Stained Concrete Flooring Basics

With their earthen hues, seamless appearance, and distinctive textures, stained concrete floors appealingly anchor looks from casual to classic. Here are a few things to consider about concrete floors for your abode.

Stained and decorative concrete floors continue to grow in popularity. Valued for their rock-hard durability, eco-friendly nature, versatility, and organic vibes, stained concrete floors are showing up more and more often in below-grade spaces and upstairs great-rooms, kitchens, bathrooms, and living spaces.

Attributes Aplenty!

These types of floors are ideally suited to households where pets, kids, and allergic folks roam. Unlike carpet, wood, and tile grout, concrete doesn't capture pet fur, dust mites, or moisture; when properly sealed, concrete resists stains, fading, scratches, and even chemical spills.

Stained concrete floors can be highly energy efficient in certain applications. They transfer heat well and work nicely with radiant floor systems. In passive solar homes, concrete floors absorb sunlight during the day and release the heat back into the house after dark.

Stained concrete floors align with the cost of other types of installed flooring. Costs range from $2 to $30 per square foot, depending on the complexity of the job. Existing concrete floors or slabs ready for staining fall at the lower end of the price range, while newly installed concrete floors with custom details are the most expensive. Even costlier concrete floor options provide good value for the dollar: They are touted to retain their good looks for a lifetime with very little maintenance.

Another advantage? When it's time to sell your home or you grow tired of the stained concrete surface, you can easily cover it with new flooring, such as carpeting, wood, or tile.

Stained Concrete Flooring Cons

You may find that stained concrete floors feel hard and cold underfoot and are uncomfortable to stand on for extended periods. They are likely to shatter dropped glassware or china, and they take a relatively long time to install, stain, and customize. It will take two to five days to stain a small existing concrete floor that is in good shape with one color of stain. Concrete slabs in new homes will need to cure before stains can be applied. Newly poured and custom-detailed concrete floors can take weeks to install and finish.

Design Benefits

Because stained concrete can be stamped, painted, stenciled, scored, and patterned with saw cuts, the material offers a wide array of decorative options. It is easily customized to match or complement other surfaces and color schemes in your home.

Stains can be applied to new and existing concrete and are available in two types. Acid stains penetrate concrete to create a mottled effect that can have the look of stone. Acid stains are available in warm earthen tones, such as black, brown, brick, copper, and gray-shaded blues. Water-base stains or dyes come in a rainbow's worth of colors and can be layered to create faux finishes. Stain colors can be blended to create a custom-color concrete floor.

Concrete experts ply their artistry by drawing from a palette of different finishes, patterns, and textures that elevate a stained concrete floor's impact. Trowel-applied patterns build swirled dimension. Saw cuts (and scored lines in newly poured concrete) create geometric shapes. Polished finishes are compatible with elegantly appointed spaces. Burnished and matte finishes give stained concrete flooring old-world appeal. Even cracks in an existing concrete slab that aren't structural in nature will add pattern and character to a stained finish.

Care and Maintenance

Stained concrete floors should be sealed to enhance their longevity; when located in high-traffic or moisture-dense areas, the floors benefit from a coating of commercial-grade floor wax designed for concrete floors. Lay mats at entryways to protect floors from incoming grit that can scratch the surface. Place thickly cushioned mats at kitchen workstations to provide underfoot comfort for chefs and dish washers. Regularly use a broom or dust mop to keep the surface free of debris; damp-mop the surface weekly; and when needed, wash with a damp mop and a neutral cleaner.

Then, over the course of the next few decades, simply kick back and appreciate the perennially charming beauty of your strikingly colored stained concrete floor.

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