Why Concrete Floors Rock
It's not just for sidewalks; concrete is a stylish choice for indoor floors. Its surface can be finished in various ways—with colors, stains, and aggregates—and given a textured surface or buffed until glassy. Concrete floors are extremely durable and easy to clean, and they resist water when properly sealed. Concrete works well with radiant heating, and the surface absorbs heat to cut energy bills.
Colors. Choose a range of colors applied to concrete in various methods.
- Integral color is added to concrete during the mixing process.
- Stains produce a translucent finish with a one-of-a-kind look.
- Dyes, often mixed onsite, lend more vibrant shades.
- Colored hardeners are added to fresh concrete for surface-level color.
- Paint can also be applied to concrete.
Surface. Depending on the look and feel you want to achieve, choose from a variety of textures, including troweled, smooth, or polished. Concrete can also be stamped (to create a pattern, such as tiled) or scored (patterned using a circular saw).
Aggregates. Most interior floors are formed from a fine concrete mix, though some incorporate crushed stone or gravel for a rougher surface.
Type. There are two general types of concrete floors:
- Existing concrete. The concrete slab already in your house can be enhanced with decorative treatments, such as stains and polishes.
- Decorative overlay: Concrete overlays can be installed over certain existing hard-surface floor types to mask damage or offer a fresh new appearance.
Concrete is Green
Concrete is good for the Earth. Really. The floors are eco-friendly, anyway. Concrete does not deplete natural resources, requires less energy than other floor types to produce, and is made (poured) locally. Concrete is good for indoor air quality because it inhibits mold, mildew, and odors, contains no potentially harmful VOCs, and can be finished with zero-VOC sealers. Concrete's absorption of warm and cool air minimizes the need for heating and cooling. And concrete can be recycled and the surface cuts down on the need to discard waste, such as scraps of flooring and underlayment.
Factors to Consider
How to Clean. Use gentle cleaners or vinegar to clean. Sweep, mop or vacuum regularly.
Best for: Any room, especially kitchens, baths, basements, and entryways.
Pet friendly? Extremely. This is the gold standard for pet-proof floors. Concrete withstands scratches from claws, spilled water, and pet messes, and it won't absorb odors. Provide soft mats or pet beds for added comfort.
Underlayment. Concrete floors generally require a level of felt paper, metal lath, and a base layer of concrete.
Concrete rocks. It's durable, stain-proof, waterproof, and chic, giving your room an sleek contemporary look.
Concrete withstands wear, and it's resistant to fire, stains, water, bacteria and odors. It won't scratch, it's easy to clean, and the design is customizable. Concrete also contributes to good air quality, and it can help reduce energy bills when used properly.
Keep in mind, though, that fragile objects will probably break if dropped on concrete, and standing on it for long periods can be uncomfortable. Hairline cracks can appear over time on concrete floors with heavy traffic. Concrete floors will need to be resealed regularly, and they have been known to produce an echo effect.
Concrete typically costs between $2 and $20 per square foot, installed. Installation is generally best left to professionals.