Q: My best friend’s mom put a stamped concrete patio in their backyard. I also saw something like that in another friend’s house, where they made a bathroom and laundry room out of part of the garage. I like how it looks, and I want to do that myself in my bathroom, which is in the basement of my parent’s house, near my room. There is concrete in the bathroom but it’s the same as the basement floor, so it’s not very pretty. What do I need to do to do this myself?
A: What a great idea, and how wonderful that you want to improve your environment. Growing up, I was always rearranging everything in my bedroom and painting. It made me feel so proud to come home to my own space that I created myself. Share your idea with your parents, and I’m sure they’ll help you. Depending on the situation, there may be a lot of prep work required. If you have questions for a contractor about what will be involved, ask to be included in the conversation. You’ll learn a lot.
Concrete is one of the sturdiest materials around for flooring. I agree with you that it isn’t always the best looking, especially if it’s old and wasn’t originally intended to be part of a living space. The unfinished or industrial look is still a trend right now, but even so, there are plenty of ways to clean up or enhance a concrete floor so it looks nicer. You can also add area rugs or a large bath mat to soften and warm up a concrete floor.
A stamped concrete floor can be installed over existing or new concrete. It involves spreading new concrete and using tools like a big cookie cutter to create textured impressions and “grout” lines. This is usually a top layer, not a part of the concrete structure itself, and may be a different type and color. Because adding concrete (or new tile) to your bathroom floor will make the floor higher, the plumbing fixtures will probably need to be moved out and reinstalled. Even the baseboards should be protected, or better yet, removed and reinstalled. And in a bathroom, you might need to seal the concrete after it’s installed.
If moving the fixtures would be too much to do or to budget for, consider painting, staining, or glazing the floor instead. Go to a paint store and tell the staff what you are thinking. They’ll help you choose the right products and tools. You can do an overall color or layer textures creatively to get a look you like. You could even paint tiles onto the floor — it’s up to you. Experiment and practice with the paint on pieces of cardboard first. And, with paint, you can redo it when you change your mind, like I did often with the walls in my room.
Part of the fun will be doing the research to find out what will work best for you.
Have a design dilemma? Jennifer Adams is an award-winning designer, author of the upcoming book “Love Coming Home” and TV personality. Send your questions to AskJennifer@JenniferAdams.com or for more design ideas, visit Jennifer’s blog on her website at www.jenniferadams.com.