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Q/A Concrete Session - Concrete floor, concrete countertop and concrete fireplace discussion
MODE CONCRETE
December 13, 2012 in Design Dilemma
We are new to Houzz and have noticed a lot of requests for a 'concrete' specific forum, to answer and address some decorative concrete questions.

When deciding if concrete is for you, think of concrete as comparable to any natural stone, in relation to imperfections, irregularities, and how it would react to staining. As long as you take care of it and have good sealers/waxes on the surface of your concrete, it's going to hold up well over time. Food grade sealers or waxes are used on kitchen countertops, so there is a barrier between the concrete and any food it might come into contact with. Make sure you do your research and use a reputable concrete contractor that uses high quality products, for a high quality long term result you'll be happy with. To clean and maintain concrete, we recommend natural non-abrasive cleaners.

Some other things home owners or clients should know about concrete... concrete will have variations and inconsistencies, all characteristic properties of concrete. With concrete we embrace and look forward to variations, in particular concrete floors will develop irregularities, freckles, hairline fractures, spider webbing, and a patina naturally with wear over time. If you choose concrete, be aware that as your concrete ages, it will continuously develop 'beauty marks.'

Homeowners, concrete experts, designers, architects, please join in on the discussion and post your pictures!
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Cynthia Taylor-Luce
http://www.houzz.com/discussions/272487/Any-good-books-on-DYI-your-own-Concrete-Countertop

I just finished looking at this discussion, and I wonder if your company might want to advise this homeowner of the pitfalls of DIY where concrete countertops are concerned...
December 20, 2012 at 9:14am   
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skywalker16
I have recently bought a 70's highset home and the downstairs rumpus/toilet/shower/laundry areas feature at least 7 different tile types. I am waiting a cohesive look throughout and wondered if concrete overlay would be suitable. Can concrete overlay be cut & polished to expose aggregate & look similar to polished concrete slab floors? What would the approx cost be (30sqm total)? Thanks!
December 28, 2012 at 10:38pm     
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MODE CONCRETE
Hi Cynthia, thanks for comment.

There are many pitfalls of DIY concrete countertops. The average DIY person may be overwhelmed with the amount of products, sealers, and 'how to' instructions available. Without receiving concrete education and having hands on experience, the quality and longevity of the countertop can be affected and can jeopardize the finished look. The greatest reason that we can advise against DIY concrete countertops, is because of the unpredictability that occurs naturally in concrete.
January 3, 2013 at 9:41am     
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MODE CONCRETE
Hi Skywalker16,

Concrete would be a great option for creating a cohesive look in your basement. It usually can be applied on top of the existing tiles to create a level, uniform floor, but without seeing your floor in person it's hard to know the preparation that would be required. Typically we'd need to do an onsite visit to properly assess the current floor and advise on the preparation that would be required to pour a concrete overlay. If we can pour the concrete floor on top of the existing tiles, you floors will be raised up a touch compared to what they are now.

Once a self-leveling concrete overlay is applied to your basement floor, you can stain the concrete, cut designs and/or seams into the concrete, and further personalize depending on your style and budget. A concrete top coat generally runs between $12-$18 per sq/ft (plus floor prep or tile removal if necessary), depending on the sealers, waxes and acid stains you want applied to the surface.

