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A Step-by-Step Guide to Making Concrete Look like Wood

Often, when you compare the physical properties of concrete and wood, all you see is an absolute impossibility to make one resemble the other. It must have crossed your mind to remodel your concrete floors or slabs to look like wood, but the limitation of how to go about it kept you stuck. Well, it is possible to give your concrete floor a wooden look if you follow this systematic guide on how and when to do it.

There are several techniques for making concrete look like wood, including painting & staining, stamping, adding wood like texture. The Faux Wood Look is much less expensive than purchasing wooden planks that will require technical expertise to fit. 

The satisfaction of accomplishing that impossible thought of making your concrete look like wood will come to completion through our step-by-step guide for making your concrete floors and slabs look and feel like wood. These simple steps have undergone several adjustments over the years, and we are confident in sharing this information with you.

What You Should Know Before You Begin

There are a few things you must have in mind before embarking on a DIY procedure for giving your concrete floor finish the faux wood look. Just so you are sure it is what you want; the following is an objective summary list of what you must consider before you can engage in your project: 

  • The cost of a faux wood design on your concrete floor falls between $2-$4 per square foot. Hiring a professional for the project would cost between $8-$10.
  • You need to follow the steps given with exactitude. All measures and estimates are essential.
  • It would help if you had patience and some level of expertise. Sometimes we advise that you hire a technician in the field.
  • Equip yourself with the necessary materials for the project, which we will list later on.
  • Please read the labels on the products you purchase for the project carefully before you can apply them to your project.

When you understand and deduce the profit from a DIY procedure based on the list above, rest assured that the rest is just following instructions. However, a variety of methods exist for making your concrete floor look like wood. The application of each method primarily depends on the traffic and traction of the area in question. (1)

Methods for Making Your Concrete Floor Look like Wood

As you may have guessed, some methods are going to give you a more natural faux wood finish than others, but may require a little more work. As we go through method, I’ll discuss what the look is going to be and what each method is best suited for. Let’s take a look in detail at the different methods you can use for your project…

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Painting and Staining Your Concrete to Look like Wood

Before you start painting, you should clean the floor with some soap and water. For stubborn paint stains, use a mixture of flour and hydrogen peroxide paste, spread over the areas, and allow for about 8 hours before scraping it off. 

Another alternative for removing stains from your concrete floor is a mixture of water and Trisodium Phosphate (TSP), which you will find in home improvement stores. You can use a nylon bristle brush to scrub the mixture over the area until the stain goes off completely. Once you achieve a clear concrete surface, you can rinse off the TSP mixture with a hose. (Source 1)

Nevertheless, a concrete cleaner and degreasing agent will get rid of stains on your concrete floor as well (here’s a great one on Amazon). Some people use a pressure pump to wash their floors, and they obtain excellent results too, but don’t forget to allow the floor or slab to dry before applying the following steps after cleaning your concrete floor.

After drying, the next step of action to take is etching the concrete. You can use a sprayer to spray the etching onto the concrete or watering can. Run over a stiff bristle brush in a circular motion on the etching of your concrete floor until the etching mixture stops foaming. Wash the floor with water and squeegee. Let the floor dry off for about 2 hours.

Use a pencil and a level to draw up straight lines on the surface of your floor. The lines can run in any direction, but they must progress in a parallel manner. Most people prefer using a 1.80 × 1.20m board as a template for their line gaps. The area over which you want to give the faux wood look needs accurate measurement before the next step.

After drawing all the horizontal lines, you will require a little bit of math to produce the vertical line perpendicularly to the horizontal lines. For example, if your working surface is 20m2, your perpendicular lines should take up the shortest distance and a fixed measurement. If you want your perpendicular lines to run at a 1.90m gap, maintain this measurement at all points across the floor.

What do we mean by that? Your vertical lines will run between two horizontal lines, making your work progress in strata as you move from one layer of the horizontal lines to the next. When you get to the end of the floor and measure less than 1.90m, the remainder of what you have measured should occupy the first space on the next stratum. It carves out the faux wood look, as though you’d already placed the planks to fit your floor or deck.

