Wednesday

The Concrete Floor



This week I have been on my hands and knees varnishing the kitchen floor... several coats worth...
...after having blocked the room off so the dogs needn't give me a hand..

... the counters and table were piled high with stuff that is usually on the floor... ahhh, much better ... but where did all this Stuff come from???

... first I gathered up as much dog hair as I possibly could.. sweeping, vacuuming and picking up bits of the sneaky stuff here and there..... how do any animals lose this much hair and not be bald, I haven't figured out!!!


 


A little background...

 If you have never lived with a concrete floor I would highly recommend it.. They are the most durable floors I have ever used...and the absolute most low maintenance...

...  this is simply our 4" concrete slab... gridded in 36 " squares  that John created using his circular saw set to cut into the floor about 1/16 of an inch... carefully keeping his lines straight with a "MacGyvered" weighted plank as a guide...

 ...then we stained it with an acid-etched terra-cotta stain,  rubbing it into the concrete.. we each took alternate squares so the rubbed pattern would look somewhat even over the whole floor....

...the  shade is rather like old leather...  little idiosyncrasies happen in the finishing of the concrete and the application of the stain, which is the way we like things.. not perfect and with its own character...  after that it only needs varnishing whenever you so desire... I think it has been 5 years...



 


... another feature of a concrete floor is its ability to act as a thermal mass...

Yes, we live in Canada, where it gets cold in the winter... but... generally...  we receive plenty of Sunshine during those months... hope it continues...  what with all the upheaval in the climatic environment, one would be hard to make a proper guess, but for now it works........


When we built our home, the first thing we considered was Orientation ...  We designed it facing  South, luckily that is also where the Bay of Fundy view is, so that worked out well... we are totally exposed to the elements on this bluff...  360 degrees across open to the sky ... and to the solar heat gain from the Sun... of course not as many windows on the North side...

All winter it beams in the East, South and West windows and sinks into that concrete... that's passive solar...  with the addition of the absorption of the radiant heat from our wood-stoves, we are pretty cozy...  and when you stand in the especially warm spots, the heat sinks right into your bones...    when your feet are warm, all of you is warm... 

 ...also not to forget in the summer when the sun is higher in the sky, the concrete floor keeps the house cool... double feature...



 



 ... should be good for another few years or so...



 


In the beginning...

 ...Underneath that durable floor is this wire mesh grid-work of steel rods that John is fastening together with wire ties...
...underneath the gridwork is 6mm. plastic vapor barrier... this shot is from when he was doing the garage... in the main structure of the house directly under the grid work  are many winding yards of hydronic tubes placed about 1 foot  apart covering the whole surface,  then  a layer of 2 inch tongue and groove rigid foam insulation ... then finally underneath it all is gravel tamped down very firmly to provide a good base structurally for the concrete floor and for drainage...
...We have the hydronic tubes installed in the concrete so they are there for the future, but we being the old fashioned frugal folks we are, only use our woodstoves for heat...  we like the way you live with a wood stove...

***

... and that old solid wood door with the fresh coat of paint just behind John,  we scrounged from the roadside... a fellow who was modernizing his very old house threw it away...  it still has original wavy glass... he bought one of those new foam doors..  I think we found the best deal...

***

  Note.... I used "Flecto, Varathane, Diamond Wood Finish, Semi-Gloss, for Floors"...  I have 4 layers of it on my wooden stair treads and it wears well there... here's hoping it is just as long lasting on the concrete ... after all once the first coat is sealed, I do not see what difference it would make what surface it was applied to...



*first photo...  floor is still wet.

***



I would also love to try an even lower maintenance  floor, somewhere, sometime and that is Concrete that is dyed previously to being poured and then finished with linseed oil...

... applications of oil are applied in a traditional manner, the same as is done to unfinished hardwood flooring, which I have done and can attest too... such as this... 
 ...once a day for a week,
once a week for a month, 
once a month for a year 
and thereafter when required... maybe once a year or once every 5 years depending on how casual you like to live... the floor becomes impermeable... it may seem like a lot of work in the beginning but it is so long-wearing and easy to care for and beautiful, it is worth it...  another good point about an oiled finish is that any scratches can be fixed at any time without doing the whole floor... just rub some oil on the scratch ... done.

51 comments:

Rebecca Ramsey said...

That is the most beautiful kitchen floor I've ever seen! That's exactly the look I wanted in my sunroom. Unfortunately I did a terrible job describing it to the concrete guys and it turned out all wrong. Yours is PERFECT!

Teri and the cats of Furrydance said...

It is lovely, does look like rich, well broken in leather...just like I've seen on those home improvement shows...Would be wonderful with the animals, too!

