The Benefits of Acid-Stained Concrete Flooring

Great Durability

Most traditional building materials are not very durable. However, acid-stained concrete floors are durable, and under all of this debris would, most likely, have survived this tornado in great shape.

One of the greatest features of acid-stained concrete flooring is its resistance to wear, tear and decay. Acid-stained concrete floors simply do not wear out.  On their surface, they have compressive strengths in excess of 4,500 pounds per square inch, so they are very much unlike traditional floor coverings, which may warp, buckle, tear, scratch, dent, loosen, flake, rot, and grow mold and mildew.  Acid stained concrete flooring is also inflammable, and their coloring and finish resists ultraviolet light. When installed properly, acid-stained concrete flooring does not chip, peel, discolor, stain, or fade, like more traditional concrete coatings.  What all of this means is that children, pets, guests and customers will have a very difficult time doing any damage at all to an acid-stained concrete floor.  As such, acid-stained concrete floors never have to be removed or replaced, and they hardly ever have to be refinished.

 

Elegance & Beauty

This elegant bathroom has a natural stone tile floor which can be perfectly imitated and re-produced by using acid staining coloring, and concrete sawing or stenciling, techniques.

With proper design and installation, it can be said that acid-stained concrete flooring exudes a beauty and elegance unsurpassed by almost all other floor coverings known to man. One of the main reasons for this is because concrete's receptivity to the coloring dynamic from acid stain makes it possible to produce near exact replicas of some of the most expensive building materials on earth, like  granite, marble, travertine, sandstone, flagstone, and various types of slate, as well as more common building materials, such as brick and cobblestone.  What's more, this replication can be done without all of the cutting, heavy lifting, and other intensive labor usually associated with such materials. Even a simple, single-color acid-stained concrete floor, without any additional design work can bring a unique style and confluence of tone and texture to a residential finished basement setting or commercial environment that will make it stand out from the ordinary and engender admiration on the part of guests or customers seeing it for the first time.  Incorporating an well-chosen Acid Stained Concrete Scoring Pattern only adds to this elegance and beauty.

 

Energy Savings

Montreux, Switzerland, on the scenic Lake Geneva, one of the most beautiful lakes in the entire world, is very inviting and inspiring, just like a beautiful acid-stained concrete floor, but unfortunately, it will not lead to any energy savings.  Photo courtesy of Marc Baertsch.

One great benefit of using acid-stained concrete flooring in a home or business is the resulting energy savings. This is due to a basic property of concrete called “thermal mass”, which means it has a high capacity to absorb, store, and slowly release heat and coolness. This "thermal mass" property of concrete serves greatly to moderate indoor temperature swings in rooms, reducing the load on heating, ventilating and air conditioning equipment. The benefits of thermal mass are greatest in northern, midwestern climates, like Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois, where outdoor temperature fluctuations are among the highest in the United States. The reason this property of concrete becomes so important is that floors are the second highest source of thermal mass in a building, accounting for approximately 35-50% of the total.

Energy savings from thermal mass, however, go unrealized if the concrete is unexposed. Carpeting, tile, and hardwood, for example, have very low degrees of thermal mass, and for the most part, reflect and dissipate warm heat and cool air. Acid-stained concrete flooring, on the other hand, uses thermal mass' full potential.  Monetary savings for acid-stained, and other types of decorative concrete flooring, are estimated at between 15% and 26% annually, depending on the amount of concrete flooring used in the building. With natural gas prices rising at approximately 10% annually since 2003, thermal mass can become a very real source of savings for businesses and households. Two ways of enhancing this savings even more are to use radiant heating in a concrete floor or to use decorative concrete overlays on wood sub-floors in your home.  This is because radiant heating systems heat objects in a room, such as furniture and persons, by emitting heat, rather than elevating air temperature; as a result, air temperatures may usually be set 7 or 8 degrees lower than normal.  Dual radiant systems are also available that provide cooling in addition to heating.
 

Light Maintenance

What could be easier than just wiping something up when it spills, leaving no stains, odors, or other adverse lasting effects?  Acid-stained concrete floors are as easy to clean as this countertop.

