Tag Archives: floor

Hot concrete

I have loads of projects on the go, they’re just not going far or fast right now. Kids, weather, a weekend away – they’re not good for progress – but they’re good for other things!

So, you’ll have to wait a bit to see the kindling box, headboard, curtain rods (yes I did mention those months ago), more on the backyard and where we’re at with the front lawn.

For now, I have concrete on my mind. It started with a promo email from The Design Gift Shop this morning.


Clockwise from top right:
Our very own, awesome, one of a kind concrete floor
Outdoor bench by Design Warehouse
Stacking spice jars via Etsy
Planter box spotted at The Design Chaser
Soap dish by The Design Gift Shop

Concrete continues to astound me. It’s no longer just a cheapish option for whatever ground you have to cover… it’s a material for crafting pretty much whatever one can think of. Those spice jars – so (stuck for words) cool!

And I love our concrete floor to bits – minus the kisses. Having two little ones in the house it does get a bit icky under the dining table at least 3 times a day. But it does a reeeally good job hiding that if I just don’t feel like mopping it up right away. Again. Also, it’s no colder than the timber floorboards in the mornings (they’re both pretty cold to be honest!) and the afternoon sun does a good job of heating it up so it is warmest in the evenings. Hardly a person visits our house without commenting on it, and I’ve had to run for the nearest cloth a few times when I see them start to get down on their knees for a good look.

There are a million and one companies that can give you one, if I’ve convinced you, but it really is worth trying it yourself. It’s kind of fun, looking back on it months later!

Sweet satin

Well just like in this post, I can say again that the floor is done!

After a bit of to-ing and fro-ing with sanding, filling, more sanding, sealing, sanding, etc etc the floor has been officially announced as finished.

Here’s some progress shots:

You can see in the above photo that we sealed the floor with Resene Qristal ClearFloor 1K. Originally we had been sealing the touch up patches, and started to finally seal the whole floor with a standard polyurethane. But after enduring the fumes for a few days we had second thoughts about using such a product in a kids bedroom.

Even after the odour has gone, toxic fumes are still given off. I believe it can take years for this process to happen.

We looked into various natural oil products, which are completely free of toxins, but their cost is a little on the horrendous side, so we compromised with this very low VOC (volatile organic compounds ie. nasty things) urethane from Resene.

The cost was along the lines of standard polyurethane, and it was able to be applied over the existing polyurethane (after a light sanding). Some natural products would have required us to completely sand the existing sealer off and start with bare timber. This in itself would have meant a whole lot of toxic dust swirling all over the house and ideally with a toddler and a newborn we would have had to move out for the duration.

To give you an idea, a standard polyurethane rates around 900 VOC, but Resene Qristal ClearFloor 1K is just 38 VOC. The difference is immediately apparent in the low odour during application, and a couple of days after the last application, I opened the door this morning and just got a slight whiff. We have kept the window open and the door shut to air the room out, and will leave it that way for another week before we move little mister in.

The only natural product we were able to find with a gloss finish was a two part system, which didn’t excite us in the least, and it was expensive. Most natural products, and all truly natural products are matt, or satin finish. The rest of our floors have a gloss finish, but with years of wear and tear they are in reality more of a satin finish now, so the new floor doesn’t look at all out of place.

Take another look (I did focus, it’s just hard to see where!):

Floors that talk

Last night I noticed some new markings on our floor…

At first I was a bit concerned, but then I thought “hey, that just shows that people live in this house!” Whether it was the little one brmming his cars and scratching the floor, or an extended family member dragging some bags of “heavy stuff” over it I can’t be sure, but it just adds to the mystery of what this house knows that we never will.

I’ve just been for a walk around, thinking of all the other little quirks in our floor that suggest of its past life, or even it’s recent history that we’ve been a part of…

In the corner of the new bedroom, which used to be hidden under the laundry cupboards, is this patch of concrete which may well have been there as a more solid alternative to the timber floor to support a boiler…?

