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.

Make 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 to have.

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 different requirements.

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 finished.

Some Examples:

  • A broom finished concrete floor does not produce an acid stain result as pretty as a power troweled finish will.

  • 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 as possible.

· 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.

How 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 pitches.

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.

Some Examples:

  • 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 Installation" program).

3. Give careful thought and analysis to the difference between price and cost.

  • Price is how much you pay initially for the materials or products and the installation.

  • Cost is how much you pay over time to maintain the floors.

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.

Some Examples:

  • 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 two years.

    So year 1, $200, year 3 $200, year 5 $200 or a total of $600.

    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 situation.

    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 or $600.

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 disruptive.

  • 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 and $6000.

    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 days.

    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 concrete.

    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 as gray.

    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 of years.

  • 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 kennels.

    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.

 

 

 

 

As you read this, keep in mind that your kennel floors are critical to your success.

Have you ever heard of a kennel having to shut down in order to fix the floors? Pretty common actually.

Ever hear of anyone closing a kennel because the desks, or lighting or doors were not working? No? Me either.

You can't run a kennel without the floors. Everything happens on the floors. Without the floors you can't bring in money and be in business.

When you consider your flooring options, keep this in the front of your mind.

Your floors are the most important part of your facility. You can't do business without them being in serviceable condition.

So don't neglect giving very careful consideration to how you are going to do your floors.

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The peeling paint on a kennel floor is most likely a good example of the difference between price and cost.

The price to put down a coat of paint on the floor was surely very reasonable. Possibly even "cheap".

But now the issue of "cost" arises when the paint peels.

What will it cost to remove the old paint, properly prepare the flooring surface and do a new floor treatment?

Certainly many times what the initial job cost.

Please do not make the mistake of considering only "price".

Instead, make every effort to pay more attention to "cost".

It will save you thousands of dollars in the long run and make your life much easier.

Remember this: "Only rich people can afford to use cheap paint". That applies to floor coatings and sealers as well as to paint.

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Low Bidder"

"It's unwise to pay too much, but it is worse to pay too little.

When you pay too much, you lose a little money -- that is all.

When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do.

The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot -- it can't be done.

If you deal with the lowest bidder, it is well to add something for the risk that you run. And if you do that, you will have enough.

There is hardly anything in the world that someone can't make a little worse and sell a little cheaper -- and people who consider price alone are this man's lawful prey."

John Ruskin (1819-1900)

 

 

The wise advice above is over a hundred years old. Still valid today. And when it comes to concrete floors, it is even more true. Here's why...

If you pay too little, you not only stand to lose what you have put into it if it does not do the job...but even worse, you may end up spending thousands to remove the failed material before you can correct the problems you encountered.

For example, paint a floor that later starts to peel and come off, and gets scratched up from dogs' nails.

Or lay tile and have them start coming up.

Besides losing what you originally paid, you also have a huge expense of getting rid of the paint or tile and adhesive. This task can often run several dollars per square foot.

Now you have lost everything you paid for the initial floor. Plus, all the money you had to pay to get rid of it and get the floor back into a condition where you could do something new...plus you will have to pay for something new.

This is not an unusual occurence. I talk to people every week who are in exactly this same situation.

Here's the point. Plan ahead. Do the research. Buyer Beware! Make sure that you read and understand and apply the suggestions for planning on this page.

If you have questions or would like more help in assessing your plans or projecting the difference between "price" and "cost" please get in touch with me and I'll do my best to help you avoid a costly mistake.

 

 

 

 

 

   
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