No floor is maintenance free, but some floors require less care than others. Carpeting requires frequent vacuuming and occasional shampooing; tile delaminates, can break upon impact and requires careful attention to accumulation of dirt and grime in grout lines; and hardwood and wood laminate require frequent mopping or waxing, and careful control of humidity and moisture levels. But acid-stained concrete flooring requires only light maintenance to maintain its initial appearance indefinitely. Light maintenance means sweeping, vacuuming, or dust mopping as necessary, and cleaning, repolishing, or buffing only periodically, depending on the amount of foot traffic and the floor's proximity to exterior entrances. Repolishing or buffing may sound labor intensive, but an average-sized acid stained concrete floor, of between 1,000 and 2,000 square feet, may be re-polished or buffed in approximately 10 to 15 minutes, with minimal effort. As such, average, annual maintenance costs of acid-stained concrete flooring are the very lowest in the floor covering industry:  estimated at only $.17 per square foot.  There are detailed, product-specific recommendations for the inexpensive maintenance of acid-stained concrete flooring on this page of our web site:

Care & Maintenance of Acid-Stained & Decorative Concrete Flooring
 

Optimal Indoor Air Quality

The air above and around an acid stained concrete floor may not be as crisp, refreshing, and clean as near this winding river, but it will be "optimal" in terms of the overall home's or building's environment.

Four of the primary sources of poor indoor air quality in a residence of building are: 1) allergens, such as dust mites, mold, and mildew; 2) retained moisture and dampness in architectural elements and furnishings; 3) residual odors, from smoke, personal care items, and cleaning agents; and 4) volatile organic compounds (VOC's) gradually and continuously emitted by inexpensive, artificial building materials.  All of these respiratory irritants are fostered by the use of carpeting, including the padding and adhesive, while moisture and VOC problems are also often commonly associated with wood and tile installations. But acid-stained concrete flooring is different in this respect:  it can be installed with little to no VOC's, and overall fosters optimal indoor air quality. This is because acid-stained flooring allows moisture to readily evaporate;  provides no place for dust mites to hide or mold or mildew to grow; cleans easily; and does not store odors. Furthermore, most good concrete sealers on today contain absolutely no harmful vapors, odors or residues. 

Lastly, as mentioned above, acid-stained concrete flooring and decorative concrete overlays may be installed using radiant heating beneath the surface, so as to provide a slow, steady, "clean" source of heat to a home or building.  This type of heating method stabilizes clean air environment fostered by acid stained concrete flooring, contrasting starkly with forced air heating  systems which circulate dirt, dust, pollen, odors, and germs every time the system is activated, and require the regular change of filters, and cleaning of ducts.
 

Unsurpassed Water Resistance

There probably isn’t anything as water-resistant as this cute, adorable and slightly "petulant" little pelican, but an acid-stained concrete floor comes very close.  (By the way, his name is "Rodney".)

Water is the most corrosive element in our world. There isn't anything that can resist its devastating, forceful effects. It causes iron to rust, wood and drywall to warp, bloat, cup and rot, and enables germs and bacteria to flourish and multiply. Not only that, but it causes floor coverings, like carpeting, to grow mold and mildew spores, tile to discolor and delaminate, and wood to buckle, crack and decay. However, acid-stained concrete flooring is another story entirely. When properly designed and installed, acid-stained concrete and decorative concrete overlays are almost completely unaffected by water. Moisture may, and does, pass through the concrete and sealer used in acid stained concrete flooring, but it once it dries out leaves no lingering effect.

This means that an acid-stained concrete floor is uniquely equipped to withstand the chronic dampness found in basements, as well as the periodic flooding that may comes from a severe summer thunderstorm.  In our experience of 17 years in the business, finished basement, acid-stained concrete floors require only basic mopping, and quick re-application of floor finish or wax after an unexpected flood.  Baseboard and drywall may have to be replaced, and walls re-painted, but acid stained concrete flooring needs absolutely no extensive repair or excessive attention.  In our experience, the use of stand-alone dehumidifiers, after a flood, can aid in the drying out of a sealed acid-stained concrete floor, if necessary.

Sustainability

Natural aggregates, such as sand, gravel, limestone, calcite, and crushed stone, make up a large part of concrete and are almost always mined from local quarries and deposits.

“Sustainability” is an important new term in the construction industry meaning a project is:  1) environmentally friendly to build; 2) results in operational cost savings over its entire life cycle; and 3) leaves a minimal “carbon footprint".  Sustainability is determined through several voluntary standards networks and certification systems, most notably LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), run by a Washington D.C.-based non-profit organization, called The U.S. Green Building Council.  The LEED system is used by project owners, architects, engineers, real estate owners, builders, and designers to certify that their projects – be they commercial, residential, or institutional; and new construction or renovation - are what is called “Green Buildings”.

