"Resurfacing" cement basement floor

Our basement concrete floor has acquired a number of cracks, chips, etc. over the past 100+ years. Also, some areas still have traces of old concrete furnace pads. Finally, the floor is far from level with the highest area 6-7 inches above the lowest part.
Our plan is to use the basement for a combination of nice workshop, game room, and of course storage.
At a minimum, I would like to make the floor "look" better, though levelling it would also be nice.
What are some of the alternatives for fixing up the floor?
- Should we have someone pour another layer of concrete or other self-levelling material to create a new, level surface?
- Are there some good paint-like alternatives that at least would fill cracks and make the floor look nicer?
How expensive are the various options and what might you folks recommend?
Jeff
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I have done that before. And I can tell you leveling the basement concrete floor with layer of concrete or leveling compound is no fun. This requires skill that most people don't have. When someone makes a mistake along the way in pouring concrete, he will have a hard time to undo the mistake. This is best let a professional to do this. Moreover, when you are done with leveling the floor, no one will appreciate your hard work. People will say "Okey... you have leveled the floor... Now show me something else interesting!" This is not like putting in nice looking ceramic tiles or doing a nice paint job that you can proudly show off your handy work. Furthermore, leveling a floor requires us to get down on our knee a lot of time; this is not good for our knees or our backs. Lastly, this is not exactly cheap to do this yourself. A professional probably knows where to cut corner without affecting the result; but a DIY will have to use quality material just to avoid making mistakes.
The other alternative is to put an outdoor carpet on the basement floor. My co-worker has done that, and he likes it.
If you really want to convert the basement into a workshop, you may not need to level the floor anyway. You just need to put all your stationary power tools in LARGE caster wheels; then you can roll them around on the uneven floor. You just need to put some rubber floor tiles in area where you will stand most of the time.
The other thing is that I suggest _not_ to paint the floor. If you later on changing your mind and try to put ceramic tiles on the floor, you will have to remove the paint, and removing paint is a very tough job and is not great for our health (especially in an enclosed area such as in a basement). You only paint the floor in areas (such as a designated storage area) that you are 100% sure you will not finish it.
Jay Chan
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snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com (Jay Chan) writes:

Thanks for the advice. I was thinking of getting a professional anyway. Just am not sure who to call and what type of materials to go with. Also not sure what this might cost.
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