Exposed concrete ceiling - choosing a finish/look

gabriel_mtlApril 25, 2011

Hi everyone, I hope I'm in the right forum!

I have been working on renovating an old loft for a good year now. It's been one hell of a roller coster, but I am starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Almost all demolition/asbestos removal has been completed, by myself and a friend. 40 tons of debris! Anyway, enough of my venting.

I need help deciding what to do with the ceiling. It's 10' 3" high with 5 beams that run across, which are at 9' 3" each. As you'll see from the following pictures, the wooden casts are extremely visible. The wood left an print on the concrete. The white stuff on some of the beams is plaster that I have yet to remove.

I don't know what to do at this point. Sandblasting or sodablasting? Cover it all with gyprock? Paint it? Is it crazy to think that I can sandblast myself?

What is your opinion on exposed concrete?

Any suggestions or comments would be appreciated!

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I can't imagine anyone going to that incredible amount of work would then want to cover it all up, unless there are noise considerations.

Even newly-built loft buildings--so called "soft lofts"--don't attempt to disguise forming and other marks in the concrete. However, a non-silicone sealer may be appropriate.

Newly-built Loft, Toronto.
Source: Toronto

    Bookmark   April 26, 2011 at 11:39AM
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Thanks for the reply. I like that picutre..

Noise is not an issue. I am more worried that the look might be too cold, too industrial.

To achieve the look in your picture, I would have to sandblast, which is a major pain for a big area.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2011 at 12:57PM
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As you suggested, soda blasting may be more appropriate. Any cleaning would still be less costly than a more conventional finish. Lofts have been the hot look for years in Toronto and NYC. Even, as the blog points out, when they're brand new. I knew an architect who lived in a genuine one down on Spadina Ave. in the '70s, decades before it was fashionable. Ditto Osborne Village and the old business section of Winnipeg about the same time.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2011 at 3:09PM
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The imprint of the wooden forms is your best friend. It makes the concrete look organic rather than cold and industrial. All you need is an appropriate finish. Soda blasting to a nice clean finish might give you the look you want. I have no idea whether it is possible to stain concrete upside down successfully, but I have been in several mod boutique hotels with painted ceilings like yours. One in Montreal used white walls and an espresso colored ceiling, and was very cozy, at least for a hip hotel guest room.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2011 at 11:55PM
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Gabriel, I just want to say what a lovely space. I recently "endured" an extensive remodel myself and have 10 and 12 ft. ceilings. I LOVE the height. I also think (from the pictures I see that they look beautiful as they are) I don't know anything about soda blasting - maybe that's the way to go. Anyway . . . I hope you post some on-going pics of the progress. What an exciting space to work on! No . . . the work will not be too industrial once you get it "loaded" with all the good stuff! May I ask the general location?

    Bookmark   July 1, 2011 at 11:54PM
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Have you considered wrapping the beams with gyprock and leaving the rest? This provides a contrast of authentic loft (concrete) and cleaner more modern lines. I've seen it done effectively, but don't have a picture around.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2011 at 11:38AM
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