Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Faith, Trust, and a little bit of CONCRETE DUST!

OK, it's taken me a while to actually document the painful progress on our concrete floor project. It's disappointing... not what we expected. The concrete grinding is good in theory, but definitely much more dirty than we thought.

Here's the docu-drama:

In the beginning, we removed the carpet in the atrium to reveal a pristine cement floor. But, it looked too new for our mid-century home. We looked at many options and finally decided to grind it down smooth to expose the aggregate stone, then seal it.

We contracted with a concrete company that quoted $2/sq. ft. Fantastic! Our atrium is about 250 sq. ft. so $500.00 is right in the budget.

Prep: We did not have the glass install in the atrium yet, so we bought a roll of plastic ($2.99) and sealed off the atrium to minimize the dust in the rest of the house.

Grinding day 1:
No concrete guy! No show... where is he. "Oops, forgot!"
Red flag #1! -Steve

Next week.

Grinding day 2: No concrete guy! Now what? "Not done with my other project."
Red flag #2! -Steve

Another week goes by.

Grinding day 3: Arrived at 8:30 to a city work crew tearing up the water main in front of my house... NO ACCESS to my house! The concrete guy rescheduled for the next day.
Couldn't be helped. We had no idea the city would pick that day to block off our little street and fix a leaky water valve thing. Bummer. -Steve

Grinding day 4:
Finally, the grinding begins. He calls me mid project with a NEW QUOTE... $8/sq. ft. And if that wasn't shocking enough... he estimated the size of our atrium at 400 sq. ft.... EQUALS... $3200.

You are done. Just clean up and leave.
What the... What kind of business makes a quote, does a crappy job then mid-project says it'll cost triple their original quote to do what they said they would do in the first place?!! Final red flag! -Steve

The house is a mess when I get there. Apparently, he opened the plastic to get access to the breaker box... tracked concrete dust through the house, and then left the plastic open.

Three weeks later we are STILL sweeping up concrete dust. Not happy! -Steve

The floor is smooth... but little to no aggregate is showing.

It couldn't get any worse... or could it?
Oh, I could make it worse.... -Steve

Solution 1:
We decide to just stain and seal the concrete. I buy the stain/sealer and leave it for Steve to apply. He calls me when it's done and says two words... "it's dark!"
I thought it looked dark at Lowes, but Haley's the color guru. I applied it with a garden sprayer and no... it wasn't right! -Steve

I arrive home to see a CHALKBOARD BLACK floor! Huh? Thought I bought a dark grey...

Solution 2: Let's just go over it with a light grey... Huh? Now we have a weird chemical reaction... looks like concrete on an acid trip.
What the....?!! It went down just fine, but as it started to dry these goofy, swirly, hippie-inspired blotchie things started to appear as we just stood there. It was horrifying. -Steve

Solution 3:
Let's roll it out. Now it looks like we painted the floor with grey paint. Huh?
I hated those swirlie thingies! So I let it dry a bit, then reached as far as I could with a roller. I actually rolled up my pants, took off my shoes (amist Haley's Huck Finn wise cracks) and walked on the stuff to roll by the front door. I still have grey stained feet... -Steve

Solution 4:
I start to SPONGE PAINT. Bad idea. The last thing we want is a faux finish, and I'm not big on craft projects.
Nope... not a good look either. I thought the sponges might soak up and even things out some. Nope. Just looked like a HGTV project gone horribly wrong. -Steve

Solution 5:
Steve lightly sprays the black stain over the grey. It is speckled... not what we initially wanted, but it will work for now.
Well... I think it photographs better than it looks in person, but it'll have to do for now. I'm hoping once the planting beds and stuff get added, the focus won't be on the floor anymore. It's not horrible, but not what we wanted either. AND it cost way to much $. -Steve

I am officially off this project. At this point I don't trust any of my decision making skills when it comes to the atrium floor. Steve will most likely tackle it again in the near future.
Oh great... now it'll be my fault. I think I'll start saving my $$ and get a DIFFERENT concrete grinding company to come do the job right. -Steve

Note: Actual square footage of the atrium = 245 sq. ft.
Those guys were idiots. If you want to know their name, leave us a comment and we'll warn you about them! -Steve


Anonymous said...

I hate contractors like that. The ones that put "con" in "con"tractor.

I think you guys should get their CCB number and file an official complaint with Oregon CCB. For one thing, any future customers might see it if they do a complaint search when they are evaluating different contractors. Further, if you paid them, you might send them a certified letter that you were extremely unhappy with their service and the quality of their performance. Let them know that you are filing an official complaint with the CCB.

Who knows, maybe they'll make things right and give you a refund.

I've dealt with several "con"tractors in my day and I wish that I had thrown down the gauntlet when I had the chance. I might have gotten some different results.


Nick and Marci said...

Sorry to hear about your atrium floor. But, it doesn't look that bad now. (I have seen worse.)

I would file a complaint with the CCB. Sending the certified letter to the contractor is also a good idea. You could also file a report on Angie's List (

We are planning to have most of the concrete floor in our house polished. Which "con"tractor was working on your floor? We'd like to avoid him! You could post the info to our blog or maybe email us at

It is great to see another Rummer blog!!! Thanks for all your postings. You have done a lot of work on your house this summer - it is starting to look pretty good, cork floors and all. However, we must admit that we are a bit envious of the pool...

Marci & Nick