Decorative Concrete Design 2 Build

Decorative Concrete Design 2 Build

Decorative Concrete

There has recently been the emergence of a new, trendy flooring material- Concrete.  Concrete has transformed from bare-bone utilitarian to chic and it is growing in popularity as more homeowners realize the benefits of decorative concrete.  Not only is it an environmentally friendly choice but is affordable and versatile.  It is trendy, sleek, and extremely durable and now is available in an array of colors, stains, textures, and finishes.  As with all flooring options, there are a number of both benefits and drawbacks to consider before deciding upon a concrete floor.

DECORATIVE CONCRETE DESIGN OPTIONS

CONCRETE COLOR METHODS

Structural Colors:   If installing a new concrete floor, there are options to add the color directly into the structure of the material.  Color hardeners and integral pigments can be mixed into the concrete when it is placed and allow for the creation of dramatic pattern effects on the surface.  Natural pigments, including metal oxides, typically produce more subtle color effects.  Chemical coloring agents will produce brighter, more eye catching colors, but the color will fade over time.  Combining structural colors with parallel and perpendicular etching can create the appearance of grout lines therefore simulating tile.

Chemical Acid Stain:   This is done to the floor after it has been installed by applying hydrochloric acid onto the surface of the concrete, causing it to discolor.  The coloration that occurs depends on a number of factors unique to each floor including porosity, chemical make up, age, climate, and composition.  The result of acid staining can be very unpredictable and even vary across the surface of the floor.  The random nature of the chemical process is often the desired effect and the result will be a surface that looks like naturally occurring stone.

Concrete Paint:   This is a somewhat controversial treatment for concrete floors because eventually the paint will flake, chip, and fade and may need to be reapplied every few years especially on floor at or below grade that may have moisture issues.  If you do choose to paint your concrete, a specially formulated 2-step latex epoxy is made specifically for this.  Also, you will have to acid etch the floor prior.  Using the right paint creates a waterproof surface over the concrete and acts as a barrier against grease and oil.

Water Based Stains:   Water based stains penetrate the surface of the floor, causing a chemical reaction that results in the material taking on pigment.  These stains allow the concrete to breath so unlike paint, the moisture will not cause the color to chip away.  Water based stains allow for more dramatic color effects than acid stains produce.

Tinted Concrete Sealers:   A sealer is a chemical agent that is applied to the surface of concrete to create a protective barrier protecting the porous concrete from moisture and stains.  Sealers can be tinted with coloring agents, causing a subtle hue of color to appear on the floor.

Concrete Dyes:   Concrete dyes are composed of very tiny particles of color that are small enough to penetrate the concrete floor and directly stain the material.  Water based concrete dyes will create a more natural marbled look and solvent based dyes create a uniform color effect on the surface.

CONCRETE FLOORING TEXTURES

The texture of the surface of concrete can be made smoother or rougher during the pouring of concrete and depends on how much care is taken to effect the finish.  Additionally, there are a variety of textural elements that can be worked into the surface after it has been installed.

Polished Concrete:   Polishing creates the look of perfect, glistening marble yet with none of the maintenance issues of marble.  After the flooring is poured and set the concrete is polished with a series of pads ranging from very coarse and slowly working down to smoother and smoother polishing pads.  Generally speaking, concrete is considered polished when it is treated with 400 grit polishing pads but typical installations have it treated by up to 800 grit pads.

Textured Concrete:   After the concrete is poured but before it is dry and set, a variety of textured patterns can be worked into the surface.  This can be used decoratively to add aesthetic beauty to would would otherwise be a monotone installation.  Texturing can also be used for functional purposes, like to treat a bathroom or other areas susceptible to moist where otherwise slippage may be an issue.

Etched Concrete:   Scratched motifs can be etched into the surface of existing concrete.  These can take the form of patterns or designs, as well as etching virtual grout line onto a solid surface that has been acid stained to simulate the look of real stone tile.

Stamped Concrete:   Stamped concrete, also referred to as patterned stamped concrete or imprinted concrete, is designed to resemble a variety of patterns and designs.  It can resemble slate, cobblestone, flagstone, hardwood, and all types of stone and tile.

ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF DECORATIVE CONCRETE

Design Options:   There are literally endless design options.  Modern advances in concrete mixing and setting have allowed designers to achieve an endless variety of colors and textures.  Color can be mixed into the concrete before the slab is placed or for already installed floors, an acid stain can be used on the surface.  Dyes and staining agents can also be applied to the concrete and painted over with waterproof latex paint.  The texture of concrete can be made smooth during installation or, decorative textural patters can be carved on the surface while its setting.  The concrete floor can be polished to a smooth sheen or etched to create a faux tile effect.  With the right stain and pattern, decorative concrete can even resemble natural stone.  Staining allows for any look the homeowner desires and is an opportunity for the homeowner to utilize patterns and designs to make it more intricate.

