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Archive for January, 2009

The first few days they did demo work, ripping out carpet, wood floors and tile.  The tile was a bear.  There were two guys running jackhammers simultaneously and it still took an extra day.  The mastic was so thick in some areas it was a real challenge to get it out.  They also found various cracks to fill and other uneven areas.  Here are a few before and mid-demo photos:

 

 

 

Entry, before

Entry, before

View of kitchen to family room

View of kitchen to family room

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Living room, before

Living room, before

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tile dust - this is why you use a Predator!

Tile dust - this is why you use a Predator!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tile demo

Tile demo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After the demo they filled in the cracks and bigger problem areas then allowed it to cure.  The next day they brought in a separate contractor to grind the floors.  That took a full day with a diamond grinder to make it as smooth and even as possible.  That completed the first five days, or week one.

The following week they applied what was called a ‘scratch’ coat, to achieve an even surface for the stain to grab and to hide any markings (paint, carpet glue, etc.).  It is actual concrete but in a very thin film.  That had to cure and then be sanded before they put down a skim coat the following day which finishes the process of filling in all the imperfections.   Again, that had to also be sanded.  This whole skim coat thing is something I might do differently if I ever do it again.  Personally I like to see some of the imperfections in the surface but most residential consumers don’t.  If you check out the floor at the Fry’s supermarket on Ray Rd. and N. Ranch Circle, it appears they did not apply a skim coat so you can almost see through the floor to the original character of the concrete.  Plus, if you drop something really sharp you can gouge the stain and see the skim coat beneath.  The skim coat process ended week two.  (I didn’t take any photos of that stage).

After the last skim coat and sanding came the fun part – staining!  All the while the demo and prep work was going on we were still trying to decide on color, locked in debate because I liked one, my hubby another.  So we went with a brown tone that Gary (of BC Coatings) suggested and while it’s a bit darker than I wanted, the depth and richness of color is beautiful.  Gary has done many floors and after spending two weeks with me he knew what we were looking for so I trusted him. 

You can use either acid or water based stain and we went with acid.  It absorbs a little deeper but other than that, they are very similar as far as how they adhere and appear.  The stain is applied using a sprayer (they tape off the bottom three feet of your cabinets and walls).  This is a good time to note that when you do a project like this you should definitely plan on replacing your baseboards at the same time.  They look like crud after you take out the tile and carpet and while the standard 2 ½ inch crummy baseboards we see all over Ahwatukee are OK with tile and carpet, they look weenie once you go down to the concrete.  We made that call late in the game, after they had already taped off the walls to spray so that added a little more time to take all the tape down, demo the baseboards and then re-tape everything.  But I’m so glad we did it, it was worth the extra $1,200 and time to put in new, 3 ½ inch baseboards, all freshly painted and crisp looking.  We also added new, equally wide but more decorative trim around a couple of doorways to make them stand out in our entry way area. 

Close up of stained concrete

Close up of stained concrete

Close-up of floors & baseboards

Close-up of floors & baseboards

 

After the stain dries (which was the end of week 2) they apply a sealant which is the really toxic stuff.  I can’t believe they can see much less think after spending time around this stuff.  They did two days of sealant and I didn’t want to be anywhere near our home – it was awful.  Finally, after that dried they applied the final touch, two coats of wax.  They were done after 13 working days but we didn’t move back in for another two because of the smell of the sealant.  We had to open all of the windows and even now, after a month has gone by you still get whiffs of sealant when you open cupboard doors and other tight spaces.

 

The end result really is beautiful but not necessarily for everyone.  It’s a very loud home now and we’ve put down many of our wool oriental rugs that I’ve had in hiding for years until we find exactly what we want.  Slowly, as our furniture and décor went back in, more of the sound was absorbed and it softened the feel of the floors.  Ours are what I could describe as rustic (as opposed to industrial or contemporary) because of the floors tonality and how it looks paired with our eclectic furnishings.  The floors are cool under the feet but I imagine I’ll welcome that a little more once summer hits.

