Whether you realize it or not, concrete flooring is one of the most common flooring types in homes around the US. Largely, that’s because more than 63% of all housing units in the US have a garage or carport. The favorite flooring material is undoubtedly concrete.
Well, garages and basements aren’t the only parts of your home that can benefit from concrete floors. Let’s talk about some of the benefits and what you need to know about concrete flooring as a homeowner!
What to Know About Concrete Flooring
In some form, concrete has been used in construction since 3000 BCE in China and Egypt. This makes it one of the oldest building materials still widely used today.
Concrete is made at incredibly high temperatures ranging from 1400C to 1600C (2552F to 2912F) using silicate-based minerals like clay or limestone. It is then combined with water and fine crushed sand, stone, or other natural materials found in the ground.
Moreover, concrete flooring is typically used in garages and basements, but it is increasing in popularity elsewhere. There are now excellent options for turning concrete flooring into a much more stunning material with polishes and coatings, making for a sleek and modern design.
Functional concrete flooring, for garages and basements, is standardized at 4 to 6 inches in thickness. However, for some interior concrete flooring systems, there are even low-thickness options as thin as 4mm.
Benefits of Concrete Floors
If you’re considering laying a slab of concrete down for your flooring system, there are plenty of reasons to do so. Here are the most notable examples!
Strength and Durability
For a strong flooring material, it’s hard to beat concrete, especially for the price. Who’s going to pay for steel flooring?
There’s a reason our roads and garages use concrete flooring by and large; it’s strong enough to handle vehicles. If you want to park your car in a garage or under a carport, there’s nothing better than concrete.
Moreover, the same goes for basement flooring with large storage, a workshop, or a home gym. If you want to use your space for something that requires heavy equipment or materials, having strong flooring is essential.
Concrete isn’t the cheapest material to buy upfront, but you never really want to buy the cheapest materials. The cheaper they are, the more quickly you’ll have to replace them on average.
On average, concrete flooring can cost anywhere from $2 to $30 per square foot. That’s not out of the ballpark on other flooring systems, but it can be expensive depending on the project. Access to the area, the size of the working space, and any existing structures (that need demolition) will play a role in determining the costs.
For long-term costs, the strength and durability of concrete allow for minimal upkeep or replacement costs. It’s a “buy once, cry once” type of investment. The rest of your house is likely to go before the concrete flooring!
Options For Aesthetics
Concrete flooring doesn’t have to look like concrete flooring. Have you ever seen a concrete countertop? Whether you realize it or not, you probably have.
That’s because most of them use stains, colorants, or coatings on top of the concrete. This is meant to replicate other materials like granite, marble, or other expensive material at a fraction of the cost. The untrained eye would never notice the difference.
Well, the same applies to flooring. You can make your cement flooring into anything you want.
You can also use a floor coating with any design of your choice. Talk to your contractor and see what types of finishes you can choose from. This could be solid colors or a wide variety of designs for you to choose from!
Increasing Home Value
Stained or polished concrete flooring is strong, durable, and long-lasting (as long as regular maintenance and re-coating is done). It also offers plenty of unique aesthetic choices to make your home look modern, classy, or whatever you want.
As a result, polished concrete floors will add value to your home for a much lower expense than some other similar flooring options. It’s cost-effective and offers a great return on investment for most homeowners!
One of the biggest complaints about concrete floors is that they’re “too cold”. However, with a newer concrete slab, you have the option to install radiant floor heat, allowing for warm floors all year round. This is a great way to supplement your heating bill in your living space as oil costs continue to rise!
Concrete does not require deforestation, outrageous logistical solutions, or mass emissions to create. Conversely, hardwood can help reduce already-endangered species and synthetic flooring materials can use harsh manufacturing processes. The only negative thing concrete does to the environment is cover land that you’re already going to cover anyway!
Concrete is made of mostly limestone, clay, and other silicate materials found in the earth and it’s mixed with water and other materials like gravel, sand, or crushed stone. Mining these materials is incredibly easy, as they are just below the earth’s surface almost everywhere. This poses minimal environmental risks and disruption during the manufacturing process.
Also, because it’s so widely available, it doesn’t need to travel very far, which reduces emissions relative to many other forms of flooring. For example, hardwood may have to travel from Maine on logging trucks down to a processing plant in the south before reaching the desert in Nevada for resale. Buying concrete from a local supplier isn’t nearly as disruptive on average.
Concrete requires very little maintenance to care for. The only problem is preventing excessive moisture. And then, you’re only concerned about damaging the surface paint or finish.
However, with the right concrete coatings you won’t have to worry about damaging the surface. Some of these coatings include a full-flake system, multi-colored system, or even a metallic coating system. From there, you’ll just have to perform normal cleaning and maintenance. Barring that, there’s no need for upkeep at all.
