Sometimes you have to "walk the walk". My wife insisted that we redo the living and dining room floors in our Fort Worth, Tx, home with a concrete coating - a "microfinish overlay" as we commonly refer to it - because our two dogs had pretty much destroyed the carpet. After banishing them to the lawn for the duration of the project, my crew dug in to remove all the carpet, trowel down the overlay, spray on the water stain, and finally wrap it all up with an industrial grade concrete sealer. Most residential projects can be completed within a week and ours was no exception.
As with most things in life, proper preparation is the most important step. We almost always grind the floors when we're going to apply a concrete coating (overlay) to the floor. That's because contaminants such as paint, varnish, or glue can become a "bond breaker" and prevent the overlay material from sticking properly to the floor. Then we skim on the first coat which sticks very tightly to the floor due to the special polymer (glue) that is mixed in with it. After letting it dry, we get close and personal with the floor, hand trowelling another coat of a smooth concrete coating material that gives the floor its unique personality.
Once this second concrete coating dries we pass a scraper over it, smoothing out any ridges. Next we protect all the walls with plastic to prevent any overspray and apply a stain to the floor. As of late, we're becoming fans of water staining in lieu of acid staining on overlays for many reasons. The most important of which is predictability. With a water stain we know exactly what the final color will be as we are mixing pigment in with a stain base. Acid staining, on the other hand, is a reactive process and usually we can only control how dark it gets, but not necessarily what color it ends up with because it kind of "does what it does", which gives us pretty varied results. In our home, we applied the water stain, finished it all off with a good grade concrete sealer and viola!- a beautiful floor. FYI - the dogs still do their thing on it but at least we find it very quickly now and there are no lingering smells! In the next project we'll go over color choices and maintenance issues.