Installing & Staining Cement Overlays: How to Install Cement Floors

Copper Tile Flooring

Topping your old cement with a cement-base overlay is a great way to facelift a worn, drab surface and level uneven spots. For flawed cement an overlay is simpler and cheaper to apply than breaking out an old slab and pouring a new one. This pourable layer -- which is seamless, self-leveling, and equal in thickness to a credit card, up to about 3/8 inch -- can also be applied over a wood subfloor.

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Make it yours
A cement overlay can be custom colored using a number of techniques. Acid staining is an effective option when a handheld plastic-body sprayer is used in a well-ventilated room. Because you are working with an acid product, wear eye goggles and gloves.

You can also find overlay systems that are poured thicker to allow the surface to be textured for interest or stamped to recreate the look of brick, natural stone, tile, and other materials. Another decorative alternative is to inset other materials or objects into the overlay, such as metal medallions or tiles. Simply locate and secure the insets to the subfloor where desired and then pour the compound to a level that matches the thickness of the inset.

What to expect
The secret to a successful outcome overall is proper preparation of the surface prior to application and following the manufacturer's suggestions for mixing and applying the self-leveling compound. Manufacturers now boost longevity, bonding ability, and good looks for the overlay by blending the cement with polymer resins, usually acrylics or acrylic blends.

Maintaining the surface
Because a cement overlay, done right, is extremely durable, it can last a lifetime provided you finish the surface with the sealer recommended by the manufacturer. Keeping the sealed surface clean is as easy as regular sweeping or vacuuming and wiping up spots as they occur. Damp-mop periodically with mild detergent and water.

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