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Polished Concrete – How I Got My Slab Ready for Paint

I’m breaking down how I got a polished concrete slab prepped for paint – and the mistakes I made painting the floors.

Ugh, carpet.  So gross.  Escepically the carpet in our den.  The previous owners had dogs.  We have dogs.  Our dogs are house trained, however…they didn’t like the last dogs stains….and you get the picture.  The carpet had to go.  I loved the look of polished concrete floors, and I probably should have stopped this DIY after I polished them because I’m not loving the paint.  But more about that later. First, let’s take a look at how disgusting that carpet was.

I'm breaking down how I got a polished concrete slab prepped for paint - and the mistakes I made painting the floors.   UncookieCutter.com

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No kidding, that is after having it professionally cleaned like 5 times.  Actually, this whole room renovation started back in October (yes, I’m slow) when we were having friends come into town.  I couldn’t stand for one more second to have that carpet back there, so they day before they arrived…I ripped it up.  The hubs came home like “oh my…”.  I stripped it down to the bare concrete.

I'm breaking down how I got a polished concrete slab prepped for paint - and the mistakes I made painting the floors.   UncookieCutter.com

Pulling up carpet is a bit of work.  It’s heavy and awkward and gross.  I had to use a razor blade to tear it apart so I could move it outside.  After pulling up the carpet and the underlying pad, you are left with carpet tacks.  They have to be pried up or cut down.  I pulled them out, but in retrospect it would have been better to cut them and sand them down.  Would’ve left less of a mark.

I'm breaking down how I got a polished concrete slab prepped for paint - and the mistakes I made painting the floors.   UncookieCutter.com

At this point, I need to sand and polish the concrete.  After checking out the rental equipment, I realized it was going to cost us around $200 a day to rent a big sander/polisher!!  I wanted to try and find a different way.  So, I grabbed my angle grinder, put on a flap disc grinding wheel sander.  I took off the protective cover and got to grinding.

I'm breaking down how I got a polished concrete slab prepped for paint - and the mistakes I made painting the floors.   UncookieCutter.com

It was a lot of grinding, but not to bad.  You can sort of feel it with your hands as you go and just keep working it until it’s smooth and all the grease and grime and old paint are gone.

I'm breaking down how I got a polished concrete slab prepped for paint - and the mistakes I made painting the floors.   UncookieCutter.com

I’m honestly not sure about this technique.  It worked – the floor was smooth and polished and beautiful, but it was a MESS.  It took forever to get the  dust off everything in the house.  I’m not saying I recommend this option…I’m just saying it is an option.

I'm breaking down how I got a polished concrete slab prepped for paint - and the mistakes I made painting the floors.   UncookieCutter.com

Can you tell what that is?  That is the den.  If you are going this route, I would recommend opening all the windows and doors you can, use fans and a shop vac to suck the dust out and make sure to use an air filter and googles.

Now, at this point I should have just stopped and put a sealer on. Honestly, I’m not loving the finished product.  I wanted to cover the little holes where the carpet tacks pulled some concrete up.  So I filled the holes with Quikrete FastSet Repair Mortar mix and sanded them down.  I'm breaking down how I got a polished concrete slab prepped for paint - and the mistakes I made painting the floors.   UncookieCutter.com

I wanted to try the a concrete finishing stain.  It looked so nice in the catalog.  It was a two coat process.   I put the first coat on and it was looking pretty good.

I'm breaking down how I got a polished concrete slab prepped for paint - and the mistakes I made painting the floors.   UncookieCutter.com

Once again, I should’ve stopped here. It was when I tried to put that top coat on that things started to go south.  It was so dark and looked awful.

I'm breaking down how I got a polished concrete slab prepped for paint - and the mistakes I made painting the floors.   UncookieCutter.com

So, after much deliberation, I decided to paint over it.  I could’ve sanded it down and started over, but there was no way that I was going to put up with that dust again.  Not at this points anyway.  So, painting seemed to be the only option. I rolled on a coat and went through with an old rag and smudged it around and smudged it up a bit as I went.

I'm breaking down how I got a polished concrete slab prepped for paint - and the mistakes I made painting the floors.   UncookieCutter.com

After I was done, I put on a couple of coats of sealer.  And this is what we have now.

