How to lay a cement floor DIY-style

5 home buildingWritten by Daniella Favis for Fix Shack. Sources: Home Magazine, eHow, Home-Dzine and Do it Yourself.

Cement flooring is fast gaining popularity in home buildings’ kitchens, bathrooms and outdoor living areas alike. The versatility of cement is a big selling point – home owners have the choice of coloured, textured and stamped floors made to unique design specifications or floors resembling more costly materials like granite.

Here’s how to make your very own indoor screed floor, DIY-style.

Lay-a-cement-floor-296x300 home buildingMaterials needed
• Hydrochloric acid
• Floor patching and repair compound
• Self-levelling cement (Make sure the cement is self-levelling, otherwise it will crack.)
• Dry cement pigment (optional)
• Epoxy floor coating or hardwearing, protective polish

Tools needed
• Scrubbing brush with soft bristles
• Spirit level
• Steel brush
• Large bucket
• Electric drill
• Cement and screed mixer drill bit
• Steel trowel or float
• Wooden trowel or float
• Hosepipe
• Paint roller (for epoxy floor coating) or lamb’s wool applicator (for polish)
• Gloves
• Safety goggles

1 home buildingPreparation

Surface preparation is very important. If undertaken incorrectly, your new cement surface will be uneven, discoloured or it may even fail.

Old flooring must be removed before proceeding to place the new cement layer. Chop out tiles and scrape away grout, pull up old carpets and remove the wooden subfloor. All baseboards and trimming must be removed too.

After removing your floor surface, you need to make sure the base is completely clean and free from dust, dirt, wax, oil, bitumen, old adhesive, paint, grease, weak cement screed, as well as curing and sealing compounds. In order to clean the surface, make a mixture of water and hydrochloric acid by pouring the acid into the water rather than the other way around, avoiding a splattering reaction. Brush this mixture over the base screed using a scrubbing brush.

Now, inspect the surface for cracks, holes and uneven areas. Place a spirit level across any cracks to determine whether the surface on each side of the crack is level. If so, you can patch the crack with a quality floor patching and repair compound. If not, the crack is a result of movement in your home building’s structure and even if the crack is patched, it will reoccur over time, cracking your new finish too. If your floor surface has structural cracks, it is not advisable to lay a cement finish. If you’re unsure about whether your cracks can be patched or not, hire a structural engineer to take a look.

Before patching level cracks and holes with a floor patching and repair compound, use a steel brush to rake out any loose material from the openings. When cracks and holes are repaired, grind down any bumps or protrusions visible in the floor’s surface.


2 home building1. Once your floor is clean, level and crack-free, mix the self-levelling cement with water or an acrylic polymer liquid, depending on the product manufacturer’s instructions, in a large bucket. Attach the cement and screed mixer drill bit to the electrical drill and use it to thoroughly blend the cement mixture.

3 home building2. Pour the mixture onto the cleaned floor, using a steel trowel to spread it in an even layer across the floor’s surface.

3. After leaving the cement to set for about 30 minutes, use a wooden trowel or float to smooth the surface until it has an even finish.

7 home building4. At this point, you can add a colour tone if you wish. Cover the surface of the freshly floated cement with dry cement pigment, avoiding letting the powder clump. Use a metal trowel or float to sweep the powder evenly over the surface and float it in. Then, rinse the cement with a hosepipe to remove any excess powder. Some self-levelling cements come ready-mixed with various pigments, if you’d prefer not to colour the floor with a dry pigment yourself.

5. If you haven’t added pigment to your floor, sprinkle little droplets of water onto the smooth surface and further ‘polish’ the cement with the steel trowel or float.

6. Leave the cement to dry for between 10 and 24 hours, paying attention the product manufacturer’s drying instructions.

6 home building7. Apply a layer of epoxy floor coating using a paint roller, or a hardwearing protective floor polish using a lamb’s wool applicator, to make the floor surface more durable and abrasion-resistant.

When working with strong chemicals, you must remember to wear protective gloves and safety goggles, and you must work in a well-ventilated area. Be wary of your safety when working with tools too.

Take note that installing this type of floor finish correctly is not a simple task. If you’re unsure, rather acquire the services of a professional contractor. However, if you’re confident you’ll manage on your own, find the hardware store closest to you here for the tools you’ll need, and see Fix Shack’s product database for all available floor patching and repair compounds, self-levelling cements, cement pigments and floor coatings.

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