When someone calls us for a quote about sealing their concrete, it’s usually a driveway, sidewalk, patio or pool deck. Sealing exterior concrete surfaces that get exposed to Mother Nature 24/7/365 with her summer heat and winter snow and ice makes sense to customers and contractors alike. When it comes to garage floors, most clients lean toward epoxy flake flooring, while for basements they typically request epoxy or acid stained floors. Many suffer from sticker shock when they find out how expensive epoxy is and few realize how strong an odor it emits. This is where alternative finishes for interior concrete floors can be an option.
The same goes with acid staining in terms of expense and odor … not to mention it’s a tough technique for most contractors to learn and master.
So what’s a contractor to do for clients on a budget? One alternative for interior concrete floors is just a simple clean and seal.
You can easily charge from $1.50 to $3 a square foot to seal interior concrete, which is a great deal more than what you can charge for exterior concrete. The sealers for interior floors last between five and 10 years compared to the typical two years a sealer will last on a driveway subjected to harsh year-round weather elements.
Homeowners have the option of installing carpet over a sealed floor if they tire of the concrete look. If the floor is sealed with a water-based sealer, they can put down epoxy or acid stain or even polish the sealed concrete floor with no issues.
Offering a simple clean and seal for interior concrete floors has allowed our business to work year-round. It lets us provide a service that we’re able to net a comfortable profit because the alternatives are so expensive.
Where I live in Indiana, we only have eight or nine months of good weather when we can install concrete and we lose some of that time due to rainy days. By adding the service of sealing interior concrete floors in garages and basements we no longer have to factor in the weather. And by using a water-based sealer, we don’t have to contend with the heavy odors associated with solvent-based sealers that will carry throughout the client’s home.
Prep for success
When it comes to the prep work for interior floors, cleaning is the key. I prefer to use a 17-inch floor buffer with black pads and plenty of water to scrub the floor clean.
For all the excess water, you’ll need to use a shop vac to vacuum it up because there just isn’t anywhere for the water to go. You also need to protect the walls by putting up plastic along the drywall and covering up anything else that could be harmed by water.
Once you clean the floor and let it dry for 12 to 24 hours, the sealing process is a breeze. All you need is a pump-up sprayer, a water-based sealer (I prefer to use a 30% solid content acrylic) and a microfiber pad. When you spray the sealer onto the floors, use the microfiber pad to glide along and rub in the sealer.
Results will vary depending on how the concrete cures. After two coats of sealer, the concrete will shine and show the imperfections. The imperfections in the concrete give the floors a one-of-a-kind look similar to acid staining.
The sealer will darken the concrete and leave a little gloss sheen but nothing too crazy. Take it from me. We’ve sealed hundreds of basement floors. And certainly this method creates a wow factor at an affordable price most customers find irresistible. This is just one of the alternative finishes for interior concrete floors that can mean more for your success.
Questions from readers
Your information is excellent. I’m an architect who’s building a new small home and studio. We poured 4,000 psi concrete and used a machine to bring up the cream. We cut 1/8-inch expansion joints at 4-feet on center. It will be five months after pouring when we are ready to seal.
We want to seal with a natural product that doesn’t off-gas. Please recommend a product or mixture that will not color it or leave it glossy. Enriching the beauty of the concrete is our goal.
Answer from Concrete Decor
I believe the Impact product from Ultra Durable Technology will prove to be extremely durable as it pertains to coating your concrete floor with a no-odor product. It’s offered in both matte and gloss finishes and is very easy to apply.
The Impact product won’t change the color of your concrete. You can also add a slip-resistant additive like aluminum oxide to the material at the time of application. This will add abrasion and slip resistance. Impact is generally used for coating terrazzo flooring, so it has proven its tenure in the marketplace for awhile.