Concrete Flooring: The Pros vs. Cons

Image courtesy of concretegrindandpolish.co.nz

Concrete flooring is growing in popularity as more homeowners realize the fantastic benefits concrete offers. Additionally, new processes and technologies have been developed to make concrete one of the most affordable and versatile flooring materials. There aren’t many disadvantages associated with concrete flooring. However, homeowners should consider whether the benefits of concrete flooring outweigh the few disadvantages.

The Benefits of Concrete Flooring

Eco-Friendly & Energy Saving – If sustainability and eco-friendliness are important to you, then concrete flooring is a great option. Concrete floors are eco-friendly for several reasons:

1) They use less energy in production compared to any other flooring type.

2) No trees need to be cut down. 

3) Concrete is recyclable.

4) Choosing concrete floors helps minimize waste. Other flooring types create lots of waste, such as the waste from carpet padding and carpet scraps.

5) Concrete floors do not contain harmful VOCs (volatile organic compounds), as many synthetic carpets do.

Concrete floors have energy-saving capabilities. They can make you feel cooler in the summer, so there is less of a need to use the air conditioning. During the winter, concrete floors absorb the heat from the sun, helping to keep your home warm.

Economical – Concrete flooring allows you to save by eliminating the need to purchase an additional floor covering. When you choose concrete flooring, the floor slab is the floor covering.

Cost-Efficient – The average cost of concrete flooring is more than other residential flooring types but the return is higher as the floor will never need replacement. The higher cost results from the finishing of the floors, often completed by a concrete artisan. The average cost for concrete floor installation (including the decorative finishing) is about $15-$18 per square foot.

Design Options – There are literally endless design options. Concrete floor artisans can create and design a floor to your specifications.

Concrete FlooringDurable – Concrete floors can last a lifetime if maintained properly. There are no tears, staining, flood damage or signs of wear associated with concrete flooring.

Low Maintenance – Depending on the amount of traffic, concrete floors need to be resealed about every two years. This inexpensive process will help ensure a long life for your floors.  Cleaning is easy: simply sweep and wash with vinegar or a gentle floor cleaner.

Improves Indoor Air Quality – Unlike carpeting, concrete floors do not harbor dust mites. For allergy sufferers, concrete floors can be a blessing.
Disadvantages

Professional Installation – Concrete floor installation must be installed by an expert. It cannot be completed as a DIY project, whereas other flooring types can.

Messy Installation – Concrete installation is an extremely messy process.
Care needs to be taken to protect the walls and furniture in your home during installation.

Hard and Cold – Some homeowners who have installed concrete floors report feeling cold, despite adding area rugs. Additionally, concrete floors can be tiring for those standing on it for a long period of time.

Re-sealing – While maintenance is rare for light traffic areas, concrete floors with high traffic must be re-sealed every few months.

Transmits Sound Easily – Even after placement of area rugs, some homeowners feel that concrete floors transmit too much sound and create echoes.

Not for Every Floor – Before considering a concrete floor, consult an experienced concrete contractor who has installed similar floors. Often, extra preparation to the subsurface and structural support is necessary and can add to your installation costs.

Cost – Custom designed concrete floors can be expensive. If you choose to add several colors and designs, you can end up paying $30 per square foot (or more).

Written by Marcy Tate
Marcy is a home improvement blogger at Networx.com. She has been working with concrete contractors for over a decade.

 

First image courtesy of concretegrindandpolish.co.nz 

Second image courtesy of decorateokc.net

Q&A Regarding Stone and Sustainability – Part 4

6c10880e-0Q&A regarding stone and sustainability

 

by John Mattke, Chairman,

Natural Stone Council (NSC) Sustainability Committee

What are some questions I might expect from architects and designers about natural stone’s sustainability?

This is an important question and underscores the importance of substantiated sustainability. The design community is highly informed and can discern fact from fiction. Some of the questions you might expect include:

  • Where is the source of the material?
  • Where is the stone processed or fabricated?
  • What is the Life-Cycle Assessment (LCA) of the product (in comparison with other competing products like concrete, brick, etc.) based on application/usage e.g., cladding, flooring?
  • What is the life-cycle cost?
  • Are there any chemicals or components on the final product?
  • What is the VOC content?
  • What process does the manufacturer have in place for waste reduction and recycling?
  • How is the waste that is not re-used handled?
  • What is the post-consumer recycled content? Post-industrial recycled content?
  • What is the total energy consumed from cradle-to-gate (from extraction through processing)?
  • What company programs are in place to reduce energy consumption and/or greenhouse gas emissions?
  • Does any program exist to reuse or reclaim stone at the end of its lifetime?
  • Are there any other initiatives to minimize the environmental impacts associated with natural stone from its extraction to its disposal?
  • What steps has your company taken towards becoming socially (planned leadership, employee, community programs) and environmentally sustainable?

A good reference for where we believe the green movement is headed is Cascadia’s Living Building Challenge — www.cascadiagbc.org/lbc/resources1/materialsqnaire/building%20materials%20questionnaire. This not only asks questions about the material, but it also gets into your company’s social and environmental initiatives. Ultimately, that is how we believe companies will be evaluated in the future — the triple bottom line.

What are some ways you’ve implemented sustainable practices at Cold Spring Granite Co.?

We have done our best to be ahead of the curve. We began implementing lean practices in the late 1990s. Recently, we completed consolidation of several of our operations, which has reduced transportation costs, eliminated waste, updated/modernized stone processing, optimized energy efficiency and reduced water usage. We’ve seen an increase in energy efficiency by modernizing our equipment, and we’re proud that our water reclamation facility processes and re-uses over 95% of industrial water. Even our new headquarters building is LEED registered, pending certification. And it has all paid dividends. When visiting our facilities, architects and designers have frequently made comments about the approach we are taking. The truth of the matter is that we have been environmentally focused for a long time. My involvement in the NSC, and specifically as the chair of the sustainability committee, inspired me to form a sustainability committee within Cold Spring Granite Co. and take that commitment to another level.

What are the NSC’s plans for 2009?

We will continue to build our library of research-based documents and share them with the industry, including a comparative evaluation (Life-Cycle Assessment) of stone products versus other products in selected product classes to substantiate the benefits of stone in the marketplace. The NSC will be working to educate the industry and design community about the sustainability of Genuine Stone. The University of Tennessee will be presenting at the National AIA Convention in San Francisco this spring — using our industry as their case study for sustainability. We will also begin a road mapping process to chart key opportunities and challenges facing the natural stone industry in the immediate future with respect to sustainability. We want to stress that the success of the road map process relies on the active involvement of professionals and companies throughout our industry. If you would like to participate, or would simply like more details about the process as they become available, please contact us by phone, through the Genuine Stone Web site at www.GenuineStone.com, or notify Amanda McKenna at the University of Tennessee via e-mail at AMcKenna@utk.edu.

I’m on board in theory, but what can I personally do to help move the sustainability agenda forward?

Get in the game. Get involved. Take advantage of educational opportunities. Visit the Genuine Stone Web site and read the research documents housed there. Share them with your colleagues and customers. Join us in the road mapping process. Take a hard look at your company’s sustainability practices, and make improvements wherever you can. Engage in conversation with others in the industry — at industry meetings or conferences, by phone or even E-mail. We are all in this together. Keep in mind the environmental slogan, “Think globally. Act locally.” It certainly fits.

If you’d like to learn more about the NSC and their sustainability efforts, please visit www.GenuineStone.com, or contact John Mattke at 320-685-3621 or jmattke@coldspringgranite.com.

Source: Stone World Fabricator E News by Stone World Magazine