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Contemporary Family Room by Bellevue Architects & Building Designers Gelotte Hommas Architecture

When you think of concrete, the first thing that comes to mind is likely the garage. Concrete is known for long-lasting strength and little maintenance, which make it the perfect contender for a floor that hosts a variety of cars parked on it every day. The typical concrete floor in a garage is simple: A dull, easy gray color, perhaps with a touch of paint to keep the stains away. That’s not something that translates well to the home — right?

But there are all types of concrete, and what looks good in your garage is absolutely transformed when it is poured in your house. From concrete of all colors, to simple looks that are polished to a high shine, to intricate designs that make you wonder if that’s really concrete at all, this once-humble material is now showing off in every type of home.

Transforming concrete floors

Whether you already have a concrete floor that is showing its age, or you want a floor that is newly poured and designed to suit your home, there are dozens of options for making concrete look gorgeous — or making it look like anything but concrete.

Though concrete can be made unique with scored or hand-painted grout lines, as well as glossy finishes that enhance a unique coloration, is is also possible to transform this simple material into something that looks entirely different.

Traditional Kitchen by Bend Architects & Building Designers Christian Gladu Design

Plank concrete floors

A good example is the “hardwood concrete floor.” This design is achieved with a smooth, even coat of concrete. It is then cut into “planks” by adding fiber tape to simulate the design of hardwood planks. Each “plank” is treated with a textured coating that mimics the look of wood, and knots and grain is created with a custom stain.

When the fiber tape is removed, the dark edges create the edges and joints of the planks. It is a look that fools the eye, and makes your guests gasp when they step on it and realize it’s not wood at all. It’s a fraction of the cost of wood, and gives you the look of hardwood in notoriously moisture-laden areas, like basements.

Stained concrete flooring

Another option is simply using paints to trick the eye into believing the concrete is something it’s not. Stain treatments can be added to the concrete to make any color shine through, and the imperfections can be enhanced to create a unique look. If the imperfections bother you, erase them with acid staining, which creates a mottled or marbled pattern. The use of different hues can result in a variety of colors across your concrete floor.

Traditional Porch by Davidson General Contractors Artisan Custom Homes

Patterns and layouts

Those who want something more modern can make use of a diamond-tipped blade to add score lines to the concrete, or do it the simpler way with simple painter’s tape and paint to create “grout” that suits a particular pattern. You can also create a pattern by pressing simple forms into concrete as it dries.

Speaking of patterns, a professional contractor can turn a slab of concrete into a masterpiece by buffing the concrete, laying out a specific design, cutting it with the diamond blade, and carefully applying acid stains to each individual piece to achieve the desired look.

One of a kind design

When you look at your concrete floor as a canvas, you can create one-of-a-kind designs that are uniquely “you.” A mural painted across a concrete floor is one way to tell your family’s story or the story of your home. Stencils of words can be used to create poetry, sayings or other interesting points underneath your feet. Stencils can also be used to create repeating motifs, which can be used as borders along the edges of a room.

Evolving concrete floors for the 21st century home

It can be tempting to see concrete as something that is suitable for only lower floors, thanks to the weight. But today’s concrete can be extremely lightweight, allowing you to have the same concrete beauty on upper floors without additional supports. This means that any look you prefer can be created in every room. The cost savings of concrete and the flexibility to create works of art underfoot — what’s not to love?

 

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Shannon Dauphin Lee

Shannon Dauphin Lee is a journalist and occasional novelist with a serious weakness for real estate. When she's not writing, she and her husband are taking road trips to explore covered bridges, little wineries and quaint bed-and-breakfast inns in their beloved Pennsylvania.