In early March, back when life was normal, we painted our basement floor instead of having flooring installed. It’s been one of the best decisions we made for our house! Here is a recap on why we opted for paint over traditional flooring, how much elbow grease went into it, and an overview of the process.
When we first moved into our home, Landon was ready to finish off the basement right away. I wasn’t really thrilled with the idea for a number of reasons. First, we had a lot to finish on our main floor. Second, there is only two of us and our main floor was more than double our previous living space. And third, I pictured that when we had kids, they could use the unfinished space as an indoor playground during our long winters. I was thinking ample room for riding trikes, playing ball, and even hanging swings from the ceiling joists.
Fast forward a few years to the fall of 2018. We kept having more instances where we found ourselves saying “We could do this or that if we had the basement finished.” Aside from Landon’s parents and siblings, our families live hours and states away from us. We wanted to be able to have people stay and not just give them the full size bed in our small guest room. Most of my cousins had a couple kids by then and we just didn’t have the space for them to visit like we wanted. So that fall, we started saving to finish off the basement.
I started tracking our finances in a different way that was both easy and gave us a great picture of when we were ready to take the next steps. I’ll share more of how I track it soon. In our state it’s required for exterior walls to be drywalled so we only had a few interior ones to do. Landon and his dad had worked on and off over a few years putting up drywall but we needed an electrician to wire the bathroom and add a few more outlets and lights before we could continue. We had the electrician come in early spring 2019. That summer we spent the rest of our time and energy finishing hanging the drywall and working on the deck and landscaping.
By fall 2019, we had saved a bit more and were able to move forward with the bathroom, which was finished early this year.
Why we chose to paint
There are a few reasons we opted to paint the basement floor. I would say all of them are weighted the same. One reason was cost. We weren’t finishing off our whole basement, but what we have finished is about 1200 square feet. We had picked out some laminate and carpet we liked at Home Depot. The average price per square foot for material and installation was about $5. Wanting a finished space sooner rather than later made that $6 grand seem so far in the distance.
In addition to having to push off flooring longer so we could save up for it, we felt real flooring would still make the space more finished than what we wanted. Sure, we wanted a finished livable space, but I still was holding out to the idea that kids could play down there. Landon and I also use this space a lot as a home gym and we had a golf net set up too. So while carpet is nice and cozy, it just seemed like we’d be too hard on it. Plus, we have all hard floors upstairs with area rugs. This helps our allergies and could still add coziness in certain areas of the basement while keeping other spaces more durable for harder wear and tear.
All in all, we were able to paint our basement floor with commercial quality epoxy for a total of $700. Yes, less than 12% of traditional flooring. I should note that we did put real flooring in the bathroom.
Not for the faint of heart
While the savings is great and we are so happy with the outcome, epoxying that big of space is not for the faint of heart. I would say a garage is a lot less complicated. One, because it possibly has a drain. And two, because opening the garage doors gives a place to get rid of the mess as well as help it dry faster.
The actual application of the epoxy isn’t bad at all. It’s the acid etching of the cement that is hardcore. We literally had our hose pulled through the windows and patio door to wash the stuff off. It was a little daunting since the drywall was up and painted by then and we didn’t want to damage it with any overspray. After acid etching, we also mopped the space 3 times and swapped out clean water every 50 square feet or so.
Like I eluded above, prepping to paint the floor was a lot of work. We acid etched the floor room by room to make the sections a bit easier to manage. Although, the main space is huge so that was bit more challenging to tackle. We made it into a “fun” Friday night!
After the floors are acid etched and thoroughly cleaned, it’s finally time to paint! We first did the bedroom and large family/game room space. After the stay at home orders, we ended up doing the rest of the basement in two sections (furnace/storage room and a really long narrow room that doesn’t have a purpose yet).
Landon started by trimming along on the edges and then joined his dad rolling the paint on. I had a full time job following them and throwing the paint flex evenly. Tip: Pinch a small amount of flex and toss like chicken feed. I remember the next day telling a coworker (back when we went to work) that I think I threw no less than 400 times. My arm was sore for days!
The next day we rolled on a clear coat. The paint and clear coat both have a time limit but we didn’t feel rushed until the clear coat. Luckily, we finished with time to spare and our floors were finally done!
So is it any good?
Painting the floor might be our proudest homeowner project! The floor is clean, not cold, and looks amazing. Putting trim up definitely helped to make the space feel more finished before we had furniture in place. We actually don’t know if we will ever put real flooring down. Using professional grade epoxy should mean a very long life with the foot traffic a basement receives. While it was a lot of work, it has been one hundred percent worth it!