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A Look at Concrete Flooring

August 24th, 2010 · 1 Comment

The list of materials that can be used for flooring is lengthy.  More common materials include carpet, wood and ceramic tile, but there are various other flooring types that are available.

Concrete flooring has become a more popular flooring material used in businesses and residential homes.  According to the website Toolbase.org, “concrete flooring lasts longer than most other floors and can withstand much abuse without damaging its look,” and it “is relatively inexpensive.”

The use of concrete dates back as far as 12 million BC when a spontaneous combustion caused a reaction to occur between limestone and shale that created concrete compounds.  As the years passed, ancient civilizations further developed the use of concrete in building, but the art of it was lost with the fall of the Roman Empire.  Some 1200 years later, concrete emerged again and has been used for various building projects ever since.  Today, there are few structures that have been built without the use of concrete (Auburn.edu).

For some, having concrete floors in their home may sound very odd.  Concrete as a flooring surface in the home may be thought of as cold, loud, hard and dusty.  While it may not be as cozy or warm as plush carpeting, there are various techniques and decorative finishes that are used to completely change the appearance of standard concrete and make maintenance quick and painless.

While altering the coloring of an existing surface can be achieved through chemical staining, the results are not always predictable due to weathering, exposure to other chemicals and natural processes that occur when mixing the stain.  Waxes or sealants are recommended for chemical staining and will usually bring out the full color and potential of the stained surface.  A simple one color stain can be easily completed with great success, but when complex or more artistic designs are desired, it is beneficial to find a skilled person to do the job.  When done correctly, concrete surfaces can resemble other natural materials such as granite or marble at a cheaper cost (toolbase.org).

Stamping concrete slabs is another great way to achieve a more realistic look to the surface.  According to the website Concrete.org, “stamping, which can be used for both interior and exterior concrete surfaces, has literally made a big impression over the last several decades.”  The design is achieved through templates or textured mats and has grown to a highly advanced stage.  Surfaces can resemble wood, water, stone, brick, marble and any other imaginable design.

For an alternative to ceramic tile, Toolbase.org lists a technique called scoring, which gives a concrete slab the appearance of tile with a much more durable surface.  Shallow cuts are made into the surface of the concrete and can be made to resemble grout lines.  More intricate designs and patterns can also be cut into the slab and made more prevalent by changing the color of the design element.

Colored hardeners or exposed aggregates can also be used to change the appearance of concrete.  Cement.org states that “exposed aggregate uses the texture of the rock or stone in the concrete to embellish the surface.”  This is a popular technique that can be done by three different methods.  Colored hardeners will create a harder surface and intensify the hue or pigment of the colors used.

Although easy to maintain and aesthetically pleasing, there are a few drawbacks to having concrete floors in a home.  Toolbase.org says that concrete is colder than other traditional flooring materials, holds a higher risk for falling objects shattering, the deflection of sound and a higher injury risk when small children are in the home.  A good alternative to most of these issues is the use of area rugs in high traffic rooms.

While the above mentioned techniques are the more popular ways to alter the appearance of concrete surfaces, there are still other methods that can be used in order to achieve the desired look.  Consult a local home improvement store or visit one of the following sites for more information on concrete floors:

http://www.toolbase.org/Technology-Inventory/Decks-Patios-Fences/concrete-floor-finishes

http://www.cement.org/decorative/floors.asp


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