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Concrete flooring - Installation costs, wear resistance and maintenance

Concrete slabs have long been used as a reliable flooring material for warehouses, patios, garages, and retail establishments. Nevertheless, in the modern world, concrete floors went far beyond utility surfaces, becoming a great addition to home interiors. They are polished, stained, and etched to serve as the finished flooring surface. Though concrete floors are not made to fit every home, they can easily become an elegant eye-catcher on the premises if they are selected and installed the right way. This in-depth concrete flooring installation guide was made to help you learn the basics of this flooring type. It features the advantages and downsides of concrete floors, their installation and maintenance requirements, and tips on switching from standard flooring to concrete. Keep reading to decide whether concrete is a suitable flooring type for your home.

Concrete flooring - Installation costs, wear resistance and maintenance

The basics to know before concrete flooring installation

Concrete is one of the most durable and robust flooring materials that does not require special maintenance and can preserve its initial look for as long as you own your premises. Thanks to the diverse design options, concrete floors are distinguished by their eye-popping aesthetics and unexpected style. Nevertheless, concrete is a hard material that can be felt uncomfortable and cold underfoot, especially in cold climates. It is also pretty heavy and fits only those building constructions with concrete or slab-on-grade foundations.

The best rooms in your house for installing concrete floors

Due to their special characteristics, concrete floors cannot suit every room in the house. They are cold, so you will hardly want to see them in the bedroom or children's room. Nevertheless, in the areas where high moisture resistance and durability matter most, concrete floors are indispensable. See below to find the rooms where you can get the most out of installing concrete floors:

  • Basements and garages. All first or zero-level premises as garages, basements, or storage rooms, are matched with concrete floors. First off, these premises usually feature concrete slabs that can be additionally finished to enhance their appeal. Secondly, concrete floors can best withstand the humidity prevalent in basements and garages. They are not getting cracked from heavy weight and high foot traffic.
  • Entryways. Concrete floors suit entryways both visually and functionally. They are resistant to moisture and dirt and can be easily cleaned with the help of a garden hose. On top of that, concrete flooring looks stylish and minimalistic, creating a strong visual effect.
  • Kitchens. The areas of the house, like kitchens and dining rooms, are exposed to high traffic, moisture and grease. The floorings installed in these areas should be durable, easy to upkeep, and wear- and moisture-resistant. These criteria are best to describe concrete floors. That is why if you're now selecting the best flooring option for your kitchen, stop your choice on concrete.
  • Bathrooms and laundries. Moisture-prone areas like bathrooms and laundry rooms need waterproof flooring coverage, which is resistant to mold and mildew buildup. Concrete is just like that. Plus, this material's design flexibility allows the creation of customized bathroom floors.

The types of concrete flooring and their distinctive features

There are a few types of concrete floors available on the market. They vary by their appearance, properties, and cost per square foot. That is why knowing the difference between them is essential to invest your flooring budget wisely.

  • Polished concrete. Aesthetic, naturally durable, and moisture-resistant, polished concrete has become the top flooring choice for homeowners, retailers, and educational and medical facilities. Floors of this type have a smooth, high-luster surface which is achieved by gradual grinding and can withstand just about anything you throw at it. They are the strongest of all concrete flooring types, which makes them a cost-saving solution as you won't need to replace them in 10 or even 20 years. 
  • Stained concrete. Concrete tends to be plain by its origin. However, going through the staining process, this flooring turns multiple looks and designs, becoming a great addition to commercial and residential properties. If the concrete is in mint condition, the stain can be applied directly to the prepared and cleaned surface, which can be done without professional assistance. Once staining is applied, the original concrete gets a consistent monochromatic look that remains rich over time.
  • Terrazzo-style concrete. This classic style of flooring that originated in Italy has a distinctive look with colorful pieces of aggregate incorporated in a cement base. Aggregate can be made of virtually any material, ranging from stone to marble chips. Terrazzo-style concrete is easily customizable, allowing for different aesthetic designs and finishes. On top of that, it is long-lasting and wear-resistant, which makes it appropriate for both indoor and outdoor premises with high foot traffic. 
  • Epoxy flooring. Epoxy coating is an effective means to enhance the aesthetics and durability of concrete flooring. Its composition includes hardeners and polymer resins bonded with concrete, creating a chemical and moisture-resistant flooring surface that can withstand years of wear and tear. This slip-resistant, heavy-use flooring solution comes in multiple decorative options and offers fantastic versatility when it comes to aesthetics.