You can maybe find cheaper contractors in your area, just make sure they have plenty of experience and are using the best products, for guaranteed results. Let us know if you have any more questions!
January 3, 2013 at 9:59am   
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Hightower Concrete Works, LLC
As far as countertops are concerned, and I may be biased, but I think getting a professional is the way to go. The mix design of concrete countertops is very, very specific. That design is what holds the integrity of the piece. It's what gives support, prevents cracking, increases durability etc., Most DYIers aren't going to have access to these precise formulas. The sealer is also a very important step. Some people use wax, others sealers need to be reapplied every year. We use a 99.9% stain resistant sealer that only needs to be applied once, by us, in our shop So, if you do hire a professional, make sure they have the training and the proper materials so your concrete countertops can last for many, many years. You can learn more on our website, www.hightowerconcreteworks.com under FAQ's. Thank you!
January 26, 2013 at 6:57pm     
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Interiors International, Inc.
Even when your dealing with a pro make sure they know what you want not what the hear or think you want. I wanted a smooth finished floor. I told them to look at our Menards store(Midwest Home Depot) that is not what I got. They had know idea how to achieve what I wanted. I didn't do enough homework. I should have made them do a sample or find someone who could SHIOW me a job THEY had done in that finish. Live and learn. :-(
January 26, 2013 at 7:09pm     
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Susan Mills Design
Yes I agree, do your homework thoroughly when working with concrete. I also had a bad experience with a concrete "expert". I had done my homework, went to see jobs he said he had done, the jobs were done beautifully. Everything seemed so perfect, however, what actually happened was that he was one of the workers on those jobs who had left to start his company. The pictures, the jobs, all were the know how of the company he had worked for. What we got instead of acid etched concrete was a layer of color that peeled off the floor like sunburnt skin. The whole floor had to be peeled up and we had to tile over it. :( so even if the website looks good, the jobs they have done look good, dig deeper!
January 26, 2013 at 7:29pm     
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Ironwood Builders
Concrete finishes and fixtures can be overwhelming, even to pro contractors. Working with Fu tung Cheng was an eye opener. I'd done many tops prior, but the level of details and the formulas he has developed are far beyond the standard...he has written the book. I highly recommend the book...and the formulas available from his online sales. Classes are also offered in Berkeley, California at his shops. Many DIY in our area have participated in these classes...but I still advise a professional to build and install.
January 26, 2013 at 7:56pm     
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Twisted Minds Custom Designs
I am also new to houzz and of the majority of forums I've come across, few are very open to the idea of concrete as a material, while many are very closed-minded and misinformed and spew falsehoods about concrete and don't understand how a quality artisan can transform concrete into a beatiful addition to home and business. Just as with any other field you can get a fly-by-nighter or a jack-of-all-trades to try and do the work of a trained professional or try to DIY it, but the truth is just like plumbers, carpenters, electricians, etc. who make this their trade and their living, you will get what you pay for. I hope that all that view these pages take into consideration where they are getting their suggestions from, I think it's wonderful that everyone can give their opinios on decorating and design, but when it comes to true understanding of any trade practice, please leave it to the professionals, we are as a whole typically very fair and trustworthy, because the better we are at what we do, the better off we are in business. Thank you for this forum. Please feel free to view my page and follow me, or like this comment if you agree.
January 27, 2013 at 8:27pm     
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Susan Mills Design
I disagree Twisted Minds, you do not always get what you pay for, all the concrete jobs I have done have been by the square foot. In this particular job I am referring to, his price was the same as the other quotes. He had a brilliant website, the work he showed was what I was after, I went to see them, as they were busy restaurants, lounges and stores, I did not speak to the business owners to verify him but instead looked at the condition of the floors.

I do agree concrete floors, counters and even furniture can be beautiful and very artistic, I have been very pleased with the other work I have done. The key to working with concrete is to know exactly what look you are after, what maintenance is needed to maintain it and then find the absolute best company to achieve it. Go view previous jobs and ask a lot of questions.

When was the work done?
How do they maintain it?
How has the colour held up? Acid etched vs stain?
And then ask who did this work. Key question!
January 28, 2013 at 12:28am     
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Twisted Minds Custom Designs
Susan Mills Design, you just reinforced my point, you need to check into the individual and get references from jobs they or their company did, not pictures of what can be done, a lot of the fly-by-nighters as I call them, will show you pictures from websites such as this and others to show you what can be accomplished, but it takes an incredible amount of knowledge and skill to accomplish. Your follow up advise above is on point, as with any work you are going to have done having a trained and skilled professional with a good history is vital.
January 28, 2013 at 6:29am     
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knitpunk
Does anyone have any pros or cons to share on concrete kitchen floors? What things should I be asking the contractor? How do you decide who to hire?
January 30, 2013 at 2:40pm     
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dswift1
@knitpunk- We bought our '80's home about 10 years ago and the previous homeowners had a concrete overly done in a stamped concrete. The floor has held up incredibly well over the 10 years we've lived there. We lead very active lives and have two teenagers and their friend so the floors have experienced a lot of foot traffic. The floor remains in great shape and the only maintenance we have done is to re-seal the floors about 5 years ago. We like the glossy look of it and will be re-sealing it again soon to maintain that look. Everyone who sees it asks if it's slate. We've even had contractors ask if we like our "slate" floors. We loved the floor so much that we know have staiined concrete in the bedrooms. We also added a large patio area in the backyard that is etched and stained.

