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Concrete Floors: When To Seal Them And Why It Matters

Updated: Jul 28, 2023

Polished and sealed concrete always made sense to me, after all, its basically free, right?

From the very beginning of our planning process, we knew the downstairs portion of our barndominium would have sealed concrete. Well, here we are, at the very end of our build realizing, this could have been done better.


Me realizing I screwed this whole operation up over a year ago


What I wish I knew then, 'then' being, back in the days when I was planning this whole build, is that its way harder to clean your floors when walls are up, than when there's no walls at all. My #1 piece of advice to anyone considering this flooring option is, do it as early as possible.


W A I T
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Best Case Scenario

The building is dried in, windows are installed, doors are functional, and your home-to-be looks like a barn. That's when it'll be easiest to get things done. Take that opportunity to rent some equipment, and get those floors just how you want them. Remember, once framing starts, there'll be a ton of sawdust floating around, and you don't want to deal with that.


Yes, you might need to rent an air conditioner or heater.

Yes, you may need to rig some lighting.

Yes, you'll need to buy material to cover the floors after they're done...

BUT trust me, it's worth it.



Second Best Case Scenario

Your building is framed out, maybe you've completed rough in plumbing and electrical, maybe not, but you definitely don't have drywall. This is the next best time to get the floors finished, because once the drywall crew comes in, you'll have to spend a lot more time scrubbing and buffing to get all of their mess off your rough and porous concrete.

I know its not exciting to stop progress at this point, but trust me, if you do this after drywall, it'll be way more painful.



Not The Worst, But Not A Great Scenario

Your drywall crew has come and gone, please for the love of God, stop at this point and finish your floors if you haven't already. After drywall goes up, youre going to feel the overwhelming urge to paint and start trimming out the house, don't do it. This is your last opportunity to clean, buff, stain, and seal your floors before it becomes a physically demanding nightmare the likes of which you've never experienced.

Sure, you might have to scrub join compound off the floor with your buffer.

Sure, youre going to burn through buffer pads like crazy.


So why do it now as opposed to just pushing forward and doing it at the end?


If you wait until the end, you'll have to do what I did.


Let me paint you a picture...

You start the process with your trusty O-Cedar mop in hand, ready to clean some floors.

Your husband is manning the gargantuan buffer machine because it whips you around like a rag doll.

You think, "It won't be that bad. Mopping is easy." and by the fourth trip for new water, youre wondering if this will ever end and trying to think of teenagers who could handle a mop for a few bucks an hour.

Not only are you dreaming about light at the end of the tunnel, but youre starting to realize, half of this crap isn't coming up with the mop, and its not coming off when you hit it with the buffer either.

So, after you finish mopping that section, you grab the floor scraper and go to town... but the concrete is pretty rough and uneven so you have to get down on your hands and knees with a small sander to actually get the spot out.


After knocking out that area, you feel pretty accomplished, but when you stand up, reality hits.


This was one 10'X10' section, and you have about 20 more of these to go.


AND


You haven't even cleaned it well enough to seal it yet, you'll have to mop the entire house several times after the gunk comes off to get to that point.


The worst has yet to come.



In the next section, you repeat the process, only, when you think youre done, the baseboard catches your eye. There's a 1/2 inch area of concrete next to the trim that the buffer doesn't touch, and it needs to be sanded... but the sander still leaves a noticeable hazy line. Youre slightly dissatisfied, but what can you do? It is what it is at this point.


Take it from me, don't do what I did.

Finish your floors as early in the process as possible.



 

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