Today's concrete floors are anything but utilitarian. They can mimic just about any material you can think of, from hardwood to stone. Incredibly durable and extremely economic, this often-overlooked material is one of the hottest trends in flooring today. In this article, we'll take a look at some of the most popular ways to use concrete in your home. We'll also review the disadvantages and advantages, as well as what you should look for in manufacturing. Also included are some simple tips for finding the best concrete professionals in your area.
The Bad and the Good
As you'll see, there are a multitude of advantages to concrete flooring. Durability, versatility, and appearance are the advantages most important to homeowners. However, concrete flooring does have its disadvantages. Households with small children, or older adults who are not steady on their feet, may want to look into other options. This is due to concrete's incredible hardness. A fall onto concrete can result in injury, especially for those with fragile bones. Take all household members into consideration when choosing a flooring material, or consider investing in some non-skid rugs in heavily-traveled areas to help prevent falls.
While we automatically picture concrete flooring as being drab and gray, this is outdated. Today's concrete can be colored, polished, stained, stamped and imprinted to mimic nearly any other flooring material.
Concrete as Wood
Love the look of a traditional hardwood floor but hate the idea of constant upkeep? Concrete might be your solution! As incredible as it sounds, today's best concrete professionals can create an amazingly authentic-looking hardwood appearance using stains, polishes and, in some cases, stamps. This look really has to be seen to be appreciated; many can't tell the difference without feeling the flooring. Even this can be deceptive, as the high degree of polish leaves the concrete feeling as satiny-smooth as the finest hardwood floors.
Like any hardwood floor, hardwood-look concrete can be created in any color, species and stain you desire. Whether you prefer traditional golden oak or the sleek modern look of ebony, custom concrete flooring can turn your dreams into reality.
Concrete as Stone
Stone flooring has long been thought of as a very luxurious touch, available only to the very wealthy. After all, nothing says elegance quite like a gleaming marble floor, in nearly any room of your home. If you love the look but hate the price...not to mention the ease of damaging marble...concrete could be for you.
Literally any stone can be recreated with concrete, with the exception of semi-transparent materials such as quartz. Granite, marble, field-stone, limestone, sandstone and many others, however, are fully within your reach. You can have concrete chemically treated and stained to perfectly mimic the rich black gleam of marble slabs. You can also have it stamped and stained to resemble a charming country-style stone floor, with each stone a slightly different size, shape and color.
Different applications are, of course, more popular in certain areas of the house. Individual-stone floors are a beautiful addition to a country-style kitchen. Marble lends itself well to bathrooms and entries. Highly polished sandstone can make an earthy yet dramatic statement when used in a living area. Remember that there are no rules; use concrete wherever and however you like. Right now, the hottest trend is actually to buck the trends and go your own way, following your own style to create a truly unique home. With all the possibilities offered to you by stone-look concrete, you can create the floors of your dreams for much less money than you might expect.
Concrete as Tile
Since concrete can be treated, in one manner or another, to mimic nearly anything, tiles are certainly within the scope of possibilities. Perhaps you love the look of tile but dislike its lack of durability. Concrete can give you the same look, with a rock-solid level of wear. Concrete can be stamped and treated to resemble traditional tiles, dramatic accent tiles, or larger, modern-looking tiles. The look of grout (if you desire) can even be created!
Using concrete as tile has many applications, most of them in the kitchen and bathroom. Resistant to moisture, mold and mildew, concrete performs wonderfully in a steamy bathroom once it's been properly sealed. In the kitchen, you'll appreciate the durability, especially when you drop something heavy that may well have shattered a traditional ceramic tile! Talk to your concrete professional about the proper sealing procedures for high-moisture areas, to ensure that your concrete tile stays beautiful and functional for years to come.
Treatments and Finishes
Nearly anything can be created out of concrete, simply because it starts out as a pliable semi-solid material. Additions can be mixed in during this stage, and stamps can create different designs. Once the concrete sets and hardens, it can be stained, painted, acid-washed and polished.
Stamped concrete is definitely one of the hottest current trends in concrete flooring. This process is rather simple, but the possible effects it can create are anything but. Stamping processes are available to mimic, as we've mentioned, hardwood, many different types of stone, and tile. It can also be used to create a dramatic focal point, much like setting an accent tile into a wall covered with neutral tiles. This accent stamping is quite popular in larger rooms, such as living areas or even kitchens. Be careful to choose an accent stamp which doesn t' have too many deep nooks and crannies, as these tend to attract dirt and dust.
Brick is another of the hottest stamped-concrete trends out there. The rough texture of a brick floor is usually the reason homeowners decide to look elsewhere, even if they adore the appearance. Brick floors bring a charming, country-style feel to any room, but are especially popular in kitchens and entryways. By using stamps, you can create the look and texture of a brick floor, but avoid the extreme rough feel underfoot. As with any type of concrete flooring, these new faux bricks can be stained and finished in any color you like.
Acid washing may sound like an outdated treatment for jeans, but it's actually a chic and modern treatment for concrete. The process itself involves a chemical reaction, and the results are irregular, unexpected and beautiful. Many have compared the appearance to a marbled paint treatment. You can leave your concrete a neutral shade and wash any color you like onto it, or you can begin with a fun and funky color of concrete and add even more unique flair.
Speaking of colored concrete, it's another of the hottest trends appearing in designer homes. Perhaps the simplest treatment of all, it's also one of the least expensive. In many cases, it's even less expensive than paint. Pigments are mixed into the concrete during manufacture, and then poured as usual. The results are usually polished and buffed to a high shine, although some homeowners prefer a more matte finish. As always, the choice is yours!
Homeowners are more environmentally-conscious than ever these days. As a result, more concrete manufacturers are modifying their production methods. This means less pollution and less strain on the environment. It also means that you can choose a concrete floor which is in perfect harmony with your earth-friendly home. Research the production methods of different manufacturers to aide in your decision.
Finding the Right Professional
Floors, even in a room as small as a bathroom, make a big impact. This is certainly not an area of your home to mess around with, since floors are so visible and long-lasting. Choosing the right professional for your concrete floor installation is critical.
Finding a local contractor is always best, for any job. However, for concrete, it's even more important. You're dealing with truckloads of very heavy material, so it s best to cut down transportation costs as much as possible.
Websites which connect homeowners with home-improvement professionals are the best way to find a reputable contractor in your area. Concrete installation is a very specialized profession, and it's best to rely on professionals to ensure that the job is executed correctly. Thankfully, these websites offer lists of professionals in your area, organized by areas of expertise.
Once you've narrowed your search by area, you can begin looking at credentials. Required licenses vary by location; check to ensure that any potential hire is properly licensed. Insurance is also essential, not just for the contractor but for every single assistant he or she brings to the job site. This ensures that if an injury occurs, it will be treated properly. It also ensures that you, as the homeowner, are not held liable for any medical bills.
Once you've determined that your potential contractor has all the proper licenses and insurance, read through the consumer reviews. These allow you to see what other clients, just like yourself, and think about a particular individual. They often post helpful photos of the contractor's work, and they are usually very honest about work ethic and other important criteria.
Before any work is done or any final hiring decisions are made, talk through the entire project with each contractor. This allows any differences of opinion to come to the surface beforehand, instead of surfacing in the middle of the project and causing costly delays. It can also give you valuable perspective from somebody who knows the business inside and out.Posted by: Diane Sheppard