As others have mentioned in previous posts, you need to be sure and do your home work. The phrase "inspect what you expect" comes to mind. Check around, get referrals, inspect their actual work, etc. Concrete is a great product and very durable but can be very tricky to install if not done correctly. Colors can change very easily and not all products are the same. The stains we have used and like are Kemiko and Direct Colors. Best of luck to you in your project.
January 30, 2013 at 3:31pm     
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lynec
My original house plan called for slab on grade construction. I was going to have the slab polished and use as my finished floor. For various reasons I am now planning for a basement so will not have a slab to work with. Is it possible to still have concrete on my main floor?
Lydia C
January 30, 2013 at 3:40pm     
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Twisted Minds Custom Designs
You can, either you can have prestressed slabs installed as your sub-floor, or you can do a concrete overlay on a typical 3/4" plywood sub-floor substrate. Depending on your local building codes, and type of overlay material, you may need to apply a concrete backer board before the overlay. If you are building new, check your options before construction, in case extra supports or bracing are required. Contact a local professional to discuss your options. Hope this helps. One other option would be to have concrete floor tiles. A concrete artisan could design and install in varying shapes, sizes, or colors to give a true uniqueness to your build.
January 30, 2013 at 8:18pm     
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MODE CONCRETE
Hi knitpunk,

Concrete is a great flooring option for your kitchen because it is durable, gives you flexibility of design options, has incredible longevity, it's easy to clean and maintain and it embraces age by developing a one-of-kind patina that is totally unique. Concrete is especially awesome in the kitchen because it's heat and spill resistant, is super durable, is easy to repair if necessary, and carries little risk of bacteria or allergens since there are no grout lines.

And the second part of your question is tricky... how do you decide who to hire? Anyone can create a great website and images, but who is truly the best contractor for you? This is such a great concern for all home and business owners. Here are some tips on how to weed out the good contractors from the good salesmen.

1. No matter how large or small project is, if you want a high quality outcome make sure your contractor is constantly educating themselves and using the latest techniques and best quality products available on the market. Your contractor's experience and product knowledge is crucial in determining the quality of the workmanship you pay for and your overall satisfaction for years to come.

2. We suggest meeting with potential contractors and interviewing them, test out their product knowledgeable, experience, see their portfolio, check reviews, referrals and talk to your friends about local experiences. After a few meetings with different contractors, you should be able to differentiate between the fly-by-night jack-of-all-trades, and the reputable quality contractor that brings the most knowledge and experience to your project. Do your research!

3. You usually get what you pay for, and getting the best deal or accepting the cheapest estimate, will probably not get you the best results or greatest longevity of the product. The difference in cost could be quality of materials, quality of workmanship, level of experience and quality of service. Again, make sure you do your research before weighing the possible options!

Good luck - hope that helps!
February 1, 2013 at 1:05pm     
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Mike Slater
From what I understand, if you are replacing an existing kitchen floor but keeping the cabinets, the tile, wood, etc would run up to the base of the exiting cabinets. Is this true with concrete overlay on plywood subfloor? It seems like you would be cementing in your cabinets.
February 1, 2013 at 1:17pm     
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MODE CONCRETE
Hi lcohoe,

You can definitely install concrete floors on a wooden subfloor or wooden substrate. Concrete floors (often called skim coats, micro-toppings and overlays) are of similar thickness and weight to tile, so you should be fine structurally to install concrete on your main floor (provided your floor is adequately prepared and you hire an experienced concrete artisan). Make sure you use a reputable concrete contractor to ensure the proper preparation and techniques are being used on your project.

After preparing the wooden surface, a concrete contractor can pour a thin layer of new concrete to any room in your house. Depending on the flex in your wooden subfloor, hairline cracks are natural and expected to appear on the surface. This comes from the concrete slab being a single, solid piece of rock and the wood underneath is flexible and changes and shifts consistently. When the foundation of the house shifts, the concrete is subjected to various flex points and pressures which take the form of tiny hairline fractures in the material. For us, we love this aspect of concrete and it adds tremendous character to the floor.

