14. What Affects the Cost of Concrete Floors?
There are a number of factors that can greatly increase or reduce the cost of a decorative concrete floor. Some you can control, such as the complexity of the project, and others you can’t, such as the floor size and existing condition. Here are some issues that can have a big impact on what you’ll pay:
Size of the Floor - Typically, the larger the floor area, the lower the cost per square foot. For example, the square-foot price for a small residential floor is likely to be higher than the square-foot price for a large commercial floor, simply due to what could be compared to a bulk discount.
● Shape of the Floor - Additional charges will be incurred for surface areas that have angles or curves, multiple doorways that need cut-outs, stairs, cabinets or obstacles to work around, etc.
● Material Requirements - Using multiple colors of stain or dye on your floor will not only increase your material costs, but also the labor costs for installation, as contractors must spend time blending colors or applying them separately. Specialty epoxies or metallic coatings also add to material costs as well as labor.
● Design Complexity - The more complex your project, the higher the costs for both materials and labor. Customized elements like embedded objects, decorative saw cuts, stenciled designs, and the installation of metal divider strips may increase the total cost for both materials and labor substantially - but the results will look amazing!
● Polishing - The amount of polishing it will take to achieve your desired finish can be a large factor in cost for polished floors as this equates to time and labor.
● Current Condition of the Floor - Existing concrete floors that are cracked or damaged will require patching or surface preparation to be done before decorative finishes can be applied. Surface preparation such as cleaning, grinding, removing adhesives or stains, and crack or spall repair can add as much as $2 per square foot to the overall cost of the floor. If a full resurfacing is needed on top or repairs, expect to tack on another $2 to $3 per square foot, for a total $4 to $5 per square foot increase.
● Floors on Grade vs. Above-Grade Installations - Decorative concrete floors that are installed on raised decks or subfloors will need a cement underlayment installed before the finished floor can be applied. Typically installers put down a series of products including waterproofing and metal lathe, before applying a concrete overlay and the final decorative color, finish and sealing coats. These applications can add another $2 to $3 per square foot to the cost of the floor.
● Moisture-Vapor Transmission - Some floors have a high level of moisture-vapor transmission that will need to be remedied before most decorative coatings, overlays or sealers can be applied. This is usually not an issue with stained or polished concrete floors, although it can affect the color. Learn more about problems caused by excess moisture-vapor transmission.
When comparing the various flooring options, it’s important to consider costs and maintenance over the lifetime of the floor and not just the initial price tag. Due to concrete’s durability, longevity and low maintenance needs, many flooring options that may be initially cheaper to install will actually end up being more expensive in the long run - requiring extensive routine maintenance, refinishing or replacement.
Another consideration is an increase in resale value that concrete flooring provides. If you are planning on selling your home in the future, you have no idea what the future owners will want for flooring. If you’ve installed carpet and they want hardwoods, they’ll have to consider the cost and time to remove and dispose of the carpet and may ask for a decrease in the purchase price to do so. With existing decorative concrete floors, new owners can install wood, carpet, tile or any other flooring right on top without losing time and money removing existing flooring.