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Scratching an Itch: DIY Cement Pour

By House*Tweaking on Feb 07, 2013

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I posted this image of HH on instagram a few days ago with the caption “scratching an itch.” The image and caption caused some confusion/hilarious comments. HH is not literally scratching an itch. The gutted kid/guest bathroom is giving us quite the tick though. And we’re ready to do something about it.

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Last week we took the first steps towards making this space a functional bathroom.

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HH poured concrete to fill in around the future tub’s plumbing which we had a professional plumber update back when we were in the midst of a full-on reno.

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HH also removed and rehung the backerboard under the window because the drywallers did a shoddy job.

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Once that was all finished and the new concrete around the plumbing had cured, HH prepped the floor for leveler primer + self-leveling underlayment. We used Henry’s brand from Home Depot. The underlayment is cement-based and helps to smooth and flatten surfaces before flooring installation. In our case, we’ll be laying a tile floor in the bathroom and the job is 200% easier when the floor is nice and level.

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To prep, HH cleaned the floor of all debris then fashioned cardboard “dams” around the toilet drain and floor vent. He caulked around the toilet dam and secured the floor vent dam with masking tape along the inside.

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He built another dam at the bathroom’s doorway.Hint: If you’re going to be using self-leveling underlayment, it’s important to block off any parts of the room that you don’t want to be affected by the concrete. Then the primer went on. {Sorry, no pictures of this step. It’s likely that I was tending to a blown out diaper.} The primer improves the underlayment’s bond and prevents pinholes/air bubbles in the finished surface.

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With the primer dry, we tag teamed the mixing of the underlayment.Hint: the dry powder is fine so wear a mask to prevent inhalation. It’s not difficult – you just add water and mix with a drill gadget – but the leveler sets up very quickly. You only have 10 minutes after mixing to pour and work with the leveler. We guessed we would need 2 bags of underlayment. So HH mixed one bag in the garage and took it inside to pour while I began mixing the second batch. Then I brought my bucket of mixed underlayment in {muscles!} just as HH was finishing up with the first bag.

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Here’s the first batch going in. HH poured the mixture in small sections and used a hand trowel to gently move the leveler into tight spaces.

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He also used a section of 2″x4″ to work the larger areas.

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We set a timer for 10 minutes to keep track of how much time we had left before the cement started to set.

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With ~four and a half minutes left, we poured the second bucket. At this point, HH was working from the hallway.

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After 10 minutes and 2 batches of underlayment, we had a floor covered in wet cement. A few hours later, the floor looked like this…

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It’s only cement but it already looks 10x’s better. Seriously. I sat in the hallway watching it dry and dreamt of a finished bathroom. It’s going to be great! I just know it. {See my plans for the bathroom here.}

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But we’re not completely ready for tile just yet. The area around the tub plumbing didn’t level up the way we had predicted. Turns out self-leveling underlayment is great for smoothing out minor discrepancies but not major ones. Looks like mixing and pouring more concrete is in our future to get that corner as level as possible.

When do we expect the bathroom to be finished? I dunno. 2014? Hehe. I laugh but it’s totally feasible. We’re just working on it whenever we have a chunk of time to devote to one step of the bigger project. HH has a lot of traveling to do for work over the next three months. We only have a few free weekends coming up but every little project we tackle gets us that much closer to not sharing a bathroom with the little people in our house. I’m stoked.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

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