Our basement floor is radiant heated and the ceiling isn’t all that high, which meant we wanted a flooring surface that didn’t interfere with the heat and didn’t consume any height. Staining and sealing the concrete slab was the perfect solution, and not terribly expensive to boot. There’s a number of tints, color seals, paints, and other options for finishing concrete, but we liked the texture and look of acid staining. After some browsing, research, and shopping, I ordered four gallons of acid stain and two gallons of lithium silicate densifier/hardener.

Washing the floor

Washing the floor

The first step was to wash the floor, and we made it a family affair with Sarah and I and the kids mopping and scrubbing. We’d been careful to keep the floor clean after the pour, and done things like painting before hand, but cleaning was still a necessary step. With that done we let it dry overnight, though the first step in staining was re-moistening the floor. I used a pump sprayer for most of the process, and the only issue we ran into was a couple of spots where water pooled and the stain didn’t take. I’d recommend mopping up any puddles first so you don’t have to reapply stain like we did. We let the stain set for about four hours; the longer you leave it the darker the color. Then we neutralized the acid by spraying an ammonia/water mixture and mopping and washing again. We weren’t quite satisfied with the color, so at that point we did another four hour stain on the lighter spots before neutralizing and washing again. One source said to wash until the water runs clear or the sealer wouldn’t take, but after several washes the water was still brown. Another site said we’d wind up taking the stain off if we over washed, so we finally called it “good enough”.

I came back the following day and applied the sealer. I was originally going to put down two coats of sealer, but it went on fairly thick, to the point that we’ll have to go back over it with a broom and then mop off the yellowed excess. As a result we still have a gallon of the sealer to use later, maybe when we finish the basement into an entertaining space in a couple years. When the other basement work is done I’ll come back and wax the floor to give it a bit of gloss, but we’re happy with the result.

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