It was what Mr was working on in this mysterious shot from here. Now that it’s ground smooth there is just some grouting to be done at the edges where some bright spark has used foam filler previously.

There’s also this little fire-related accident which has branded the floor for-ever-more (a burning ember making a dash for it, from a spark screen free fireplace):

And this is just one of many marks where furniture has been hauled across the floor:

More recently we have this little patch by the office nook where we cut out part of the old kitchen wall:

Some day it will be sanded and finished and will blend a little more with the surrounding floor…

Here’s some more of the same, but even worse… it’s a little hard to tell in the photo but it looks as if the hot water cylinder once sat here and leaked its contents? It was hidden under the old kitchen cupboards, but now marks the entrance to the new bedroom. Once again it will be sanded and refinished, perhaps with some floorboards replaced if necessary. This is fairly high on the priority list (along with everything else!)…

This is an example of where we have removed part of a wall and refinished the floor – it’s in the laundry (the flash has made things a little obscure but in reality there is not much to notice):

This is the new step between the lounge and dining area (see more way back when) which got taken to shortly after finishing, by the little one and his daddy’s hammer (it’ll come back to haunt him when we choose!):

And this precious concrete floor with all its heartbreak and trauma is definitely on the scuffed side these days but is progressing nicely to match with the character and story-filled timber floors throughout the rest of the house!

I’m still trying to figure out whether a more casual attitude to imperfection is something that happens by default when you go through a renovation, or something that happens by default once you have children… probably both? What do you reckon?

Absolutely floored!

Wow… here is the mammoth post that I promised way back here (I said a week??!) and you’ve had hints of here and here.

As of last night (or this morning really if you want to count the drying time and holding our breath all night that in the morning all would look fabulous) the floor is finished. Complete. Finito. Done.

I’ll try and let the pictures do the talking, otherwise I’ll get sore fingers and you’ll get sore eyes.

So, back to the beginning:

Followed by destruction:

Marking out the new floor level (about where the white paint is on the walls):

Adding polystyrene around the edges for an insulation break:

Formwork at the back door:

Polythene, polystyrene (creating an insulation break from the existing concrete floor) and reinforcing steel laid out ready for the pour:

And planks laid for access during the laying process:

The truck arrives:

The pour begins:


And finishes:

The next evening, a cut made to prevent cracking:

The sheets on the floor are to keep it damp so it doesn’t dry too quickly:

And then the awful, messy, noisy job of grinding… we (much more of the him and very little of me!) hired a grinder for a day and got to it:

As you can see there is a lot of nasty grey sludge created which drained out the back door, across the driveway and kept clogging our drain… yuck!

Grinding the edges with a hand grinder:

And now for the polishing… just a test patch first (under the kitchen cabinets):

A few more test patches were done… and over a week of going back to it and then rethinking, back again, rethinking again… the polishing process was abandoned. The thought of going over the whole floor with a hand grinder at least once for each of these discs…:

… was a little too daunting, particularly when there was mixed success with the test patches.

Plan B involved researching the sealing process (see this post for more) and trying more test patches before finally deciding on the Peter Fell products.

First though, there was the issue of the “little, tiny holes”. These may have come about from air bubbles, or from small stones being pulled out in the grinding process. However, something “had to be done”!

This was what we (yes, I got down on my hands and knees and filled and scraped with my very own putty knife) did one Saturday while the little one was sleeping:

And then just for fun (and to be sure the holes were well filled) we did it again one night the following week.

Of course, that then had to be gently ground off. It’s ok if you’ve lost count of how many times this floor has been ground – we have no idea either.

Finally after cleaning, vacuuming, sweeping and vacuuming we’re ready for sealing:

Two coats of that, then there we left it for while, while more building work went on. Andre decided it would be best to finish it once there would be less mess, scuffing and potential spills during the building process.

I love this image – it pretty well portrays our life these last six months… renovating and living in constant untidiness while juggling the everyday demands of work and a toddler, with little glimpses of the finished renovation to keep the motivation up!

