Last week, I gave an overview of the options available in concrete flooring (they’re almost limitless!). Every building material has its pros and cons, and it’s important to know what they are before making a choice.
Advantages of Concrete Flooring
Durability — Concrete floors are extremely tough and resilient, so it can be a great choice for high traffic areas or pet owners, as the surface is very difficult to gouge or scratch. Concrete is also a long-lasting finish, so even in commercial applications, it can survive extremely high traffic for many years, and in a home, will last indefinitely.
Maintenance — Maintaining concrete is also fairly easy: periodic mopping with a neutral cleaning agent such as vinegar to maintain the protective finish. Most polished concrete will not require further waxing or sealing once done correctly at installation.
Eco-Friendly — In a lot of cases, you may already have a concrete subfloor, so installation simply consists of removing the flooring that exists on top of the subfloor. No new material needs to be produced! Even a new concrete floor requires less energy to produce than other types of flooring. In terms of indoor air quality, concrete inhibits mold, mildew, and odors, contains no VOCs and can be finished with zero-VOC sealers. Concrete also absorbs warm and cool air, thus making it a good companion for radiant heating. Concrete can also be recycled, so there is no waste after installation.
Design Options — There is an endless variety of color and texture effects that can be done now with concrete, either with new installation concrete or through the application of stains or dyes to existing concrete. It can be made smooth or can be stamped or textured during installation, even achieving the look of tiles.
Versatility — As long as the concrete is in good condition, you can install any type of floor covering over it at a later date, thus giving you great design potential. Note that you may need to add an underlayment, depending on the material you choose.
Disadvantages of Concrete
Hardness — The hardness that makes concrete especially durable can also be a drawback should you fall or drop things on it, so it may not be the best choice for a home with children or the elderly. Likewise, an item dropped on concrete is very likely to break. Concrete also doesn’t have any give, so it can be difficult if you need to stand for long periods of time on a concrete surface.
Cold — While concrete will absorb head and cold easily, it does not retain heat well, so walking barefoot on a concrete floor in the morning may be a chilly endeavor! You can offset this by adding throw rugs.
Moisture — You must make sure that your concrete floor is properly sealed on top and bottom. If it is not, moisture can penetrate the concrete and lead to the growth of mold and mildew.
Eco-unfriendly — While using an existing concrete slab requires no new materials, the production and installation of new concrete can have a negative environmental effect, since the cement requires a significant amount of energy and carbon dioxide to manufacture.
Hopefully I’ve encouraged you to think differently about concrete and give it a second thought the next time you think about a flooring change. It’s important to deal with a professional installer to make sure it’s done right.
For help with flooring or any other interior design choices in your future, contact Melanie Langford, CT Interior Designer with All About Interiors.