Guillaume said...

Lovely house.

Mary Sheehan Winn said...

That floor is exquisite, and that it acts as a thermal conductor, well, it's Brilliant!
Your house is beautiful and the Bay of Fundy is one of my favorite places in the world. We visit, Parrsboro, NS. in the summer and I call it "God's Country."

Arija said...

A wonderful job you both accomplished.
When we rebuilt, we bought a wood stove which also made hot water, so we could swithch it to any area of the house it was needed for sub-floor heating or in the summertime to the hot water system.

I am so impressed with the lovely finish of your floor but pity your knees, I hope you were wearing kneepads.

Seth said...

Definitely just like old leather! Congrats to you and John on the outcome.

jill Zaheer said...

I never saw a concrete floor as shiny looking as glass. Just gorgeous!

louciao said...

All that planning and work--and maintenance--has certainly paid off. Your floor (and what I see of your house) is absolutely gorgeous! I read out your whole description of your floor to my husband, who was really fascinated with the construction of it, as well as the look. I am beside myself with admiration for your hard work, Gwen! I shouldn't have read that part out loud.

Your wood stoves must be going full tilt tonight with the snowstorm blowing in. It's surprisingly quiet out there as I write this. I wonder how things will look in the morning...

Owen said...

If you had shown us a photo and asked us to guess, I don't think I would have guessed "concrete" in the first 25 guesses... what an amazing result... beautiful house, sounds cosy (as the snow arrives).

Btw, do you do cars ??? I have a car that needs a coat of wax ??? Pretty please ???
:-)

pRiyA said...

Like you say, your concrete floor indeed reminds me of old leather. It didn't even occur to me that flooring needs to be taken into consideration this much while building in a cold country.
When I bought my apartment, I read in a magazine about a wealthy young man who's house had polished teak wood floors. Just the cost of his flooring was double what I paid for my home.
(Incidentally, he didn't have any furniture at all on his beautiful floor. There was just some sort of neat bench like thing that he was sitting on in his well polished shoes).

ArtPropelled said...

I'm so pleased I've seen this, Gwen. I've been toying with the idea of concrete floors in the kitchen and maybe elsewhere, some time in the future. It looks so rich and wonderful!

Gwen Buchanan said...

Thanks Rebecca, Teri, Guillaume, Seth and Jill... everything is an experiment here.. we never did anything like this before... after some research we just dove in... life is an Adventure!!!

Mary, The Bay of Fundy was quite fierce last night with that dastardly storm from the East... calm now... Parsboro is nor very far away as the crow flies... it's a beautiful place.. lots of fossils...


So Smart Arija, I used to have a water jacket in my stove in my last house that I used in conjunction with two solar collectors which supplied all the hot water we needed... We wish to go further with self-sufficiency when time and money allow...
I never had any kneepads but I found this old floaty swimming thing of Max's to kneel on... worked pretty well...


Thank you Louciao, Haha.. do you think your husband may undertake a similar floor somewhere?...
I'm amazed it's not worse out there than it is this morning... What a storm, I couldn't go to sleep till I jambed my fingers in my ears!!


Oh, No waxing here Owen,, that is too much like work and it would be ongoing... Btw, do you do windows?... an awful lot of salt spray building up...


yes Priya, Canadians have to do much preparation work in the foundations of their structures to be sure we go below the frost line, then there is the extra insulation and the thermal windows etc...
... The good thing about a floor like this is that it's probably the least expensive floor anyone could put down and have such endurance...


Thanks Robyn, you should try one, I bet you would like it...
our living room floor needs refinishing too but I think I'll save that pleasure?? for the spring...

louciao said...

Good morning, Gwen:
Guess you got the brunt of the storm on your side of the Bay. All was quiet here and, sadly, the rain washed all the beautiful snow outlines from the trees.

Anet said...

I adore your home Gwen.
The amount of love and work you and Jon put into building this house truly makes it a HOME.
Just amazing...
The floors a so beautiful!

Linda Sue said...

WOW nobody in this house has the patience it would take to make such an exquisite floor! Beautiful! We are faced with the basement flood (fourth time) The floor we chose is plastic! How esthetic is that? The good thing is I do not have house love- in fact I would move in a heartbeat so the floor must settle for plastic. Ick being the operative.
Your blog is delicious!

mise said...

It looks great. Concrete floors haven't made it over here yet and I always imagine them as looking much more industrial, but yours looks very sophisticated and gleams beautifully. And I love the idea of heat absorption.

Inkslinger said...

So gorgeous! And those windows. Oh my!

liZZie said...

