Monday, April 25, 2011

Considering Basement Flooring Choices….Why Not Concrete???

     With finishing an unfinished basement, ranking just a tad behind kitchen and bath remodels, for the best return on your remodel dollars, many people are trying to finishing their downstairs and gain that much needed extra space.  In the midst of all the other choices for such a project, choosing the right flooring type is a crucial design element that’s impact is often overlooked when considering the overall feel of the completed space.  The sheer volume of color can make a dramatic difference in the feel of a room.
     Advances in concrete coating products make concrete a viable flooring choice that is cost effective, and often the same price or even cheaper than many of the more common flooring choices.  Its popularity is on the rise and more and more people are choosing to forgo the traditional choices, and are opting for something they can customize to their exact taste.  Chemical stains, dyes, colored overlays, stamping, engraving, stencils and micro-toppings offer and almost endless pallet of color and texture to fit your exact needs.
     Most basements have a concrete floor already.  Why buy material to cover what is already there, when it can be enhanced to become an integral part of the room?  Consider the depth of a chemically stained floor or metallic epoxy.  That’s a design element that is difficult to achieve with carpet or tile.  If allergies are an issue or you are concerned about carpet holding up in high traffic areas, utilizing the existing concrete floor might be a perfect choice to achieve a healthy, durable floor that becomes a design element that doesn’t just blend into the room, but actually makes the room.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Decorative Concrete is Not Maintenance Free

‘Maintenance free’ became huge buzz word in the construction industry over the last few years, and just as fast as it became popular companies started running from it, realizing that just about everything needs some sort of maintenance.  Your decorative concrete is no different.
While decorative concrete is about as durable a product as you can find in the construction industry, it still needs some maintenance.   Whether is an exposed aggregate driveway, a stained concrete floor in a basement, or a stamped concrete pool deck, concrete while extremely durable, is not a ‘set it and forget it’ material.
To get the longest life out of your decorative concrete, you need to keep it sealed.  Over time, the surface is going to wear with use and on outside surfaces, the elements will take their toll.  The amount of traffic your concrete gets and your climate if it is outdoors, will determine how often you will need to re-seal your decorative concrete.  Harsher climates and higher traffic areas will need more frequent sealing. 
In order to re-seal existing concrete the surface is going to have to be cleaned.  Methods will vary depending on the decorative concrete finish and its location.  A simple pressure wash and degreasing scrub may be sufficient for a patio, but won’t work for interior floors.  Interior applications may require the removal of waxes and polishing products also used to extend the life of the concrete.  After your surface is cleaned, your sealer can be applied.
This new layer of protection will help your surface withstand the elements and traffic.  Too often, what starts out as a beautiful concrete masterpiece ends up losing its sheen or color, or even worse, starts to show actual damage to the surface such as cracking and spalling, simply because it hasn’t been maintained.   Freeze thaw cycles as well as de-icing products can be absolutely brutal to an improperly protected concrete surface.
Keeping your decorative concrete sealed is a cheap alternative compared to trying to fix a damaged surface that has been neglected over time.  You can liken it to changing the oil in your car.  You can get by for a while but eventually there will be an issue, and it will most likely be a costly one.
A simple maintenance schedule will allow you to get the longest possible life out of your decorative concrete surface and enjoy it for years to come.