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concrete floor hell...

by Fran Loosen last modified Jan 24, 2008 10:09 AM
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concrete floor hell...

Posted by Fran Loosen at December 29. 2007

Ok, feeling a little frazzled right now.  We had a concrete floor installed over radiant heat in our basement...long story short: crappy cement guy, cracking floor (not huge, but apparent) and now we are flummoxed about what to do with the finish on the floor.  The floor leveled our basement, so the concrete depth is more shallow at one end than the other. 

We were told by a couple of people that doing an acid etch over the radiant (pex) floors might be a problem if the concrete absorbed the acid.  Has anyone heard of this or had trouble with it?  So now we are stuck with what to do.  We have talked to someone about doing a cementous overlay and color, but it scratches like crazy and is $7/sq ft.  This same person also said we could do the overlay and acid etch that and that the overlay would take the acid and not the concrete underneath.  No quote yet on what that costs...  We have about 490 sq ft to do.  We also have 2 small kids in the house, so would likely have to vacate the house when this work is done.

Has anyone used concrete staining with waterborne color?  If so, what are the pros and cons and do you have pictures?  At this point, we just want color on the floor and to be able to seal it and get on with our lives (we've been out of the basement since April due to a backed up drain...oy). 

 

Are there other options we aren't aware of?  We are in Ann Arbor, Michigan and are nervous about having people do this work as our experience with the concrete person has turned out to be a nightmare. 

 

Thanks in advance for your help,

 

Fran

Re: concrete floor hell...

Posted by Fran Loosen at December 30. 2007

Previously Fran Loosen wrote:


Ok, feeling a little frazzled right now.  We had a concrete floor installed over radiant heat in our basement...long story short: crappy cement guy, cracking floor (not huge, but apparent) and now we are flummoxed about what to do with the finish on the floor.  The floor leveled our basement, so the concrete depth is more shallow at one end than the other. 


We were told by a couple of people that doing an acid etch over the radiant (pex) floors might be a problem if the concrete absorbed the acid.  Has anyone heard of this or had trouble with it?  So now we are stuck with what to do.  We have talked to someone about doing a cementous overlay and color, but it scratches like crazy and is $7/sq ft.  This same person also said we could do the overlay and acid etch that and that the overlay would take the acid and not the concrete underneath.  No quote yet on what that costs...  We have about 490 sq ft to do.  We also have 2 small kids in the house, so would likely have to vacate the house when this work is done.


Has anyone used concrete staining with waterborne color?  If so, what are the pros and cons and do you have pictures?  At this point, we just want color on the floor and to be able to seal it and get on with our lives (we've been out of the basement since April due to a backed up drain...oy). 


 


Are there other options we aren't aware of?  We are in Ann Arbor, Michigan and are nervous about having people do this work as our experience with the concrete person has turned out to be a nightmare. 


 


Thanks in advance for your help,


 


Fran


 

Re: concrete floor hell...

Posted by Jacqueline McArthur at December 30. 2007

Hello Fran! 

Sorry to hear your concrete guy was not the best.  However, there are things that can be done to mitigate the problems. 

First of all, could you post some photos of the cracks?  It would help to see the size of them, so put a coin next to the crack for reference. 

Second, ALL concrete cracks.  Saw cuts help to reduce/control the cracking, but just keep in mind that cracks happen. 

Third, how thick is the concrete at its thinnest point? 

Fourth, what color is the concrete? 

Fifth, how long has the concrete been curing?

I have an entire house (3400 sq ft) with concrete floors over radiant heat.  I love it.  We did saw cuts but still got cracks.  We were able to fill them and they all but disappeared.  We did an integrated pigment of nickel grey, so no acid or staining after cure.  But I did have an acid stained concrete floor in another house, although not over radiant pex tubing.  If your concrete is grey, it will be alot easier to fill the cracks.  Then maybe you could just keep the floor grey and seal it. 

Re: concrete floor hell...

