living room floor: DONE!

23 Jan

I know I’ve mentioned it on facebook a couple of times, but I don’t think I’ve really ever gone into all the details of the floor debacle. And since it’s done and officially crossed off the house to do list (you can’t even imagine how good it feels to say that!), now’s a good time to share some pictures, and the story of how I “fixed” the floor.

In early August, I noticed that the floor in the hall was wet. Not wet like one of the dogs had an accident, but wet like there’s a big puddle in the hall. This was of course after all after the plumbing problems we had in the spring, so my first thought fear was that the pipes were leaking. So I cut a strip in the carpet to see if I could trace it to the bathroom wall. It wasn’t coming from there. It was coming from the vent in the wall. The heating and air system was leaking. The whole unit ended up needing to be replaced, and the carpet had to come up. It had apparently been leaking for some time and smelled like mildew, not to mention, I’d now cut a gigantic hole in the carpet.

The concrete was in pretty good shape (our house is on a slab foundation), no major holes or anything, but it was uneven and bumpy. We lived with bare concrete for a looooooong time, (until the end of November) while we were trying to decide what to do. I couldn’t even find a good picture of the whole room. I really tried to avoid showing all the ugly in the living room at that time. Here’s the best (and only) one I’ve got.

You can see the concrete just beyond the rug. Words can’t even express how much I HATED the floor like that. I hated the living room, I hated the house. I was so discouraged. We thought that we would be putting down some kind of flooring solution, but we just didn’t have the money for what we wanted. Carpet was out (I never wanted carpet in the first place, I detest carpeting, with 4 dogs…no way.), tile was too expensive, linoleum wasn’t right and wood/vinyl/laminate floors were too expensive for our budget. Sure, we could’ve gotten a lighter maple-color wood for a lot cheaper, but it’s not what we wanted. Why spend money on what you don’t want? We’ve had so much on the to do list for the house, we’ve had to start making choices about what was most important. We also really, really weren’t interested in repouring or trying to level the concrete right now, so as a cost-saving solution, I decided to paint the floor. I figured if I painted it, it would at least be tolerable until we could afford flooring that we loved.

I used semi gloss Valspar Porch and Floor Paint in Brownstone. I used a small roller for the big areas and a Purdy brush to do all the cut in work. As a side note, let me just say, I’d been buying a new cheap paint brush for every job that I did because I didn’t think the better ones were worth the money. But for this job, I bought a Purdy brush, which really wasn’t expensive, it was less than $10. I’d heard people raving about it, so I thought I’d give it a try. It was so worth it, for the first time my brush wasn’t shedding bristles all over my project! $2 a brush for every job (because you really can only wash the cheap ones out so many times before they completely fall apart) vs. like $8 for a Purdy (and wait until you see what it looks like now, it’s held up BIG time)…it’s crazy. I feel kind of dumb for not doing it before.

Anyway. I didn’t like the brown floor either. I don’t even have a picture of the whole floor done because as soon as I was done, I knew it wasn’t staying like that. It had almost a muddy look to it. It wasn’t glossy and it wasn’t matte…it really looked like mud. I liked the color a lot, just not on my floor.

So at this point we were stuck. I’d done everything  I could think of, I was completely out of ideas. The thought of having a plain brown floor for the next 5 years was downright depressing.

Sometime at the end of December I got my January/February issue of This Old House magazine and saw this:

Lightbulb! I figured if you could paint a wall faux wood grain, you could paint a concrete floor to look like wood, right?

First I went to Lowe’s and got a wood graining tool for about $7.

Using the same small size roller I used to paint the brown on, I painted a strip of black to look like a plank.

Then I used the same Purdy paint brush and mixed white in with the black I’d just painted. I happened to have Glidden Onyx Black and Valspar Ultra White, both in semi gloss, on hand, so that’s what I used.

(I told you that brush held up well!) Not that any of this project was technical, but this part was especially not techincal. I literally brushed the white on the newly painted black “plank” until it made the color I liked. I was going for a smoky gray, and I wanted stay true to what old wood would look like, so I was fine with color variation. Once I had the color I liked, I pulled the wood graining tool through the paint while it was still wet.

Sometimes I just dragged straight, sometimes I rocked the graining tool back and forth while dragging it to make it look like knots, it was really trial and error. I just did it until I liked it. Here’s a close up.

I really love that you can see some of the brown through the gray. It gives it so much dimension. 

This is the finished room.

I absolutely LOVE how it came out!

I think that in this case, the uneven concrete really worked to our advantage. 

The other side of the room.

We still have the baseboard to do, but that’s (hopefully) going to be done by the end of next month. We still haven’t really decided what kind of molding to do.

So there you have it! Working in sections for 3-4 hours at a time, it took me about 7 days, on my hands and knees, from start to finish. I started in the corner, but if I had to do it again, I would’ve been more technical about it and started in the middle of the room, measured and all that. I had a really hard time keeping the “planks” straight.

This whole project cost about $71 ($50 for 2 gallons of the Brownstone paint, $8 for 1 Purdy paintbrush, $6 for the mini roller and tray, $7 for the wood graining tool and the black and white paint was free since I already had it). How’s that for an alternative to a wood floor!

It was great to be able to use the same concrete floor that had been the bane of my existence for months to make something so cool, and of course that it was so inexpensive compared to other flooring options. I don’t know that it looks exactly like a planked wood floor, but it feels like it. It at least gives the idea/notion of wood. I was a little hestitant to use black and gray as the colors, but just the right amount of brown shows through, and Chris and I really like that it kind looked like great aged barn wood. It gives the room so much depth and character, we really love it.

