Basement flooring is expensive. Even if you’re buying low budget finishes, the price tag will give you a little sticker shock. We looked at a bunch of options for flooring, but staining came at the recommendation of a realtor. We were told it’s a quick and easy way to finish the floor and make the space look finished. That is all very true.
Acid or water-based stain
When looking at concrete stain, we had a couple options: acid stain or a water-based stain. We found a ton of information about acid stains and were pretty clear on the process, but the clean-up required was a deal-breaker for the amount of space we were staining. It was more challenging to find information on water-based stains. I wasn’t sure if people didn’t use them or didn’t share using them. I concluded staining a basement isn’t at the top of the DIY list.
At some point, I came across Rustoleum Rocksolid concrete stain. After reading more about use and durability, this seemed like a good option for us. No terrible smells, no real clean up, applied with a hand sprayer and dries quickly.
Applying the stain
Choosing a color was pretty easy. We brought home the brochure and matched a color option with some of the color in our flooring upstairs. I figured if we chose something in our current flooring, we couldn’t go wrong. We ended up with Coastal Rock. Surprisingly, it was one of the darker colors but I wanted the contrasting color to be the gray of the concrete instead of applying a solid layer of stain and adding accent over the top.
Josh did all the spraying with a hand weed sprayer we picked up in the gardening section of Menards. From what I heard, there were lots of figure 8’s involved. We prepped the floor per the instructions and he tested a small corner and it seemed to work. We certainly weren’t going for perfection. We wanted the floor to do it’s thing and the colors to just happen organically. We figured if this didn’t work, we’d just fall back to some luxury vinyl planks and cover it up.
The test patch gave us an idea of the color and how the floor would absorb the stain. It also gave us an idea of how we should apply the stain with the spray.
Spray the day away
Spraying wasn’t exactly difficult, but it did take time. We also have stuff in the basement, so it was an exercise in moving stuff all around. We’d clear out one area, spray and let it dry. Once that was done, we sealed with Rustoleum Natural Look Concrete Sealer. You can spray or use a tray to roll on the sealer, I chose to roll it on from the tray.
I do want to add a disclaimer here: We knew exactly what has happened to this concrete since we built our home and have been the only people in it. This concrete has never had carpet or another coating applied. I will say, I believe that made our project so much easier and gave me confidence the floor would be pretty consistent in color all the way around.
To the right you can see how we completed a section before moving on to the next. We tried to break sections in spots that were less noticeable or in an area we repaired a crack in the floor.
Stained and sealed floor
Once the floor was stained and sealed, the character comes through. You can see areas in which the stain absorbed more than others. At the end of the day, concrete is unique and will do what it is going to do. I recommend following the manufacturer instructions for prep and application. I would also highly recommend just embracing whatever happens.
This is a close-up photo. You’ll see in the finished photos that the floor doesn’t look as speckled or cracked as it does here.
Before and after
It’s amazing what some concrete stain can do. The basement before was pretty boring and seemed to just suck up all the light that comes in.
This is about as basic as basements get.
Add a little stain and sealer for a totally different look. The sealer reflects some of the sunlight which helps to brighten up the space.
An important note
I was told that I would need a ton of rugs in the basement once it’s stained and sealed. That is absolutely true. The floor isn’t dealthy slippery, but it is slick. I did pick up some Seal Krete Clear-Grip that I am considering applying in a second coat of sealer. That would likely happen once we get the basement framed out. For now, we are leaving it as-is and being cautious.