A couple weeks ago, I decided to paint the concrete floor in my laundry room. Now, this was by no means a snap decision. The floor was installed with radiant heat two years ago and over the past couple months I vacilated over installing vinyl, stone, or porcelain tiles—all of which are compatible with a radiant heated subfloor. But in the end, I decided to take a simpler, more economical approach. I invested in two gallons of water-based Floor & Porch Paint from Ace Hardware (having them custom color a Canon Ball black) to create a basic black and white checkerboard painted finish.
Since the concrete was never sealed and in an area of the house that would only recieve moderate foot traffic, the only prep I needed to do (according to experts at Ace, Home Depot and Benjamin Moore) was clean thoroughly using a solution of water and ammonia and remove any raised surface irregularities—like drops of paint and drywall—with a scraper, sandpaper or hand-held rotary sander. If you were painting a previously sealed floor, a basement floor where moisture was an issue, or a garage floor where oil and chemical spills might be evident, you would have to consider additional steps like an acid wash to etch the concrete for better paint adherence or an alkyd or oil-based paint for better paint saturation and surface wear.
To create my pattern, I followed the advice of tile installers: finding the center point of the room and radiating the pattern outwards from that point. I was careful to see how the squares would butt to the baseboards as well. Once determined, I used a square and metal ruler to plot out a 16" x 16" grid pattern. To get a clean edge, I taped each square with painters tape. I gave each square three coats of paint, allowing sufficient dry time between coats, before removing the tape. The tricky part is lifting the tape without lifting some of the paint. If anyone has an alternate suggestion on how to get a clean line without applying tape, or a better tape choice, let me know. Although it took time, the floor looks better than I imagined it would. The test will be how well it stands up to foot traffic and cleaning. I'll let you know.