How to Plan for New Kennel Flooring
Want to Avoid Kennel floor problems down the road? Just
follow these suggestions.
Please contact me by email or phone if you want more detailed
help in planning. There is no obligation on your part for
taking advantage of the offer of free help.
sure that you decide what the final floor treatment for
your concrete is going to be BEFORE the concrete is poured.
It is not necessary to select the actual vendor or specific
product, although that is the best idea. At a minimum you
should decide the type of floor treatment you are going
For example, penetrating sealer, surface build sealer,
gray concrete or integrally colored concrete, acid stained,
decorative epoxy, neat epoxy, paint, tile, polished concrete,
resilient flooring and so on.
Some reasons to decide
on how you will do your floors before pouring your slab?
1. Different floor treatments have
The placing and finishing of a concrete slab should be
done with the final treatment in mind so you do not have
to do extra work or find that what you may have wanted is
not realistic given the way your concrete was poured and
A broom finished concrete floor does not produce an
acid stain result as pretty as a power troweled finish
A power troweled surface will not offer as good of
a profile for epoxy as a light broomed finish will.
Applying curing agents when the concrete is placed
can interfere with a wide range of floor covering options.
- The height of floor drain placement may depend on the
final floor treatment.
2. Budget issues.
The majority of construction projects end up costing more
than anticipated or planned. If you don't budget adequate
money up front for floor preparation and finishing, you
may end up having to cut corners or get it done as cheap
· This ends up costing exceedingly more in the long run.
Anytime you choose or are forced to cut corners on floor
preparation, quality of materials or good installation you
are virtually guaranteeing that you will have a failure.
· It always costs exceedingly more to correct problems
than to do it right in the first place. It goes beyond the
price of the floors or correcting the problem, because once
you are opened and operating, closing down to repair or
correct problems ends up costing you lost income.
Perhaps the most compelling reason to think through and
decide on flooring issues very early in the process is so
that you can budget adequate money for the most cost beneficial
flooring. When you plan ahead and focus on "cost"
instead of "price" you can be in the position
of including the necessary money in your budget. It is very
much easier to pay off flooring in a long term mortgage
than it is to scrape that money out of your operating budget.
to Make the Decision About Floor Treatment
1. Realize there
is not a totally PERFECT solution.
Every option you choose will have some pros and some cons.
Evaluating these will help you be more satisfied in the
long run. Neglecting this will likely cause disappointment
and possibly high costs.
Remember that most sales information wants you to believe
that their solution is "perfect". The discussion of pros
and cons is typically absent in sales literature and sales
So as you start to consider what you want to do, keep in
mind this issue of pros and cons and determine them for
every option you evaluate.
A typical film forming "concrete sealer" will protect
the concrete (Pro) but it will make the surface slicker
(Con) and will eventually wear off unevenly or may even
peel (Con). They are easy for DIYers to apply and have
a lower price (Pros) but usually are not very resistant
to acids and chemicals (Con).
Acid staining is a lower cost way to change the natural
color of concrete (Pro) but acid stained concrete must
be sealed as well, which often includes the Cons mentioned
above pertaining to film forming sealers (Con)
- Achieving a good cosmetic floor can be done by pouring
integrally colored concrete. The price of integrally colored
concrete may 25% more than ordinary "gray concrete". (Con)
You can seal integrally colored concrete with materials
that do not create a surface film and avoid all the ongoing
maintenance problems associated with surface film failure
and maintenance (Pro) Over time the extra money saved
in maintenance repays many times the increased square
foot price of installing it (Pro). Integrally colored
concrete is more difficult to finish and end up with a
consistent color result compared to finishing ordinary
gray concrete (Con)
2. Decide if you are
going to do it yourself or pay someone to install your choice.
Some floor treatment options can successfully be done by
DIYers. Other choices really do require greater expertise
to insure that the result is acceptable.
For example, if you have never done a troweled epoxy floor,
it is not a good idea to practice with your first one on
your new kennel floor.
Polyaspartics and polyureas...very durable coatings...are
not considered DIY products.
