Cement floors are among the most durable types of hard flooring. They are commonly used in areas such as the basement, garage or as the base for a home where soft soil exists. Cement floors are often thought of as indestructible, but going by experience, they still require some care and maintenance. While some homes are built entirely on a cement sub-floor, most cement floors are found in the utility areas such as a garage of basement. In these high traffic areas, these floors can be covered or painted. If they are not covered, or painted, they should be sealed.
Step 1 – Gathering the tools
Having all the right tools at hand will make the job go easier and smoother. Cleaning tools that will be needed are a broom, mop and cleaning solution for preparation. If there is damage, patching compound and a trowel may be needed to repair the affected areas. For sealant application, depending on the type of sealant, a heavy roller, brush or mop along with a tray or bucket will be needed. Glasses, gloves and clothing will protect the user from the chemicals and any splashes from the sealant.
Step 2 - Cleaning and preparation for sealing
Cement should be sealed soon after the floor is poured. In many cases the cement floor is used and only when there are signs of wear or damage is when sealing is considered. There are methods for preparation of the floor so that the sealant will create a long lasting barrier to staining and other damage. In some cases, a wet/dry vacuum, or power washer can be used to clean the floor as well. All stains such as oil or gasoline in the case of a garage can be removed using a specialized cleaner for that task. Otherwise making sure that the floor is clean and dry will provide a good surface for the sealant.
Step 3 - Selecting the sealant
There are many types of sealants for cement, selecting the right one for the job may take some research. Also consider that in a garage or basement, areas can get wet and that surfaces that are not completely sealed may flake and peel if not completely sealed from moisture. Many indoor sealants are heavier paints which can protect a cement wall. For those areas with heavier traffic consider an epoxy or urethane based sealant.
Step 4 – Applying the sealer
Lighter sealants can be applied like paint. Using a thick roller and wearing the proper protective clothing, start at the far corner and pour a quantity of sealant in the area and roll out from the corner. If the cement surface is a wall, then use a tray to apply the sealant, similar to painting a wall. Apply the coat in an even manner making sure that it is even coverage over the area. Most thin coats will dry in 24 to 48 hours.
Step 5 – Maintenance of the sealed floor
Once the coating has dried, the area can be used. A damp mop or occasional sweeping will keep the floor nice and clean. Most epoxy and urethane finishes are very durable and can resist most spills or dripping of oil or gasoline. Spills should be cleaned up as soon as possible to ensure that the surface remains intact.