Here is an image of a concrete overlay that we recently completed on the upper level of home, on top of a wooden substrate. Let us know if you have any more questions!
February 1, 2013 at 1:20pm     
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MODE CONCRETE
Hi Mike Slater,

Great question - wouldn't that be horrible if the concrete floors actually cemented in your cabinets?! If you are updating an existing kitchen, an experienced and skilled concrete artisan will never allow your cabinets to directly come into contact with the concrete.

How the contractor does this, is by installing a seal gasket around all the cabinets in the kitchen prior to pouring the concrete floor and leaving a tiny gap between the liquid concrete and any finishings. Once the concrete floor is dry, the seal is removed and filled. The strip can be filled with silicone, grout, schluter strip or trim - you can easily make this virtually invisible by color matching.

Hope that answers your question :)
February 1, 2013 at 1:46pm   
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Twisted Minds Custom Designs
Mike Slater, to answer your question, you get the same effect as when installing other flooring, i.e. tile, vinyl, wood, laminate, etc. You install the overlay up to exisiting walls and toe kicks on the base cupboards, you remove any appliances and contiue the flooring under the cabinets or recesses the same, and then trim. You are not cementing your cabinets in, but just as with the other options, if you removed the cabinets, that floor would be unimproved. As a footnote if you were to do it in a bathroom, you would remove toilet, apply floor, then reinstall toilet otherwise that would be "cemented" in.
February 1, 2013 at 1:47pm     
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Mike Slater
These are helpful comments. I had been considering concrete for a kitchen update but thought it couldn't be done over plywood and would be problematic with existing cabinets. Can a heating element be installed with the concrete? I assume, if so, it would need to be isolated from the plywood subfloor?
February 1, 2013 at 1:51pm     
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Twisted Minds Custom Designs
The heating element would be installed the same way as if you were to do a tiled floor, the mats or electrical wire would be laid out as per manufacturers directions to subfloor, cables would be set in a thin set or self leveling concrete, then the concrete overlay would be placed.
February 1, 2013 at 1:56pm     
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MODE CONCRETE
Mike Slater - heating elements are easy to integrate into concrete flooring.

If doing on a wooden substrate, the best option is wire heating mats due to the thickness of the concrete overlay we use. The concrete is typically only 3/8" thick, so the heating would need to be contained within that thickness.
February 1, 2013 at 1:57pm   
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nFORMAL design
To reinforce what MODE and others have tried to get at is that concrete is a wonderful and versatile material. However, I advise people all the time, it is not a miracle or magical material. I've found the hardest issue when dealing with clients is managing their expectations. My experience is that the expectations go to extreme. Some clients that you are trying to sell the benefits of concrete to expect it to be like sidewalk concrete. Others want it to perform like resin impregnated granite (which is what most granite counters are made of).

I did a counter job where the client wanted the front and back stretcher around the sink to have a seam only on one side. This means that the pieces were small and 36"-ish long and only supported on one side. We suggested an alternative method of support for the sink and having the seams on both sides of the sink. We also told this client that there was a good chance that the concrete could crack, and there was no way of forecasting where the crack would go. She wanted to chance it for aesthetic reasons...even though we lobbied against. Sure enough, the smaller of the two pieces cracked. We ended up hand cutting the counter with a diamond blade angle grinder (on site) and putting in the two seams. Although the client would have freaked with a crack, she still wasn't happy about the two seams. As one concrete reinforcement salesman and concrete countertop engineers have told me (and it makes sense), rebar/steel reinforcement doesn't always keep counters from cracking...it just holds them together once they do crack

Regardless, that client got an "industry discount" to begin with, and she still wasn't satisfied for a myriad of reasons. She has been our only dissatisfied customer to date.

Like I wrote in a discussion with Twisted...we at nFORMAL design personally LOVE lightly sealed concrete and the patina it takes on; however, we know that look isn't for everyone. We had another client want concrete counters for a bar we designed/built, and she wanted us to stain them to look "kind of like granite". I was flabbergasted. We did it, but the entire time I was thinking, "If you want it to look like granite, then why not just buy granite?"