Weeks (months more likely) of just ignoring the floor, then a flurry of activity this last week (and lots of sweeping, vacuuming and sweeping again) brings us to a light sanding, scrubbing of paint spots, another couple of sealer coats, and finally a top coat of something a bit glossy and non-slip.

Or supposedly… this is me on my knees with a rag buffing/washing the first top coat off because it went wrong:

And this is Andre mopping the floor with soapy water because my buffing didn’t quite do it:

Then I was back on my hands and knees with an old towel to dry it off, and finally Andre got down on his hands and knees to apply another top coat, with a wallpaper brush rather than the mop as recommended but which failed the first time.

And now, a finished floor and a very large to do item crossed off the list!

Loving it! But I have to say the motivation to make a concrete benchtop for the new laundry has waned significantly. I think we’ll be looking at laminates!

Time for a floor shout!




Making progress – one step at a time

The final transition from old to renovated (I won’t say new as it’s not an add-on) is in a step from lounge to dining.

Seen here in it’s rough state:

And now the smooth:

We actually stuffed some insulation down in the gap between floors (see the first photo), just because we had some handy, and, umm it makes the step feel warmer already – really!

And because we all like an overview:

Nice! Obviously we have yet to stain the step and paint the rest of it (forget what those particular bits are called… I know they’re not architraves or skirtings), but the good news is deep in the garage a little pot of “previous owners stain” was unearthed (I don’t use that word lightheartedly…) and the sample proves we have a match!

It will take some time to match the dents and scratches from old to new, but with the little one’s fondness for ladles, tongs, hammers and drills, combined with the incessant desire to bang them on all surfaces perhaps it won’t take so long if only I can confine him to the new step… any ideas aside from sandwiching him between yet more temporary walls either side of the step?!





Almost as solid as concrete

For those of you who can’t wait to see the concrete floor, you will have to suffice with a few 95% complete shots as it will be a wee bit longer before the floor is actually 100% done (and we celebrate by getting outta the house for the weekend!). Once we have the finished floor in a photogenic state I’ll do a complete start to finish post – isn’t that something to look forward to?!

The good news is we sped up the end process by going for the sealing option rather than the polishing (a bit of history on that here) – it was just all glum faces around here at the thought of endless nights of polishing with a little-wee-tiny grinder down on hands and knees. At first I was not keen to give up because I wanted the gorgeous gloss of a polished look, but in hindsight the semi-gloss seal suits our house better as it won’t look so glaringly new next to the “a bit beaten up” floorboards.

The whole reason we opted for concrete (other than husband’s keen interest in trying out some thermal mass) was that we’d never be able to match our existing floorboards and tiles just aren’t our thing (they do have their place though). So although we opted for a contrast I do like that there is some unity at least in the glossiness or lack thereof.

So without further ado (other than a quick reminder that there are still a couple of sealing coats to go on), “Mr Thermal Mass, please take the floor!”:

Not the best shot, but all of our overall room shots seem to be done late at night after a much needed tidy up! Here’s a more true to colour close-up:

And just some more creative shots because I was enjoying myself:

Building site to new beginnings

I was working away last night on some demolition (probably the last of the demolition for the space that’s currently under renovation) and thinking that there’s been a subtle shift in the feel of the room and the way we’re working now.

The floor is actually 97% complete (more on that to come…) so there’s a little bit of tip-toeing around as we go about the rest of the work now. What was an anything goes (muddy boots, throw the tools down, oops I spilt my coffee) attitude is now a bit more precious and thoughtful.

I’m not complaining – it’s exciting! It’s the switch from building site to soon to be new kitchen excitement!

The demolition I mentioned involved knocking out a bit more of the plaster on what was the external wall of the house before the verandah was closed in. So it was a messy, dusty job and for the first time we had to lay down some old curtains dropcloths to protect the floor from falling debris.

Here’s the room in it’s almost rawest state:

And as it was last night, the final demo derby with protective drop cloth (yes I did 90% of it and have a blister to prove it):

And as of a couple of days ago, in all it’s tidiness:

Bye bye building site, hello new beginnings!