In the past, a lot of interior designers and homeowners were limited by the available concrete floor finishings on the market. Apart from common gray concrete finishes, there weren’t many choices available back then.
Nowadays, you can now choose from several types of finishes aside from concrete floors. With this wide option, the aesthetics that you want for your concrete flooring are nearly endless.
If you’re looking to change the face of your home flooring, here’s a list of finishes to spruce up your concrete floors.
Chemical Staining (Acid)
If you want to beautify your concrete floor using colors, you can do chemical – Acid staining on it. Chemical staining is one of the most popular methods to apply to houses that have concrete flooring.
It’s because it transforms the ordinary cool gray concrete into something more attractive because of the random, intricate designs it leaves behind.
When choosing a color for your concrete floor, you can either opt for a neutral one that goes well with the style of the room or for a bold color that makes it stand out. For the final touches, you can choose between a protective epoxy coating or a mechanical polish.
One tip: you should make sure to test the chemical stain before you apply it on the concrete floor because the reaction of the stain on the concrete is unpredictable, and might create a color or design that you don’t want.
Image Source: SureCrete
If the idea of using a “water-based” stain on a surface as tough as concrete makes no sense, you haven’t kept up with the latest cement floor finishing options.
For environmentalists, a water-based stain can be the answer to one’s prayers because these products come in what manufacturers call “the full spectrum” of colors, yet you get the benefit of low organic compounds (VOCs) that are safer to apply.
Don’t expect your finished concrete floors to wind up exhibiting vivid, vibrant hues delivered by acid stain products, but you can count on consistent color coverage from wall to wall if you choose this floor finish for your home or business.
Do you have concrete floors that need sealing but they are consistently exposed to water or could possibly be down the road?
Image Source: All Garage Floors
Acrylic sealers makes great finishing choices, as long as you are aware of the fact that when compared to other finishes, this one can show wear faster than others on this list.
Apply acrylic sealers uniformly to get a consistent, uniform matte finish that hardens once dry, offering a lovely sheen that covers your floor with a thin, protective finish.
That stated, despite the hard finish, contractors say that acrylic sealers are slightly flexible, so remember that if you pick this option knowing that you don’t have to spend a fortune to complete the job.
Who doesn’t love any DIY project attached to the word, “fast”? For homeowners and contractors who have more work on their ‘to-do’ lists than hours in the day, Fast StainTM is a surface coating system that represents innovation that also happens to be eco-friendly and low VOC, so in addition to saving you time, you get to tell people that you’re helping the environment.
Once applied and dried in record time, Fast Stain assume a flecked design that could remind you of the look you get using an acid-stain, thus you wind up with a dappled, multi-colored pattern.
If your cement floor is already polished and you just want to change the look without stripping, consider Fast Stains that may also be combined with acid-based or water-based stains if you decide to go for a truly unique finish.
Image Source: Epoxy Floors Oklahoma City
Epoxy coatings are the most common way to seal cement floors because they are durable, offer a nice variety of colors and the shiny finish you wind up with is a popular feature of this product.
The ideal choice for surfaces subjected to heavy foot traffic, standard epoxy delivers an attractive, glossy finish to cement floors, but don’t use this coating on outdoor cement projects.
Standard epoxy makes perfect sense if you seek uniform color and/or need an abrasion- or chemical-resistant floor.
That stated, keep an eye out for variations on a theme. Manufacturers are introducing standard epoxy finishing engineered to be self-leveling, self-dispersing and anti-static. If too many choices make you crazy, consult your local flooring expert.
Terrazzo Floor Finish
Anyone growing up in Florida knows that there is nothing like a cool, easy-to-clean terrazzo floor. Terrazzo remains durable for the long haul and it’s a favorite of harried housekeepers.
To create terrazzo floor finishes, decorative color chips are sprinkled across a liquid epoxy pour to create one-of-a-kind designs that produce all sorts of color combinations.
Given the addition of these colored chips, you might worry that terrazzo finishes are not an ideal choice for folks who like to go barefoot, but you would be wrong.
The liquid epoxy pour is deep enough to encompass every last chip, so your hidden concrete floor remains velvety smooth to the touch and an awesome surface on which to walk when temperatures are blistering hot.
Quartz Sand Epoxy
Epoxy products are so versatile, they can be mixed with stains, dyes, single-component mediums and other epoxies to produce a wide range of patterns.
Specify Quartz Sand Epoxy when you purchase your material and you will wind up with a solid finish that is so durable, people specify it for factories and garage floors, knowing the surface will withstand cars, lawnmowers and heavy equipment.
Expect a nice range of color options that match the utilitarian nature of this finish. If you’re undertaking an industrial job, quartz sand epoxy stands up to frequent sanitation treatments and it will survive the perpetual use of chemicals, too.
Despite its rugged construction, this finish produces an attractive, smooth floor that can be life-saving. When applied according to directions, you add slip-resistancy to your cement floor’s virtues.