It took a while to get used to them but I really love the floors now.  They are very pretty, albeit darker than I wanted, but have really tied the house together.  When looking back to the before pictures I can’t believe we waited so long to get rid of that ugly tile and carpet!

Another shot of the living room (with Trixie & DeeJay)

Another shot of the living room (with Trixie & DeeJay)

 

 

 

Contrast of floors to cabinets (not a great photo)

Contrast of floors to cabinets (not a great photo)

Dining room.  I really need to take better pics.

Dining room. I really need to take better pics.

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If you are considering going the stained concrete route in your home, here are a few things to consider before you make your final decision.  Again, these are considerations before doing interior jobs, not exterior.  As you will see from all the photos on the BC Coatings website at http://azconcretecoatings.com/ , they do driveways, patios, garages & pool decks, too.  Obviously those don’t require the same amount of ‘remodeling commitment’ as when you do an inside project.

Before you schedule the contractor, here are a few things to think about:

  1. Unless you replace all interior doors, there will be a larger gap between the bottom of them and the floor.  We haven’t found it to be a big deal; unless you’re looking for it, it’s not noticeable.
  2. Plan to re-install door guides for all sliding doors like closets, pantry, etc.  You’ll have to drill in to the floor to secure them.  I had to leave when Leonhard did that work.  It pained me too much to see anything drilled in to those beautiful, new floors!  And I have a trick for raising the guides to fit the larger gap between the floor and the bottom of the door.  If you run in to this issue email me, I’ll share what we did to make it look right.  And if you need a great carpenter or handyman, I’d love to share Leonhard’s number with you, too.  He’s very skilled and great to work with!
  3. Plan to replace your baseboards from the start.  We made the mistake of trying to keep our originals and right before the staining step had them ripped out – thank goodness.  This cost us time and a little extra money but it would have looked terrible to keep them.  The old baseboards were dingy and marked up from grout and years of abuse.  After the floors were done, Leonhard came in and replaced all the baseboards with new 3 1/2″  boards.  We feared we’d have to do the trim around all the doors, too but we didn’t, it actually looks fine.  We did re-framed the doors to our office and front door using a more decorative 3 1/2″ baseboard because they both open to the main entry area.  But the rest of the rooms all blended in to the new baseboards well.  Go with a cottage white or Navajo white on the paint color, those are standard baseboard colors used by most builders and odds are, you won’t have to re-paint all the existing trim left around your door ways.  We didn’t have to paint ours and it’s fine.  But plan ahead and schedule the baseboards to be done as soon as possible once the floors have cured.  You want to do this before you start moving furniture back in.
  4. Same goes for transition strips between surface changes, like carpet to concrete.  I’ve never met a flooring guy that will do this unless their speciality is carpet.  All the hard surface contractors will direct you to a carpet layer to do that work so again, plan ahead. Ours still isn’t done because we plan to replace the carpet in the bedrooms next, so we’re waiting.
  5. Plan to move everything out of the house yourself, including appliances.  Don’t expect BC Coatings to do it, they will come ready to work on your floors, not move furniture so be prepared.
  6. Look at what currently sits on your existing floor that may be affected by the change in height when you remove it.  We have two large island legs in the kitchen that sat on the tile. They support a very large piece of granite and needed to be raised in order to accommodate the 3/4″ difference that would be left once the tile came out.  Again, Leonhard handled this issue by coordinating with the flooring team and temporarily elevating the legs so the demo team could remove and grind the floor beneath so he could permanently shim them and secure them back down to the concrete. 
  7. Make arrangements for someone (or plan to do it yourself) to put your water heater and toilets back in once the project is finished.  BC Coatings is great at doing floors but you’re better off having a handyman do this work for you.  And be sure to replace the wax ring on toilets or they will invariably leak once reinstalled.  
  8. Budget to hire someone to help you clean before moving back in.  You’ll need a deep cleaning, including wiping down all the walls, cleaning windows & blinds, wiping out cupboards and cleaning the carpets.  I borrowed my neighbors steam cleaner to clean the carpets but had our regular house cleaner do the rest of the house. 
  9. You may want to paint your walls, especially if your new flooring color is a different tone than the original floors.  I thought we’d have to paint but once the baseboards went in they married the floors and walls together well so we opted to skip painting.  If you do need to paint, budget time/money and do it before the baseboards go in – it’s much easier.
  10. You will need area rugs now, which can be pricey.  Good places to pick up inexpensive, woven rugs for smaller spaces are Tuesday Morning, Ross, TJ Maxx and TurnStyle consignment.  Thankfully we had several from our days of living with hardwood floors back east so we resurrected them for the time being.  For larger spaces you might want a custom area rug in which case you should give Traci a call at Ahwatukee Carpets http://www.ahwatukeecarpets.net/.  You can pick the carpet and they will make a custom area rug to fit your space.
  11. If you do a large area of your home in stained concrete, it will be LOUD.  Area rugs, furniture and other soft materials are essential to absorb some of the sound.  It’s taken some getting used to for us.

