Floor coverings are typically thought of as materials like carpet, tile, and hardwood, but did you know that concrete is also a type of floor covering? Using concrete as a floor covering is a fairly recent development. The use of overlays for decorative purposes has only been around for about twenty years. Over time the point compression strength of some decorative overlays has grown to over 6000 psi, and the awesome part about that is that it’s that strong only the thickness of a credit card. That’s some pretty impressive stuff if you ask us. There are four ways that you can cover concrete. Each has differences and benefits, as well as different appearances. Let’s go over the four ways.
Microtoppings are related to stampable overlays, but are much thinner. They relate to stampable overlays because they cure in 24 hours and are ready for foot traffic in 36 hours. They are true to their name being as thin as 1/32 of an inch up to ⅛ of an inch thick. The type of polymer used allows for the material to resist against abrasion and to maintain its strength and durability. Microtoppings are fairly easy to apply, and can be done by using trowels, brushes, squeegees, or rollers. The choice of tool depends on the desired appearance. Due to the fast curing time of microtoppings the texture is determined by only how the material is applied. Some of the more popular finishes are smooth trowel, stippled, rough trowel, and orange peel. It’s very important to seal the microtopping after it has cured completely to protect the surface from dirt or debris that can get into the microporous surface.
Textured concrete floor coverings are also called stampable overlays. These are the thicker version of microtoppings and only serve one purpose. The purpose is to allow the material to resemble textured surfaces such as wood, brick, tile, stone, or other natural materials. Usually, textured concrete is anywhere from ¼ of an inch to ⅝ of an inch thick. Typically, the tools and steps that are required to apply the material are a gauge rake, then quick smoothed with a trowel, followed by imprinting the desired appearance, this can be done with a stamping tool. As mentioned previously, textured concrete cures in 24 hours and can be walked on in 36 hours. The most imperative factor of textured concrete is the preparation of the surface it’s being applied to. It is recommended to use a concrete grinder to properly prepare the surface. (Click here for the steps to apply textured concrete.)
Self-leveling concrete has been traditionally used to prepare the surface for another material to be applied on top of. It was typically used to repair and level worn or damaged concrete. Recently, contractors have been adding integral color to the self-leveling concrete systems, or after 24 hours, they have been applying stains, tints, or dyes to create unique and colorful floors. Self-leveling concrete is beneficial because it corrects uneven floors and repairs damaged floors, while at the same time providing a durable and smooth concrete floor. The downside is that it can be quite costly and that you need to have a lot of experience and skill in surface preparation to do the job right. The majority of self-leveling systems are able to get down to ¼ of an inch to an inch in thickness and they are able to thin out to a feather edge.
Spray applied or stenciled concrete are not commonly used inside as a finish or floor covering, however, they have been long used outside on patios and pool decks. Recently, there has been a shift and it is becoming more common to see spray applied concrete on interior high traffics areas. This rise is due to the low cost, easy application, low cost, and wide variety of colors and patterns. They are thin like microtoppings, but they typically have more sand making for a rougher finish. Typically, a hopper gun is used to apply the material. A grout coat is applied and once it is dry stencils are adhered to the floor. A second layer is then applied and once dry the stencil is removed. The spray pattern determines the final appearance which is either smooth, knock down, or orange peel. A sealer is then applied to protect the floor and add a pleasing finish.
There are so many creative and custom options for finishing concrete, but first and foremost important is the concrete itself. At Custom Concrete Creations we have state of the art equipment and a properly trained team with years of experience. Custom Concrete Creations is a premier contractor serving the Omaha area as well at the Midwest. Give us a call or send us an email for your custom concrete finishing needs today!