If you don’t want anyone to know that your floor is made of ordinary cement and you seek an elegant, expensive-looking floor that has the capacity to stop admirers in their tracks, don’t settle for anything less than a metallic epoxy finish capable of turning the ordinary into the extraordinary.
Recreate the look of natural mineral slabs by pouring on a mix of clear epoxy coating incorporating metallic additives that combine to literally move through the surfacing material as it cures.
Once dry, this pairing produces an exotic high-gloss finish that can emulate everything from a lava flow to a pearlescent design.
In other words, use metallic epoxy to spruce up your palace or castle floor—-or just to create and elegant dining room or entryway that is guaranteed to be noticed.
Concrete stamping is a technique of sprucing up concrete walls and floors. By this method, you can create different patterns such as tile, brick, and slate designs on an otherwise plain concrete flooring.
By utilizing a mold with a particular pattern, the process involves pressing down the stamp on the concrete when it’s still wet. Concrete stamping is mostly applied to outdoor spaces because it is hard to do this method in an indoor area.
Here is a video showing how to stamp concrete properly:
Applying a concrete sealer to any type of concrete is one of the top options for most homeowners because of the benefits it has. This method gives a shiny look to your dull-looking concrete floor and makes it look more spacious because of its bright reflection.
Aside from the aesthetic appeal that it provides, concrete sealers also prevent your concrete floor from absorbing moisture. You can contact reach out to firms like TC Floors West if you want to seal your concrete floor.
Concrete scoring is a technique that you can apply on a freshly laid and existing concrete slabs. Using this method can give your basic concrete floor a unique and beautiful look. Similar with concrete stamping, you can create a tile, brick, or any random patterns on your home’s concrete flooring.
You can also stain patterns on the concrete floor after the scoring process is done to suit or contrast to the floor color, accentuating the design and adding up to the aesthetics.
People often apply color hardeners with chemical staining to make darker colors on concrete flooring. This type of finish come in powder form that you sprinkle on top of a freshly laid concrete. When the powder is mixed with the water in the wet concrete, the moisture will produce an attractive hue on the surface.
Available in both water-based and solvent-based varieties, concrete dye is a popular option for commercial and residential flooring.
Dyes differ from stains because they do not react chemically with flooring to colorize surfaces. Dyes instead use a nonreactive method of penetrating concrete to achieve low-residue color saturation.
Dye has ultra-small molecules capable of filling pores to create a finish that’s nearly as permanent as the finish achieved through stains.
Concrete dyes are available in a variety of colors. Dyes are known for their vibrancy. In fact, this is why dye is often preferred over stain when customizing floors with vibrant patterns or logos.
The finished product can steer toward being translucent to opaque based on the application. When seeking uniform color, solvent-based dyes provide a better choice over water-based dyes.
It’s also easier to produce specialized color effects using solvent-based dyes. Water-based dyes are preferred when trying to achieve a marbling effect.
Stenciled Concrete Floor
The boundlessness of the design options with a stenciled concrete floor is desirable when creating a custom look. There are several approaches to creating stenciled concrete floors. The most common way to stencil a floor is to apply color using stains or dyes over a stencil pattern.
Another approach is to create an embossed pattern over a concrete overlay using embossing or troweling. Finally, some people like the result achieved by sandblasting etchings into concrete.
Unlike other patterned flooring options, stenciled concrete offers easy customization, excellent performance, and durability.
Installation is also much quicker compared to tiles because concrete is poured. Maintenance is also much simpler compared to tile flooring because there’s no concern over chipped, loose tiles.
Polished Concrete floor
Great for a high-traffic area, a polished concrete floor is created by mechanically grinding and honing a concrete surface before applying a polish with a bonded abrasive.
The result is a high-gloss, satin-like finish. Polished concrete is used in homes, showrooms, hotels, office buildings, restaurants, and many more places.
Polished concrete is considered an economical option because it creates a high-luster floor without the need to purchase additional flooring materials.
While polished concrete has a slick-as-glass appearance, the floor provides a safe, stable surface to walk over that isn’t slippery. In fact, polished concrete is typically less slippery than polished marble, waxed linoleum, and other high-gloss looks.
Polished concrete also has a long lifespan, requires little maintenance, resists moisture, and reflects light beautifully.
In fact, polished concrete’s ability to “breathe” eliminates many of the common issues seen with floor tiles.
The breathability of polished concrete keeps floors cleaner by preventing dust and debris from clinging.
Many people also like that polished concrete helps them to keep indoor spaces healthier by removing the need for harmful adhesives, coatings, and cleaning agents during floor installation.
What Type of Concrete Floor Finish Is Best for Staining?
When you decide to stain your concrete floor, you have mainly two types of products to choose from. You can choose either acid-based concrete stain or water-based concrete stain.
If you choose acid-based stain, it has a more limited color selection, but it will last longer than water-based stain. It works well in high traffic areas because it won’t fade, chip, or peel. You will find colors that are earthy tones, and it can mimic wood or stone to provide a more natural look.