If you have questions about what types of products are
best for DIY use, just call or email me for help.
At the other extreme, my Kennel Kit can be applied by anyone
who can follow simple instructions. If you are not sure
about your capabilities, be sure and investigate how difficult
a flooring option might be for do it yourselfers.
If you want to make the floors"prettier" and
do it yourself, the Beer Concrete Stain systems should be
considered. They offer a good balance of price, cost, ease
of application and very good "correct-a-bility"...
that is easy maintenance over time.
Deciding this up front will allow you to eliminate some
options that should clearly be installed by experienced
people. Or you can wait until you have made a tentative
selection of the type of floor you want and then evaluate
if it is possible for a DIYer to install that floor. With
some options it is possible to get on site technical assistance
where you provide a good portion of the labor and only pay
for one person's time and labor. ( This type of arrangement
is available through Dog Kennel Floors. Ask about my "Cooperative
3. Give careful thought
and analysis to the difference between price and cost.
This is an area where you can really get in trouble. It
is especially dangerous if you have not decided how to treat
your floors before completing the budget for your facility
and get into a bind with having less money available than
you need or feel pressed to get by as cheaply as you can.
In these cases the temptation to get by spending as little
as possible is great.
If you are hiring the installation done you may be tempted
to accept the Low Bid. Scroll to top of right hand column
to read the best advice ever on doing business with the
"Low Bidder". If you are inclined to follow the practice
of going with the low bidder you NEED to read this. It can
save you untold problems.
You have 1500 square feet of concrete to seal. You
go to Home Depot and buy 10 gallons of concrete sealer
for $20 per gallon, or $200.
That's a pretty good price. After applying it and using
the floors, you discover that you have to reapply it every
So year 1, $200, year 3 $200, year 5 $200 or a total
You have to close down runs for two days to do the work.
So in year 3 and 5 you lose a total of 4 days income.
Let's say you only had a capacity of 10 dogs in a boarding
kennel and you charge $15 per night. $150 per day for
4 days is $600. Now you're up to $1200 cost.
Now suppose you had to strip the built up sealer off
before applying the recoat in year five. Not an uncommon
Stripping 1500 square feet… add at least two more days
lost income… $300, plus cost of stripping, likely a minimum
of $750, and now you are at a cost of $2250. Now figure
your time to do all that, approximately 8 days labor or
64 hours. If you pay yourself or someone else only $10
per hour that is another $640. Now you are up to just
under $3000 in cost as a result of trying to save $500
The cheaper price way… $200 initially versus say $800 initially,
now turns out to have a comparative price of $3000 versus
$800, assuming in the second choice you only had to apply
the material one time and forget about it for the time period.
Take the time to DO THE MATH.
That is the difference between price and cost. I purposely
chose a conservative, least severe example. I talk to people
weekly who have painted, used concrete "stains", epoxies
etc who have a much worse scenario than the one I described.
Make no mistake, the issue of price versus cost is huge
and it is often neglected. Don't make that mistake.
Closing down boarding kennels every year or two for a period
to do floor maintenance is not uncommon. Peeling paint and
failed floor coverings are all too common. The cost of fixing
them, including hidden costs of lost income, is huge and
- You have several bids for epoxy floors.
One company says they will install an "epoxy" floor for
$1.50 per square foot on 1500 square feet. The other companies
range from $3.00 to $4.00. So you pick the $1.50. The
floor costs $2250 compared to the higher bids of $4500
But within a year, the floor is bubbling up in places.
A failure takes place. It costs $2.50 per square foot
($3750) to remove the old epoxy floor. And then it is
$4500 to install a new one. Let's do the math. $2250 +
$3750 + $4500 plus loss of income from down time of 10
That is the cost of the low bid. The price was great
(actually too good to be true) but the cost is several
times the cost of the mid range bid.
4. Understand that
"cosmetic enhancement" of gray concrete costs more initially
and over time than maintaining the gray of natural concrete.
While it may seem that changing the color of concrete
should be a simple proposition, it simply isn't so.
There are just a few ways to change the color of gray
First, you can pour integrally colored concrete.