I'm breaking down how I got a polished concrete slab prepped for paint - and the mistakes I made painting the floors.   UncookieCutter.comIt’s not perfect, and I’ll probably do something else soon, but it’s soooo much better than the carpet.  And it fits with the modern, sleek look of the room.

I'm breaking down how I got a polished concrete slab prepped for paint - and the mistakes I made painting the floors.   UncookieCutter.com

So, the den is coming along. I am redoing this kids rec room/den as part of the One Room Challenge.  See all the posts related to the room below.  Three weeks down, three to go!!

Update – want to see how the whole room turned out?   Check out the final reveal and all the other projects here.

OTHER PROJECTS IN THIS ROOM

Before Photos – Week 1 

Popcorn Ceiling Removal

Craft Station & Gift Wrap Center – Week 2

Kids Desk Plans

DIY Magnetic Calendar (coming soon)

Polished Concrete – Slab Prep – Week 3 

Dr. Suess Book Nook

Week 4 -Installing a Dog Door in the Wall

DIY Wall Art 

Loft Bed Tutorial

Custom Loft Bed Ladder

Week 5 

Quick and Easy Accent Wall

Final Reveal

Shop the Space

Be sure to stick around and follow me on Instagram for more on this den project – it’s a doozy!

April

Polished Concrete

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I'm breaking down how I got a polished concrete slab prepped for paint - and the mistakes I made painting the floors.   UncookieCutter.com

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Adding this craft station has been so great, the kids love it and now all their craft and gift wrapping stuff has a home! Get all the details at UncookieCutter.com.
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Dog Door in the Wall Installation

Gloria Ochoa

Friday 21st of May 2021

Don't EVER grind concrete without the use of a hepa filter vacuum and shroud cover!! The silica dust produced by grinding concrete is terrible for your lungs. Floor looks great!

April

Sunday 23rd of May 2021

Great point! Thanks!

Shauna

Thursday 5th of November 2020

I would be careful with this. Concrete dust contains silica which is extremely dangerous and can cause cancer and lung disease. The particles are so small you will not be able to see them and a standard shop vac does not do a good enough job. The particles go into the air and everywhere into the house, putting your family or anyone in the home at risk. This job should not be done without a certified HEPA concrete vacuum to suck out all the harmful particles from the air attached to your angle grinder. If you are going to paint or add a coating you would want to rough the concrete up first (prep work) and not polish first. You can use something like a 30 grit metal bond diamond or even go down in grit. The rough texture of the concrete helps the paint or coating to bond properly. I hope these tips are helpful from someone that works in the coating industry :)

April

Wednesday 20th of January 2021

Great tips, thank you so much!

Alexia

Tuesday 20th of October 2020

I want to start by saying wow-hats off to you. I’m literally going through exactly the same process ( the dust!!) I’m almost ready to seal my floor and I can’t wait to finish. I wish I would’ve seen this blog a few weeks ago- it’s crazy how similar Your photos are to mine! Haha, even my new area rug looks a lot like yours;) So, from one hard worker to another, great job

April

Wednesday 4th of November 2020

Thank you! Check out my other post on the concrete floor we did without dust - it was way easier!! Thanks for stopping by and leaving a note :).

Courtney

Thursday 21st of November 2019

What was the two coat concrete finishing stain that you mentioned? I absolutely love the look of the first step!

April

Thursday 21st of November 2019

I honestly don't remember, but take a look at the other concrete floors I did and see if this helps. They turned out much more natural looking!

Teuntje

Tuesday 29th of October 2019

WOW! This looks amazing! I have been checking out cheap nice flooring and I have been thinking about painting the concrete as well! I just have a dumb question, isn't it cold? I live in Europe and normally we have the concrete build, a type of isolation (also for soundreduction) and then a type of flooring (like hardwoord, laminate, PVC or even a castfloor. I'm such a building beginner but I would like to know as much as possible!

April

Friday 8th of November 2019

It is a bit cold, but it doesn't really bother me and the kids don't care at all! My sure to check out my other concrete floor post to see some changes I made! Good luck!

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