Concrete...a wonderful material. I love it.
February 1, 2013 at 1:58pm     
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Mike Slater
Here is the kitchen that I would like to model mine after. The floor is concrete. I like the uniformity of it.
[houzz=
]
February 1, 2013 at 2:06pm     
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nFORMAL design
If anyone is interested, I just uploaded concrete countertop project we did. Unfortunately, the cabinets and appliances were already there. We just designed and built the counters.
February 1, 2013 at 2:21pm     
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Mike Slater
Like the bathroom vanity!
February 1, 2013 at 2:29pm     
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Twisted Minds Custom Designs
MODE CONCRETE to build off of the discussion page you've started here, I've also created a discussions page listing many of concrete countertops FAQ's, feel free to visit (others welcome to visit also of course). Setting up pages like these are a valuable resource to direct those with questions that may seem vague or require lengthy answers.
http://www.houzz.com/discussions/346684/Concrete-Countertops-FAQ-s-by-Twisted-Minds
February 11, 2013 at 10:08am     
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designideas4me
I have had an unfinished concrete floor for 2 years now. Yes its what the builder put in and it had carpet and linolium on top of it. I filled in the tack strips and had originally planned to grind and stain it myself (with a handiman). The problems I encountered were that the baer product from home depot didnt seem to etch and stain as it was supposed to and the bigger problem was a leveling compound area that I found in the kitchen which is very large. Thus I have to get a concrete overlay if I wish to preceed. I came very close to finalizing a deal in December but my son talked me out of it because he said that wood is a better choice for our house both in terms of resale value and the style of the house. I kinda dont care but I also felt it was a big undertaking. Just so those of you know who are considering this, you need to move all your belongings out of the house and leave for 5 days due to the dust. I did have some concerns about the dust after i returned. The say they cover the air vents and I would have to cover the track lighting plus any walls that are painted ,again due to dust. This would involve taking down curtain rods and lighting etc. He said he would make the sample board as to the exact color when they came to the house because I was undecided as to the exact color. He did have an impressive website and many reviews on it. He seemed to know what he was talking about and he also gave me a good price. Honestly I didnt know what else to check or how. I did look up that he had a current licence as a concrete contractor. Well I have a few questions. First,is there a product I can apply myself to determine what exact color I want the floor to be?I know it wont be exact but seeing the floor in black or in light gray would help me decide. Also when I asked in the discussion board as to what color people liked , many of the stressed how living with concrete is very hard on your back and knees and feet. Since I am actually on disability for my back I started to reconsider if this is the best choice for me. If it was just for looks my choice is stained concrete for sure. But people started to tell me the benifits of cork or a floated wood floor and how this could be better for me back so then I started to consider this option. Basically I still cant decide. They are about bother the same price...10-12k for the whole house. But everything has its pros and cons which makes it so confusing. People claim the wood shows dirt and can scratch and for me the wood will be in the kitchen as well. Choosing a floor is not easy. The issue about the kitchen cabinets concerned me as well since I may put in new cabinets.I do think it is best for me to complete the kitchen before i do the floor since this could create an issue if the footprint of the kitchen is changed. So anyway I am sure you guys will tell me there probably isnt anything I can use to cover the floor temporarily to look at and decide...such as a concrete paint or maybe a non translucent stain. I really just want to apply latex paint since I have so much sitting here. I just cant decide on which color. Ideas on how to decide on wood or concrete and which color?
February 12, 2013 at 12:03am   
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MODE CONCRETE
Hi designideas4me,

Here is a great website that weighs all flooring options against each other, maybe this will help you decide on your favorite material - http://www.concretenetwork.com/staining-concrete/comparison.html

The concrete overlay products we use, creates zero dust. We mix the product outside, and make sure all cabinets and finished items are protected and masked. The concrete floor is a self leveling product that requires no grinding or polishing, so it produces zero dust. If you'd like white or grey concrete, we'd simply seal/wax the surface and you're set - this only takes 2-3 days including everything. If you'd like a colored concrete floor, we'd recommend a water based stain since it's indoors, non-toxic and dries quickly. This would add an additional day or two to the project. You can definitely still reside in the rest of the house, where we aren't pouring a concrete floor - it's totally non-toxic and is a safe a product.

