This overlay, featuring decorative saw cuts, was dyed and polished to create a terrazzo-like look at half the price.

An overlay can save you a great deal of money when compared to the cost of demolition and replacement of your existing concrete floors. Depending on a variety of factors, a basic floor overlay runs from $3 to $7 per square foot, which is comparable to high-end carpet or tile. The price can increase to $15 or more per square foot when textures, embeds or saw cuts are added to the design. Other upgrades, including stamping or polishing of the overlay, will make prices rise. If you are interested in comparing the cost of an overlay to other concrete flooring options, read this article: Concrete Floor Cost.

Here are the factors that impact overlay cost:

  • Size of project
    It is true that bigger projects will cost more. However, as a general rule of thumb, many overlay installers reduce their price per square foot as the size of the project grows. For example, SolCrete, a company in Texas estimates that a 200 square foot overlay will cost just over $7 per square foot, while a 500 square foot project would run about $3 per square foot. Keep in mind that if your project is small, there may be a minimum charge for the work. If this is the case, see if they can include some upgrades such as saw cuts or staining within the minimum price.
  • Surface preparation and crack repair
    If your concrete has glue, a coating or sealer on the surface it may need to be cleaned or ground to ensure the overlay can bond properly. Additionally, cracks must be filled before applying an overlay. Many contractors, such as Table Mountain Creative Concrete in Colorado, factor these costs into their price per square foot. Table Mountain’s website lists the price of an overlay (including prep, a standard color or stain and sealer) as $7-10 per square foot. Ask your contractor what’s included to be sure there are no surprises.
  • Decorative scoring or staining
    If you elect to add a decorative finish, this will also increase costs due to the additional materials or equipment required as well as the extra labor time. The more elaborate your design, the more costly it will become.
  • Location
    Just like any other purchase or service, an overlay will cost more if you live in a major city. It is best to have a few local contractors provide you with quotes to know what a regionally appropriate price is for your project. Location can also affect the cost of an overlay installation if there are access challenges. If it is hard to get to the site or special adaptions have to be made to complete the work, there will likely be additional fees.

Should you install an overlay yourself to save money?
It is often tempting to save money by doing home improvement projects yourself. However, concrete overlays are not a particularly easy DIY venture. Many homeowners who attempt to apply a concrete overlay themselves end up disappointed in the results, either because it doesn’t look as nice as they expected or because it chips, flakes or cracks soon after installation. Applying and finishing an overlay is better left to the pros, even if it does cost you more money. You’ll be paying for a quality installation that will provide you with a durable floor for years to come.