How’s It Done: Concrete Flooring
Choosing what kind of flooring to have installed in your home can seem like a big deal, and that’s for good reason. The floor of your home is usually the first impression people will get when entering, whether they’re aware of it or not.
Beyond just looks, flooring will serve as the foundation for how your home is designed, decorated and maintained. Maybe you want something attractive that isn’t a hassle to maintain, or maybe you want something that looks beautiful but isn’t fragile.
As surprising as it might be, for some of you, concrete might be the answer.
We all come up with that picture of a dull storage garage with the classic gray concrete flooring, and as a consequence we probably don’t think of concrete as an elegant flooring option. But dull, gray isn’t all this material has to offer—not even close, in fact.
Concrete is very strong and durable, making it difficult to damage. This means it’s safe for both supporting heavy machinery as well as that impressive pair of high heels. Concrete is also low-maintenance and extremely versatile—most floors already have a concrete base, in fact, so if you ever need a change you can simply add flooring on top without having to replace it completely. And finally, concrete is extremely long-lasting compared to other flooring options, and there are designs that’ll make you completely forget about that dull gray storage room you had in mind.
The time it takes to install a concrete floor can vary widely based on several key factors. The two biggest influencers are the current condition of the floor and the size of the job itself. The size of the job is usually pretty straightforward, but having a floor in poor condition will likely add time to the project for repairs and resurfacing.
A basic job won’t be very complex, there probably won’t be stenciling or sawcuts in something “basic”—rather, it will be just one color and the floor will be finished with a layer of sealer or wax. This sort of job usually takes no more than two days, but if floor conditions are bad, it may take as much as a week. Part of the reason the timeline grows so much is that the floor needs time to dry after every step, so adding reparation steps at the beginning of the process is going to add a lot of time spent waiting.
A more complicated job might include more graphics and sawcuts in the flooring, as well as multiple colors, stains or dyes, and stenciling. Yes, we said you’d forget all about that gray storage room floor. And with more going on, these jobs are naturally going to take a bit longer, usually three to five days. Of course, with these more intricate jobs, it’s even more important that the floor be in excellent shape, and so the reparation process will add more time to the timeline if the floor is in need of some TLC.
Now, if you’re installing a concrete floor in a brand-new house that is still being constructed, the timeline jumps up quite a bit for one very important reason. The house will need base flooring during construction anyway, and this is usually going to be concrete. And when that concrete is installed, this will be what’s finished and painted as your finished-product concrete floor. Because of this, it’s enormously important that the process of laying that base flooring is handled with care and patience so the floor doesn’t get damaged during the construction process.
Of course, finishing touches will need to be added after the construction is finished, so the timeline for this installation will mirror the timeline for your house construction.
If your concrete flooring will be replacing another floor installation, first, we remove all of the previous flooring, whether baseboards, tile, vinyl or other. If we’re installing in a basement, it will also be necessary to dig a little deeper to install insulation below the new concrete floor. The insulation helps make sure the floor doesn’t get too cold—there are some higher-end options like heating coils that will even keep your concrete floor warm. Sand and rocks are then placed on this insulation while it forms to prevent it from shifting.
Next, the cement is mixed and poured. The particulars of this step will vary depending on what style you want, but in general there’s often a layer of cement with gravel for a strong base, then another layer to smooth out the surface. After we smooth the floor out, we take care of corners and sharp edges, and then texture the surface as desired.
Fixing concrete floors
While it is difficult to damage concrete flooring, it does happen. Luckily, repairing them isn’t as tough as damaging them was in the first place.
First, we make sure the surface is as clean as possible—this means removing stains and power washing to take away any impurities from the surface around the damaged area. If there’s a sealer layer, we’ll remove that, too. We then fill in the holes and divots with a resurfacer and then smooth out the material. Then, we’ll mix the rest of the resurfacer and let it sit for a few minutes to make sure it’s as smooth as possible. Finally, we saturate the concrete floor and apply the resurfacer, spreading and smoothing it out quickly and carefully.
Concrete floor design options
Like we said before, there are loads of different options to choose from, and by no means will any of them remind you of that dull storage room you once thought of.
Here are a few popular options that bring vibrancy and character into any setting:
Stained and dyed concrete
This is a cost-efficient approach that will give you splashes of vibrant coloring and a dynamic floor style, whatever the space. One thing to consider is that this flooring needs to be protected—if a sealer isn’t applied, the color may fade away with traffic.
Integral coloring is a straightforward approach to making sure your concrete floor will have some life to it. Coloring is mixed in directly with the concrete to yield a single, consistent color throughout the flooring installation. This technique makes for a super durable and colorful floor that won’t fade with use.
This method is used regularly in supermarkets and gives concrete floors a very attractive shine with a very smooth surface. It’s a good way to get a high-end look for a relatively low price. Additionally, this method makes your floors easier to clean and maintain.
Usually done immediately after pouring, texturing is a way to integrate some life onto the very surface of your floors. This can be done in several different techniques, including using stencils or stamps, and can be used to imitate other floor materials like would and stone or can simply be a way to add a little bit of style to your concrete floor.
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