Until relatively recently, the sustainability movement was largely a marketing ploy used by major U.S. building interests.  Nevertheless, this movement is now having a noticeable impact on building trends in the United States and Canada.  State, county and municipal governments are starting to adopt these voluntary standards into legalized formats and to use them as zoning requirements for large projects and for tax credits and other fiscal incentives.  The U.S. federal government has also begun funding LEED-based initiatives, and the USGBC and Portland Cement Association (PCA) petitioned for more funding as part of 2009 Economic Stimulus Plans.  These efforts were successful, and actual stimulus funding spent on Green Building projects jumped to $11 billion in 2010 from $1.5 billion in 2009.  Also in 2010, the U.S. General Services Administration mandated gold-level LEED certification for all new federal building construction and substantial renovation projects; and in December 2015, Congress allocated additional funding of almost $20 billion for Green Building initiatives at the U.S. Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency.

According to the USGBC, LEED initiatives, including legislation, executive orders, resolutions, ordinances, policies, and  incentives are now found in all 50 states, and LEED Green Building practices and initiatives in 155 countries worldwide.  Illinois has ranked first on USGBC's Top Ten States for LEED Green Building the past three years (2013-2015), with approximately 3.43 gross square feet per capita in 2015.  Michigan has yet to make the top ten list, and generally ranks about 17th, according to USGBC, although Detroit and Grand Rapids rank among the top 30 cities nationwide for LEED Green Building, with Grand Rapids at or near the top of the list every year for the past six years among mid-size U.S. cities.

There are various ways for a project to qualify as a “Green Building”, but the use of concrete, and specifically, acid-stained concrete flooring, one of the best ways possible.  This is because concrete as a building material is energy efficient to produce, made from local materials that require little to no transportation, and uses recycled or waste products that are readily available.  Concrete is now, actually, the second most widely used material in the world, after water.  Acid-stained concrete as a flooring system also contributes in ways that other flooring materials do not:  it produces little construction waste; emits little to no VOC’s, never needs replacement, has reduced costs of operation (e.g., lighting, HVAC, and maintenance),promotes optimal indoor air quality, and is ultraviolet light-resistant and inflammable.  Most of our customers will never need or require LEED, or another “Green Building” certification, for their home or place of business, but it is a sure way to attract positive press and public attention.

To read more about decorative concrete and LEED Green Building, please see this article:

Chalk up Green Points with Decorative Concrete

Feng Shui

 

Floor plan analysis is an important element of Feng Shui interior design consulting.  A template or diagram called a "Bagua" is overlaid on the floor plan to help determine energy relationships in the living or working space.  Photo courtesy of:  Feng Shui for Us.

Feng Shui is an ancient Chinese art form focused on improving all aspects of one’s life, including health, happiness, prosperity, social status, and personal relationships through the enhancement of one’s living and working environments.  It is similar to acupuncture in that it holds that all buildings - as opposed to “persons” in the art of acupuncture - have a positive energy or “Chi” flowing through them and that obstacles to this Chi energy translate to difficulties in the financial, creative, and personal realms of one’s life and career.  On a practical level, Feng Shui maximizes a building’s Chi energy by:  1) creating harmony between architectural and interior design;  2) using the five basic elements of nature, which are water, wood, fire, earth, and metallic alloy; and 3) arranging and positioning furniture and small objects to let this Chi energy flow better.

Under Feng Shui, each of the earth elements have their own Chi energy and benefits.  Concrete is the most important “Earth” element known to man Its use in a home or place of business brings positive Chi energy in several ways:  1) grounding and stability; 2) peace, safety, and security; 3) family happiness and joy; 4) self-confidence, kindness, and personal generosity in relationships; and 5) good health.  The use of concrete may then be enhanced through the use of earth tone colors (yellows, oranges, browns, greens) and earthen shapes (rectangles, squares, horizontal & vertical lines).  So in Feng Shui thinking, acid-stained concrete flooring incorporates Chi energy in a major way.  Not only are decorative concrete floors based on the earth element of "concrete", but they incorporate the earth tone "coloring" of acid stains, and the earthen "shapes" of saw-cut squares, rectangular tiles or linear borders (seen in these Acid Stained Concrete Scoring Patterns).  At the same time, the smoothness of concrete flooring, its ability to be easily cleaned and maintained, and the fluidic, confluent, marbling effect of acid stain work to prevent what is referred to as “stagnated Chi energy" from accumulating in living or workings space, and blocking positive Chi energy.

Feng Shui has grown greatly in popularity in the Western hemisphere over the last 33 years, and its principles have become mainstream in U.S. architectural and interior design circles, and the world of corporate consulting.  You may call it "Chi energy" or simply "great ambience":  regardless, acid-stained concrete flooring provides a terrific foundation, and sense of security, to a room that cannot help but be impressed upon the senses of its occupants, guests, visitors, or customers.