Basement floor – cleaning

The freshly installed utility sink has been very handy while painting. But it really began to leverage its usefulness when we began cleaning and staining our basement concrete floor.

Let’s walk step by step through the process of adding a nice floor finish. It started with sweeping up all the crud, which was followed by a much more tedious process: inspecting the floor for stains and removing them.

We hardly had any paint stains because we were pretty good about moving the drop cloths around while painting. There were the occasional plaster droppings from the drywall mudding that were easily scraped off and cleaned up with water.

Removing stains

Not so easy were the closed cell and open cell drips from the insulation installation, which left polyurethane stains on the floor. These had to be cleaned up with a paint/urethane remover.

I came across three products, one local and two from out of state:

There is the Soy-Gel by Franmar, located in Bloomington, Ill. It is advertised as made with natural soy, safe to touch with your hands, odor free and 100% biodegradable. Because of its gel-like viscosity, the product works best on horizontal surfaces.

Out of New York comes the Smart Strip, Peel Away by Dumond Chemicals. The manufacture describes this product as water based, free of caustic or toxic chemicals and also 100% biodegradable. Because this product is more like a paste, it works well on vertical surfaces.

The third product is Soy-It Paint Stripper by Ecoprocote out of Arizona. The product information advertises this product as made from renewable resources (soy), low-VOC and readily biodegradable. Soy-It Paint Stripper also has a paste consistency, which makes it suitable on vertical applications.

Cathy took it upon herself to get the urethane stains cleaned up. She used the Franmar Soy-Gel.


Once that was done we pulled out the floor buffer with a coarse scrubbing pad and started with the wet floor cleaning.

For effective degreasing, we used Simple Green All-Purpose Cleaner at a 1:3 dilution ratio for the first round. For the second cleaning, we dropped the dilution rate down to 1:10.


Last but not least, we sprayed a product called Eco-Etch Pro on the floor and let it sit for 20 minutes. Eco-Etch increases the porosity of the concrete surface to effectively absorb and retain the concrete stain. After that, we scrubbed and cleaned the floor once more.

Before we began applying the stain, everything had to dry out. Our friend Jason lent us his dehumidifier, which we plugged in before we went to our apartment for the night.

Thanks to the help of our friend Lynette, we got all the brooming, scraping, cleaning and scrubbing done by mid-afternoon. That should give us enough time to have everything dry by the next morning.

About Marcus de la fleur

Marcus is a Registered Landscape Architect with a horticultural degree from the School of Horticulture at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and a Masters in Landscape Architecture from the University of Sheffield, UK. He developed a landscape based sustainable pilot project at 168 Elm Ave. in 2002, and has expanded his skill set to building science. Starting in 2009, Marcus applied the newly acquired expertise to the deep energy retrofit of his 100+ year old home in Chicago.

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