When you hear about concrete floors, you get the image of raw and rugged concrete or cement pathway which you would never consider as a floor option for your home. However, this is not the case. Concrete and cement floors are available in a variety of designs and grains which can add a unique element to any interior.
Cement and concrete flooring is often used interchangeably but they are different in that concrete flooring is a mixture of cement, aggregates, and water. The quantity of the cement and the aggregates differs for various different flooring types which distinguish them from each other.
So what is cement screed flooring and how is it different from concrete flooring? We will describe this difference in the upcoming sections. We will also discuss in detail the pros and cons of concrete flooring. Its cost as compared to other flooring types will also be discussed. In the end, we will describe some of the design options you have with cement screed/ concrete flooring.
What Is Concrete Flooring
Concrete is a mixture of rock, clay, and lime. Concrete flooring comprises granular stone such as gravel or sand and cement along with water and other aggregates such as binders or catalysts. On the other hand, cement is a mixture of clay and lime.
When the moist mixture of concrete is dried, chemical processes lead to a crystalline bond. This bond makes concrete a hard, strong, and durable substance that is ideal for foundations and as a building material for other materials.
What Is Cement Screed Flooring
Cement screed is a mixture of cement, aggregates, and water. The cement and water are combined to make a smooth paste. The surface of the sand or aggregates is coated with this paste after which it hardens by the process of hydration and the end result is a hardened mass of high strength and durability.
It is a smoother mixture that is used as a top layer of flooring for internal floors to provide a smooth and levelled surface. It can serve as a colourful or functional floor as compared to a bare cement or concrete floor which lacks aesthetics and appears quite raw. Although screed flooring also appears raw, it has a better finish and can be used as a good option with industrial interior designs.
Screed flooring is also often used as a covering for heating systems and thermal insulations. Some types of polymer screeds are more rigorous and water-resistant which make them a good choice to be used in rigorous environments.
Difference Between Cement Flooring and Concrete Flooring
Cement screed uses different quantities of aggregates as compared to concrete flooring. The grade of cement that is used is also different for both types of flooring.
Concrete flooring uses much coarse and hard-core aggregates which makes it much more durable, strong, and long-lasting.
Screed, on the other hand, is a relatively smoother mix and uses fewer aggregates as compared to concrete. The base layer is always the concrete flooring to give a strong and durable foundation.
On top of the concrete can be a layer of screed that gives it a nice finish. This can be used for indoor flooring to provide a levelled floor for other types of final floor coverings such as carpets, tiles, linoleum, wood flooring, parquet flooring, and others.
Screed is basically a finer type of concrete that serves as a top layer on an already cured and pre-existing concrete base.
Pros And Cons Of Concrete Flooring
Concrete flooring or cement screed flooring has several pros and cons which make it a good choice in some situations while not as much a good option in other situations. These pros and cons are listed below:
- One of the most important advantages of concrete flooring is its strength, durability, and resilience. It does not get damaged easily. You can be rest assured that children, pets, claws, and high heels will not be able to damage the floor.
- Concrete flooring is relatively inexpensive as compared to most flooring types like marble flooring, parquet flooring, and wood flooring.
- Concrete flooring requires minimum maintenance. It only requires to be sealed or waxed every 6 months or so.
- You can easily clean it with a neutral cleaning agent and water.
- With proper care and maintenance, concrete floors can last a lifetime.
- Because of the various types of screeds available, concrete flooring is now available in a variety of colours, grains, and textures which give you a wide range of options to choose from.
- Concrete flooring gives the perfect raw and rugged look which enhances the interior design of any area when used in combination with wooden textures and elements.
- Since concrete flooring is very hard and strong, anything that has the potential of cracking or breaking when falls on it will most probably break.
- Concrete floors can be quite slippery especially if there is any water or liquid spill. It can cause serious injuries in the case of a slip.
- Concrete flooring can also make you get hurt more if you happen to fall on it because of its strength and durability.
- Concrete flooring can make standing or walk on it for long periods of time quite uncomfortable because of its hard nature.
- Concrete floors can get very cold in the winter. You may need to use carpets or rugs to solve this problem.
- If concrete floors are not properly and regularly sealed, it can cause moisture to penetrate through the floor. This can result in the growth of mold and fungus. This can also cause cracks in the floor.
Cost Of Concrete Flooring
Concrete flooring is relatively cheaper as compared to marble, hardwood, or parquet flooring. In its raw form, it is even cheaper. However, in the case of cement screed, it is a bit expensive but still cheaper than marble and hardwood flooring. This is because of the expensive protective coating and seal of cement screed flooring.
