I think concrete floors are a really wonderful option for Phoenix homes. In fact, many of the mid-century modern homes built here had concrete floors. 3 Palms, our 1963 duplex is one of those. Underneath the peel-and-stick Vinyl Composite Tile that we removed, we discovered this beautiful integral-colored sepia concrete floor. Aesthetically, concrete floors are beautiful and they evoke a raw cool feel that’s appropriate for our hot desert climate. Here are three reasons to consider concrete floors:
- They keep your house cool during the summer. This passive cooling is invaluable for our Phoenix climate and is why it was so popular in the past. Concrete floors will actually reduce your cooling bills significantly in the summer.
- Concrete floors won’t off-gas toxic Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) like many other flooring materials do, like carpet and vinyl. VOCs will be emitted into your house from carpet pads, backing, the vinyl itself plus the adhesives used for these products. Worried about the VOCs from concrete sealers and stains? There are now low and no VOC concrete sealers and stains available.
- Concrete floors don’t retain and hide all the dust and dirt that accumulates over time like carpet does. This is great news for people with allergies or asthma. At 3 Palms, we have 3 cats and tufts of cat-hair show up everyday on the concrete floor. Although this can be unsightly, it makes you aware of the dust and dirt that’s in your house so you can take care of it as it occurs, unlike carpet which hides and collects it over time. The good news is that concrete floors are extremely easy to clean, much more so than carpet, vinyl, or even ceramic tiles! Just use a broom, a handi-vac and a swiffer mop and your dust and dirt problems will disappear. This is the reason that many restaurants, stores and hotels have concrete floors, they are durable and very easy to maintain.
Having lived with concrete floors I’ve found that there are some drawbacks too:
- For the same reason it cools the house down in the summer, it’s a cold floor to have in the winter. It does raise our heating bills in the winter, but since our biggest and most expensive interior conditioning challenge in Phoenix is cooling in the summer, the concrete floor still saves us money on our utility bills.
- It’s a terribly hard floor! It’s harder than even ceramic tiles. If you drop anything delicate on concrete and it WILL break. Plus it’s hard on your feet. You have to wear slippers around the house. Barefoot travel, even in the summer, is uncomfortable.
- You have to work harder to make your house feel warm and cozy. Concrete floors can make your house look cold and sterile. Adding area rugs and warm, textured materials on other surfaces of your home, such as wood and fabric, is a good way to mitigate the hard, cold look of concrete.
Despite these drawbacks, I do recommend concrete floors for your Phoenix home in the following cases: If you have just bought a mid-century modern home and it has exposed a concrete floor in good shape, don’t cover it up with carpet, tile or wood! Save yourself some money, leave it exposed and enjoy it. If you suspect your home has an integral-colored concrete floor but it’s covered with vinyl tile or carpet, it may be worth it to remove that flooring and expose the concrete. However, start in a closet and see what condition the concrete is in before committing to doing it throughout your house. If you have a ceramic tile floor or pre-70’s vinyl tile that has asbestos, I recommend other flooring options. Removing ceramic tile or asbestos vinyl tile can get costly and I would consider flooring options that can be installed on top of the existing floor instead. If you’re building a new home or are adding to your home, I recommend doing an integral-colored or a clear-sealed concrete floor. Pouring a concrete slab knowing it will be exposed gives the architect the luxury of designing a special and unique concrete mix that will look beautiful and last forever.Tags: carpet, concrete floors, desert-appropriate flooring, tile, vocs