Tips to keep the concrete floors in mint condition

Concrete floors are relatively easy to upkeep, especially compared to other popular flooring options like carpeting and solid wood. When properly sealed, they are not vulnerable to stains and moisture. Besides, they are extremely difficult to damage or scratch. That is why you won't need to refinish them often. Depending on the level of traffic, sealing and waxing are required once in three to five years. Besides, concrete floors should be vacuumed and cleaned using a damp mop weekly. If you don't need to deal with stubborn stains, it is recommended to use neutral cleaning agents for concrete floors.

Concrete cracking is one of the few common problems when the structural slab has adapted to a finished residential flooring surface. The solution to it might be patching and refinishing or complete resurfacing. If you have to deal with stains absorbed into the concrete flooring surface, consider applying a tinted sealer or a new coat of concrete stain or dye.

What are the downsides and advantages of concrete flooring?

Like any other flooring option, concrete has its own advantages and downsides that are worth evaluating to determine whether this option is worth the investment. Here are the key pros that make concrete an attractive offer for durable flooring coverages for commercial and residential use.

  • Construction element. In contrast to other flooring materials, concrete often serves as an aspect of the construction process rather than a feature added after the building is constructed. It ensures its unique properties and long service life.
  • Durability. Concrete is one of the most cost-efficient flooring materials that can serve for more than 100 years. It might outlast the building itself if properly poured and regularly sealed, causing little to no problems within its service life.
  • Simple upkeep. Concrete is resistant to virtually all external factors, from moisture to wear and stains. It does not require frequent repairs and can be easily cleaned with the help of a vacuum cleaner and mop.
  • Flexible design. Concrete comes in limitless design options, varying in color, pattern, texture, and style. One can get different effects and patterns by polishing concrete and exposing it to various levels of aggregates.
  • Cost efficiency. The price of concrete floor installation starts at $2 per square foot, which is relatively inexpensive since this material can serve for centuries. However, the cost of more intricate concrete flooring designs can rise to $30 per square foot.
  • Energy efficiency. Concrete possesses a high level of conductivity that allows it to store heat and transfer it across the slab, keeping the premise warm in cold weather. By the way, this process works in reverse with shade.

Here are the cons of concrete flooring that are a must to consider to get the best fit for your needs and budget:

  • Uncomfortable underfoot. Concrete is hard and cool, which makes it uncomfortable to walk on it barefoot, especially in winter months. Radiant heating systems and area rugs can become great solutions for enhancing comfort in a home with concrete flooring. 
  • Prone to cracks. While concrete is resistant to wear and tear, it can still crack over time due to rapid temperature changes and settling. Small cracks can be patched and then stained and sealed, while floors that experience major issues should be reinstalled.
  • Requires resealing. Concrete floors will only preserve their look and water-resistant properties if resealed several times a year. Besides, sealing will boost their gloss and color, preventing the floor from staining. 

How much does a concrete floor cost?

Concrete is a mid-priced flooring material that tends to be more expensive than vinyl and carpet yet less costly than hardwood and stone. It's considered cost-effective as it offers a long service life requiring a humble initial investment. Nevertheless, the cost of concrete flooring varies depending on its finish. The high-end custom floors made of concrete can cost as much as $30 per square foot for the material only, while those with a basic design that involves polishing and dyeing will cost you $6 per square foot at max. Stained concrete typically costs $7 to $15 per square foot, while a polished one costs $6 to $12.

Concrete flooring installation costs vary from $3 to $7 per square foot but can go even higher if the installer has to deal with staining, sealing, and polishing the new concrete floors. Besides, services like adding underlayment or repairing a floor surface will be estimated additionally. You should expect to pay around $2 - $3.50 per square foot for repair services made with concrete floors. Adding stains to concrete costs $6 per square foot, while grinding can cost between $1 and $4 per square foot.

If you want to discover the cost of concrete floors per square foot relevant to your project, answer a couple of questions in our request form. Once we get your data. We will be able to provide you with a clear-cut estimate from concrete flooring installers operating in your region.

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