Concrete, you either love it or hate it. And in the last five years, the industrial look and modern aesthetic have been a favorite choice when it comes to design, from homes to businesses. Concrete is a popular material for flooring and countertops. In fact, Global Market Insights predicts that the decorative concrete market can reach a staggering $1.7 billion (USD) in 2026 with a 6% compound annual growth rate (CAGR).
Though it seems like a recent trend, concrete has actually been used for construction and design purposes for centuries. It is a sturdy, reliable material that can be molded into any shape or color.
Nonetheless, we all know that concrete floors can be quite tricky to install. You might want something simple and classic, or you could also opt for a more decorative and unique pattern. The challenge with concrete is that it can be quite unforgiving; once it's installed, it's there to stay. You can't exactly change your mind after that.
That's where stained concrete and sealed concrete floors come in. With so many different finishes to choose from, it can be a little difficult for the average residential customers and property owners to go without any prior knowledge.
In this article, we'll take a look at the pros and cons of both polished concrete and sealed finished floors to help you make a more informed decision.
The Basics of Concrete Floors
Concrete is a popular alternative to linoleum, carpet, and wood flooring, and for good reason. It is a hard, durable material that is moisture resistant and easy to clean. It is also relatively inexpensive when compared to other flooring options. And of course, a concrete surface is also a great choice for walls or even ceilings.
It can be stained in almost any color with the addition of resurfacing options for different textures or finishes in order to make it more decorative. It can also be sealed with a glossy or matte finish, which will protect it from staining and fading.
In addition, concrete's durability means that you won't need as much maintenance work on your part either. You won't have to worry about refinishing every few years or replacing your flooring when it starts to look old and tired.
Polished Concrete Floors
Polished concrete floors are a popular option for those who want a high-end look for their flooring. A polished concrete floor has a shiny, reflective finish that can make a room look larger and more inviting. It is also extremely durable and easy to clean.
The Pros and Cons of Concrete Floors
Concrete floors or surfaces like any of the other choices out there in the market have their pros and cons. Here are some of the most noteworthy that you should be aware of:
Minimal Maintenance - The overall aesthetic of concrete is its unfinished yet finished look, so you won't have to worry about yearly upkeep and refinishing as you would with hardwood floors. Moreover, concrete is a versatile material that can be sealed and stained in different colors to give it a more personalized look.
Durable - Concrete is a very tough material that can last for years with little wear and tear. It is also resistant to moisture and easy to clean, making it a great choice for high-traffic areas.
Budget-friendly - Concrete is a very economical choice because of its components, water, and aggregates (sand, rocks, cement), and because of this, it is cheaper compared to other choices out in the market.
Resealing - Unlike other prefabricated material choices, concrete floors do need to be resealed once in a while in order to preserve them further, which calls for you to look for a concrete sealer.
Repairing can be difficult - Concrete floors may be low maintenance, but in the event that there is a crack or an area that needs to be patched because of extraneous factors, it can be difficult to do so. Also, depending on the damage, it may require the expertise of a flooring contractor.
Safety and comfort - Concrete floors tend to be dangerous when wet. At the same time, you might need to place rugs in the area for added comfort or to avoid contact with a cold concrete slab. However, it is still possible to lay out floor heating with concrete, although it will call for extra work and insulation.
All things considered, concrete floors can be a great option for those looking for durability, low maintenance, and a unique look. You just have to understand which concrete features are best suited for your needs.
Sealed Concrete vs. Stained Concrete Floors
When it comes to concrete flooring, there are two main finishing options: sealing and staining. Both of these techniques have their own set of pros and cons, so how do you know which one is right for you?
Sealed Concrete Floors
Sealing concrete is a process that involves applying a protective sealant to the surface of the concrete. This sealant will help to protect the concrete from staining and fading, as well as from moisture damage.
Sealed concrete floors are a popular option because they are easy to maintain and less expensive than polished concrete floors. A sealed concrete floor has a matte finish and can be left unsealed, stained, or sealed with a gloss finish.
There are many different types and brands of sealed concrete, but they all have one thing in common: an acrylic sealer.
Pros of Sealed Concrete
If you choose sealed concrete, you will get:
Easy to clean and resistant to moisture
Less expensive than polished concrete
Chemical and stain-resistant
Quick installation time
Scratch-free (with the right epoxy and urethane sealers)
Cons of Sealed Concrete
As much as we love a seamless floor with a sealed concrete surface, it does have a few downfalls that should be noted.
If you choose sealed concrete, you may experience:
Sticky or tacky floors
Sealed floors do not have the same shine as polished concrete and it can be susceptible to fading
Requires resealing every few years
May require a professional to install
If you'd like to seal floors, you should use an acrylic sealer. Acrylic sealers are available in a variety of sheens, including matte, satin, semi-gloss, and gloss.
In essence, a sealed finished floor is ideal for homes with children and pets, garages, basements, laundries, and anywhere you want a low-maintenance floor.
Benefits of Using High-Performance Sealers
Sealers are a great way to protect your concrete from water damage. Acrylic sealants form an invisible protective film on top of the sealed concrete surface that helps prevent stains, moisture intrusion, dirt particles, and other contaminants from entering the concrete.
Sealers also help keep your concrete looking new by slowing down the natural aging process. They usually have a glossy finish that can be polished to a high sheen.
Sealers are easy to apply and usually only require one coat. They are also relatively inexpensive, making them a great option for budget-conscious homeowners.
Stained Concrete Floors
A stained concrete floor is a great way to add color and texture to your home. There are many different ways to stain a concrete floor, including acid staining, concrete dying, and concrete staining.
There are also many different types of stains available, including:
The consistency of stained concrete is something that makes it so popular. The earth tones from these stains can be achieved to emulate marble, wood, or brick with just a few added ingredients. Acid-based colors will impart more natural appearances while water-based formulas offer even greater color options for those who want to stray from the traditional options.
Pros of Stained Concrete
Should you choose stained concrete, you will get:
A unique look that can't be replicated with other flooring types
Many different colors and textures to choose from
Easy to maintain
Can be sealed to increase durability
Can be combined with other concrete floor finishing
Cons of Stained Concrete
In contrast, stained concrete does come with a few cons that you should consider:
Susceptible to moisture damage if not sealed and protected properly
Paint-based stains can peel and chip over time
No impact on durability and performance
As with any flooring surface, it is important to keep in mind that stained concrete is not indestructible. It can be damaged by water, heat, and other elements if not properly sealed and protected.
If you're looking for a unique flooring option that is economical and easy to maintain, stained concrete may be the perfect choice for you. Just be sure to choose a stain that is resistant to moisture and fading, and seal it periodically to protect it from damage
Ideal Spaces For Concrete Polishing and Sealing
Concrete floors are a great choice for property owners who are looking for a low-maintenance flooring surface such as:
Chemical storage areas
The Final Verdict: Sealed or Stained?
A completely smooth concrete surface is all the rage nowadays with residential spaces and even commercial boutique hotels that are looking for a cost-effective option with a consistent appearance and feel.
So, which is the better option: sealed or stained concrete?
Sealed concrete is a great way to protect your floor from water and other contaminants while still providing that polished look. However, if you're looking for a more textured appearance or want to add some color to your space, stained concrete may be a better option for you. Just be sure to seal it regularly and protect it from moisture. But ultimately, it depends on your needs and preferences.
Whether sealed or stained, concrete is a great flooring option for any home. It's durable, easy to maintain, and economical. So, whichever route you choose, you can't go wrong!