All contractors should be making you a sample tile or a test area, so you can see exactly what to expect. For our clients, we will make them custom tiles with the exact products we plan to use on their project. All of the products we use are high quality specialized concrete products, none are available at retail outlets or in hardware stores - only trained artisans should be using these products to ensure the highest quality outcome.

Concrete is the same hardness and temperature as tile or natural stone. If you are worried about cushioning under your feet, we recommend throw rugs or gel mats where you plan to stand for long periods. But honestly, we've never had any complaints in this regard.

On blog also has tons of information on concrete floors and pros/cons - http://modeconcrete.blogspot.ca/

Hope this helps!
February 12, 2013 at 10:42am     
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designideas4me
Thank you. I am well aware of the concrete network website. Dont you need to grind or etch the existing concrete before applying the concrete overlay so that proper adhersion occurs? Can I see an example of your concrete samples? My entire house will be done so there is no other part to live in as you mentioned. I currently have large throw rugs and dont really stand in any one spot all the time except maybe the kitchen sink and I have put a gel mat there. I think concrete is actually warmer than tile and absorbs more of the temperature of the house. Most people on houzz seem convinsed that floated wood or cork are softer than concrete. what would you say determins the price per sq. foot. from $5 or 8 or $10 per sq foot?Why is it not possible for the public to purchase the products you are using and create and pour this self leveling product? I am on a tight budget. As I asked previously is there any product I can buy to paint or put on the floor in a large amount to determine what color I want. Many of them look great in the pictures but I am not sure which one looks best on my floor in my house. Are you saying that your self leveling product will adhere to any surface on the floor with no grinding or prep? That sounds odd to me based on my understanding of the proper way to prep a floor in order to apply concrete which will adhere and last. what is your laveling product attatching to? Does it just sit on top of the existing floor? Thanks
February 12, 2013 at 8:32pm   
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Gabriela D.
What is the most expensive: concrete floor, ceramic, hardwood...?
February 12, 2013 at 8:47pm   
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Twisted Minds Custom Designs
dsi4me, wood or cork will be "softer" than concrete given the backer that is applied underneath. Price determination varies on many things from amount of prep, product used for overlay, thickness, color, design, or texture applied, you certainly can go buy your own product and apply yourself, but I will guarantee that you will end up with less than desirable outcome. It takes a high level of skill, talent, training, and education to properly apply these types of product. Same as getting a professional to wire, plumb, or frame a house, the application of an overlay is a skilled trade that those who perform take great pride in. If you put a color on your floor to see what will look good, realize that that product will need to be removed and cleaned to allow proper adhesion of the professionaly installed overlay. The substrate in question does need to be cleaned and prepped as MODE indicated, but there are different methods to achieve this result that do not require grinding as MODE again was stating. The link MODE provided should have given you some insight into how this is achieved by professionals, by cleaning the exisitng surface and opening the pores, it allows the chemical bond of original substrate and overlay to combine the two surfaces into one cohesive unit. I understand budgets are always an issue, so where budgets end, reality must set in. Long story short, if you want professional grade finishes on any part of your home improvement, hire the pros, or take the classes and invest the time into understanding what truly is involved in the processess. We do what we do for the love of the craft.
February 12, 2013 at 9:03pm     
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Twisted Minds Custom Designs
Gabriela, way too many variables to give a solid answer. You can purchase of the shelf .89 cents / s.f. tile, or have hand crafted tile shipped in direct from Italy for $40+ per s.f. Builder grade pine planking or exotic African hardwoods, construction slabs with sealer applied or 15 step etched, stained, stenciled, scored, custom designed concrete, etc. etc. etc.
February 12, 2013 at 9:09pm     
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designideas4me
Ok so this is from the concrete network....

For Concrete polymer-modified overlays:

Contractors and manufacturers are split between roughening the concrete by mechanical profiling or acid etching.

Mechanical profiling is the method of choice.