This room has been “done” twice before. Here’s the way it was when we first moved in:

This is how it looked this summer when we repainted (here’s the post all about that):

And here it is today:

It’s not typical, it’s not “normal”, and it’s admittedly not for everyone, but it’s PERFECT for us.

In case you want ALL the deets, there were obviously a couple of other changes in the before from this summer: we added a Pottery Barn white slip cover to the couch and all three pillow covers are from Pottery Barn. We were given the media cabinet and hutch that doubles as my desk (the drawer pulls out for a desk) by Chris’ dad. We painted them both Sealing Wax by Martha Stewart and changed the hardware, also by Martha Stewart, all bought at Home Depot. The table was moved back in the kitchen. The rug was also a hand-me-down from Chris’ stepmom. Everything else is stuff we already had. 

Edited 2/1/11 to add:
I joined the February DIY Project Party!

DIY Club

18 Responses to “living room floor: DONE!”

  1. Amy January 23, 2011 at 3:06 pm #

    SHUT THE FRONT DOOR! You are INSANELY talented my friend!!

  2. Sarah Love January 25, 2011 at 5:00 pm #

    wow. I’m shocked! you’re living room looks incredible!

  3. colleen February 4, 2011 at 11:14 am #

    wow great job! i have cement in our breeseway i painted flagstone about 10 yrs ago still looks reasoning was paint was cheap and i could cover it if i didnt like it. never happened ;).

    • Merritt February 7, 2011 at 11:57 am #

      So far, it’s holding up great, I have no complaints. I thought that this might be a temporary fix, but now I’m thinking maybe not! I’m glad to hear that yours is going strong after 10 years, that gives me hope!

  4. homepodge February 14, 2011 at 11:37 pm #

    Your floor is absolutely stunning! I love the colors and texture. I have the same carpet in my apartment that you had. I HATE it! I wish I could just rip it out like you did… so jealous!

  5. teres February 16, 2011 at 10:19 pm #

    get out! that is awesome!!! what a fantastic project! way to go!!! i’m printing this entire thing out b/c you’ve given me some ideas!!!

  6. Cheri February 21, 2011 at 9:51 am #

    Painting cement is a great way to design a floor. I also love the acid washes.


  7. sandy February 21, 2011 at 5:14 pm #

    I’m standing and applauding you for this wonderful transformation… my cement floor is laying there for 3 weeks now with my wondering “what to do”! Wonder if I can do the same?
    Very NICE job!!

  8. Roeshel February 22, 2011 at 9:40 am #

    WOW! It looks gorgeous! You did an amazing job! There is no way that I’d ever know it’s concrete from the pictures. We painted our bathroom floor (it was a plywood subfloor – so I know the work involved but for the price, it makes a BIG statement!). I love it! 🙂

  9. Sarah March 10, 2011 at 5:04 pm #

    I have been thinking of doing this for quite some time to our spare room. We had to rip up the carpet after my little brother-in-law moved out because he was a little piggy and ruined it. We can’t afford new flooring, so thank you for sharing this! Did you have to clean the concrete with chemicals before you painted? Also, do you have to seal the paint? One last thing, I saw a great idea for baseboards to save major bucks. Simply take off your existing baseboards, attach a 1×4 along the bottom of them and sand and paint them before nailing them back into place. You get the look of nice, high baseboard for only a few dollars! 🙂

    • Merritt March 10, 2011 at 11:07 pm #

      Great tip! We’ll totally look into that! I didn’t clean the concrete before I did it, just vacuumed. I’m not big on making it perfect though 😛 I didn’t seal it, but I think you could. So far, the only issue we’ve had is when I pushed the couch away from the wall and it scratched. Thankfully, I can just touch it up, it’s not a big deal for us. We have 4 dogs (1 is a 150 lab mix) and 2 kids, so the floor really takes a beating. So far ZERO complaints on it holding up! Good luck 🙂

  10. Jaime March 10, 2011 at 6:09 pm #

    That looks awesome! Congrats on a job well done!

  11. Urban Scarlet March 10, 2011 at 10:46 pm #

    GREAT JOB! that is so amazing to see 🙂 glad everything worked out wonderfully… it totally transforms the room too!

  12. Hannah Kleinhans March 11, 2011 at 10:45 am #

    Um, this is AWESOME. Nicely done.

  13. Tanja Sif (Reykjavik) March 11, 2011 at 4:40 pm #

    OMG this is awesome! I ripped up my flooring in my 900 sq ft apt late 2007. It was bumpy and uneven and I sealed it with clear varnish, which looked pretty rough and tough and I got a lot of compliments on it but I hated it and it always felt unfinished. When my son started crawling I felt like we lived in a 3rd world country. Finally, I had enough money around x-mas 2010 to put in nice oak hardwood floors (BIG PLANKS), but I had been contemplating epoxy resin flooring as well. The wood floors cost me about $7,000. If I had seen this post before, I would have nixed the wood floors. Have you thought about putting resin on top of this finish? It’s indestructable and so easy to clean, the only problem is you have to move everything out while you do it to get a level floor.


  1. Favorite Links – Week of Feb 14, 2011 ~ the homepodge blog - February 21, 2011

    […] TwentySixFiftyEightWould you believe this floor is just painted cement? See how the homeowners went from water-damaged […]

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