool-worthy 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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- Concrete Flooring: Is It the Right Choice for Your Home?
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- How to Make A Countertop out of Wood Flooring