Twisted and Mode.... Do I need to research and guess what method you are refering to or can you perhaps just spell it out so I understand. Either acid etch or mechanical grind? Is there something else? How are you prepping the surface with no dust as you claim?
February 12, 2013 at 11:55pm   
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designideas4me
Why do you use self leveling instead of a microtopping... on the concrete network they say this................

Self-leveling overlays are less flexible after drying than microtoppings and spray-down systems, which can make them more prone to cracking
February 13, 2013 at 12:06am   
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Twisted Minds Custom Designs
dsi4me, First question on etching, I believe that MODE was refering to do the chemical etch to open the pores of the original substrate. Seeing as you have newer concrete that probably wasn't sealed due to the facts you stated about other flooring being applied over it originally, chemical etching would be sufficient as long as when completed the installer does some sample checks in different areas to assure a good cleaning. If you have a lot of glue that can't be removed from where vinyl was placed, then mechanical grinding would probably be best choice. Second question on self leveler or micro topping, again can't speak specifically fore MODE, but I believe he was referencing using a microtopping and stated it was a self leveling compound which it is, but not the same as a filling type self leveler used to true up an uneven floor to prepare for a final flooring application whether it be wood, vinyl, microtopping, tile, etc. which are less flexible as per Concrete Network Specs. Again, there are so many variables, which will determine what products and techniques can and can't be used, that to get a professional finish, you need to have a professional come out and diagnose your situation specifically, sorry there is no one size fits all product.
February 13, 2013 at 6:26am     
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MODE CONCRETE
Hi designideas4me,

I agree with everything that Twisted Minds has said! Thanks Twisted Minds!!

The terms overlay, top-coat and skim-coat all basically mean 'concrete floor' to our clients - we will fine tune the products we use to the substrate we are pouring on. The definition you got from Concrete Network is accurate, but the materials we use are much more technically advanced - we make sure the concrete topping has polymers and flexible agents contained in the mix, we spare no expense and use the best products available to produce long term results that will last. If you are pouring your concrete on a wood substrate, you'll have lots more hairline cracking since the wood floor and frame of house is constantly flexing, moving, expanding/contracting - while pouring on concrete floors always produces less hairline cracks. These cracks that occur (if you're using a good concrete topping) are all termed 'beauty marks' and they aren't structural. It is part of the beauty and originality of your concrete floor. Because of concrete's unpredictable nature, DIY isn't recommended if you want quality results.

The products that we use, are usually only available at concrete specialty stores, and most concrete specialists keep their tricks of the trade and favorite sealers as their 'trademark secret'. We prepare the surface, various methods are used when preparing each specific job - sometimes we use a primer to ensure adhesion, other times mesh is necessary. The methods we use, typically don't require any grinding of the surface we are preparing, but the best way to assess your floor is to come check out the job in person.

If you are located in the Okanagan we'd be happy to come check out the floor in person, contact us at modeconcrete@shaw.ca - If you live in the Vancouver area (or anywhere in the world), we would be willing to travel to you, but the customer is responsible for covering all travelling expenses, which would increase your cost. The base price for our artisan created concrete floors cost 12-18/sq ft (price depends on thickness, sealers, stains). Another option, is our hand-cast large format tiles that can be shipped to you, and installed by any tile setter. Good luck with whatever you decide!
February 13, 2013 at 8:37am   
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MODE CONCRETE
Hi Gabriela Deguer,

We found this site that compares all the prices of the flooring options - http://www.concretenetwork.com/concrete/polishing/comparison-chart.html

You also have a few options for concrete flooring which would determine the end price. You could have a overlay/top coat poured on your substrate, or large hand-cast custom made concrete tiles created, or smaller standardized concrete tiles available from most tile shops (cheapest option). Hope this helps!!
February 13, 2013 at 8:44am     
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designideas4me
I dont live near you. I live in Southern California. I dont understand why your prices are so high, I have had several estimates that were anywhere from $3 a sq foot to polish with no micro topping. Estimates of $4.50-$7.00 to apply microtopping and polish stain and seal. Yes these are very reputable companies. So I dont understand that but anyway since the floor will either be covered with wood or a concrete overlay I assume its ok to paint it for the time being just to see which color I want and looks best. Does it matter if there is paint on the floor or not since it will need to be prepped regardless. What do you use to seal the floor? wax? Why is your company not found on the concrete network or did I perhaps put it in wrong? Are prices higher where you are located? Do you use acid stain or how do you create the variation? Do you use dazzel or a metalic product? What are the pros and cons of a more shiny finish versus a matt finish? Thank you.
February 13, 2013 at 12:36pm   
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MODE CONCRETE
Hi designideas4me,

