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The Pros and Cons of Concrete Flooring

Concrete is remarkably sturdy and durable, which explains its use in roads and driveways. When it comes to flooring, it mirrors the resilience of a well-paved road. Scratches and dents? They stand no chance against a concrete floor.  Concrete floors can also be stained, painted, or coated with garage floor coatings, enhancing its natural beauty.


Beyond its durability, concrete can also be a style statement. Innovative techniques, dyes, and etchings can transform the mundane gray slab into the centerpiece of your home. The cost spectrum for concrete flooring varies, from surprisingly affordable ($2 per square foot) to the higher end ($30 per square foot, based on finishes).


Undoubtedly, concrete carries weight. If you're laying concrete floors on ground level, weight isn't an issue. But if you're thinking of overlaying concrete on a joisted subfloor, you'd need an expert opinion—a structural engineer—to ensure the floor can handle the load. In such scenarios, lightweight concrete might be the answer.

Pros of Concrete Floors

Easy to maintain: Concrete floors, renowned for their durability, demand minimal upkeep. Their ability to withstand stains, spills, grit, and impacts means that a bit of sweeping and occasional damp mopping is all it takes to maintain their pristine appearance.


Diverse aesthetic choices: Advanced concrete finishing techniques have elevated the status of concrete floors from mundane to lavish. Integrating dyes during the wet-mixing process introduces a broad palette of earth-toned shades. Unique finishes can be achieved with acid stains, specialized concrete paints, and treatments. What's more, the application of rubber stencils can introduce textured patterns on concrete. When paired with the right colorants, the end result can resemble ceramic tiles, natural stones, bricks, and even soil!


Warm flooring option: In new establishments or when applying concrete on an existing foundation, there's the choice of embedding radiant floor heating. This involves either electrical cables or hot water tubes, ensuring your feet meet a warm surface.


Environmentally friendly: Concrete flooring is sustainable. It doesn’t tap into finite natural resources and its production consumes less energy compared to other flooring materials. Often sourced locally, concrete enhances indoor air quality by deterring mold, mildew, and unwanted odors. It's devoid of VOCs and can be paired with sealers that are equally eco-friendly. Its natural thermal mass properties regulate indoor temperatures, thereby reducing energy demands for heating and cooling. Furthermore, concrete is recyclable, and its solid surface negates the need to dispose of excess materials, such as flooring remnants and underlays, says Austin Fain of Perfect Steel Solutions.

Concrete flooring offers several advantages, including durability, low maintenance, and a modern aesthetic that fits various design styles. It's also energy-efficient, as it can help maintain indoor temperatures. However, concrete floors can be hard and cold underfoot, making them uncomfortable in some settings. To mitigate noise issues, particularly in multi-level buildings, installing a soundproof underlay can be beneficial, though it adds to the installation cost. Additionally, concrete can crack over time and may require professional repair, which can be costly.

Cons of Concrete Floors

Rigidity: Concrete, being notably rigid, can be less comfortable underfoot, a factor some might find disagreeable. Its lack of forgiveness means dropped items, like glasses, are likely to shatter upon impact. This might pose risks in homes with young children or elderly residents, although area rugs can provide some cushioning.


Moisture concerns: For basements below ground level, upward migrating moisture can dampen concrete, potentially damaging surface treatments, including paint. While sealing the concrete offers a layer of protection, addressing external issues like faulty gutters and improper soil drainage is essential.


Tendency to crack: Despite impeccable installation, concrete might display cracks over its lifetime. The vast spread of a concrete slab is subject to temperature fluctuations, moisture variations, and foundational settling. Though colored cement pastes and patching agents can camouflage these cracks, they can't entirely prevent them, says William Clark of SATX Concrete Contractors.

Concrete Options

There's a spectrum of color options available for concrete, each applied using distinct methods:


Integral Color: This is incorporated directly into the concrete mix.

Stains: Offering a translucent finish, they give concrete a unique appearance.

Dyes: Often formulated onsite, these provide brighter color variations.

Colored Hardeners: These are introduced to fresh concrete, imparting color to the surface.

Paint: Concrete surfaces can also be painted for added color.


Your desired aesthetics can be achieved through various concrete textures, ranging from troweled, sleek, to polished finishes. Additionally, concrete can undergo stamping to mimic patterns like tiles, or be scored with a circular saw to create distinct designs.


Aggregates: While many indoor floors utilize a refined concrete blend, some incorporate elements like crushed stone or gravel to produce a more textured appearance.

Type of Concrete Floors

According to Adrian Cruz of Columbus Concrete Co., concrete floors predominantly fall into two categories:


Pre-existing Concrete: The present concrete slab in your residence can be elevated aesthetically using treatments like stains and polishing.


Decorative Overlay: For a revamped look or to camouflage damages, concrete overlays can be layered over specific existing hard-surface floors.

Factors to Consider

Cleaning Methods: Opt for mild cleaning agents or vinegar for effective cleaning. Regular sweeping, mopping, or vacuuming is recommended.


Ideal For: Concrete floors are suitable for any space, particularly kitchens, bathrooms, basements, and entryways.


Compatibility with Pets: Exceptionally so. Concrete is the pinnacle of pet-resistant flooring. It can handle scratches, spills, and doesn't retain pet odors. For enhanced pet comfort, consider placing soft mats or pet beds.


Base Requirements: Typically, concrete floors necessitate an underlayer comprising felt paper, metal lath, followed by a foundational layer of concrete.

The Lowdown

Concrete is impressive. Combining durability with waterproof and stain-proof features, it effortlessly imparts a modern and stylish look to rooms.


Notably, concrete stands resilient against wear and tear, offering resistance to elements like fire, stains, water, bacteria, and odors. It’s immune to scratches, effortless to maintain, and offers a myriad of design options. Moreover, concrete aids in maintaining good air quality and, when utilized efficiently, can assist in cutting down energy costs.


However, it's worth noting that delicate items might shatter when dropped on concrete, and prolonged standing can lead to discomfort. With extensive use, subtle cracks can surface on concrete floors. Regular resealing is a must, and certain spaces might experience an echo with concrete flooring.


Cost-wise, concrete usually falls in the range of $2 to $20 per square foot when installed. Engaging professionals for its installation is advisable.

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