What a wonderful post! Exactly the sort of things I need to know about, and lust after! I think I'll be having something similar done in my kitchen, which incidentaly is minute compared to yours. Very lovely Gwen.

herhimnbryn said...

Glorious. What a superb colour. Now you have got me thinking about our kitchen floor.

We are STILL renovating out tiny house(when will it end?) and I'd thought one day we could have a slate tiled floor in the kitchen(when we could afford it). In the meantime I painted the concrete floor eucalyptus green. Now I suppose it would take forever to get the paint off, prior to varnishing the concrete!!!

Ruth said...

The concrete floor is yummy. I remember noticing it (or another room) long ago in your house. I would like a concrete counter.

The warmth of the color sets off the white room beautifully. And well, the Bay of Fundy view? I guess anything would frame that nicely.

I think of you all up there wistfully, Gwen, so idyllic. But, big BUT, I also know how hard you and John worked on that house! It, and you, are an incredible inspiration.

Shelley said...

Oh Gwen! What a great job! I love your floors anyway (love to 'skate' on them too)...but you have certainly out-done yourself young lady. Can't wait to see them in person ---one never knows as the snow starts to fly.
Take care my seaside friend, until next time.

J said...

Gwen,

After careful consideration of my options, I have decided this is the way to go with my garage floor.

Do you have a recommendation as to the exact brand and product name for the varnish (in particular), stain (if you remember), and even the acid etch?

I don't mind paying extra for quality products - I hate having to redo things because I used a substandard product. I'll be doing this in the next 2 to 3 months and would appreciate ay "lessons learned".

Gwen Buchanan said...

Hi J, we used "Stampcrete" Etch-Crete Stain.. (color terra-cotta) the stain and the etch are all one product...

we waited about 6 months for the floor to age a bit before we applied the etch-stain.

You can probably find current info about them on the net.. we stained ours in 2000...

The varnish I am using probably would not be the kind you would use in a garage to roll 2 ton vehicles on... probably have to find something industrial/commercial for that...

...one thing we learned is that after you stain the floor it has to be scrubbed very, very clean till the water comes out clear... they say to do a white glove test(which we never knew at the time) so you are assured that the stain has penetrated and it's not just lying on the surface...

The best of Luck to you.

Gwen Buchanan said...

Thank you Anet... It really was a labor of love and we just wanted to see if we could do it... and the other reason was that we couldn't find any insane people to do it for us for free...

Thanks Linda Sue... sorry about your flood.... basements with water are not fun... we built right on rock so we don't have one... instead of going down, we went up...

Mise, I don't know anybody else who has a concrete floor round these parts.. it just seemed like the most economical way to go for us... and it was...

Thank you Inkslinger... The old trefoil topped gothic frame we came across in a sorry state in the grassy backyard of a second hand shop in Rothesay before we ever designed the house.

Hi Lizzie, I loved the posts you did on the beautiful ancient clay tiles that were in your living room... I never would have known they would last that long... amazing... you are doing a fabulous job on your place!

herhimnbryn, thank you... oh don't say the word renovating.. We were renovating before we even finished building.. how's that for people who can't make up their mind!! oh and it Never ends!!!

Hi Ruth, I have never used a concrete counter and always wondered how people liked them and if they take much care... Stainless sure is easy care, that's for sure... and you make me blush!!

Thanks Shelley... I am so glad that I finally have that done.. I had wanted to do it all summer... better late than never!!... The ocean was roaring so loud last night... I'm sure if you were at your cottage you could not have slept, but you would not have been much otherwise occupied either as the power was out for 4 hours...

kathi dunphy said...

Beautiful job Gwen, looks like you could skate on it !
Your poor knees!

iNdi@ said...

inspirational.

i seem to leave a trail of leaves wherever i go
let alone the Border Collie fluff shed by my trusty companion

i dream of shiny gleaming floors....

J said...

Thank you Gwen...I've saved that info off so I won't forget.

Sandy said...

I LOVE that floor, it is so gorgeous.

Gwen Buchanan said...

Kathi, hopefully the arena will have ice soon... max is not-so-patiently waiting...

iNdi@, and the patterns left behind by your leaves are sensually amazing... I bet they would work on concrete too...

Your welcome J. have fun with it...

Violetsky, grab your socks and come on down!!!

Thanks Sandy..

rivergardenstudio said...

wow... so warm and golden... I have a friend who has concrete floors and she loves them too... and they are warm! Your house looks beautiful... roxanne

~tinyartjewelry~ said...

And I thought I had a workout at the gym today...ha! If only my results looked as fantastic as yours. Absolutely beautiful!

shicat said...

