Better than Carpet; Superior to Tile
Carpet and tile are common interior flooring materials. Yet, common doesn't always mean best. All materials certainly have their place in residential and commercial construction. Representing a broad variety of design possibilities, concrete is a solid alternative to carpet and tile.
What are some common design options for interior concrete flooring?
The choices are extensive, making an exhaustive list impossible. This all depends on the application, conditions, desired look, and the skills of the applicator. Some of the most common design options for concrete flooring are polished concrete, stamped concrete, solid and patterned micrtops, decorative and non-decorative epoxy coatings, and stained concrete. These methods can be used independently, in conjunction with one another, or with other flooring materials.
What advantages does concrete hold over carpet?
Wall to wall carpet has a reputation for being comfortable and warm. It's difficult to beat the feel of plush, thick carpeting, but that comes at a price. The lifespan of carpet in the average home is only about a decade, even with proper care and minimal traffic. Start adding higher traffic levels, staining, and pets, and that time decreases rapidly. Color will fade and threads will wear, yielding an ugly, shabby appearance with an unpleasant texture. With proper maintenance and care, a concrete surface will resist wear and deterioration for decades, maintaining the original appearance. Concrete is also a far more hygienic material than carpet as there are no fibers to trap dust, mold, allergens, or stains. This low-mess and stain-resistant quality makes concrete an ideal material for homes with pets or young children. With judicious use of area rugs and, for new cast floors, radiant heating, concrete floor can be just as comfortable.
What advantages does concrete hold over tile?
Tile, as a material description, is almost as broad and inclusive as concrete. Low cost tiles and floor coverings, such as vinyl and linoleum have a relatively short lifespan and appearance will deteriorate quickly with age. These softer manmade materials may also be more prone to scuffing and scratching. More traditional tile materials, such as natural stone, marble, slate, and ceramic tiles can have impressive durability and lifespans... at a cost. These more premium materials can be costly to purchase and install, requiring significant labor from skilled craftsmen. With a similar lifespan and durability as more costly natural tile, concrete can be placed more affordably in most cases and with greater room for customization.
Is concrete perfect?
No material is perfect and no material is best suited for all applications. Concrete can come with its own list of complicating factors and drawbacks. For example, some concrete applications can be mess and access prohibitive during installation. Processes, such as polishing or casting fresh concrete, may require the use of large, unwieldy equipment or may result in large amounts of dust and debris. When applying an overlayment, feasibility will also depend on the suitability of the initial surface. Non-cementitious surfaces may not may not be suitable for overlayments, for example. Furthermore, not all concrete surfaces may be suitable for an overlayment or acid stain due to mix design or condition.
When considering decorative concrete as an alternative to other interior flooring materials, make sure to get the complete picture from a trusted contractor. With proper preparation and planning, a concrete floor can provide a more attractive, more durable, and more hygienic alternative to tile or carpet. It is important, however, to be aware of limitations and requirements associated with whatever material you end up choosing.