PATH - A Public Private Partnership for Advancing Housing Technology

PATH Case Study

Builder Finds Niche with Concrete Floor Finishes


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"For some homebuyers, the hardest thing to decide might be the style and look they want. There are a lot of options out there."


Herrell estimates that an entire concrete floor package would add $12,000 to $15,000 to a $225,000 home at Northpoint Grand.

[IMAGE: After having decorative concrete installed in his personal residence, builder Sammy Herrell wanted to demonstrate the attractive and durable finish to homebuyers in his Northpoint Grand development.] While the work came at a big discount for Herrell this time, there's plenty of room for builder profit at those prices in other homes as well. Costs range from as little as $5 per square foot for basic tints to $40 per square foot for the detailed Modello stencil in the foyer area. However, Harris says most decorative concrete costs $6 to $10 per square foot, depending on the system you choose.

For this first project, the decorative work did impact Herrell's construction timeline. In this case, he had to keep other subs off the floor for two days until Harris could complete his work, but Herrell says he can correct these minor delays as he gains experience with installation and managing subcontractors.

"I suspect I will be able to trim the time down quite a bit and be pretty close to what it takes for other floors."


Concrete can be treated with stains or colorants to create a rich variety of hues and textures, or stamped with patterns to mimic natural surfaces from marble to wood planks. Clients can also choose elaborate combinations of stamps and coloring. Subcontractors can work with existing concrete or newly poured slabs.

When pouring new concrete, you can add colorant during the mixing process, which will provide consistent and uniform tinting. There are also plenty of options for using color hardeners on pre-poured and existing concrete.

At Northpoint Grand, the slab was already poured and set when Bob Harris of the Decorative Concrete Institute went to work.

"We used five different types of cement-based toppings throughout the interior and exterior surfaces," Harris says. "Many coloring methods were used, including integral color, stains, dyes, and tints."

However, the more complicated the design, the more difficult it may be to find a qualified subcontractor.

"On the lower-end application, such as a spray overlay system, builders in many markets have resources to draw from," Harris says. "But on the higher-end applications, it may be more difficult to source qualified contractors because of the skill level required. Decorative applications are often competing against mid- to high-range products like granite, hardwood floors, or marble. It takes a special contractor to either mimic or compete against high-end natural materials."

Find qualified contractors online at PATHnet or the Concrete Network.


Read four PATH Field Evaluations:


This project included the following PATH-profiled technologies:

[IMAGE: The detailed Modello stencil in the foyer has an immediate impact on homebuyers.] "In the end, I may not use decorative concrete throughout every house I build, like I have here, but I plan to offer it in individual rooms, such as the foyer or the dining room, as an option. Obviously, there are a lot of homes on the market, and it's quite competitive. If you can find a niche that nobody else is doing--something that is attractive to purchasers and can make the sale--then it has the potential to be a great benefit."

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Content updated on 9/25/2006

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