I’m gonna preface this with: this is long, with not the most glamorous stuff to talk about and few photos. But we learned a lot from this and have had others asking us about our experience because they are interested in doing something similar. So we feel this is a ton of good information to the right person. Feel free to skim to the parts you want. I added headings for each of the different steps to navigate the info faster.
Our basement might just have been the cherry on top that pushed us into saying “let’s make an offer!” With 1,500 square feet of single level living space, that means we have 1,500 square feet of basement! STORAGE!!! Oh glorious storage! This was a must for us as Jordan is a pro mountain biker. I’ve lost track of how many bikes there are, wheel sets, tires, chains, boxes of lubes, goos and other random bike stuff. Let alone having a space for him to do bike maintenance, have a place to store our growing collection of tools and… you know… store just a few other things. In the two bedroom school house we used to live in, one of those bedrooms was actually his bike room that you had to walk through to get to our bedroom. So it was like the clouds parted and angels sang as we walked into that cavernous void. He could have more functional space to do his thing, and I could regain living space as actual LIVING SPACE!
Ok. So it’s not the most beautiful. Whatever. We fell in love with it. Upon moving in though, we quickly realized we would need to make this space a priority. The floor was so coated in concrete dust from some work the previous owner had done before selling. It was getting tracked everywhere through the house. You couldn’t go down stairs without shoes on. Then we started leaving shoes by the basement JUST for walking around in the basement, and take them off a few steps from the main level door.
We knew we had to clean it, and not just taking a vacuum through it either. This would have to be swept, scrubbed down, shop vac’d, and swept some more. All of that seemed pretty daunting with 1,500 square feet to cover. There was also a section where some new drainage had been laid and the floor had been patched. This was uneven with some jagged pieces sticking up. On other parts of the floor, you could see the square outlines of where old tile must have been. None of our stuff had been moved since we took it off the Uhaul truck and sat everything wherever was closest to the door that wasn’t already occupied by another object. Now was the perfect time!
What you will come to learn about us… we don’t make things easy on ourselves. We vowed to try and do things the correct way all the time, even if that means putting in a little extra effort. Ugh. Hopefully this theory pays off in the long run. So not only did we decide to clean the floors, but also take care of that weird patched area by grinding it down and finishing everything off with paint. We figured, if we’re going to move all our crap to do this, why not just do everything now rather than having to move everything multiple times down the road? The paint would look nicer, seal everything and make it easier to clean. So here is the breakdown of everything we would have to do:
Move stuff from the side with the patch work, to the other side (we would tackle this one half at a time so our living space wouldn’t get junked up, and start with the hardest side)Rent a concrete grinder to smooth out the patch workSweep, scrub, shop vacPatch holes in concreteSweep and dry dust mopPaint Drylok Clear over section that got ground downPaint floorLet dry for seven days to let the paint fully cure Move all our stuff to the finished side REPEAT (minus the grinder)
Jordan rented a concrete grinder from a local place. Very local in fact. It’s right around the corner from our house. The night before, he put up plastic sheets from the rafters to try his best at containing some of the dust this would surely kick up. On Saturday, with help from my Dad, they went to pick up the extremely heavy grinder with my parents’ truck, got it down the exterior steps somehow, and went to town for about four hours whittling down the area of the floor that had been patched. If you find yourself needing to use a concrete grinder in the future, just know that it will take double the amount of time you thought. It is very slow going, and monotonous work.
The grinder had a built in sprayer that was supposed to wet down the floor as it was in use to help keep down the dust. But this must not have been satisfactory for the boys. I went outside for a moment to let the dog out, to find one of the garden hoses winding it’s way down the basement steps, the door open, and my Dad spraying water on the floor here and there while Jordan held the grinder in place. I guess that worked. I didn’t really stick around, or poke my nose in much. While that was happening, I spent my time painting our master bedroom. So much got done that day! Once they got to the finishing point, while they got out of their muddy, dusty clothes and cleaned up, I ran over to Mission BBQ for take out and treated them to a job well done meal.
The next weekend after Jordan recovered from grinder detail, we tackled cleaning the first half. First, we swept up as much of the dust and larger debris as we could with a push broom. Then we grabbed a couple big buckets, filled them with water and cleaning detergent, and settled in for the scrubbing marathon. The detergent we used was Mrs Meyers Multi-Surface Concentrate
and it seemed to do the trick. Armed with a deck scrub brush and my soapy water, I did the scrubbing while Jordan shop vac’d behind me.
We found this to have a good rhythm because I could scrub a swatch of floor then move on and keep scrubbing while it got cleaned up. Once I finished the next swatch of floor, Jordan was done sucking up the previous one and right there behind me ready to go again. I tried not to get to far ahead of him at any given point because we didn’t want the dust to dry and stick on the floor again. That would just be a waste of effort. So we just kept moderating our speed with each other, and refreshing water and detergent when it got too dirty. Then 2 hours later, we were done!… one half. Sigh. But it wasn’t dusty anymore! Hooray! Finally, we plugged in a fan to speed up drying and walked upstairs to plop on the sofa.