Water-based stains allow you to choose any color you want. It won’t interact with the concrete, so the color will be consistent.
It is easier to apply water-based staining and the cleanup will be easier. They are less toxic, and you can get environmentally friendly products. It also takes less time to do the job.
You can evaluate the differences between the two and choose the one that works best for you.
Which Is Better: Epoxy or Stained Concrete?
Two of the most popular finishes for concrete floors are epoxy and concrete stain.
Epoxy is a resin, and you apply it to your concrete floors as a liquid. It dries and creates a protective layer that makes your floor more durable. It is attractive, and it is practical because it can handle a lot of traffic.
Concrete stain can be acid-based or water-based, and it has a chemical reaction with the concrete. There is also an acrylic version that you can use, which is similar to normal paint but will penetrate more deeply.
When you are deciding which one is right for your project, you should consider the usage of the room.
Epoxy is better for high-traffic areas, and it is easier to install. However, you get better coverage with stain. You can cover 200 square feet or more with one gallon. However, concrete staining is more expensive to maintain than epoxy.
The bottom line is that you will want to use epoxy if you have heavy traffic and are worried about keeping the floor looking nice, and you can use concrete stain if you are looking for a surface that is more decorative than protective.
Is it Better to Stain or Paint Concrete Floors?
There are varying opinions about whether it is better to use stain or paint on your concrete floors. Concrete stain embeds the surface and colors it translucently, and concrete paint will cover the surface but it can chip and peel if it isn’t applied correctly. You can apply stain more quickly and it dries faster, but it doesn’t protect the surface.
Concrete paint is designed for concrete, and it covers and protects the surface better. It can also prevent moisture, but you do have to do the proper prep work or it can chip and peel.
You need to use a degreaser to get rid of any oil or grease stains, and then you should use muriatic acid to get rid of any chemicals.
Concrete paints are good for surfaces that need sealing and protection, such as the garage or basement, while stains are good as a decorative covering.
What Are the Disadvantages of Epoxy Flooring?
Epoxy flooring is known for its durability, attractive look, and its ability to protect your floors. However, there are a few disadvantages to consider. Take a look at the following:
- Epoxy has strong toxic fumes
- It takes several days to cure
- It requires maintenance
- High traffic will cause cracks and chipping
- It is slippery when it gets wet
- It requires a lot of prep work
- It is difficult to remove if you want to change it
- Maintenance can be expensive
Is a Polished Concrete Floor Expensive?
The cost of a polished concrete floor depends on where you live and how complex your project is, but it generally costs from $3 to $12 per square foot.
However, it depends on how much grinding you need to do to create a smooth surface as well as the decorative effects you want applied.
You can get a basic polished concrete floor that includes one layer and color of stain, and it is ground and polished to a moderate shine. This would include minimal surface prep.
The mid-range would include more stain and a simple design element, as well as a more glossy finish. It would also give you more surface prep.
The most expensive polished concrete floors include elaborate designs or patterns, color matches, details, and extensive prep.
Are Stained Concrete Floors Slippery?
Stained concrete floors can be slippery when they get wet, and this is more the case when the floor is coated with high-gloss sealers.
The key is to make sure that you use anti-slip grit when you prepare the floor. This will not change the color, but it will add traction if your floor gets wet.
Stained concrete floors can be slippery but they don’t have to be, as long as you make sure that you use an anti-slip additive in the sealer.
In any home renovation, it’s essential to include the flooring in the plan. For instance, you should consider the type of finish that you want to put on your concrete floor. Nowadays, there are several types of finishes that you can choose for you to make your concrete floor look attractive.
Applying color hardeners, stamping, sealing, scoring, and chemical staining are among the top concrete finishing methods favored by many homeowners today. It’s crucial that you know about them to help you with your home renovation project.
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I’m embarking on relocating my kitchen in a 1980’s house I love the idea of polished concrete floor over underfloor heating but do not have the floor depth required. I have only total of 4″ to play with so very interested in your very informative article on different concrete floor finishes. I would ideally like a finish that had some degree of anti slip when wet. Would the anti slip additive leave the floor abrasive and therefore hard to keep clean or are there variant degrees of anti slip additives. for example, floor tiles with an antislip rating of 11/12 become impractical due to difficulty to mop. Hope this iillustrated what I mean. Also in your experience with concrete floors are there any fail safe tips to prevent the cement from cracking as this surely will be seen regardless of what finish employed and ruin it
With a good anti-slip additive product, you will be able to mop the floor with no problem. A good option is H&C 50.155005 Sharkgrip Slip-resistant Additive.
Regarding tips to prevent cement from cracking, you should spray the concrete area with water several times per day at the very beginning. This is because concrete needs to retain its moisture during the first days in order to reach its full strength.
Claire Masters says
My husband and I have finally saved up enough to build our dream own home. Thanks for the advice that we can have some concreting treatments to our floors such as concrete stamping which is like carving a design to the concrete with shapes that may imitate bricks or slates. If we do this, I’d want to be able to have someone that can really understand and respect my specifications too.