Our cost to do the concrete was a little over $5 a square foot which included the demo but not all of the other items described above.  It’s a very affordable flooring solution based on the other options I’ve researched over the years and if you like the look, I would say it’s a great way to go.  You just want to go in to it budgeting all the related expenses beyond just the flooring itself.

So now that you’ve had a chance to consider all of the ins and outs of a project like this, the next post will walk you through the actual process and finished product, including before and after photos.

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When you remodel a significant portion of your flooring it requires moving furniture, either completely out of the house or from room-to-room as the work progresses.  Because we were doing all but two rooms of our home (we left two bedrooms carpeted) it required removing everything. 

In our case the existing floor was tiled which makes for a super messy demo.  Add to that the fact the concrete would be ground and sanded a few times during the process and we elected to move everything out of the affected areas, including everything off the walls.  I was prepared for lots of dust!  Below is our list of how we prepped the home and it was worth it.  The amount of dust and clean-up was minimal compared to stories I’d heard from others who have removed tile:

  • Remove all of your pictures, knick-knacks, etc. from your walls & shelves.  It’s easier to re-hang stuff than try to get tile dust off of and out of your possessions.  It’s like drywall dust; it gets into everything and places you can’t imagine. 
  • Move your electronics out of the affected rooms and either bag them with plastic or cover with old sheets.  We learned the garage is a good place for your electronics.  It stayed pretty dust-free while the two bedrooms still took on a fair amount of dust even with the doorways were closed most of the time and draped with plastic.
  • Tape off your vents, electrical and light switches.  Again, the dust goes everywhere and what you don’t want is to kick on your heat or a/c the first time after the project and blow out a bunch of dust in to your home.  As a precaution, be sure to run your system for the first time before you spend time cleaning the house.  
  • Tape off your kitchen, pantry, laundry and bathroom cabinets with a 4mil plastic you can buy in a big roll at Lowe’s or Home Depot for about $40.  We stayed up late the night before doing this prep work but it was worth it.  Clean up was not as intensive in those areas – we had plenty to clean after the project ended so it was nice to have a few areas that were less affected.
  • RENT AN AIR SCRUBBER!  It’s a handy little device that my friend Linda Minde of TriLite Builders told me about.  We rented one from them ($40 a day) during the demo work and I am convinced it is what really made the clean-up easier.  Even our house cleaner said the dust throughout the house was much less than he was prepared for – he’s done clean up on lots of floor remodels and said ours was the easiest.  During the demo, workers move the Predator along with them as they work.  It pulls a significant amount of debris out of the air and captures it in a filter that you wash periodically and eventually replace when needed.  It was a small miracle andI thank Linda for the idea!  You can reach them at http://www.trilitebuilders.com/
  • When you wrap your cabinets in the plastic, use blue painters tape.  It won’t pull off finishes, is easy to remove and leaves no residue.  We wrapped our cabinets like big Christmas presents, folded on the sides and taped down.  Seemed fitting since the floors were our Christmas gift!
  • Pack as though you’re going on vacation for the duration of the project.  It’s a hassle to run back and forth to get clothes, etc. and there were plenty of days we could not walk on the floors because it was being sanded or in varying stages of curing/drying.
  • We put our fridge in the garage, closest to the door and plugged it in.  We did go back and forth just to pull frozen food we didn’t take in the first run.  That worked out well because we could access it by simply opening the garage door.
  • Don’t leave any pets at home.  The noise and fumes from the sealant are way too much for them to handle. 
  • Everything will smell like sealant when you return and it will take a while to dissipate.  We waited a full 48 hours but ideally I would say budget in three days after the project is completed to return home.  You need to open windows and give it time to air out.  I still get a whiff of sealant in my Tupperware cupboard every now and again and everything was washed twice.
  • We had to dump crackers, pretzels and other bags of food that were left in the pantry even though they were unopened.  They tasted like sealant!  So move boxed foods out of the house or plan to trash them afterward.
  • This is probably a project best done during our cooler months here in the valley. Your doors and windows will need to be open a lot so you don’t want your a/c running 24×7. 

