Concrete Foundations as the Finished Floor
This article first appeared in the Austin American Statesman.

Greenbuilder logo

Concrete Foundations that Double as the Finished Floor

by Jill Mayfield, City of Austin Green Building Program

Not too long ago about the only place you saw a concrete floor was in a warehouse or industrial setting-not anymore. Concrete slab foundations finished as floors are becoming more common place in residential and in all types of commercial construction.

Gray concrete not your style? Today, finished concrete floors can be stamped to look like stone, tile or brick. They can be scored in a variety of geometric patterns. And, they can be just about any color or combination of color you desire. Color can be added at several different points in the process. Dye can be added to the concrete mix at the plant; it can be added to the surface and mixed in to the top layer of concrete while it is still soft; or it can be added at the end of the process through painting or acid etching.

If you suffer from allergies or asthma and are planning to build a new home, consider finished concrete floors. Carpets hold dust, dust mites, mold, and other allergens. Additionally, carpets and vinyl may be installed with glues and adhesives that give off irritating fumes. Cleaning a concrete floor is also very easy- it requires no harsh chemicals, only a broom and wet mop.

Because your foundation is in direct contact with the earth (which is an average temperature of 68 degrees in Central Texas), it can help the energy performance of your home. If you are worried about a concrete floor being cooler in the winter, place rugs in desired areas. While if may feel colder, its constant temperature helps in both heating and cooling your home.

If you are concerned about the hardness of a concrete floor, remember that tile is just as hard and that other types of flooring are applied directly to the foundation. Well-placed throw rugs in areas where you stand a lot will provide an adequate cushion.

The cost of a finished concrete floor can vary greatly. It depends on the types of patterns you include and how the color is applied. While you may pay more up front, this type of floor is so durable-unlike carpet and vinyl flooring-you will never need to replace it.

Several homes in the 1996 Parade of Homes had finished concrete floors, and some homes in the 1997 Parade of Homes in the Uplands this summer will also have them. If you haven't seen a finished concrete floor yet, this will be a good opportunity for you to see just how beautiful they can be.

If you are interested in this type of flooring, talk with your builder, or call the City of Austin Green Builder Program for more information.

The City of Austin Green Builder Program is a voluntary home-rating system that encourages energy-efficient and environmentally sound building, remodeling, and home maintenance. For more information, call 499-7827.

You can find more information including the Sustainable Building Sourcebook compiled by the City of Austin's Green Builder Program at the Sustainable Sources website.

copyleft 1997: You are encouraged to copy and redistribute this article provided that you acknowledge the City of Austin's Green Builder Program as the source. Please attach this statement.

Return to:

Sustainable Sources | Building Sources | Articles: Sustainable Building and Beyond

Webmaster: Bill Christensen