Building Modern on a Budget Ep.9 | Concrete Floors + Fireplace & Interior Doors

Saturday, October 3, 2020 -


DIY sealed concrete slab floors and a two-story concrete fireplace as well as installing interior doors the easy way in our modern house

*This blog post is sponsored by Concreate and The Door Stud and contains affiliate links. 

We are finally working on the inside of the house! After living through the hottest summer in Phoenix history, the shade is a welcomed break. We have electrical service (more or less) but for safety reasons, only a few outlets are energized and definitely no A/C yet. It's okay. I'm so thrilled with the beautiful elements we are installing, I can deal with the sweat.

As I've mentioned before, we're going with a super modern design with this house. Since both Bryce and I love the look of natural colored concrete, we decided to use it throughout. Today, I'm talking about our DIY sealed concrete floors and our two-story concrete panel fireplace. I'm also sharing the deets on our interior doors (although not concrete but still good). 

Sealed Concrete Floors

So, if we're going to talk about sealing our concrete slab and turning it into our finished floors, we have to go back in time. Back right after we finished framing, adding windows and having the stucco applied to the exterior. At this point the house was "dried in" and we were ready for insulation and drywall. Although it was still relatively early in the construction process, we wanted to seal the concrete before drywall was hung to avoid a messy, complicated application. 

We spent an entire day power washing and cleaning every inch of the floors. We also blew out as much construction dust as possible, to try to give us a clean canvas to begin applying the sealer. Since we knew we were going to have exposed concrete since we started building, we were very diligent about protecting the slab. We didn't let anyone mark up or write on the slab except when absolutely necessary. 

Unfortunately, during the framing process we had to snap several chalk lines. Most of them washed off without too much trouble, but there were a handful of stubborn lines that would not lift, no matter how much we scrubbed. 

Eventually, we decided we needed to get serious about stain removal and ended up using a watered-down vinegar solution. 

*WARNING: I definitely recommend you test a small patch in somewhere inconspicuous before you apply any sort of acid to concrete. Even a mild acid like vinegar or lemon juice can etch the surface and cause permanent marks. 

Thankfully, we worked quickly and were able to removal almost all of the remaining chalk lines. 

Once the concrete slab was clean and dry, we began applying three coats of Consolideck Polishguard by Prosoco. 

There are hundreds of types of concrete sealer out there. We spent days researching and settled on Consolideck Polishguard because of it's ability to control the sheen (by buffing or polishing) and the easy of application. Shockingly, the manufacturer recommends applying the product with a pump sprayer and spread evenly, using a microfiber pad. Basically, it was like really really intense floor mopping. 

We spent 3 days cleaning and sealing, so the last thing we wanted was to allow all the subcontractors come through the house and trash all of our hard work. 

Although it cost almost $400 and took about 8 hours to lay, we made the decision to install heavy-duty, rolled floor protection. The product we used is called X-board and you can find it on Amazon or in some Home Depots. It's way thicker than construction paper. It's almost like thin cardboard and is resistant to impacts and spills. 

Flash forward 3 months, the drywall was hung and the paint was sprayed and it was time to pull the X-board back and see how the floors faired. Needless to say, we were pretty nervous. 

I am happy to report, laying all that X-board was TOTALLY worth it. I know you can't tell from this shot, but the floors still look fantastic! The few blobs of joint compound that found their way through the paper were easily popped off and wiped clean. 

The last step in sealing the concrete floors was to fill in and seal all of the relief cuts. We chose to use a water-based concrete adhesive that claims to be flexible and durable. I'll check back after a few months of living in the house and let you know how it holds up to daily, family living. 

Since we are still working on the house and making messes everyday, I don't have final photos of the sealed concrete slab yet, so I'll share the sneak peaks I took right after the 3rd coat of sealer was applied. 

Two-Story Concrete Fireplace

Most traditional fireplace coverings like tile, brick and stone veneer have to be applied to a masonry substrate, and that's where we started as well. 

After lots and lots of research, I discovered that the easiest way to add real concrete to a vertical surface was to use a product from Concreate. Concreate makes floor tiles and lightweight wall panels from REAL concrete in over a dozen different finishes. 

Unlike most masonry products, Concreate wall panels are quick and easy to apply. They can be cut with standard circular saw or angle grinder, fitted with a "Hardie" blade. If you want an even quicker option, the panels can be scored and snapped, kinda like drywall. 

Also, no thinset or mortar needed! I'll be honest, after remolding our master bathroom in our last house, I hate combing thinset on the wall. Thankfully, we were able to attach our Concreate wall panels using a strong construction adhesive.  

It took us about 6 hours to skin the entire 78" wide and 19' tall fireplace with cement board and about a day to wrap the entire surface in the 24" x 48" concrete panels. 

Once nice thing about using real concrete (beside the gorgeousness) is the fact that it sands and shapes easily. Most of our joints and seams were pretty clean, but the few small gaps we had were quickly filled with a little grout and sanded smooth. 

The last step to get the dramatic concrete focal point we wanted, was to slide in a 60" linear electric fireplace insert we found on Amazon. 

What do you think? 

And since I know you'll ask, the Concreate wall panels we chose were 48" wide and 24" tall, in the color "Natural Grey"

Don't get me wrong, I like tile and stone veneer, but you can't beat the look of real concrete. 

Interior Doors

Since Bryce works fulltime in his day job, I knew there was a good chance I'd probably end up installing and/or painting some of the interior doors myself. Cue The Door Stud

The Door Stud is actually a pair of heavy-duty, adjustable, steel jigs that make moving and installing doors of all kinds much easier. We chose the Pro Series, which works with both pre-hung and slab doors 1-3/8 - 1-3/4" thick and weighing up to 250 lbs. 

Installation was pretty straight forward. With the door laying on the ground, we used the integrated clamps to secure The Door Stud to the bottom edge. 

We then were able to flip the pre-hung door and casing vertically, and roll it into place. 

The Door Stud has several great videos, showcasing how to use the tools to get the best results. Definitely check them out! 

Right now, The Door Stud has agreed to offer Pneumatic Addict fans a 15% discount through their website. Just enter the code DS1520 at checkout!

Controversially, we went with flat slab, hollow-core doors for most openings inside of the house. If you're wondering why we would go and do something so stupid, I recommend you check out the build video. I talk about how we came to that design decision and what our plans are. 

And don't worry! We snuck in a few frosted glass doors in the master bathroom and pantry as well. 

We are getting close to the end guys! In the last couple weeks we've been working on all the really exciting stuff like cabinets and our drool-worthy Viewrail stairs

If you want to make sure you don't miss those updates or if you're curious about the rest of our DIY house building experience, check out the Building Modern on a Budget series on the Pneumatic Addict YouTube channel and make sure you subscribe! 

If you like that, you'll love these ideas:


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