One of the hottest trends in flooring, both indoors and outdoors, is concrete — not regular sidewalk gray concrete — but colorful, stamped, stained or polished concrete. The wide variety of colors and techniques now available to resurface or finish concrete allows for special effects that can be far less expensive than other flooring choices.
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For no-wax glossy floors, one hot home improvement trend is polished concrete. Concrete surfaces are ground down to a high gloss finish as an alternative to more expensive marble, tile, granite or linoleum. The level of shine can be selected — satin to high gloss — and special effects like staining, engraving and stenciled graphics can be added.
The price of polished concrete depends on how many levels of concrete need to be ground to achieve a smooth surface and what special effects are added. Polished concrete is usually more economical in large spaces.
Textured stamped concrete can be designed to look like brick, slate, flagstone, stone, tile or wood. With the wide variety of patterns and colors available, the cost of using stamped concrete instead of the actual materials it is imprinted to resemble is making this choice increasingly popular.
Stamped concrete is used on pool decks, driveways, entries, courtyards and patios. It can be blended with other decorative concrete elements such as acid-etch staining finishes or exposed aggregate for more visual interest and texture.
The concrete is colored by using dust-on concrete color hardeners before the stamping process making for rich, long-lasting and fade-resistant color. Contrasting accent colors or antiquing colors can be added for more visual effect.
If you already have a concrete patio and you want to jazz it up a bit, try staining it. By combining colors, applications and techniques for special effects, it’s a cost-effective way to achieve stunning results. A one-coat application with prep and sealer runs from $2 to $4 per square foot. More elaborate faux finishes, multiple colors and techniques using sandblasting or sawcutting will cost $15 or more per square foot.
Both new and old concrete surfaces can be stained, as long as the surface is clean, porous and free from cracks. The stain is applied with sprayers or paintbrush, depending on the space and the effect desired.
Decorative concrete overlays
If you have cracks, discoloration or imperfections in existing concrete, you don’t need to remove and replace it. Concrete resurfacing combined with a polymer-modified overlay can give that garage, patio or floor a modern face-lift. The polymers can be applied in a coat as thin as a credit card or several inches thick and offer a huge array of colors. They resist damage from salt, chemicals, UV exposure, freeze-thaw conditions and abrasion.
Something to factor into any decision about flooring is longevity and replacement. A properly sealed and maintained concrete surface lasts for decades and doesn’t need replacement as it is invulnerable to mold, tearing, gouging and water damage. Stained concrete can be touched up and the protective coating can be reapplied.
For help with deciding if one of the new concrete finish choices is right for you and which one fits your lifestyle and budget, check with local concrete resurfacing companies.