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Basement Crafty (& Handy) Laundry Room The Victorian House

Removing Paint from Concrete with an Angle Grinder

Did you know that you aren’t supposed to lay tile over painted concrete? I sure didn’t when I was planning our laundry room! (I also didn’t know it when I painted almost an entire basement floor.)

I was at the store last week looking for . There were two versions and as I was trying to decide between them, I was reading the labels. The regular version had a warning against using it on painted surfaces. Well that’s out, my basement floor is painted! Checked the premium version… same warning. Oh.

Mastic and Premixed Tile Adhesive

Back at home, a little research confirmed it. Paint breaks the bond between the tile adhesive and the concrete. As the paint starts to go, so does your tiling job! It could last a good long time, but then again, maybe not. I’m not about to put a bunch of sweat equity in only to have it fail because the surface wasn’t prepped properly to start.

The paint had to go. You can’t use a chemical stripper because concrete absorbs it and again, the adhesive wouldn’t stick. So what to do? There are basically three options.

  1. Handheld scraper with a 4″ razor blade. Slow and tedious work, but if it works it works. Unfortunately for me, it didn’t. The paint was barely budging.
  2. Angle grinder with a . This is what I moved on to. A little faster, but it still takes some time. It grinds the top layer of concrete right off, and with it, the paint. I have a attached that hooks up to our Shop-Vac and the dust has been minimal. It does spark every so often though, and it scares the pants off me! I don’t even like Fourth of July sparklers, so loud noises dangerous spinny tools sparks is not a whole lot of fun.
  3. Floor buffer with a diamond cup wheel. I could have moved right along to the nuclear option, but if the angle grinder was freaking me out, how bad was a much larger machine going to be!? I imagined the buffer taking off like it does in sitcoms, but this time with a blade capable of grinding concrete attached and spinning out of control.

While researching the options and watching YouTube videos for techniques, I came across calling the angle grinder “the most dangerous tool in a workshop.” Well that’s just great. You better believe I’ve been wearing all of the protective gear recommended.

Here’s without my dumb fears (and without much safety gear), making it look easy.

And then there was me. Skin covered. Welding gloves. Safety glasses and face shield. Ear plugs. Dust mask. Anxious knot of fear in stomach.

Safety First!

Look at the excitement in my eyes! Look at that can-do-it attitude! I got started and it was working, but it shot off sparks randomly, maybe every 10-15 seconds. I felt kind of dumb for being afraid. I like being able to do things myself. I don’t need help! I’ve got this! Yeah, not really. I put the job off and finally asked Brandon if he would please do this part for me. He was all on board until I told him that part of why I was so scared was that I was working near the capped off gas line and what if it wasn’t really OK and it was leaking but we couldn’t smell it and then a spark ignites an explosion and the whole house blows up with our family inside!?

(Guys. I didn’t really think that was going to happen. But that is what was going on in my head every time the damn tool sparked.)

So he did it for me and probably wished I hadn’t passed on my inner anxiety. But it took two nights, it’s done now, and I’m very thankful!

Scarified Painted Concrete - Basement Laundry Room | Making it Lovely

Just about ready for tiling.

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