This option involves adding liquid or powdered colorant
to the concrete before it is poured and finished. In my
opinion, this is the best and least costly option for
gaining a pleasing look for concrete in kennels.
It is the most cost effective and trouble free.
While the initial price of colored concrete may be 25%
higher than ordinary gray concrete, that increase in price
should be compared to the price and more importantly the
"cost" of maintaining concrete that has been colored by
one of the available means after it was poured and finished
Once the concrete is poured there are basically
just sa few ways to alter the color of gray concrete.
1. You can add a shake on colored hardener material
which is done during the finishing process.
- 2. You can use acid stain after the concrete has cured
for a period of time (generally 3-6 weeks is recommended).
Acid staining changes the color of the concrete by the
reaction of the acids stain and the minerals and ingredients
in the concrete.
Acid staining does not seal the concrete… so that step
of sealing must be done after the acid staining is complete.
Sometimes dyes are also used, alone or in conjunction
with acid staining to produce certain looks and colors.
The major drawbacks of acid staining are:
-- It is nasty to work with. After the acid stain has
been applied, it should be neutralized with baking soda
or ammonia and then rinsed well a couple of times so that
acidic residue does not interfere with coating performance.
-- You can plan on at least 3 days to complete an acid
stain job after the floor is prepared.
-- Acid stain does not work in many instances...such
as concrete that was treated with a curing agent or cure
and seal material, or concrete that has other coatings,
sealers, contaminants or adhesives on it.
-- You do not know how it will look, i.e., how the acid
stain will react until you are done... that means it isn't
possible to have total control over the end result.
-- Some colors of acid stain are sensitive to moisture
content of the concrete and will discolor after a couple
- 3. The majority of other methods of coloring concrete
once it has been placed as gray involves using a coating
or covering to actually hide the gray color.
There are coatings that are applied in liquid form (paint,
"stain", epoxy) and then floor coverings which have a
wide range of types, e.g., tile, resilient flooring and
vinyl sheet flooring.
None of these coatings or floor covering options actually
change the color of the concrete itself. Only integrally
coloring and acid staining do that.
Everything else is a coating or covering that has to
bond to the concrete. Then when you look at the concrete
you see the color of the coating or covering instead of
the concrete…which is still gray.
- 4. What about "concrete stains" and dyes.
Concrete "stains" are a confusing issue because
of the terminology. Virtually every "concrete stain"
sold on the retail or mass market is nothing more than
a colored sealer... which creates a colored film build
on the surface. These will peel and do not work well in
If you get a stain system from a source other than mass
marketed, most stain concentrates have binders or resins
in them. The result is that they will also peel or delaminate.
Dyes are not UV resistant. They will discolor outside
and inside under flourescent lighting. While there are
some dyes advertised as "UV resistant", the
claims are usually supported only by lab testing at best.
Long term, in the field testing and proving of the claims
has not been done for this category of coloring concrete.
My recommendation for staining concrete is to consider
Stains and Sealers from
HDIP, Inc. It is a unique method which has been field
tested and proven over an eight year period. There are
no binders or resins in the stain concentrate, so it totally
penetrates and does not leave a film on the surface. The
"look" is very similar to acid staining, a translucent
result. You have complete control over the outcome and
it is very easy for DIYers or contractors to do.
Why make such a big deal over what may seem like
a semantic issue?
The reason is that it is hard to get coatings and coverings
to stick to concrete and not peel off or wear off. When
that happens, extensive maintenance is required. That
is costly and time consuming.
The point is that changing the natural color of concrete
is going to be more expensive over the long run.
If you want to have cosmetic appeal on your kennel floors,
just understand it can be very costly over the long run.
Because of this risk, make sure that you investigate
thoroughly the pros and cons of various options.
Dig into the issue of maintenance costs. Know what is
required and how often. Find out what happens if the system
fails and needs to be fixed.
In the near future, I will put out an e-book to discuss
fully how to go about checking these issues out. For now,
just call or email if you have questions or need help
determining what is the best way to go for your needs.