Alternative concrete floor finishes for your home

Wednesday September 23 2020
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Whether its a heavy color or just cream, they speak class.

By Desire Mbabaali

Walking into Grace’s home will have you agree that less is more. One is welcomed by the wide glass door and from the threshold, the flawlessly polished floor stands out.
With a pale grey with an almost invisible shade of white, the floor commands a look of simplicity and neatness at the same time. With only a few pieces of furniture thoughtfully placed in her sitting room and bare white walls, the elegant floor is given the attention it deserves and thus responds by highlighting the room before it disappears into the rest of the house.   

Grace chose the floor finishing because it speaks class.
“At first, I thought I might have to use tiles, but I have never liked the joints that mark tiled floors. I thought about using the normal cement but that also did not cut it. I wanted a floor that looked solid but with a smooth polished finish, though I didn’t even know where I could get it,” she explains. 
Grace used CreteCote, (a cement-based floor product) with a shiny finish in her house. In addition to the beautiful finish it gives, she describes the product as easy to clean and maintain, solid, yet giving a smooth feeling to the floor.
Micheal Mbonye a civil engineer at Concrete Flooring Systems explores some of the options available. 

Is a South African product by Cemcrete that is applied to a finished concrete floor. It comes with a solution (prima) that is applied with a sponge to the finished concrete. It also has two layers: one that is applied 8-12 hours after the first application. After 24 hours, a second layer is applied and left to dry for 48hours and later sealed with a floor protector. 
Mbonye shares that this works best for residential areas, hotels among others. It can only be used on the floor and is recommended for use inside the house, each square metre costs Shs150,000.

This Italian product is applied to a finished concrete surface. This has four layers.
A prima and the first layer applied 6-8 hours later. It is left to dry for 12-24hours. Another layer is applied and left for 24 hours and a final one left to dry for 48 hours before a floor protecting seal is put to protect the floor from scratches and water.  
It can be used on walls, floors, ceilings and can be applied from top to bottom. 
It is recommended for business premises, especially on walls and ceilings and is also good for bathrooms.
Each square metre costs Shs350,000.

Acid Stain
Acid stain is applied to the concrete after it has been polished to a smooth finish. The acid is then poured onto the floor to stain the concrete to the desired colour. After 48 hours, it is cleaned and a floor seal put. 
This is an easy product to install and can be used in places like hotels, residential and commercial premises.
It is not slippery and is ideal for someone who would like to give their floor a fresh look. Each square metre costs Shs195,000.

Color Hardener
This comes in powder form and is applied to fresh concrete. It is ideal for external floors, though it works indoors as well. This requires a fresh plaster (screed) on which it is sprinkled and later smoothened. The process is repeated until the desired colour is achieved. After three days, it can be sealed with a floor sealer.  


Rasico is also an Italian product largely applied on external floor surfaces. 
This has a rough texture and is applied like plaster (screed) and sealed after 24 hours. This is ideal for places like the poolside area, the driveway or any room where one might need a screed.
It is non-slippery because it has a rough finish. This also makes it unsuitable for indoor use, especially where a smooth finish is usually preferred. Each square metre Shs280,000.

Issues to consider
Edith Kawala, an interior decorator shares that one ought to, for example, consider the functionality of the area before deciding on a product to use. “Some products don’t work well with busy floors, some require careful handling and you cannot, for example, use it in a busy business area. On the other hand, some rooms like the sitting room may need to be highlighted, so one can choose a product that gives them the desired look,” she explains. 

Your budget will also affect the choice of product to use, so a high-cost product can be substituted with a less expensive one.
“Look also at the range of colours that are available and choose a colour that works with your desired look, or one that will bake into your existing surroundings in the case of renovations,” Kawala advises. 
Additionally, the application time also matters. This is true for products that require more time to install and don’t need to be rushed, like others, depending on the time one has.  
Why concrete finishes
Alex has a concrete floor finish and he shares that, “Concrete finishes are great for bringing out style, class, the natural strength of concrete yet giving a natural finish. They are eco-friendly too and modern.” 
He adds that there are also a variety of products that give different finishes and in different colours so the customer’s options are endless.
“The products are, however, not as popular, and so, not everyone can install them. It is therefore important to use experienced, skilled and technical people to install it for you,” he warns.

Expert voice
Lynda Mutesi Arinaitwe, a graduate architect who specialised in interior design and detailing at Nkorera Design Studio also shares that concrete floor finishes have been around for a long time, but the polished floor finishes are quite new in Uganda. 
“It is a new concept we are coming to learn about. I have seen the products and the finish they give and so, we are only getting Ugandans to look away from the traditional floor finishes,” she says adding that she would recommend these polished concrete floor finishes to someone who wants to achieve an industrial design, farmhouse design or where one wants to get a simple objective look (minimalist design). 

She commends these floor finishes to be durable. “It is, however, not a cheap option for sure, but it is cheaper than porcelain tiles or marble but at the end of the day, one gets the value for their money because they have no issues of fading colours, and one can have a seamless floor with just one finish running across the floor or from the ceiling, walls to the floor. They also have outdoor solutions for finishes that can be used in spaces like the parking lot,” Mutesi notes.