If you’ve regarded a professionally finished decorative concrete floor lately, you were probably so impressed that you imagined installing one in your own home. When tinted and polished, an indoor concrete floor impresses as much, or more so, than natural stone or tile. You must wonder what took the construction industry so long to discover the decorative possibilities of concrete.
Like any floor finishing option, concrete floors offer both benefits and a few drawbacks. Here are the facts you need to know about indoor concrete flooring.
Pros of Indoor Decorative Concrete Flooring
- Economical — Because it is poured in place, concrete is an economical building material no matter the structure when compared to quarried stone. Plus, most buildings already have a concrete slab on grade. So, if you’re planning a new floor in a basement, you can simply finish the top of what’s already there. However, if you choose a stamped pattern or overlay, you will add only a relatively thin layer on top of the grade slab. The cost remains far under that which you would pay for tile or natural stone. Additionally, an experienced installation crew can replicate the look of marble, granite, slate or other natural stones at a lower price.
- Strong — If you wanted to damage concrete, you’d have to work pretty hard at it. Like on natural stone and ceramic tiles, dropped items usually break before the concrete even notices a problem.
- Low Maintenance — Unlike carpet that requires frequent vacuuming and shampooing to remain attractive and clean, you only need to dust then damp mop sealed concrete. Proper sealing and a layer of sacrificial wax prevent stains form soaking into the pores.
- Variety of Decorative Options — Although you can find a remarkable selection of natural stone and tile products, your options for decorative concrete have almost no limits. The range of pigments, stains, stamps and stencil patterns, gloss and friction finishes afford you the opportunity to create a custom work of walkable art to fit any location or desire. Concrete floor ideas include acid etching or staining, acrylic staining, spray overlay, micro topping and stamp overlays. These procedures aren’t mutually exclusive, either. You can mix techniques to fashion truly unique floors.
- Opportunity to Add Radiant Heat — Adding a new concrete floor upstairs or an overlay downstairs opens up the perfect opportunity to add an in-floor radiant heating system. For indoor comfort, uniform heat, energy efficiency and dust-free air, radiant heating has no peers.
- Enduring — Concrete floors will last practically forever, even under heavy use. On the other hand, carpets, linoleum and other softer floors deteriorate long before the building has outlived its life cycle.
Cons of Indoor Concrete Flooring
- Heavy — Like quarried rock, concrete weighs more than carpet, vinyl, wood or laminates. For basements, the weight presents no problem. For upper floors, if you’re remodeling, you’ll need to consult a building engineer to be sure the subfloor can take the weight. Otherwise, if you are the builder, be sure your design enables support of an indoor concrete floor.
- Cold — Concrete definitely feels cold, but no more than stone or ceramic tiles. To remedy, simply incorporate area rugs, which also aid in acoustical balance.
- Cracks — Slabs on grade may have unsightly cracks that you would prefer to cover. However, cracks can actually accentuate a rustic, neo-industrial look. If that’s not your style, then cracks can be repaired and disguised within the decorative pattern. One popular effect replicates the veining of marble, which can swallow existing cracks within the design.
- Must Be Sealed — Like granite countertops, concrete must be sealed to prevent staining and to maintain a glossy surface. Sealing also helps block any moisture migration from the ground in basement floors. With heavy, commercial traffic, you may have to re-seal every couple of years.
An indoor concrete floor has far more going for it than against. The smooth, hard surface brings a sense of clean to any room, whether residential or commercial. However, it’s the countless enhancement possibilities that make decorative concrete such an excellent choice.