The next day, Jordan patched up some of the divots in the floor with a fast setting cement patcher
. We didn’t have any tools for this, so we had to grab a simple trowel and sponge from Lowes. We waited till this point to do the patch work because we were told a grinder would just pull it all right back out anyway. We also wanted to clean the area before putting the patch cement down so it had more to hold onto and didn’t have to fight through a thick layer of dust.
Jordan followed the directions on the packaging by putting some of the patcher in a plastic cup, mixing it with water to a ‘soupy’ consistency, “but not too soupy” he says. Using a plastic spoon, he poured a little of the mixture into the divot and smoothed it out with the straight edge trowel. He only mixed a small amount at a time in the cup so the mixture wouldn’t dry up on him while he was working. This also worked well because he would finish the amount he had in the cup, then go back and smooth out the edges against the floor with a damp sponge.
Once that was all done, we waited a few days to really make sure everything was bone dry, dry dust mopped quickly for good measure, then finally got to move onto the fun stuff. Painting!
I’ve painted quite a few things in my lifetime. But floors are not one of them. The paint has to be more durable to deal with constant foot traffic, and a basement tends to have more moisture and temperature variations from time to time. So we started looking into all our options. Epoxy coated flooring at first seemed like the way to go, since that is what is used in garages. So it must be durable! However, we wanted something that could transition into a ‘finished’ basement down the road, not just be used for bike maintenance now. I was not the biggest fan of the flecks and there are limited color options that didn’t thrill me. Epoxy is also very harsh to breath in and a multi step process.
Next, we looked at latex paint for concrete flooring. There were a lot of color options, and wasn’t too much per gallon. However, there are more steps here than meets the eye. After cleaning the floors, we would have to use a chemical etching paint to score the surface for ‘better adhesion’, then use a primer paint, then paint with your color, THEN seal everything. So costs started adding up, and not to mention, our time.
Finally, we visited one of our local Sherwin Williams stores and found out about their porch and floor enamel paint
. The enamel takes longer to dry, but hardens more, making it more durable. This option was almost double the cost per gallon as the latex paint, but didn’t need all the prep steps or need to be sealed. So it ended up saving us some dough, not to mention the 40% off coupon we had from our change of address packet! A little internet research also made it seem like it would be the better option for our floors in the durability category. So we picked our color, Gauntlet Gray, got five gallons mixed, and grabbed a gallon of Drylok Clear
for good measure for the one area of the floor we ground down.
First thing I cracked open was the DryLok Clear and slathered one several thick coats over the area where the patch work had been done. While we were waiting for our freshly scrubbed floors to dry, we noticed this section was being stubborn. So we wanted to give it a good once over so the floor paint wouldn’t bubble and get messed up down the line.
A couple days later, we finally opened our first can of paint. Jordan helped me do the cutting in. We didn’t have to be careful at all since this is an unfinished basement and currently have plastic sheeting on the walls from waterproofing. So it went pretty quick with the two of us. Then I went to town painting the whole floor with your standard roller with an extension rod. We let that dry over night, then put our socks on to inspect everything in the morning. The instructions on the can said it would be fine for ‘light foot traffic’ after a few hours. I ended up needing to do another pass on a few spots, but it covered very well overall. Now we just had to wait seven days for the paint to fully cure, which was a killer since we just wanted to get this thing done already!
Swoon! Look at that side-by-side! Who knew I could get so excited about a fresh basement floor. Maybe it’s because I could walk around without spreading dust everywhere. Or maybe it’s because of the major sense of accomplishment of doing a whole slew of un-fun things and conquering over all. I guess we’ll never really know. We actually waited an additional week just to relish it (aka: be lazy) and get some laundry done.
Eventually we mustered up the will power to move ALL our crap back to the side we just painted and start all over on the other side. Sigh. We didn’t have to grind anything down on this side though, and there are no mechanical units over there either. So it went much faster at least. One issue we for some reason didn’t predict, was when moving all our stuff again we tracked dust from the unfinished side back over our freshly finished and CLEAN side. #sadface
Once we got everything scrubbed clean, painted and dry on the other half (about a week and half process for this side) we could finally start giving our things a home. As we put things away and unpacked more, we cleaned the remaining dust we tracked over the first half with a Swiffer Wet Jet, and all was right in the world!
Now-a-days, our basement is cleaner. However, it still looks like a bomb went off with all our stuff everywhere in ‘organized’ piles. We are slowly working on organizing and figuring out where everything should go. I’ll wrap all that up into a future post for you guys. At this point, you have had enough basement floor talk for one sitting.
SHOPPING LIST & TOTAL COST
Here’s our total breakdown of items we needed to get the job done. If we hadn’t needed the grinder this would have only been a $260 update. Could have been even cheaper if we already had a few other items as well. But now we have them for the future… and a clean basement to store them in <3
Concrete Grinder: $372, from Sunbelt Rentals – 1 day rental
2 Deck Scrub Brushes: $16
Shop Vac: already had it
Buckets: already had it
Paint roller extension rod: $5
3 pack cement roller sleeves: $10
Basement Home Improvement Painting
Last modified: September 8, 2017