Most homes in the South are built on a concrete slab as basements are not an option in high water-table areas. Several materials are available when choosing flooring that can be applied directly over the concrete. In the northern states, where concrete is used for flooring in the basement areas, different types of flooring must be carefully considered due to the possibility of high moisture levels. Concrete flooring in garages, patios and even balconies require specific flooring that will adhere to the concrete and be sustainable in damp or wet conditions. You have many choices of flooring that can be placed over concrete in any interior or exterior condition.
Engineered wood is real wood. The difference between a wood plank and an engineered wood plank is that the engineered piece is comprised of many levels of wood and plywood cross-laid and sealed together. The result is a hardy, tough plank that is resistant to high humidity and moist conditions. While a solid wood plank requires that a plywood subfloor be installed prior to laying the wood, engineered wood planks can be glued directly onto a concrete slab. Some types of engineered wood come with tongue and groove edges that can be slipped together. Engineered wood comes in a variety of wood types and finishes, and the sealant is factory applied prior to delivery.
Install cork flooring over concrete as long as the floor is level and clean. Cork has been used as flooring for centuries and was popularized by the architect Frank Lloyd Wright in his Pennsylvania homes. Cork is easy on the feet, which makes it ideal for kitchen areas. It is damp resistant and fairly easy to install by interlocking tiles or gluing down larger pieces. A plastic sheet should be placed between the cement floor and the cork prior to installation. Engineered panels of cork are now available for installation directly on top of concrete without nailing. Cork comes in a variety of colors and is resistant to mold and mildew and is flame retardant.
Consisting of a wood-fiber center, a laminate floor plank is topped with a paper coating and the combinations are then sealed. The wood-look that comprises the topcoat is actually a photograph of wood sealed onto the plank. The technology of laminate floors has improved over the years, and now manufacturers are offering distressed laminate that closely resembles actual wood. You get a distinct feel walking on laminate as opposed to engineered or wood floors, but as the manufacturing process improves, this distinction is becoming less. A foam underlay is placed over the concrete, and the planks are then clicked into place in a tongue and groove pattern.
The most frequently used material to lay over concrete is carpeting. Tack strips and padding must be laid over the concrete before the carpeting can be installed. The tack strips anchor the carpet and can be nailed directly into the concrete. When laying padding, connect the pieces using tape. Once the tack strips and padding are prepared, carpeting can be unrolled and installed.
Laying tile over concrete is more complicated than other installations as the concrete must be completely level and sealed with a concrete sealer prior to installation. Mortar, a trowel and grout are used in the installation of tiles, and the work is more difficult and time consuming than covering concrete with other fabrications.
Before covering the concrete floor in your home, you might want to use it as your main flooring. Today concrete is used for kitchen counters, bathroom vanities and as flooring in the primary rooms of a home. The concrete can be polished and then painted in any color pattern of your choice, and the result is a modern look that enhances any decor. Area rugs can be placed in specific areas directly over the concrete, creating multipurpose areas in any room.
Jann Seal is published in magazines throughout the country and is noted for her design and decor articles and celebrity *in-home* interviews. An English degree from the University of Maryland and extensive travels and relocations to other countries have added to her decorating insight.