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Although educational institutions and museums are places where people go to learn and explore, they also experience a punishing amount of foot traffic, as students and patrons stroll from one exhibit to another or scurry through the halls to get to their next class. These facilities, often taxpayer-funded, also are hampered by restricted budgets that require them to cut costs wherever they can.

Browse photos of school & museum flooring.

By baring their existing concrete floors and renewing them by polishing or applying a decorative overlay, more schools and museums are discovering that they can get the benefits of a nearly indestructible walking surface at a minimal cost. Concrete floors also are easy to maintain, improve indoor air quality and can even reduce energy costs by maximizing light reflectivity. Here are examples of how schools and museums of all types are using concrete floors to enhance their facilities.

Polished Concrete Floor Is a Lesson in Indian Folklore

While walking through the corridors of the Cherokee Indian School, Cherokee, N.C., students and visitors can get a visual education in the folklore of the Cherokee Indians. The polished concrete floors display legendary symbols of Cherokee mythology, including a flowing river, a compass, a water beetle and animal footprints. Find out more about how stains and dyes were used to recreate symbols of Cherokee culture on a school floor.

School Pride in Concrete

Johnny Angel of B&B Overlays in Billings, Mont. installed a metallic epoxy for the student union and bookstore at Montana State University. An 8 foot stencil of the school mascot was also added to the floor. Learn more about this seamless, reflective epoxy floor.

Health Sciences Center Restores Ailing Floors

The University of Colorado Health Sciences Center needed to revive their existing concrete floors. The remedy they chose -- concrete polishing and dyeing -- worked wonders. There was no need to overlay the concrete, maintenance would be easy, the floors are durable, and the cost fit their budget. See the amazing results.

School Goes Green with Polished Concrete

Benjamin Franklin Elementary School in Kirkland, Wash., has gone green with the addition of a polished concrete floor. Not only will the concrete outlast the floor coverings typically used in schools, such as carpet or vinyl, it offers better indoor air quality and reflects natural daylight.

Decorative Concrete Overlays Create a Fantasy Landscape

Inside the Children's Museum of Phoenix, a koi pond floor mural created with a decorative stained and dyed concrete overlay has shining water so realistic it baffles the children who try to splash in it. On the museum’s second floor, children can step onto clouds and dance along rainbows.

Black Polished Floor Creates a Dramatic Impact

The Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Skokie, Ill., chose to use polished concrete floors dyed solid black for dramatic impact and to convey the emotional weight evoked by the building’s architecture and interior design.

Polished Floor Flatters Antique Car Collection

Formerly a warehouse, this museum displaying a private collection of antique vehicles and vintage signs needed a low-maintenance floor that would showcase the beauty of the cars. The existing concrete floor, left a natural gray, was ground to a gleaming finish that replicates polished chrome. See the results.

School Colors

Ewa Makai Middle School in Ewa Beach, Hawaii, has taken the concept of school colors to a new level, using a dynamic blend of teal, robin’s egg blue, and lilac throughout its facility to rev up school spirit. The colors form an array of geometric patterns on the concrete floors in the classrooms, hallways, and recreation areas. Coordinating accent colors were used on the school’s doors, cabinets, and desks.

Polished Art Center Floor

Instead of covering up the original concrete flooring in this 75-year-old facility, it was restored and turned into an expression of art by inviting local artisans to get involved in the project. To create a pristine canvas for their custom artwork, the concrete was polished and honed. The artists then hand painted their designs onto the floor using a colorful array of water-based stains. Swirls of color were applied to the rest of the floor using acetone-based dyes in the shades of slate blue and caramel.

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