Concrete is one of the most common building materials in the country, and for good reason. It is inexpensive, extremely tough and durable, and it can be poured as a liquid, making it very versatile and convenient. Unfortunately, concrete is also one of the least interesting building materials when it comes to appearances. When compared to materials like granite or marble, untreated concrete seems pretty flat. There is hope, however, for those who want the performance and convenience of concrete as well as a bit of color; in San Francisco, concrete staining is one of the surest ways to change walkways, garage floors, and many other concrete installations into something worth looking at!
San Francisco Concrete Staining Basics
For homeowners in San Francisco, concrete stain is an option worth considering for those who are tired of the dull gray that's so common in certain areas of the home. Some concrete stains work in much the same way as wood stain, seeping into the porous surface of the concrete and dying the top a different color. High end concrete stain, unlike paint which merely covers the surface, actually alters the color of a slab chemically. When added by a professional to freshly poured concrete, this type of stain creates a permanent pigment which goes beneath the surface; under normal conditions it will not chip away or require any additional stain to maintain its appearance. In many cases, stained concrete is ground smooth then polished and sealed to create a glossy, beautiful surface that is extremely tough (this technique is often used when creating concrete countertops).
For most homeowners in San Francisco, concrete stain is the perfect solution for dull pathways, patios, or laundry room floors. This is not generally considered a do-it-yourself project, however, as properly applying concrete stain is tricky business, even for professionals. The results can be unpredictable (especially when dealing with concrete that's been around for a while), and it will take a skilled hand and a good knowledge of technique to do the job right.
Good Candidates for Concrete Stain in San Francisco
Not every piece concrete will take well to concrete stain. San Francisco homeowners who are looking to change the appearance of old, battered, or severely weathered concrete might have to consider another option. Staining concrete, even when done carefully by an experienced professional, is still a less than exact science. While a contractor who knows what he or she is doing will be able to predict things like overall color, the various concentrations of the different materials that make up concrete will create slight variations from one area of a slab to the next. Though this generally gives the concrete character and a one-of-a-kind look, with old concrete, the results are sometimes unpredictable enough that it is not worth the risk.
San Francisco Concrete Staining: Alternatives
The most obvious alternative to concrete stain is, of course, painting your concrete. As anyone who's done it before will tell you, however, this is a process that can have less than fantastic results. If the concrete isn't properly cleaned and prepared, if the space is subject to a lot of foot traffic, or if you use the wrong paint for the job, you're likely to see your paint begin to chip away pretty quickly. This not only looks bad, but will also cost you unnecessary materials and labor.
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One better alternative to concrete staining in San Francisco is epoxy coating. Once again, this is not a DIY job and will require the experience and technique of a knowledgeable contractor to do it right. Epoxy coating looks a lot like a thick paint when it is applied, but once it is finished, you'll be left with a surface that is far more durable, and in many cases much more attractive, too!
Concrete Flooring: San Francisco's Attractive New Option
For decades, basements, laundry rooms, and garages have been the prime locations for concrete flooring. San Francisco is a progressive place, however, and there's no surprise that the Bay Area has found plenty of other locations for this durable material to strut its stuff. Kitchens, bathrooms, living rooms, and even bedrooms in the city by the bay are now becoming popular areas to install concrete flooring. San Francisco's high property values are a perfect backdrop for concrete floors, as they not only look good, but can keep up their appearance (with very little maintenance) for an extremely long time. A concrete floor installed today can last a lifetime or two; that kind of durability makes concrete flooring a shoe-in for apartments, houses, and condos in any neighborhood.
In San Francisco, concrete flooring is more desirable than many of its competitors for several reasons. When compared to marble or other natural stone, the price of concrete flooring is a big selling point. Additionally, because it is poured in place rather than transported in slabs, concrete flooring installation is better suited to the city's more difficult to access upper stories than natural stone. When compared to hardwood, ease of maintenance is an enticing aspect of concrete flooring. San Francisco is not known for being anti-social, and the constant foot traffic that can cause traditional hardwood to age well before its time will have little effect on concrete.
Despite its many benefits, concrete floors are not appropriate for every scenario. Though it's easy to clean and maintain, households with small children might think twice before installing this material. It's true that the spills and messes kids create might be easy to wipe away from a polished concrete surface, but the slips and falls of early childhood might leave more severe bumps and bruises when they occur on concrete flooring.