One of the simplest and least expensive options for finishing a basement concrete slab is to paint or stain the slab. A one-gallon can of either coating option is about $30 and covers about 80-100 sq. ft. If you elect to use paint, consider an acrylic formula with slip-resistant surface finish. Assuming the basement concrete slab is unsealed and still porous, a colored stain will likely penetrate fairly well and hold its color for several years before reapplication. A concrete paint probably will show wear in a high-traffic areas, and will require a reapplication every 3-5 years. An epoxy coating system, which combines a solvent-based adhesive coating with decorative (and slip-resistant) color chips, is far tougher than a concrete paint or stain. It costs about 3 times as much as a gallon of paint or stain but covers four times the area and leaves a tough, industrial-looking finish. Another option is to cover the concrete slab with an additional, thin layer of concrete that has been pigmented with color. A thin-coat can also be stamped with a pattern to resemble brick, flagstone, and even wood planks. Because the color is throughout the coating, it will never wear away. Expect to pay $2 to $3 per sq. ft. for a thin-coat installation. By: Rich Binsacca
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