Ah,your amazing,awesome and wonderful house. I noticed that floor in an older post just beautiful. I love the view of the bay from your arched windows. You definitly got the better deal on the door! My friend added on to her old home and used doors similar to yours as entry doors into interior rooms and into her closet. Have a happy holiday. Peace and blessings.

Owen said...

I'd be happy to do all your windows, if I could just get there...

Linda Sue said...

Having looked at this post several times we have decided to have an estimate done by a guy who will do it for us- He has been doing concrete floors all over for about 20 years. I am excited- if you have any advice you can pop over to my blog and leave a message/comment whatever- thanks so much for this inspiring post- plastic floors are just so nasty....

Gwen Buchanan said...

Thanks Roxanne, I wish my living room was done...

Tinyartjewelry... your workout probably did your body a bigger favour than mine did...

Thank you Shicat, glad to hear your friend used some good ol things in her renovations.. They don't make stuff like they used to...
and the Best of the season to you too!!

Owen, excuses, excuses...

Linda sue, that sounds exciting... Is there a way to find out where the water is getting in that is causing the basement flooding... we had a similar problem in another house and we had to change the grade of the surrounding earth and voila, no more water...

Owen said...

Gwen, ok, I'll put on my wetsuit, flippers, and mask, and start swimming, should be there by April... 2011...

Actually, just wanted to thank you for that comment on the pine tree with shopping cart piece, and your story about a horseshoe that had been partially swallowed by a tree. I left an answer there, but just in case, am repeating it here, as you may enjoy taking a quick look at a couple of links related to such "hungry trees"...

Funny you mention it, I found a sign that had been nailed to a tree long ago that was slowly being devoured by the tree... and included it in a post in my blog last May, which is here :

http://magiclanternshowen.blogspot.com/2009/05/tree-song-treason-tree-son-reason.html

And then an alert reader who saw the post referred me to a Flickr collection of other "Hungry Trees" where there over 150 other photos of trees getting even...

http://www.flickr.com/photos/cemeteryrodeo/1582902128/in/pool-hungrytrees/

Enjoy, and be careful around strange trees... they can be quicker than they look...

Gwen Buchanan said...

Hahahaha..April 2011... hahaha Owen,

Thanks for the links... greedy trees are devouring things all over the world... looks like their favourite treat is metal... ... hummm,, what does this mean?... Maybe they need more Iron in their diet...

acornmoon said...

I did not know that concrete could look so lovely!

Gwen Buchanan said...

...till the finish got those new dog toenail scratches...
maybe no one will notice...

layers said...

looks like you have a beautiful home as well-- I almost put a concrete floor in my studio but went with tile after all-- and my dog just walks by and hair flies off of him

Debbi said...

I love this post Gwen! You have been very busy, and you don't mention your tired back and arms, but surely you must have had more than a workout achieving these beautiful results. The floor looks stunning, from start (John's installation photo) to finish. I love seeing all of the unique windows you two have installed and then finished them off uniquely with the trim as well. What a beautiful home.

Also been thinking about your last post, and response to my query. See, I think you do have an interchange with the crow skull. You learned from it and reflected and felt much.I believe we can learn as much from the dead (in this case a skull) as the living, and carry it on to our future interactions.

Shayla said...

Wow. Stunning. You have a beautiful home, Gwen. From photos, I think it's perfection. So much art, beauty and home-y-ness.

Gwen Buchanan said...

Thank you girls,
Layers, I see you understand the nature of doghair...

Debbi, I have always wished I could have more contact with the gray matter inside the skull... don't get me wrong, I adore examining the bony structure...

Shayla, I fear we are born scroungers and pack rats...

willow said...

I have been wanting a concrete floor in the manor kitchen for years, but never met someone who actually had one. Okay, now I REALLY want one!! Just gorgeous.

Gwen Buchanan said...

Thanks Willow, I'm sure you would not be disappointed..

Sheri L (Burhoe) Larsen said...

Beautiful floors indeed!

Manon Doyle said...

Just found your blog!! Love it!! Your work is terrific!

dowhatyoulove said...

Thank you for sharing about your cement floor! We actually rented a place with a cement floor, and loved it. It had radiant floor heating, but it was the guys first instalation, and did not work as it should have. Ours had been 'painted' and sealed, which was not a good finish, because it chipped off. I love your stain, its beautiful! Someday, when I get to build my own place I look forward to being able to put in both cement and wood floors, with good radiant heat.

desiree said...

Wow! These floors are wonderful. They are so warm and would have never guessed concrete could look this good!

Gwen Buchanan said...

Thank-you!

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Concrete Floors