Concrete has a bit of a reputation for being hard, cold, unyielding and unforgiving, with little or no stylistic potential above pure functional purpose. Due to this, it is often overlooked as a possibility for living room installations, since this is usually the environment that is most on display. There are actually numerous benefits to having a concrete living room floor, as well as a surprising number of design options.
The Concrete Convenience Factor for Living Room Floors
If your living room is located on the ground floor or lower, then chances are you already have a concrete surface resting directly beneath your current floor. This is actually part of the cement block that acts as the foundation of your home. It can also be the surface of a new, and exciting floor for this location.
Due to this, you don’t have to install anything in order to get a brand new floor for your home. All you’ll have to do is carefully pry up the existing floor surface, and then treat the concrete below in order to make it attractive, and impervious to moisture penetration.
Concrete In Social Spaces: A Style Guide
Bare concrete is gray and grainy; once you decide this is the material for you, there are numerous things that you can do to alter, change, shift, and morph its appearance until it becomes the ideal flooring choice for your social setting.
Concrete Paint: There is a variety of latex epoxy based paints that are available on the market, which let you take that bare concrete floor, and turn it into a canvas upon which you can express your full artistic desires. This allows you to paint the floor in solid colors, or create patterns of checkerboard contrast, or geometrically aligned shapes.
You can also go one step further and create intricate borders spanning the length of the walls, or take stencils and trace elaborate patterns into trails of form and beauty. You even have the option of combining these treatments in order to create a truly custom, and unique appeal.
The good thing about concrete paint is that it can always be painted over if you don’t like the colors or patterns that you chose. It can also create a waterproof seal over the surface of the floor. The drawback is that over time, it will tend to flake and chip, and will have to be stripped and reapplied periodically to keep it looking its best.
Acid Stained Concrete: This is a popular concrete flooring treatment, especially in living rooms and dens, as it can create a look that simulates the appearance of natural stone. It involves the application of hydrochloric acid to the surface of the material. This causes a chemical reaction, which results in unique features appearing in the concrete. These often resemble the random patterns found in naturally occurring floors.
Water Based Concrete Stains: These color additives make use of the porous nature of concrete, penetrating its surface in order to stain the material dimensionally using a precise chemical reaction. What results is a soft tinting effect that doesn’t cover up the natural features of the material, and allows it to breathe somewhat, so excess moisture can be released when necessary.
Additional Style Options With Concrete
Texture: If you are installing a new layer of concrete over an existing slab, then there are a number of textural options that you have. Before it sets, the concrete can be imprinted with grooves, patterns, or tiny dimensional divots in order to provide traction or tactile interest. You also have the option of embedding decorative pieces such as beads or glass shells into the floor to create unique effects.
Carpets and Rugs: Many people complain that concrete, even when styled, is still too harsh and hard for a social living room setting. This can be offset to some extent by the simple use of throw rugs and carpets. A few colorful, warm, and soft pieces placed in strategic locations can do a lot to soften some of the harsher effects of this flooring. Place them down the length of halls and in heavily trafficked areas to keep feet warm, or use them as a centerpiece to draw the eye towards the focal point of the room.
The Chill Of Concrete
One of the biggest drawbacks to using this material in the living room is the fact that it is going to be rather cold underfoot. That is because concrete is a great conductor of heat, so in the summer it can warm quickly, but in the winter that heat will flee, leaving your surfaces feeling cool and chilly.
The flip side to that is the fact that concrete is a great medium for radiant below floor heating systems. Since it readily picks up and transmits heat energy, the warmth will quickly spread up, and through the floor. This will not only instantly toast your toes, but can also help to heat the entire room in an efficient, ecologically friendly way.