Decorative Concrete Overlay Floors: Why I Love Mine & Why You Will Too
Let me start by saying that I have a decorative layer of concrete in almost every room in my house. However, before I installed it, I was concerned that it would be too simple, too expensive, and too difficult to change in the future. So why did I install it in the first place? Well, my husband makes his living installing concrete reinforcement. What could he say? So with some fear, fear of the unknown, you know? – I gave him the go-ahead and he started the job.
First, we removed all the carpet and tack strips, and then we removed the tiles in the kitchen and dining room. Let me tell you, removing tiles is no walk on the beach! Therefore, we made the decision to install the overlay ON TOP of the rest of the existing tiles that are in the hallway and bathrooms. He called it a true test of the coating product we used: if it could hold up on top of tile and grout (some of which were a bit loose!), it would hold up to anything. We decided to go with a tile look in the kitchen, dining room, hallway, and bathrooms, and a tile look in the study, living room, and bedrooms. For the tile look, he laid down a layer of concrete, which we then pounded to create the grout lines we wanted (we went with a 9″ x 24″ tile look). Then he applied the second coat, let it dry, and then added the colors. The final step was to lift all of the tape, revealing the “grout” lines, and then seal it. The final result was magnificent!
For the slab, the process was a bit different. The first thing he did was use a concrete cutter to cut the tile pattern into the concrete itself. Another option is to tape the slab pattern instead of cutting the concrete, but I personally prefer the cut pattern much better. After this step, he applied a coat of the concrete topping, allowed it to dry, and then added a water-based stain for a mixed stone look. A couple of coats of sealer later and the job was done. This ended up looking completely different than the tile look we did in the other area of the house, but it looked just as good. We have never been able to decide which finish we like best.
So why do I love this finish so much? Many reasons. First of all, anyone who has owned a tile floor knows how difficult (even impossible) it is to keep the grout clean. High traffic areas end up having darker grout lines than light traffic areas due to dirt and oils getting inside. And don’t even get me started on the grout lines near where the dogs eat! Although my kitchen now looks like it has tile and grout lines, it doesn’t. It has a nice thick coat of sealer on it that will never wear off. That means when the dogs are done eating and drool all over the floor, and my husband leaves footprints in the mud on the patio after a monsoon rain, all I have to do is wipe my floors (which have lines of pristine white grout ) look like new again is to wipe it down with a rag or get out the mop and some hot water. A couple of swipes later, and it’s good as new. This is by far the main reason I love these floors.
Another reason I love them is their durability. Remember the part about layering on top of some loose tiles? That was a year ago and the floors are perfect. I dropped soda cans on the floor from about four feet and the cans were dented, but the floor is undamaged. I have water on the shower floor every day – I have one of those shower stalls and for some reason it can’t seem to hold the water, even though there is a one inch lip on the edge. But I never have to worry about water soaking into the floor like I would carpet, wood, or tile because the sealer is completely waterproof. Ultimately, I found that neutral concrete floors make the perfect canvas for rugs that are easily interchangeable. With rug, the color you choose is the color you stick with, and putting an area rug on top to change things up seems a bit strange.
What’s the last thing I love about decorative concrete overlay floors? The price! Well obviously since my husband installed this I got it for a discount price. But, I have found the regular price to be competitive with installing wood, laminate, and tile, as well as anything but the cheapest carpeting. We have Pergo laminate flooring in my office (the only room in the house without the concrete veneer), and the price to purchase and install it was equal to or higher than the price it would cost to install the concrete veneer, which easily outlast Pergo due to its indestructible tendencies.
So if you’re looking for a new floor, be sure to consider a decorative concrete underlayment. You’ll be glad you did.