Disadvantages of Concrete Flooring
We mentioned the pros, so let’s talk about the cons. Here are some of the disadvantages of a concrete flooring system.
A hard surface can pose some safety risks, especially for young children and the elderly. Concrete isn’t the most forgiving surface for falls during playtime, workouts, or when the surface is wet.
Of course, there are ways to mitigate this risk. You can always put down rubber mats, rugs, or whatever else you want to prevent slippage or hard falls.
Again, in the short term, the only real threat to cracking your cement floor is to drop something heavy and metal on it. Unless you’re trying to crack it, you probably won’t.
However, that risk still exists over the long run. Concrete will eventually crack if given enough time, as water damage, ground movement, and other environmental factors can cause long-term damage.
Even so, with the right maintenance, you won’t have to worry about this for a very long time. Let’s talk about that routine maintenance process.
How to Maintain Concrete Floors
Now that you know the pros and cons of concrete floors, you can see why they’re the ideal choice for basements, garages, and other flooring systems. While they last for a very long time, they require some maintenance for the best results. Here’s what you need to know about maintaining concrete floors!
Avoid Certain Cleaners
You shouldn’t use acidic cleaners on concrete flooring, especially when it’s been colored or coated, as it can strip the polish and damage the flooring. Try to avoid ammonia, bleach, or other harsh cleaners with high acidity.
Castile soap, liquid dish detergent, stone cleaners, and other mild floor cleaners are perfectly fine to use on most polishes. However, you can check with your manufacturer or contractor just to be safe!
Conduct Basic Cleaning Regularly
As often as possible, it’s good to dust mop your concrete floor. The more often you do this, the less buildup and dust there will be. The less buildup on the floor, the less deep cleaning and resurfacing you have to do!
This means you can save time and money by simply running a dry mop along your flooring regularly. If you have pets or children and spend a lot of time at home, we recommend doing this daily if possible. The more debris there is on the floor, the more likely it is to scratch your polish, which leaves the flooring open to damage.
In all honesty, if you keep up with this, the rest of the items on this list become less and less necessary. Your flooring and finish can easily last a lifetime if there’s nothing to damage them.
Deep Cleaning Your Floors
Once in a while, it’s good to get a thorough clean on your flooring to keep it looking like new. The more you keep up with the basics, the less often you’ll have to do this.
Clean and dry concrete floors will last a very long time. However, you need to make sure you’re cleaning them properly. Most importantly, cleaning outdoor concrete flooring is different from indoor flooring.
For one, you can leave outdoor flooring to dry in the sun on a hot day. Also, outdoor concrete flooring is usually more heavily textured, which requires a little more abrasiveness in your cleaning. It may also require more time to soak with your cleaning solution.
Conversely, indoor flooring is usually smoother, and you may need to dry it by hand. Depending on if you have a concrete coating system installed, you may want to avoid certain cleaning products, as they may harm the surface of your flooring.
Either way, both require a pH-neutral cleaner and cleaning water to begin. Start by thoroughly sweeping your floor and vacuuming if necessary. Once clear, work your way backward with your cleaning solution and warm water.
Once you’ve thoroughly cleaned your space, allow it to dry before resuming foot traffic in that area. If there’s a lot of water on the surface, consider speeding up the drying process. You can use a fan, dehumidifier, or dry mop for this.
After this, you can even apply a sealer or floor wax to the surface and allow it to dry. This should leave your floor looking as good as new!
Applying Coating Systems
Over time, your floor may fade. This will likely happen before the concrete itself begins to wear. That’s good news for you, as it’s much cheaper to apply a coating than to replace the floor!
Still, this is important to do as your coating isn’t just there for looks. It does protect your floor from moisture, scratches, and damage.
Fortunately, you should only need to do this once, but that depends a lot on your choice of coating system. If you don’t want to do it yourself, check out our full line of polyurea-based coating systems and turn your garage or living space into a modern beauty!
Try to avoid keeping hard metal objects directly on your concrete. Wood is fine, but felt or rubber is better. Like with any flooring, soft materials touching the finish will keep your floors in great shape for longer.
You may think that a table is fine if it isn’t moving, but one bump could scratch up your floor and leave a permanent blemish. If you need to put something metal on the floor, consider laying down a rug first!
Lay Down Your New Flooring Today
Now that you know the benefits of concrete floors and how to care for them, put these tips to use right away. Concrete flooring is only becoming more popular for so many reasons, so why wait? Get yours installed today, build your property value, and remember to take care of it!
Stay up to date with our latest tips for homeowners, and check out our installation process to learn more or to get the flooring of your dreams!