Its price ranges from $15 to $30 per square foot including the sealing and protective coating cost. Marble flooring, on the other hand, costs $40 to $70 per square foot while hardwood flooring costs $30 to $50 per square foot.
Cost Of Cement Screed Flooring
Cement screed typically cost between S$14 to S$28 per square foot in Singapore.
As cement screed flooring is filled as a single piece (unlike tiles), cracks are almost guaranteed to happen. Repairs to this type of flooring can prove to be a hassle as a new layer will have to be poured over the old flooring to fix damages. It is also susceptible to moisture without a high-quality protective coating.
How To Install Concrete Flooring
- It requires extra effort and time and will take around 4-6 days depending on the room size but the end result is worth all the extra trouble. The process of installing a concrete floor is listed below:
- The first step is to prepare the subfloor. The floor is excavated if required and levelled to create a smooth base.
- Then, a layer of sand is placed at the very bottom which helps in keeping the moisture out.
- Next, a sheet of plastic is placed over the layer of sand followed by another layer of sand and a plastic sheet.
- After the two layers of sand and plastic sheet, a wire mesh is placed.
- The concrete which you want to use is then prepared according to the manual instructions. This can include any type of colour, design, or texture according to your preferences.
- Then comes the step of pouring the concrete/cement over this layer. After it is poured, it is levelled with a float and allowed to set completely. It can take approximately three to four days for the concrete to completely set.
- If you want some engraving or other textures imprinted on the floor, then they are created using various stencils and moulds during the concrete pouring step and it is then allowed to set.
- After the concrete has set, it is time for its polishing. A grinder is used over the complete floor leaving no area for this purpose.
- The floor is then cleaned using a non-abrasive cloth to remove any kind of dust and debris to make it ready for the final sealing. Using a sealer applicator spray, a high-quality sealer is applied evenly over the entire floor. Caution should be taken so that not even the minutest speck or debris interferes in the sealing process, otherwise, the whole process will have to be done again.
- After the sealing has been completed, it takes about 30 minutes for to dry and be ready for use.
How To Maintain Cement/Concrete Floors
Concrete floors are relatively easy to clean and maintain when compared to other types of floors. The care and maintenance instructions for concrete/cement floors are described below:
- You can easily vacuum or broom concrete floors to remove visible dust and debris.
- This can be followed by a damp mop with any PH-neutral cleaner or water to ensure a deeper cleaning.
- Spills should be cleaned as soon as possible to avoid any types of stains on the concrete floor.
- Heavy traffic can cause wear and tear to the floor which can be avoided by placing rugs or floor mats in those locations.
- Every few months, protective wax should be applied to the concrete floor to maintain its appearance.
- After every few years, concrete floors should be sealed with a good floor sealer to resist water, dirt, stains, and abrasions.
- Polished concrete floors may start to lose their shine with time. This can be overcome by buffing the floor with a commercial polishing compound. For even more shine, the floor can be polished with a fine-grit abrasive.
- In the case of plain concrete, for tough stains, chemicals or degreasers may be used to remove them. These should never be used for polished or stained concrete.
Design Options For Cement/Concrete Flooring
There are several design options for cement and concrete flooring. These are discussed below:
- Concrete flooring is available in a variety of colours. Usually, they are available in grey and earthy tones but different colour tones can be used by applying them to the surface with stains, dyes, and sealers.
- Concrete flooring can also be made to resemble the stains of marble, wood, brick, or stone. Stained concrete gives its users a wide choice of warm and earthy tones and designs.
- Polished concrete is also popular these days since its polished look can range from satin to high gloss. Through a multi-step process, various levels of shine and gloss can be achieved according to user preferences. This polished concrete floor can be available in any choice of colour.
- Concrete flooring is also available in a variety of textures and designs. Textures can help to replicate wooden, tiled, marble, or brick patterns. Stencils and engravings can also be used to incorporate logos and graphics into the floor.
- Concrete flooring also gives you the option of incorporating overlays and micro toppings to hide cracks, stains, and imperfections. Stampable overlays are also available which allow you to textured finishes, colours, and stains on the floor.
Cement screed or concrete flooring is a long-lasting and durable type of flooring that can last for years if properly maintained. It is a good choice to be used for bathrooms, kitchen, basement, and garage.
However, with a wide range of design options now available for concrete flooring, it can be used in living rooms and bedrooms.
Through its various colours and textures, concrete flooring can go quite well with any type of interior design.
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Cost of Other Home Improvement Areas
Flooring is an integral part of a home design, and should you have spare budget and would like some unique designs of your own, you can try speaking to a good reviewed interior design companies or renovation contractors for more designs ideas.
Some of the usual home improvement cost guides can be found below: