I was really skeptical at first. Sure, I had read about it, seen it done, talked to contractors and industry experts about it, and I even...

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I was really skeptical at first. Sure, I had read about it, seen it done, talked to contractors and industry experts about it, and I even wrote an article about it last August.

But did my wife, Lisa, and I have what it takes to pull off a concrete-staining project?

We have a rental house with an 8×10 basement laundry room, and it has had its share of moisture issues. One flood years ago, three different linoleum floors and one layer of vinyl flooring have called that room home. None of the flooring has been long-lasting, trouble-free or satisfying.

So the grand experiment commenced.

Our local Lowe’s just started carrying Behr semi-transparent concrete stain. The semi-transparent was preferable to the solid color, as it would allow much of the character in the concrete to bleed through.

And yes, in case you were wondering, concrete does, in fact, have character.

The solid stains seemed too much like paint, and we were trying to avoid the Kingdome look.

The first step was to yank out the baseboard, pull up the old linoleum and get rid of all the accumulated flooring mastic and paint residue.

Removing the flooring was easy, but we had a floor scraper if needed. Goof Off cleaner, lacquer thinner, paint thinner and other assorted household chemicals wouldn’t touch the mastic, as I suspected. Plus I had the added bonus of becoming a few brain cells lighter in the process.

We sprang for a $20 gallon of Klean-Strip Adhesive Remover. Brushed it on, covered it with plastic, waited five minutes and it all came off. Gotta love those chemists!

Best part about this product was that it didn’t smell, and I didn’t stagger out of the room woozy.

We were left with a really rich-looking mottled concrete that had been stained by the layers of glues, but had no actual residue on the surface. At this point, you could almost visualize the way it was going to look.

Adding water and Behr Concrete Etcher (another 20-spot for a gallon), we neutralized the stripper and opened the pores of the concrete. Sprayed it on, rubbed it in with a brush, squeegeed it off, mopped it up, let it dry. It was that easy.

After the etcher dried, it was time for the concrete bonding primer (one gallon was $18). This material just rolled on, taking about three minutes to do the entire room. It dried for a day.

Finally, we were ready for the stain ($20 a gallon). Lisa wanted to be the artist, as I have the artistic talent of a baboon.

She applied the light-colored stain over the concrete with a hand sprayer (an old Windex bottle), then back-rolled it. This first coat wasn’t dark enough to really set it off, especially with those Grey Poupon-colored walls.

We bought another gallon of a darker stain and went over the top of the first. The different colors played off each other really well (I thought it would turn a muddy brown and we’d be laying new vinyl soon).

Still not satisfied, Lisa took the lighter color and went over the top of both layers in a sponge-painting fashion. It looked great, so we put two layers of concrete sealer (another 20 smackers) over the whole floor and called it done.

All the colors and textures played off each other to make a fantastic floor that will wear like, well, concrete.

The best part was, we spent not much more than $120, and have enough left over to do two more rooms!

Darrell Hay is a local home inspector and manages several rental properties. He answers reader questions. Call 206-464-8514 to record your question, or e-mail dhay@seattletimes.com. Sorry, no personal replies. More columns at www.seattletimes.com/columnists.