Concrete slabs are used as flooring in basements, garages and patios for many years. However, concrete can now be used as a flooring material in interiors. Concrete can be polished or etched to create a finished flooring surface. Concrete can be viewed as a utilitarian surface that is suitable for utilitarian surfaces. However, you might be surprised at the many benefits concrete has as a decorative flooring material. Concrete can create some of the most beautiful and vibrant floors you’ve ever seen. However, they may not be the right stylistic match for every home.
Concrete floors are extremely durable and strong. If properly installed and maintained they can last as long as your house. There are many design options. Concrete is very hard and cold underneath, so it is not a practical option in homes with slabs-on-grade foundations or basements built on top of basement foundations. These floors are “on-grade”, which means they contact the soil directly, and can become susceptible to moisture getting into the living spaces.
- Relatively affordable
- Simple to maintain
- Flexibility in design
- Cold and hard
- Sensitive to moisture
- Environmental concerns
- Concrete floor cost
Concrete floors can be quite expensive because there are many options for finishing. Prices can vary from $2 per square feet for a basic floor to $30 for artistically rendered floors.
Basic design: $2-$6 per square foot Basic concrete floor designs include pouring the slab, overlay, and then basic polishing and one colorizing treatment (staining/dyeing). Mid-range design: $7 to $14 per square foot. This price range includes the pouring of the slab or overlay, as well as polishing and staining with multiple color options. Design with high-end features: $15-30 per square foot Concrete floors that are more expensive and complex can be made with geometric patterns in the slab, overlay, or other materials. They also come in multiple colors and can use a variety texturing or stamping techniques. These floors can be quite creative.
Concrete floors that are properly sealed can last for decades. Concrete can withstand high traffic conditions for many years even in commercial settings. This can save you money over having to replace flooring every few years.
Maintenance and Repair
Concrete flooring starts with a structural concrete pad. This concrete pad is strong and durable by nature and is ideal for commercial spaces such as warehouses and garages. Concrete is a great residential flooring option. Concrete is resistant to scratches from high heels, furniture legs, or pet claws. Dropped items are not likely to cause damage. It is possible to scratch or chip concrete surfaces, but it takes a lot of effort.
It is easy to keep a concrete floor looking great. The protective layer needs to be maintained by sealing or waxing it every one to three years depending on how much traffic it receives. You can also use a neutral cleaner to clean the floor periodically. For stubborn stains, a blue utility pad may be useful.
Concrete floors can settle and crack over time. This is more common when an existing structural slab has been adapted to a residential flooring surface, such as when a basement condo or loft has been converted into living space. To restore the floor’s sheen, you can patch, grind and refinish it if the floor is severely cracked.
Concrete floors look great in homes that are modern or industrial, but are not suitable for older styles. For example, a polished concrete floor stained with acid will look unnatural in a colonial-style house, but it will fit well into a modern-style house.
Concrete floors used to be a simple slab of concrete. The simple, polished slab may be all that is required at times. However, homeowners have many options for texturizing and coloring their floors.
To rejuvenate an existing slab, an overlay is a thin layer made of concrete that is placed over it. The overlay is then polished and colored in the same way as a new slab. Polish: An overlay or basic slab can be polished with finer abrasive pad to achieve a smooth finish. The floor will shine when a sealer has been applied. Acid stained: Concrete can be stained with mild acids to create a mottled, colorful appearance. Every floor is unique. Dyeing: This is another method to colorize concrete. It involves applying a colorizing agent on top of the surface. Dyeing creates a solid-colored effect, which is unlike acid-staining. Texturized or stamped: Concrete surfaces can be stamped or brushed while still wet to create a three-dimensional texture. Geometric divisions: Concrete floors with high-end features often have geometric designs. Each segment can be colored or texturized differently to create an artistic effect. Concrete floors can be used as large canvasses for many artistic painting techniques.
Concrete Floor Installation
A residential concrete floor can be made by grinding an existing concrete slab and then applying a desired polishing, colorizing or texturizing technique. To expose the concrete slab, this can include removing existing flooring such as vinyl or carpet. A thin layer of concrete can be placed over the slab in poor condition. This will serve as the base for polishing, coloring, or texturing. Colorizing agents can be added to concrete when a new slab or overlay is being made. The staining and dyeing can be done after concrete has been polished with abrasive pads of progressively finer grades.
To protect the surface, apply a concrete sealer. The concrete sealer should be applied at regular intervals. Some experts recommend a yearly reapplication.
Although it is rare, concrete flooring can be installed over a subfloor made of wood. This involves pouring an overlay concrete layer over a subfloor that has been prepared carefully. Then, polishing and colorizing the chosen colors. Even a thin layer of concrete overlay can be quite heavy and may require structural reinforcement to the wood framing.
Concrete floors can be poured from scratch, modified slabs, or poured with an overlay. Professionals usually do the installation and finish because it is difficult and requires special tools. Although DIYers are welcome to rent grinders to finish a concrete slab, this is not recommended.
You can cover the concrete with any type of floor covering, provided it is clean and free from bumps, holes and other defects. Concrete floors offer a lot of design flexibility.
There are down sides
This material’s strength and durability can be a liability. Concrete floors are very hard and can cause serious injuries to people if they are slipped on. These floors are susceptible to cracking or shattering if items are dropped onto them. Concrete floors are not recommended in areas where children, elderly or kitchen workers will use them. Concrete floors are also difficult to stand on for prolonged periods of time due to its hardness.
Concrete can become slippery if it is polished or buffed or coated with a gloss finish sealer. Concrete in bathrooms, kitchens and entryways are especially vulnerable to this. Concrete has a low insulating value and can feel very cold in winter, unless it is installed with radiant floor heating. Carpets and throw rugs can help to offset the concrete’s inherent coldness.
Concrete can easily be penetrated by moisture if it is not sealed properly on its top and bottom surfaces. Concrete is easy to penetrate when placed over bare soil. Concrete’s cool temperature can cause moisture to condense under humid conditions. The presence of liquid in concrete floors can cause mold growth. Because it doesn’t require the manufacture of new concrete, environmentally conscious customers can feel confident about finishing an existing slab. However, homeowners should be cautious about constructing a new slab or an overlay. Concrete manufacturing requires significant energy consumption and high levels of carbon dioxide.
Are Concrete Floors Right for You?
Concrete floors are a great choice if you have a slab foundation and a home that suits the polished look of honed concrete. Concrete floors are very affordable, and you may not need to cover it again. Be prepared to work with a floor that is naturally hard and cold.