Durable:  Concrete is extremely strong, tough, and resilient   Concrete can easily withstand pressure and heavy weight upon it so you do not need to worry about damaging it with heavy furniture or heavy traffic.  It is difficult to damage concrete and high heels, furniture legs, and pets are not a concern like with other flooring options.  Dropped items will not damage it and while it is possible to chip or scratch concrete floors, it would be quite difficult to do.

Easy Maintenance:   Keeping concrete looking its best takes minimum amount of maintenance   Depending on the level of traffic it may need to be sealed or waxed every 3-9 months to maintain the protective layer.  The only other maintenance it requires is cleaning periodically using a natural cleaning agent and mop and for any stubborn stains, a blue utility pad.

Environmentally Friendly:   Concrete sub-floors typically are already beneath the existing flooring area in grade and below grade locations.  So really just installing a concrete floor is removing the existing flooring and maybe applying a stain, color, or finish.  Because there is no new material produced, there is no carbon footprint or depletion of resources.  Furthermore, no trees need to be cut down to produce concrete and it does not contain any harmful Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) like most synthetic carpets do.

Versatile:   Concrete that is smooth, free of holes, bumps, and defects leaves the opportunity to install any floor surface on top of it at a later date.  This provides you with a lot of design freedom in the future.

Long Lasting:   When properly sealed and maintained a concrete floor can last indefinitely which saves you money and the inconvenience of having to install new flooring periodically.

Decorative Concrete Design 2 Build

Cooling:   Concrete is a great conductor of heat therefor it gets both hot and cold very fast when exposed to different levels of thermal energy.  Due to this, concrete is generally cold to the touch because heat leaves it so rapidly.  This can make your home naturally cooler in the summer and save you money on air conditioning bills.

Recyclable:   When concrete flooring is demolished it does not necessitate being sent to a landfill.  There is a process that entails grinding and breaking down those materials to allow them to be used in commercial grade ground installations.  Additionally, smaller pieces can be used for residential construction products or as the sub base for gravel roads.  Larger pieces can be used to combat the erosion of shores.

Air Quality:   Unlike carpet and other flooring types, concrete does not retain dust, debris, or dirt particles.  They can accumulate on the surface however, but because the surface is hard and non-porous, they will stay on the surface where it can be easily swept away.  This alleviates any concern about harmful dust entering the air when the surface is walked on.  Concrete floors can be the best choice for those with allergies.

Economical:   Concrete flooring saves money because it does not require an additional floor covering.  The floor slab IS the floor covering.  And although the average cost of decorative concrete can be more than other residential flooring types, the return is higher because it will never need replaced.   While you will pay more for installation, because it will never be replaced, the savings come in the form of a long-term investment.  Furthermore, if you are using an existing concrete sub-floor, decorative concrete can be a very cost-effective choice.

Hardness:   Although the hardness of concrete makes it strong and durable, it also has a downside   The surface is very hard so if anyone trips and falls onto it there is a good chance they will get hurt.  Items dropped onto concrete are likely to shatter.  Concrete floors are not recommended for areas with a lot of young children or elderly people.

Uncomfortable:   Again, due to the hardness of concrete, when standing on it for long periods of time it can become tiring on your feet, hips, and back.  Concrete is not yielding so standing on it for hours of a time can be uncomfortable.

Cold:   Concrete does not retain heat well so in cold, winter climates the surface will be chilly on bare feet.  To offset this problem, you can utilize carpets and throw rugs.

Moisture:   If the concrete is not sealed on both top and bottom surfaces, it is susceptible to penetration by moisture.  When liquid finds its way into pores on concrete flooring, it will stay there and can instigate the growth of mold or mildew.  For cold climates where moisture may freeze, any moisture in the concrete pore will expand when frozen which can crack the floor slab.

Environmentally  Unfriendly:   While using an existing concrete slab as in a sub-floor is environmentally friendly because it does not use any new materials, the manufacture of a new concrete floor can have a negative ecological impact.  Cement makes up a portion of concrete which requires a significant amount of both energy and carbon dioxide to manufacture.

Loud:   Concrete floors can be loud to walk on and some homeowners complain they transmit too much sound and create echos.

Structural Issues:   An experienced concrete contractor can tell you if your home is suited for concrete floors.  Some homes require extra preparation to the subsurface and the addition of structural support.

Cost:   Custom designed decorative concrete can be very expensive.  If you are using several designs and colors, the price can get as high as $30+ per square foot.


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