Below are a few photos of our prep work.  In the next post we’ll go over a few final considerations for you to think about before embarking on a project like this. 

 

Tape off all air vents

Tape off all air vents

 

Tape off your cabinets

Tape off your cabinets

Include taping off air return vents

Include taping off air return vents

Cover counters, too

Cover counters, too so they don't get scratched.

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Finally, a chance to catch up and blog the latest project; it was a big one and took a good part of December to complete.  I looked back to the last post and it was in late October!  I must get better about posting more consistently.  For this project I’m going to break it out over a few separate blogs, it’s too lengthy to all be in one post.

For years we’ve been trying to figure out our flooring issues.  We live in a smaller home so consistency in the flooring was key; multiple surface changes can make a home feel smaller.  Our biggest problem was the original tile/carpet transitions were cut in a curve.  Since our tile was no longer available, we were stuck with finding a surface that could replace the carpet and adjoin the existing tile in a seamless way.   Nothing would work because there are no options to create decent looking curved transitions.  We finally resigned ourselves to re-doing the entire floor, except the bedrooms which remain carpeted.

Options came down to hardwood, tile or staining the concrete. Carpet was definitely out.  After years (literally) of debate we finally settled on stained concrete, the choice I pretty much wanted from the start; I’ve always loved the look of it in commercial applications.

Sept. – Oct. we obtained estimates, four in total.  Along the way we discovered a vendor who places a coat of concrete right over the existing surface, typically tile.  It proved to be pretty expensive per square foot, (over $9 which included demo) and I also questioned how long it would last before it began to crack or peel since it would be laid over uneven surfaces.   We finally came across a referral for a company called BC Coatings.  They arrived with a four inch portfolio of their work in both residential and commercial applications and explained very clearly what we could and could not do, not what they thought I wanted to hear.  After another few weeks of debate we set them up for a December 1st start. 

They told us it would take 7-10 working days (not counting the weekend) and we should not live in the house during the process.  We would have no hot water heater (it sits in the laundry room, not the garage), wouldn’t be able to get around and the smell of the sealant at the end would be too toxic for anyone to stay in the home for any extended period of time.   Since they don’t work weekends we made arrangements to be out of the house a full two weeks.  Thanks to my wonderful parents we had a great place to land.  It was a full house, with four adults, two kids, three dogs & three cats and, although everyone got along well, I’m sure my parents were happy to get their home back after we left – 18 days later!  Turns out staining concrete is a serious remodeling project – but proving to be well worth it from our perspective.

The company we contracted is BC Coatings, owned by Ray Aycox.  I was extremely pleased with Ray’s professionalism while always being friendly, as was the crew he sent in every day for two full weeks.  Their website it limited but it gives you a great idea of what they can do to transform your indoors and outdoors.  For a sneak peek, here’s their website  http://azconcretecoatings.com/ If you contact Ray, please be sure to tell him I sent you.  A referral is such a great compliment so I’m sure he would appreciate it.

Once we nailed down the vendor and the timeline came day one – demo.

 

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