Scratching the Surface: The Value in Flooring
Decorative finishes have transformed concrete flooring, enough that surfaces composed of one of the basic building materials in construction now are trendy and elegant. Professional stained, textured and patterned finishes that are directly applied have evolved concrete’s image from plain and structural to colored and rich.
The innovation in the industry is impressive, and consumers are gravitating to the concrete option primarily for its decorative and durable benefits, says ConcreteNetwork.com, which follows concrete construction fashion. Nowadays, there’s hope for that dull, cracked sidewalk leading to the leasing office, with or without reconstruction.
Concrete finishing solutions are gaining popularity
Architectural concrete paving and flooring solutions have been around since the 1950s, when a contractor in Carmel, Calif., began experimenting with exposed aggregate concrete walls and slabs. Brad Bowman created a way to imprint patterns in wet concrete, opening the door to many flooring and surface options using the mixture of cement, aggregate and water.
Today, textured, patterned stamps are among several desirable finishing options for walkways, patios, pool decks, driveways, porches and interior concrete.
A 2010 survey by ConcreteNetwork.com tracked the popularity of concrete finishing solutions and reported that consumers polled believe concrete floors offer a unique look (73 percent), are durable (71.5 percent) and easy to maintain (58.3 percent).
Several types of decorative concrete are created at the pour, and others require grooving and staining after the surface has hardened. Generally, either are reasonably affordable compared to other surface options.
Apartments now have quick, easy alternative to sprucing up concrete flooring
What to do with a bare, drab concrete floor that has been battle-tested over the years at an apartment is another story. Wear and tear is the arch enemy of apartment maintenance, and over time floors and walkways will bear the scars of resident living. Usually, concrete surfaces get stained (not the ornate kind) and crack.
Property managers are then faced with stain removal or repairing ugly cracked sections that sometimes involve jackhammering and a new pour. Another option is resurfacing with tile or rock that takes several days, even weeks to finish.
However, new decorative and maintenance-free concrete coatings that are easy enough to apply by the maintenance team offer relief. A fresh, new look for apartment outdoor or indoor flooring is as quick as rolling on a coat of paint, says Jud Walford, Home Depot’s Pro Paint merchant.
Products like Behr’s Granite Grip can transform a worn floor into a decorative surface much like applying paint.
“It’s the ability to put something on ugly, stained concrete that makes it look brand new,” Walford said. “You can fill in cracks and have a consistent look and finish across all of your common areas and sidewalks within your community.”
The decorative, slip-resistant floor coating, which was introduced earlier this year, is a multi-speckled, textured roll-on alternative to professional applications that require an epoxy base coat or primer and a spray-on application of a decorative chip like granite, quartz or terrazzo. The material, when dried, resembles textured rock finishes.
In most case, Walford says, prepping the surface includes a good pressure washing and filling the cracks with the product. Complete application can be applied immediately and walked on after a few hours. A full cure takes a couple of days.
“You can paint right over (the floor) and you get a brand new surface,” Walford said. “If you’re just using a stain finish, the challenge is covering stains and imperfections and cracks. With this product, you can fill in those cracks and paint over it.”
Other products are available for wood surfaces
Best of all, Walford says, is that the maintenance team can apply concrete coatings. On a recent trip to Behr’s Southern California facility, he and a couple colleagues covered the steps and walkway to the factory using a special textured roller.
Granite Grip is one of a handful of surface products that are designed to reduce application time and provide a look that appears to have taken great pains to create. Behr DeckOver fills slight imperfections in wood decks with a slip-resistant coating that is textured or smooth.
The product, Walford says, adheres better than paint and provides a strong, durable surface. Like Granite Grip, it fills imperfections without extensive preparation.
“These are simple to use products that offer apartments an opportunity to get a highly professional look without a great deal of effort and expense,” Walford said.