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Common Questions about Concrete Floors: Are they cold? Are they loud? Are they expensive?
Popular Flooring Types: Kitchen floors, garage floors, basement floors and more
Interior Floor Finishes: A comparison of finishing options available
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Concrete Floor Design Ideas: Get inspiration from floor installations across the country
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Staining Concrete Floors
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When people are first introduced to the beauty of decorative concrete flooring, they are initially "floored" by its good looks (sorry, the pun was too tempting to pass up). However, once that love-at-first-sight reaction fades, it's often followed by skepticism about the practicality of concrete flooring, especially in a home environment. Many homeowners will ask: Beyond its aesthetic attributes, is concrete really a flooring material I can live with for the long term?

Like any flooring material, concrete does have some inherent drawbacks. However, many of them are easy to overcome, and in the end, the positives of concrete flooring far outweigh the negatives. Are decorative concrete floors right for your home or business? To help you decide, here are answers to common questions about concrete floor benefits, appearance, performance, and maintenance. For more information, watch the recommended videos.

Are concrete floors prone to cracking?
The most common objection to concrete floors is the potential for cracking. However, some people actually love the rustic, organic look that can be achieved by staining the floor and leaving minor random cracks exposed (see Polishing and Dye Enhance Cracks in Existing Floor). If cracks are perceived as an eyesore, microtoppings offer the ability to hide them under a smooth, new surface that can accept a wide array of decorative treatments, including staining, stamping, and stenciling. Learn more about what you can do with decorative concrete overlays.

Read: Incorporating Cracks in Concrete Floor Design

Are Concrete Floors Cold?
Time: 01:25
View all concrete floor videos

Are Concrete Floors Hard?
Time: 01:26
Get ideas on where to install concrete flooring.

Are concrete floors cold and damp?
Concrete can be cold, but no more so than ceramic tile or natural stone flooring. Plus, it’s possible to warm up concrete floors by taking advantage of concrete’s ability to store and radiate heat. For example, you can embed radiant heating cables in concrete floors to keep them toasty warm in the winter. You can also design your home to maximize the amount of sunlight entering through windows in the winter, allowing concrete floors to absorb and radiate the heat

Concrete floors won’t become damp unless they aren't insulated properly or the slab is built on a poorly drained subgrade. In properly constructed newer homes, today's building codes typically require installation of a vapor barrier under concrete slabs to block moisture migration and that feeling of dampness (see Choosing a Vapor Barrier).

Are concrete floors loud and hard on the feet?
Concrete is a hard material, so it won't cushion or "give" under bare feet. But concrete's hardness is also what contributes to its durability and abrasion resistance. In a commercial or warehouse setting, hard is good. You need a hard surface that can stand up to forklift traffic and heavy foot traffic. For a residential floor, you can help cushion concrete with area rugs, which are easier to clean than wall-to-wall carpet. While concrete may be hard, it's not abrasive to the feet, especially if it's polished or has a smooth finish.

Are Concrete Floors Loud?
Time: 01:58
See how you can soften the sound in a room with area rugs, furniture, window coverings, and decorations.

Concrete floors can be loud and produce an echo effect, but no more so than ceramic tile, natural stone flooring, and some hardwood or bamboo floors. You can muffle the echo effect by using sound-absorptive materials in the room, such as area rugs, curtains, pillows and wall fabrics.

Are decorative concrete floors expensive?
When compared with high-end floor coverings, such as ceramic tile, slate and marble, decorative concrete is often an economical alternative. Plus, skilled concrete artisans can duplicate the look of these pricier materials. The life expectancy of a concrete floor will also far surpass that of low- to mid-priced floor coverings, such as carpeting, vinyl tile and wood laminates. That means in the long run you can save money because you'll never need to rip out and replace worn or damaged flooring. See this overview of the average costs for installing basic to high-end decorative concrete floors.

Watch: What Do Concrete Floors Cost?

Is decorative concrete flooring maintenance-free?
While concrete floors are relatively easy to maintain, compared with other types of floor surfaces, they aren't completely maintenance free. How much maintenance your floor will need largely depends on the amount of traffic it receives. The maintenance needs of a residential floor will be much different than those for a floor in a high-traffic commercial or retail environment.

In most cases, residential floors experience light foot traffic, and a simple cleaning regimen of occasional sweeping and damp mopping will keep concrete floors looking like new for many years. Protecting concrete floors with a good sealer and a coat of floor finish or wax will make them even more resistant to stains, chemicals and abrasion. In areas of heavy traffic, such as entrances and foyers, you can reduce maintenance and wear and tear by using floor mats, both inside and outside of the entryways.

How Long Does Concrete Flooring Last?
Time: 01:28
Find out how long concrete floors last.

Look to Your Surroundings
Time: 01:01
Find beautiful design inspiration for concrete flooring.

Watch 7 videos about concrete floor maintenance

Are concrete floors slippery?
As with other hard flooring surfaces such as vinyl, linoleum, marble or ceramic tile floors, concrete floors can become slippery when wet. Applying a high-gloss sealer to protect and enhance decorative concrete may also reduce traction somewhat, but that's easily remedied by mixing a nonslip additive into the stain or sealer before application (see Making Concrete Slip Resistant).

What about polished concrete? When kept clean and dry, polished concrete floors are generally no slicker than plain concrete surfaces. And they tend to be less slippery than waxed linoleum or polished marble (see Can Polished Concrete Be Slippery?).

Do concrete floors look too industrial?
Certainly plain, unadulterated gray concrete can be perceived as sterile and "industrial." However, anyone who has seen a concrete floor enriched by a brown or earth-toned stain knows that concrete can be made to look warm and inviting. In fact, brown is the most popular color choice for concrete floors. See for yourself: Brown Concrete Floors - A Look at Why This Concrete Floor Color Is So Popular.

More FAQs:

Are concrete floors pet friendly?

What's important when using concrete on different types of floors? Kitchens, bathrooms, retail floors, restaurants, churches, hospitals, offices and schools