Finishing an existing concrete floor, where no topcoat of concrete is required, is much less money and requires less materials. The cheapest (and dustiest way) is to grind down the existing concrete and finish the surface, price depends entirely on the condition of your concrete. The price we mentioned (12-18/sq ft) will produce results like the attached pictures where we apply a thin level of concrete to the substrate, and is great for clients concerned about dust. Do small test ares to see what products produce the results, and look at houzz for design ideas! Usually our clients show us pictures so we know what look they are going for.

In regards to pricing... you usually get what you pay for, and getting the best deal or accepting the cheapest estimate, will probably not get you the best results or greatest longevity of the product. The difference in cost could be quality of materials, quality of workmanship, level of experience and quality of service. Again, make sure you do your research before weighing the possible options!

To be listed on the concrete network, you have to pay a fee since it's an advertised listing - we find it's a great 3rd party resource for any unanswered questions to help decisions but we don't personally advertise on there. If you are a brave DIY'er, or just curious about the processes, the concrete network provides tons of info.

We aren't able to discuss the various products we use, since the techniques and products are highly customized to exactly what you ask for or the look you're trying to achieve (and subject to test areas producing good results). We prefer a matte natural finish, while some people prefer a glossy wet look. A lot of the questions you are asking are personal preference and budget specific, good luck :)
February 13, 2013 at 1:14pm   
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designideas4me
what color is the floor on the left? can you email me a pic so I can see the color close up? Is it true that a client would choose one color and you can create different tones of that color based on where more stain settles in the dips in the concrete but that it is not possible to combine more than one color Or could I choose and combine several colors ? Thx
February 13, 2013 at 6:56pm   
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ocolwill
We are doing concrete white countertops and they are beautiful, I especially love that you get to choose your profiling with them. They are a great statement piece
February 13, 2013 at 7:05pm     
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MODE CONCRETE
Hi designideas4me,

Check out our blog, it features this project and a bunch of full size images that shows more detail of this floor - http://modeconcrete.blogspot.ca/2012/04/cool-modern-and-hip-concrete-floors.html

The picture on the left is standard grey with a natural finish, no stain was used. We were leveling out an uneven basement concrete floor, and applied concrete to the surface. This is our specialty and can usually do it on any substrate. The level of pigment, staining and combination of colors that can be applied to your concrete floor, is 100% dependent on the artisan's skill level. Anything is possible with concrete stains, maybe you should interview a few more contractors and see if they bring more skill or experience to your project :)
February 14, 2013 at 9:47am     
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Floor Strength
Well said, I have a lot of decorative concrete pictures on my page. Let me know if you have any questions about our style work.
May 17, 2014 at 8:15am   
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lipizzaner
Hi,

I have a quastion. Can you tell me how you make a concrete Floor looks like wood? And what do you use?

Kind regards,

Margret
June 15, 2014 at 2:32am   
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Floor Strength
We use wood stamps. Basically 1/4" of special resurfacing cement is stamped with a rubber mat that has the texture of the wood. The coloring is tricky.
June 16, 2014 at 9:14am   
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Elite Crete Systems
Good looking work guys.
June 17, 2014 at 9:43am   
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pjac53
Does anyone have experience with composite concrete flooring similar to ComFlor system in a residential setting?
June 29, 2014 at 4:02am   
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beachdingo
We just bought a house built in 1947 that is built on slab. It also has the original radiant floor heating. Is it possible to install concrete flooring on top of this?
July 7, 2014 at 11:46am   
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Floor Strength
Yes. but I would expect some cracking. You can do a self leveling cement application over the heating - but it can be tricky depending on the type of radiant heating.
July 16, 2014 at 7:59am   
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Northeastern Residential
Our client wanted an industrial partial finish feel for their basement. We managed to resurface the floor with concrete to give this unique texture.
July 16, 2014 at 8:37am   
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