Polished concrete floors for Troy’s Eichler house — new radiant heating system, too

Troy has been continuing to deliver the TLC to his 1960s Eichler home in the San Francisco Bay area. Recently, he had all the carpet and vinyl tile removed, then had the concrete underneath sanded and polished. Gold star: He had all layers tested first and indeed, needed to engage licensed professional asbestos abatement. As preparation for the polished concrete floors, he also had a new, radiant-flooring system installed. Concrete is an ideal heat-sink for radiant heating and for passive solar heating, too. Cozy on the toesies. Read on for Troy’s story. As usual, he has been amazingly generous with 12 more photos, too.

Troy writes:

Hi Pam! Good to hear from you. How are things with you these days? Blog keeping you busy? Working on any house projects of your own? [No, Troy, not unless you count moving stuff to get at other stuff as a “house project”.]

Last year was a fairly busy year at Casa Troy. At the start of the summer I decided to tackle my floors – more work than I thought!

I started with demo-ing the raised floor and some interior walls that were built in the garage, opening up the space to its original construction. [Pam says: Snooze, no pics of that, let’s look at glamor shots of the new, finished floor until Troy gets to that part.]

I then had the old forced air furnace and water heater removed and a new radiant heat boiler installed, a dual-purpose unit that heats water for the floor heat as well as for domestic hot water. It’s a nifty piece of engineering. All the original copper pipes in the slab and the manifold controls were intact, although two leaks were discovered that had to be fixed. The guy I hired to do the boiler work and repair the leaks was excellent.

I then had all the tile and carpet removed throughout the entire house. The tile and mastic was asbestos so had to get the abatement people in to do the removal.
Pam notes: Gold star, Troy, for working with professionals to assess what was in your old flooring and its layers so that you could make informed decisions how to handle! Be reminded, dear readers, to Renovate Safe

I decided to have the concrete cleaned, sanded, and finished so I now have concrete floors throughout the entire house which get nice and toasty warm when the heat is on – love it!

I’m not 100% happy with the concrete finish materials I chose and the job the concrete finish guys did – with hindsight I wish I’d looked into a few other finishes before choosing the materials we used (an acrylic sealant topped with a coat of matte wax.

The sealant brought out more of the brown tone of the concrete than I was expecting, and even with the matte wax the surface is still shinier than I’d wanted. Oh well, live and learn).
It was quite an ordeal, emptying the entire house of all furnishings! The garage was floor-to-ceiling stuffed, and a bunch of furniture, appliances, mattresses, and garbage bags of clothing were outside under plastic, which kinda sucked when it rained a week before the floors were finished.
I’m still working on some new bargello pillows, will share photos when I get them finished.
And I’m currently thinking about making some curtains – lots of them, actually, if I want to cover all the windows. I’ve been waffling about window treatments for over two years now, and decided I need something soft on the windows to contrast the house’s angularity and hard surfaces. I’m looking into how to sew pinch pleats, maybe a single or double “pinch” per pleat, rather than the common triple pinch. I get lots of sunlight throughout the day, so indoor/outdoor fade-resistant fabric seems to make the most sense (they won’t need to be lined – bonus! – and the color/pattern of the fabric will show from the outside as well, since I have so many views back into the house from the courtyards). There are lots of colors/patterns/textures/weights of indoor/outdoor fabric available so I’m sending away for some samples – not sure yet what I’ll choose. Since the windows go all the way to the ceiling I also need to figure out a hanging mechanism that attaches to the ceiling, have yet to find something that I think will work. And I need to buy a sewing machine – do you sew? Any advice would be appreciated. Once I figure out how to make the curtains, I think it will go fairly smoothly – famous last words!
More later. -T
Thank you, Troy. As always, you are a busy bee of get-it-done inspiration and design beauty alike. xoxo

More inspiration from Troy:

  1. Mary Shannon says:

    I realize this is an old thread, but I am in the same situation with radiant heat installed inside the concrete– except I am in Syracuse, NY and the system was allowed to freeze! I have about 20 broken pipes that show from the basement ceiling– Troy, can you provide more detail on the pipe repairs you had to do?

    1. Pam Kueber says:

      Hi Mary Shannon, on issues like this I advise readers to consult with their own properly licensed professionals. Good luck.

  2. AVO says:


    AVO from Marin here. We just closed on an Eichler knock off (Allen Steinau) in Marin. Peeling back the old cork flooring has revealed large cracks and water damage from leaks in the radiant heat flooring. Can you tell us who you used for your boiler work and leak repairs? Thinking if you are SF, s/he may agree to head to Marin.

    Your home is gorgeous!

  3. A. Bernstein says:

    We live in an Eichler on the Peninsula and appreciate your info. We are having some problems with our radiant heat system and would like to have the name of the contractor who revived your radiant heating.

    Also need to replace floor in one bathroom. Will definitely consider concrete after seeing your photos. Thanks.

  4. Lena says:


    It’s really too bad about the previous owners cutting into the ceiling for that forced air system. Could you use some of the t&g boards from the garage and swap those out for the damaged areas? You’d still need to buy new boards for the garage, but you would have original wood that’s the ‘right’ age and grain in the occupied areas of your house. I think you’d have better luck matching the stain on some original wood than new. Just a thought…

    Best of luck!

  5. Ann-Marie Meyers says:

    I followed the back link to the “Just say no to vessel sinks, etc.” and I can absolutely endorse this one. I am so sick of my granite countertop in my nice, regular updated kitchen, I would rip it out myself if I was strong enough. I am tired of keeping people from setting bottles of oil down on it, or cut tomatoes and other no-no’s. I am tired of how it doesn’t go with anything I want to bring into the kitchen to add retro flair.
    I was nearly in tears at how awful it looks with my $75 Italian 8 light tole chandelier bargain auction find.
    Oh, and they are not as heatproof as claimed. I have heard of several cases of ruined counters because people pulled something out of the oven and placed it on the one spot on the granite with an invisible flaw, which cracked.

    My husband and I were never ones to follow fads, but we thought granite was here to stay. I have talked to several friends who have said they would put in old fashioned laminate countertops, but they are afraid it would affect the resale value. We have to become more vocal.
    Are people really putting in an expensive home feature they don’t want just because they are SUPPOSED to like?

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