The Balcony Floor

With Labor Day right around the corner, we are trying to get the back yard in a better place so we can enjoy the last couple weeks of great weather. We’re really anxious to get a grill out on the balcony for some end-of-summer barbecues! But right now, the balcony is anything but welcoming. There’s no lighting out there, so the party ends fast when the sun goes down, and worse, the ground is covered in decades-old astroturf.

I pulled back the astroturf today and the situation under the ugly astroturf was just gross. Lots of old and chipped glue.

I scraped up some of glue and a lot of it came off after only a couple minutes of work. I think I’ll buy a better scraper and maybe rent a wire brush grinder and see where we sit.

I’ve been looking into different types of concrete filler/resurfacing products and it looks like getting a cheap and easy-to-mix bag of thin set is a good way to go. I’m not necessarily after a perfectly new floor, just something a little cleaner and more smooth… because I have a little floor painting idea that I just can’t get out of my brain…

  1. Thanks for the heads up Plumberry! I hadn't heard about that law. We'll be sure to look into it.

  2. I love painted cement floors. As a teenager I ripped up the yucky carpet in my basement bedroom floor and painted the cement floor (with my incredible mom's encouragement). It was awesome! I can't wait to see what you do with your balcony floor!

  3. NYC has laws about having grills on balconies – I'm pretty sure it's illegal to have a gas grill on a balcony in Brooklyn. I believe the rule for charcoal grills is 11 feet away from the dwelling, but you could have it in the backyard. It's rarely enforced, i think, but figured I'd share while you're in the planning stage, and can plan to disregard if you want!

  4. Anonymous

    I think the law is only in regard to apartment buildings. Why would NYC care what someone does on the balcony of their own home?

  5. Janie

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE the italian patterned floor idea! Can't wait to see what you do!

  6. Jenny

    Thanks for the heads up Plumberry! I hadn't heard about that law. We'll be sure to look into it.

  7. Karen Sharpe

    I've used thinset to smooth out old cracked cement before, Jenny, and it works pretty great. Like you said, cheap and easy. I also tinted it. I looks great. I can email you a photo if you want to see.


  8. Anonymous

    Jenny, are you worried about the uneven-ness of your concrete making that pattern an absolute nightmare? Our walls are pretty uneven and I tried to do a gingham pattern and it was crappy looking. I'm sure you have a game plan. Looking forward to seeing this project come to life!


  9. Make sure to seal the thinset or concrete before you paint it otherwise that glue might eventually bleed through what I know will be an amazing paint job!

  10. Can't wait to see what you do! Yes, do take precaution in regard to the grill. I know you have the law on your side….but just to be safe, you may want to check that out as Plumberry says.

  11. Anonymous

    Great idea! I've used thinset before and after a few years it kind of separated from the concrete below. It got pockets of air between the thinset and the original concrete — probably moisture got in there and then froze & expanded. I'm not describing it quite right. I probably didn't do it exactly right, but you might want to think about putting the hard work of a pattern into an outdoor rug rug. There must be great ideas for painting an outdoor rug. You could cut it to a perfect size & bring it in for the winter.

  12. What?! You're not digging that gorgeous astroturf? HA just kidding. I think your solution will be amazing as per usual! xo

  13. Amanda

    Such a fabulous idea! A friend of my mothers recently re-did her floor with brown paper … neatest thing I've ever seen! Totally loving these creative techniques.

  14. Olya

    Off topic here, but can you please share what paint you used on those black doors? They turned out gorgeous. We know it is Pitch Black, but is it high gloss or matte? Doors look gorgeous.

  15. Oo that will be fabulous! You crank our projects like nobody's business!!

  16. Yes, great idea I love it! So strange how serious NYC can be!

    Love, Jamie Herzlinger

  17. Jimmy

    Lots of unsure commentary regarding grills on balconies, so I figured I'd go right to the source:

    "All barbecues must be placed at least 10 feet from combustible material and combustible waste. This 10 foot separation requirement would apply to, among other things, any building of combustible construction, combustible building siding, combustible furnishings such as plastic or wood chairs and tables, and combustible decking. In addition, a garden hose attached to a water supply or a portable fire extinguisher must be nearby and readily available for use."

    I found this via the NYFD FAQ section here:

    A moment before this point, the FAQ mentions that traditional propane grills (i.e. those with 20lb tanks) are not permitted on balconies of apartment buildings or mutli-unit dwellings. They do not mention row homes one way or the other.

    As a charcoal man I'm perfectly ok with discriminating against propane grills via legislative codification.

    I happen to be a lawyer, but not the kind that would know anything about this subject, so take this information as you will. The nice thing about this NYFD FAQ sheet is that they point you to the specific NYC code for a lot of the statements they make.

    Good luck and happy grilling!

  18. Erin

    I'm with Maggie on this one – CRACK. So excited to see how it all comes out, and completely inspired to polish up my own house. Now, I just need that extra three hours in a day…

  19. Please go into detail what you do to your concrete! I have sidewalk style concrete on my back porch and would love to see if what you do is a possibility for me.
    I love your tutorials – you spell it out for the DIY challenged!

  20. I love the idea of painting the concrete!! Someone mentioned sealing the concrete before you paint, that's a good idea but you should probably seal it after you paint too–it would be a shame to see the paint peel, flake or get scraped.

    You are a DIY machine!! I wish I had your energy…well some free time would help also! :) Great work!

  21. Anonymous

    Years ago a friend was renting in NYC and had a hideous balcony and very little money. He cut OSB into 18" squares and just laid them on the floor in a random pattern. It was gorgeous and I think OSB is treated to be nonflammable. It is also water-resistant. Just an easy, low cost alternative. I know he took it with him when he moved and used it for different things in different apts. for years.

  22. Anonymous

    Me again… just want to add…. why DO people put that AstroTurf crap down? I helped a friend pull some off a front porch a couple of years ago. There we were, two old ladies in our 60's, sweating and cussing. I wanted to murder the idiot who was responsible for that!

  23. Luna

    Yes for painted concrete. Can't wait to see it… and the end-of-summer barbecues.

  24. Great to hear you're working on outdoor projects Jenny. There is so little garden design inspiration out there, that I recently started a blog about it. Can't wait to see your end results.

  25. Amara

    Loving the tiling idea- anything's better than that astroturf!

  26. Pingback: DIY Geometric Cube Painted Floor - Little Green Notebook

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