A ¼ ” wide painter’s tape would be nice to have, but if you can’t get one, you may also use a crafting knife to tap out all the lines on your concrete floor. A better choice of paint would be the Valspar Porch and Floor Latex paint (like this one on Amazon). Use a sponge roller to apply the paint on the flat-out surfaces and a painter’s brush for the edges. A Dollar Tree Broom is best for making wood grains in the paint. (Source 2) 

After running your little broom over the painted area, please take off the tapes gently so that the paint doesn’t drop on your lines, and then allow it to dry for about 24 hours. You can get a Vaquero Brown Valspar semi-semitransparent stain color for staining your painted floor. Here, a chip brush will do the job perfectly. Just run your stain section after section in succession to obtain better results. (Source 3)

You must allow drying before applying a sealer that would give your floor the wooden shine and feel. We highly recommend Valspar Natural Look Protective Sealer, but just about any sealer would do just fine. (If you like a more worn/used look then this one on Amazon is a great choice). Get what you can afford. Since this sealer is thin, use a sponge roller to roll the first coat over an entire section until you can get the smoothness on the surface of your floor. (Source 4)

After five minutes, apply the second coat and wipe with a dry clean cloth. Do this for the rest of the other sections of your floor and allow the floor to dry completely for about one day. This simple technique will give your floor the perfect wooden feel. (2)

The Traditional Stamping Method

This method is most suitable for exterior floor finishes than interior floors and slabs. Its technique is quite simple and doesn’t require any unique expertise. In general, all you need to do is pour a cementitious overlay on your concrete floor and stamp the wood patterns with rubber stamps. (1)

The following steps will give you direct expertise on the simple procedure for your faux wood floor finish:

  1. Fill a 10L pale with 1 gallon of water. You may repeat the process a few more times, depending on the size of your porch.
  2. Slowly pour your content of a 50 lb. box of cementitious overlay into the pale while stirring with a drill mixer. Stir until you get an even dispersion of the dry polymer in the water.
  3. If you’re using a colored concrete pigment, maintain the same quantity of water for every box of your overlay to avoid color discrepancies.
  4. The useable life for the mixture is about 45 minutes, but you can extend this time to an extra 15 minutes if you use ice-cold water instead of room-temperate water. 
  5. Use a concrete overlay as a base coat for stenciling. Carefully follow the mixing instruction for spraying the overlay. (Source 5)  
  6. Hold your sprayer at least 1m above the concrete surface to avoid rebounds. 
  7. Spray from a flatwork texture gun at 25 psi.
  8. Allow drying for six hours. 
  9. Carefully fix the stencil and spray the top with a smooth color overlay coat the same way you sprayed the base coat.
  10. Pull off the stencil some ten minutes after drying.
  11. Apply the last coat section by section because the drying time of the overlay takes about 12 minutes. Over this coat, brush the wet overlay continuously with a broom to give your surface a wooden look.

Once at this stage, it’s time for you to stain your stamped floor with a concrete stain. Feel free to go in full regalia with your choice of color. You can mix several brown tone stains, spray over the wet overlay, and darken random sections with a tinted concrete sealer to produce a higher color contrast across the porch floor. (3)

The Broom Finish or Trowel Method

The texture of the wooden display with this method looks less aggressive than the stamp method and can go for interior floor finishes. This method makes your concrete floor look like natural wood, and its simple methods are pretty simple. You don’t require to be an expert in flooring houses if you can follow these simple steps.

  1. Apply a Super-Krete Bond-Kote and spread over the concrete floor until it smoothens out in all directions.
  2. Use ½ ” tape to carve out sections of your desired plank patterns, reapply another coat of the Super-Krete Bond-Kote with your squeegee, and draw a broom over the surface almost immediately.
  3. While the product is still wet, drag a pool trowel across the surface in the same direction as the broom to create a wood grain texture on each section respectively.
  4. Once the product dries off, pull out your tapes and stain, as you would in the previous methods above.

The result of this method gives a closer resemblance to natural hardwood than the previous methods. The method doesn’t depend on the age of your concrete floor. You can use this method over concrete floors as old as five years old and get the same results as when used on concrete only a few days old. (4)

The Light Broom Method

This method is quite similar to the Trowel Method described above but more suited for interior floor finishes. With this method, the final stage of coloring is critical in producing the wooden texture on your floor. The application method is very similar to that of the trowel method described in ‘C’ above.

The following table shows the differences between the light broom and trowel method:

CharacteristicsTrowel MethodLight Broom Method
TextureLower intensity and less realistic wooden texture.More intense and realistic wooden texture.
Color applicationUse of concrete stains the same way as in the stamping method.Add color by staining each section or individual plank
When to use the trowelUse the trowel while the concrete’s surface is still wet. Use the trowel after the surface has dried off.

