Where (and where not) to use concrete in the home

Concrete screed flooring
(Interior design by Architology)

Often seen on the flooring of industrial buildings, the concrete screed finish is typically rough, raw and grey. It's relatively cheap to install, maintenance is minimal, and it gives a contemporary feel to a home. Almost synomynous with cafes and stylish lofts, most people think that you can finish any surface of your home with concrete screed — floors, walls, kitchen countertops and bathrooms. However, this might not be the case.

DO: Walls.
Bu Shukun of design firm, Architology says: “There is less contact on walls compared to countertops and floors. The (concrete screed) layer is really just a decorative finish, thus it doesn’t affect acoustic values.” If you’re not a fan of the cold grey hue, Shukun advises to “use warm lighting to tone down the coldness of the concrete wall, so it won’t appear like a sterile space.” Do note that concrete screed walls do not evoke a warm, cosy feeling that spaces like bedrooms require.

DON’T: Countertops.
Considering how susceptible concrete screed finishes are to cracks, it would not be hygienic to use it on your kitchen worktop or dining surface as food particles may get stuck in the cracks.

MAYBE: Bathroom floors and walls.
Wet concrete is usually slippery, and the material is porous and will absorb standing water. If you insist on a concrete screed bathroom, Shukun says, “Apply proper finishing coats of either oil- or waterbased sealers that serve to coat and protect the concrete finish from getting stained and prevent water penetration. Due care has to be taken with daily use to prevent hard knocks or scratches, though, as the concrete layer is not as hardy compared to other materials.”

There are alternatives to the actual concrete screed finish. Homogenous tiles and high-pressure laminates (HPL) in the market now come in textures and shades that resemble the concrete screed finish. Also, self-leveling epoxy or Pandomo flooring (a trademark flooring by Ardex) maintains the concrete screed look but it provides a smoother finish. 

For more inspiration on concrete screed flooring and surfaces, read our post on Concrete Screed & The Look-alikes or browse our gallery of homes.