Posted by lynne cimimo at January 15. 2008

Hi Fran,

We have 1200 SF of concrete flooring to cover and we plan to do it ourselves (also over radiant). We decided not to score our floor and to just live with any cracks.  It's been about a year and 1/2 later we only have a few hairline cracks.  We do have  pine needle "fossils" which I actually like! 

We haven't done too much research but once we came upon this product it seemed like the solution for us.

http://www.ecosafetyproducts.com/SoyCrete-Concrete-Stain-p/s1-1000-1.htm

I ordered all the colors on the bottom row and I might try using all of them to get a very irregular pattern.  I have the samples and I'm just waiting on my plumber to finish the heat hookups (hair growing grayer by the day) then I can do some sample spots.

If you want, I can send you pictures after I do.  You can contact me through my website:  www.designbyphoto.com

Now that I'm thinking about it, I'll start a new post to ask if anyone else here has tried this product.

 

 

Re: concrete floor hell...

Posted by Jason at January 17. 2008

The previous posters are right - all concrete cracks as part of the settling process.

If all else fails, put tile over it. That is why we don't do concrete floors in new projects without explicitly setting expectations with the client before doing it. Most of them are under the assumption that the floors will be perfect - which is not possible.

Re: concrete floor hell...

Posted by Splatgirl at January 21. 2008

I'm not clear on exactly what the issue is...cracks or color or finish or what?

Hairline cracks are a given no matter how the job was done what but big, wide cracks, no.  If this is the only issue, fill them with cement slurry, grout or epoxy, or whatever else you can think of that will get down in there and produce a look that you can live with.  Of course if there is movement in the slab and the cracks are more than just the result of shrinkage, these are most likely temporary fixes.  Likewise, cracks will continue to appear as the slab ages.

If it's a finish problem aside from color (which I have no experience with) grinding and polishing might be something to look into, too.

Re: concrete floor hell...

Posted by Jacqueline McArthur at January 23. 2008

Not sure what the extent of the problems are.  Fran, how is it going?

Re: concrete floor hell...

Posted by Fran Loosen at January 23. 2008

First, thank you for asking!  I want to say that overall, the remodeling we have done in our house has been easy, to budget, and well done...thanks to our great contractors.  This floor has been the only stumbling block.

 

So we brought a couple of concrete finish folks in to check out the situation.  The cracks were big (bigger than typical hairline) and the set cracks didn't work well.  Bad flatwork with big swooshes through it from too much water.  A mess.  I didn't expect perfect concrete at all, but I did expect something more to work with...

 

So we are having someone do the work: sealing the floor, adding a layer of cementuous primer-like stuff to cover over the swooshes, acid staining that and sealing over the top.  The woman fixed the cracks, so that works.  It's horribly expensive and I am hoping will be a beautiful product, but needless to say I am more than a little worried.

 

Also, my gas bill has shot through the roof and I am wondering if it is from the heated floor (grrrr!).  Anyone else had this happen with hydro attached to a water heater?

Re: concrete floor hell...

Posted by Jacqueline McArthur at January 24. 2008

My entire house is heated by radiant floor.  The boiler we use for the heat  also supplies our domestic hot water.  It is an in line boiler with a small holding tank that gives the hot water a "head start".  We basically have endless hot water.

If you only have radiant heat in one part of the house, perhaps you could shut off the forced air vents into that section.  That may help with the gas bill.  Also, keep in mind that a hot water radiant heat floor is always on, so you may want to set the tempurature a little lower than you would for forced air.  This may also help with the gas bill.  You may also want to  check out the efficiency of your water heater.

We have found that bringing the slab up to tempurature is what costs the most.  We do this each late fall and it just takes more gas.  Once the slab is up to temp, its just a matter of maintaining the tempurature.  Of course, we have had several nights with lows around zero, so I know the boiler is coming on more often.

Another issue you may have is whether or not the slab is insulated.  We have insulation under our slab to keep the heat from soaking into the ground.

I am glad you are getting the problems fixed and so sorry you had to go through this.  Would love to see photos when you are all done.

Hang in there!

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