John Starr

When I built my super-insulated home in 1984, my plan was to have a walkout basement with a finished concrete slab that would absorb the sunlight from four south-facing windows and act as a thermal mass. I placed a 4-inch slab over a 3-inch layer of sand and 6 inches of XPS insulation, and used an integral red dye in the concrete. In addition, I used a wax-sealing product made by the dye manufacturer that was supposed to match the slab's color and allow the concrete surface to be buffed to a high shine.

I'm not sure what went wrong, but when we tried to buff the wax sealer, it completely lifted off the slab, exposing a soft chalky surface. Repeated scrubbing didn't solve the problem, and I ended up covering the floor with carpet and putting the kids' bedrooms down there. Over the years, laundry turned pink by the kids' clothing served as a...

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