Cement flooring and cement tiles are among the hottest trends in home design right now. While we are used to seeing concrete slabs outside the home – in the garage, driveway, patio, sidewalk, or pool surround – this versatile and tough material has now found its way indoors where it is polished, etched, or stained for a gorgeous effect.
Much like ceramic tiles, concrete or cement tiles are aesthetically pleasing and available in endless design options, textures, colors, and styles.
Why We Love Concrete Indoors
Concrete is famously tough. What other material can stand up to all sorts of weather conditions for literally decades with little to no maintenance? That toughness is just as useful inside the home as out. A material that can withstand pressure from trucks and forklifts will have no trouble shrugging off furniture legs, high heels, and pets. If you drop something, you’re more likely to damage the item that fell than the floor.
It’s also incredibly easy to maintain. Indoor applications are best protected with sealing or waxing every few months, but once that is done, you can safely clean the floor with gentle cleansers. When properly cared for, concrete flooring can last indefinitely, and since most flooring is installed over concrete subfloors anyway, if you want to change your flooring down the road, chances are you can just go right over the existing concrete flooring. No need to have it removed beforehand!
Concrete and Cement Tile Design Ideas
Concrete flooring can be installed as a slab, complete with color and texture. We see this a lot in basements, garages, and man caves. Newer options include cement tiles, which look and feel very much like ceramic or porcelain tiles and come in the same types of styles and designs. It looks equally at home in a chic, industrial loft as it does in a suburban home. Here are some ways to use concrete flooring and cement tiles in your home:
- The Concrete Floor. The quintessential concrete floor is the open plan urban loft. This features a large expanse of concrete that works well with sun-drenched rooms, brick walls, stainless appliances, and exposed beams. These floors can be the traditional grey concrete or tinted, flat or textured, matte or glossy.
- A Concrete Wall. Floor tiles can often be used on the wall. We’ve seen this with porcelain, ceramic, and stone, and now we are seeing it with cement. Cement tiles are a terrific way to create a statement or accent wall because they can add texture, color, and design, even in the smallest and most awkward of spots.
- The Shower. Again, just as other types of tile and stone are being used in the shower, so can concrete. They can be used, somewhat predictably, on the floor or in the shower to provide a durable, yet attractive, surround.
- The Kitchen. Kitchen countertops, islands, and backsplashes are perfect places to incorporate concrete into your design. Use it either as a countertop, to add a pop of style to the island base, or as a stylish, easy-care backsplash. It’s a very modern look.
According to interior designer Sabrina Soto, “The underside of kitchen islands tend to get overlooked. However, I think it’s the perfect place to make a bit of a statement without overpowering the entire kitchen. Since it’s a small space and only visible from one side don’t be afraid to go all in with the most colorful and intricately patterned cement tile!”
- The Fireplace. Cement-tiled fireplaces are attractive and durable. Geometric patterns and simple, bold colors make a statement and can be used to update an older fireplace with a more modern look.
- Shelves and Tabletops. Concrete shelves are very popular in kitchens, but there’s no reason that design idea can’t be used in other rooms of the house. Line existing bookshelves with cement tile for an easy upgrade or top an old table with concrete tiles for an eclectic, low-cost facelift!
- The Staircase. Tiles have been used in Spanish-style homes for generations. Today’s generation can say goodbye to glass or terra cotta tiles and opt for concrete instead. They are particularly striking when installed on the staircase risers or the vertical part of each step.
The best thing about cement tiles is that they are tiles. That means, you can experiment with cement in as large (or small!) a space as you’d like. There is no need to cover an entire floor in cement if you’re unsure about the material.
Designer Emily Henderson has this advice for getting started with concrete and cement tiles:
“There are so many patterns out there now that work with almost every style, but my rule is to keep the tile reminiscent of the style of the house that it is in as that will give the tile longevity in style and design. That means don’t put something super graphic and modern in an antique craftsman.”
What do you think about cement and concrete in the home? Is this material something you would consider or have tried in your home?
Sarah Kinbar is a writer and editor with a passion for design and images. She was the editor of Garden Design magazine, curating coverage of residential gardens around the globe. As the editor of American Photo, Kinbar worked with photographers of every genre to create a magazine that told the story of the photographer’s journey.
She has been writing about architecture, landscape design and new-home construction for NewHomeSource since 2012. During that time, she founded Kinship Design Marketing, a boutique agency that provides content for website redesigns, blogs, inbound marketing campaigns and eNewsletters.