Friday, March 21, 2014

Updated Entryway

I really like surprises, and I like surprising people. Especially my wife. I really like when she goes out of town and I can quickly complete a home project. It has gotten to the point where it is no longer a surprise, but I like to do it anyway. One time when she was gone for a weekend I got really ambitious. I installed french doors in our family room and walled up the old doorway to create an office nook. So in three days I cut plaster, stained doors, ran electrical, dry-walled and painted--completely changing the layout of our living space. It was my opus. It was also before kids. Now I struggle to find the time to do projects when my wife is away while wrangling the wee ones, but this past week I managed a couple of projects.
Plain entryway with teal carpet removed

I decided that our entryway needed a little razzle dazzle, so I decided to do something about it. I researched concrete staining and decided that was a project I could handle around my dad duties. There is a wide variety of directions that you can go with concrete staining, and I am in no way an expert. In fact, I'm sure I was not exactly by the book for this entire project (remember the part where my wife was out of the country and I have three children 5 and younger?), but the results were still good.

My entryway was 80 square feet, which required less than one gallon of concrete stain. Concrete stain varies in price, but is typically between $25 and $50 per gallon. Depending on the depth of color desired, one gallon can cover 200 square feet, but I would not have gotten that much out of this since I used three coats. Are you ready for the best part? I didn't have to pay anything for the stain. I asked a couple of people about their experiences using concrete stain, and one friend has a neighbor who is a professional and had some stain left over. I was expecting to spend money on this project, but I didn't. Pretty sweet! So here's the process.
Walkway to driveway and front curb

Time: about 2 total hours for 80 square feet, broken up into 15-20 minute segments

Cost: $50 to $100, depending on the product used and the materials already on hand

Kid help: not at all. I didn't want my kids around these products while applying them since they contain chemicals that react with the concrete, and I certainly don't want them to react with my kids.

Prep work - some stains require an acid wash before applying. The stain that I used already had the acid wash in it, so I did not need to do this. I hosed off the walk, scraped the areas that needed to be scraped, and taped the areas where the house came into contact with the walkway. I then tested my patience as I waited for the sidewalk to dry. This was the most difficult part, as I don't like waiting. It was also very important to rope off the entryway so people weren't walking on the wet stain.

Taped up doorway with first coat of stain
Test - find a spot to test the stain. You don't want to do all the work and realize that you hate the color. I had three different colors to choose from, and I tested them on some concrete back by my workshop, a place that is meant to be a work area. This helped me see what the colors would look like once they dried and absorbed into the concrete.

Getting started - I loaded up my sprayer (the type you would use for spraying weeds) with one part stain and one part water. Again, follow the instructions for the product you use. Spray in a figure 8 or circular pattern to avoid lines in the stain. Don't stain yourself into a corner (I think that might be the title of a country western song), but start from a corner and work to a free area.

Beer frame - While allowing the stain to dry enjoy a cold beverage. Give the stain an hour or so and see if you want more depth of color. I was looking for more depth, so after the first coat dried, I applied a second and then third coat. Allow all to dry before removing tape and rope.

Patiently waiting for sidewalk to dry
Finishing - If desired, apply a sealer. I don't get a lot of rain, so at this point I do not feel the need to add a sealer. However, I may do so after I talk again to some professionals to find out their thoughts. Again, I find that it is best to go to the experts.

Here's the cool thing about staining concrete. The concrete has minerals in it, and the acid in the stain reacts differently to all concrete. So unlike painting, staining will give you a mottled look. I like the uniqueness of this and feel that it gives my entryway personality.

Now what wall can I remove the next time she has a work trip?

Completed entryway

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