With this method, you will give your painted floor a few hours for the concrete coatings to set and dry off before knocking down the texture further. (4)

Grouted Broom Texture Method

This method will give you the best faux wood appearance. As a result, it produces the smoothest and most realistic wooden surface compared to the other methods. The following list is the tools you’ll need for the job, and we must emphasize here that most of our procedures are 100% DIY procedures that require minimum technical skills.

  1. Grout color
  2. Squeegee
  3. Wooden Blade
  4. Magic trowel
  5. Concrete coating
  6. Concrete sander
  7. Concrete coloring
  8. Micro-topping concrete coat 
  9. Concrete dye spray
  10. Concrete finishing
  11. Fiber-infused tape

We must keep in mind that this method yields the best results and, as such, would require a little more attention than in the previous methods. 

First, mix your grout color with the concrete coating and apply the mixture to the floor using a squeegee. Make every direction on your floor smooth out evenly and allow to dry for about 6 hours before applying the fiber-infused tape. Make sure to use the tape as in the previous methods to obtain the wood plank patterns.

The choice of your concrete coloring will significantly influence the appearance of your wood grain. Make sure to match the colors so as not to have color disparities on your floor finish. Mix your concrete coating and the concrete coloring, and then apply on the taped floor. Allow about five minutes for everything to settle before sweeping and trowelling the wet surface.

Allow the whole setup to set overnight. You may require to allow a few more hours after sunrise for the mixture to dry off completely. Once you make sure of that, use your magic trowel to apply the micro-topping concrete on top of the grained surface. This coat plays the same function as your grout, so be sure to allow for about 6 hours for the coat to dry.

Use your concrete sander for sanding the floor once it is dry. Dust the surface with all powdered debris from your sanding and spray your concrete dye on the entire floor surface to achieve the desired color. We recommend this method because it is pretty simple and uses less time to produce a better result.

Wood Covering Method

This will be the most expensive method, and it will require the expertise of a skilled technician to pull it off. However, it provides a cozier and warmer feeling than the faux wood floor finish. If you choose this method, be sure to hire an expert to avoid double expenditures. Even though some home designers would prefer this method, for your interior floor finish, to the methods mentioned above, your external floor will best sustain its solidity and beauty.

The tongue-and-groove floorboards and the 5/4 treated decking are the best and most common wood flooring choices for your porch. The following steps will guide you in obtaining the perfect results desired, and we strongly advise using this method on your external floors. (5)

  1. Use a sharp saw to cut a good number of 1×4 treated lumber boards. 
  2. Place the boards 16 ” from the wall to the edge of your porch across the entire width of the porch. Be sure to take accurate measurements to distribute the boards so that there are no wider gaps than the partition lines that stand between the boards from all four sides of the board.
  3.  Attach two battens to the porch and drill ¼ ” pilot holes at even spaces on the board. Drill about three such holes on each board.
  4. Position the pre-drilled batten flush on one end of the porch running from the wall of the house to the edge of the porch.
  5. Drill down through each pilot hole 1/8 ” using a 3/16″ rotary bit into the concrete floor.
  6. Drive a 2×1/4 ” tapcon-style anchor through each pilot hole on the battens. Rep this step for each batten until you reach the porch’s edge.
  7. At this stage, you’re all set to install the wood floor. From the front edge of the porch, lay your floorboards out one row at a time.
  8. Attach treated deckings with 11/2 ” decking screws along the length of each board. You may drive two to four screws, depending on the size of your board.
  9. Trim the last board as you move closer to the wall of the house to let the floorboard flush to the floor.
  10. Add a piece of quarter-round molding to the leveled floor to seal gaps between the floorboards.

FAQ On Making Concrete Look Like Wood

  1. Would Pouring Xylene On Our Faux Wood Floor Finish Affect The Results?

Yes, Xylene, vinegar, and many such acidic solutions will quickly dissolve your concrete sealers. Nevertheless, they will not affect water-proof concrete sealers.

  1. Can The Faux Wood Concrete Floor Withstand Heat?

Scorching temperatures will affect the faux wood look on your concrete floor and may cause a conspicuous patch, but the faux wood look can withstand certain temperatures.

  1. How Does The Faux Wood Concrete Floor React To Stains?

With the proper water-resistant concrete sealer, your faux wood floor finish will resist almost any stain.