Polished concrete is a beautiful flooring option that also has numerous health benefits. Liquid Stone, Warminster, Penn.

When people choose a flooring material for their home, how the floor affects their health and well-being is rarely a consideration. Cost, comfort, appearance, and maintenance generally take priority. But wouldn’t it be great if you could have a floor that not only looks fantastic, but actually reduces your exposure to nasty toxins, makes it easier to breathe, boosts your mood, and is good for your pets?

Those are a just few of the compelling benefits of polished concrete floors, which have been increasing in popularity recently both for their beauty and low environmental impact. According to the American Academy of Environmental Medicine, what we are exposed to in our environment, including where we live and work, has a direct impact on our health and can be the cause of many unexplained chronic illnesses. Here’s how polished concrete can reduce that impact and create a healthier living environment.

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1. Put an end to sneezing

If you're looking for allergy relief, removing your wall-to-wall carpeting and opting for decorative polished concrete flooring can help. When it comes to allergies, carpeting can be one of the biggest contributors to your suffering because it’s difficult to keep clean and often becomes a haven for dust mites, pollen and other allergens. Concrete floors can ease your sneezing and congestion because they don't trap allergens and they are easy to clean. Learn more: Concrete Provides Beautiful Hypoallergenic Flooring.

2. Improve your indoor air quality

Exposure to toxic mold in homes has been blamed for ailments ranging from headaches to severe respiratory infections and immune system disorders. Mold can thrive on any organic material, especially in warm, moist, humid conditions. Unlike wood, carpets made of natural fibers, and other organic materials, concrete floors won't support the growth of mold, mildew and other hungry microorganisms. See Why Concrete Is a Healthy Alternative.

Polished concrete is an excellent flooring choice for allergy suffers and pet owners. Rosebud Concrete, Myerstown, Penn.

3. Stop air-blown dust

Polished concrete floors are also ideal for use with energy-efficient radiant in-floor heating systems. With radiant heating, coils heated by electricity or hot water are embedded in concrete floors, warming the floor itself to deliver clean, even heat. With radiant in-floor heating, you’ll be more comfortable at lower temperatures than with forced-air heating, helping to rein in utility bills. Another benefit: When homes are heated with in-floor radiant heating, no air is being blown around, as with forced-air systems, so no dust or dirt gets recirculated into the air.

4. Reduce your exposure to toxic chemicals

Most people are aware of the health consequences of exposure to polluted outdoor air. But did you know that poor indoor air quality can pose similar health hazards? According to the Environmental Protection Agency, indoor air pollution is among the top five environmental dangers. Research indicates that people spend approximately 90 percent of their time indoors. So for some of us, breathing the air inside our homes may be worse than spending time outdoors.

What effect can flooring materials have on indoor air quality? Synthetic carpeting, for example, can emit volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, as can some of the products that accompany carpet installation, such as adhesives and padding. Some of the adhesives used under vinyl sheet goods and linoleum can also emit VOCs. Polished concrete floors are a toxic-free flooring alternative because they aren’t treated with chemicals or sealers that can emit harmful VOCs. They also are easy to maintain and require only periodic sweeping or wet mopping with mild, nontoxic detergents. Even medical facilities are installing concrete floors because they have no ill effects on indoor air quality. See To Your Health.

5. Make your home more pet-friendly

Few flooring materials are friendlier to pets and their owners than polished concrete. Your pets’ paws, which are often in direct contact with the floor surface, won’t be exposed to harmful chemicals. For pet owners who are allergy sensitive, smooth floor surfaces like polished concrete won't trap pet dander the way carpet will, making the dander easy to remove during routine cleaning. Learn more about the pet-friendly attributes of concrete floors: Six Reasons Why Concrete Floors are Pet Friendly.

6. Brighten your outlook

A benefit of polished concrete floors that many people overlook is how much they can brighten a room with their high light reflectivity. Introducing light into a space can have an enormous effect on your environment, hugely improving its quality and character, according to Sarah Susanka, author of The Not So Big House series, Home By Design, and The Not So Big Life. She says reflective surfaces can influence rooms throughout your home, helping to bounce light around and augment the presence of natural light within a space.

Installing light-colored polished concrete floors can help save energy and reduce lighting bills by amplifying the amount of natural light entering a home during the day and reducing the need for artificial light at night. Bright, shiny polished concrete floors also look better than a dull, drab surface, making rooms sparkle while lifting your spirits. See these examples of concrete floors that combine beauty with high light reflectivity.

7. Make it personal

Living in a home that reflects your personality and tastes can elevate your mood and foster a sense of tranquility. With polished concrete, you can add a special touch of feng shui to your floors by using stains, dyes, and decorative engraving to create an endless array of custom effects. See these polished concrete design ideas.