Although this is a loaded question (and I might get some nasty feedback), I’ll give it a try based on my 15 years of concrete experience working in both the U.S. and Canada. I have done many different finishes, from epoxy to self-leveling concrete, to stamped overlays and stenciling.
Consumer beware: There is always a low-ball bidder, and usually a high-ball bidder, so I’ll try to give you the ranges:
Prices vary based on:
- Size – Larger jobs will lower the price per square foot. Usually 1,000ft +
- Scope of work – Basic application or detailed work, patterns, inlays etc.
- Preparation – How your surface is prepped will affect price.
- Time frame – Overnight or overtime work = more money.
- Products used – Inexpensive hardware store brand vs. professional grade.
- Experience–level of the installer – The more qualified installers tend to charge more for their knowledge, which is well worth it!
Let’s start with the most basic concrete slab:
A basic concrete slab can vary heavily based on the thickness and site prep required.
Concrete is sold by the yard and can vary in price from $80 – $200 per cubic yard, which will yield approximately 80 square feet at 4 inches thick. Price will vary based on the amount of site prep, surface prep, rebar, forming, and type of finish applied to the concrete’s surface. Other factors that will alter the price are amount of concrete ordered, type of concrete mix, and labor costs.
Prices of concrete finishes and patterns:
Acid stain: Sometimes referred to as acid etch, acid wash or acid washed concrete, patina stain, etc. is used to add a permanent color to an existing or freshly poured cement topping or a concrete slab.
Prices can range from $2 per square foot to $7 for a basic application.
Average price for a new concrete slab with remedial cleaning required and basic pattern with a standard residential grade sealer is about $3 – $5.
Seattle, WA prices were $5 – $7 per square foot.
Vancouver, BC prices were $4 – $6 per square foot.
Austin, TX prices were $2 – $5 per square foot.
Polished concrete: Also known as honed, polished, diamond polished, ground, etc. uses progressively finer industrial grade diamonds to grind and polish concrete. The look is contemporary, clean and smooth. Colors can be added, as well.
Prices can range from $5 – $12 for pure polished concrete.
Average price for a new concrete slab with remedial repairs will average around $5.
Diamond blades or pads and the polishing equipment costs are very high and are easily consumed.
Polishing done in homes with many walls and small spaces will cost more, whereas large open spaces like industrial floors or food and grocery stores bring the cost down quite a bit.
Stamped Concrete: Also called imprinted cement or patterned concrete can give a newly poured concrete surface the look of natural stone or brick. When pouring a new concrete slab, you can stamp or imprint the setting cement creating a pattern often resembling a rock or masonry look.
The cost of placing , finishing and stamping concrete can be anywhere from $5 – $15 per square foot.
The cost of stamped concrete can fluctuate heavily, as custom stamp pattern mats are usually quite expensive. There is also the forming; grading and site work; layout and metal rebar installation; all of which factor into the price of it all.
Thin Resurfacing Systems: Topping systems, resurfacing systems, scratch coats, micro toppings, thin cement overlays etc. are systems that work great for rejuvenating old or damaged concrete or cement, rather than having to tear it out and re-pour it all.
The cost to resurface a concrete slab can vary quite a bit. Basic grey cement color over fairly good condition concrete could be as low as $2.25 per square foot, whereas intricate patterns, multicolor and borders can run you in the price range of $4 – $8 per square foot.
The repair work required prior to resurfacing is the biggest variable, and the other is the level of decorative input required by the installer.
Stamped Concrete Toppings: Resurfacing concrete, stamp overlays, imprinted overlays, patterned cement topping, etc. are types of cement resurfacing systems designed to add a new surface to an existing concrete or wood substrate with some type of stamped or imprinted pattern usually resembling rock, stone or brick. These systems are some of the most difficult to install, yet can yield absolutely beautiful results. Starting costs for stamped concrete overlays are usually in the $5 range but have been known to climb to the $15 – $20 per square foot cost in the casinos of Las Vegas and high-end homes.
These systems will run about $7 – $10 on average.
Stamped concrete products and systems can be expensive and require a very talented individual to assemble. The key to a good stamp overlay is having an artisan who can create the realistic look of stone or brick using concrete.
Concrete Countertops: Cast-in-place or pre-cast concrete countertops and vanities are simply refined, colored or finished concrete slabs that can be used as a decorative element.
The material costs for concrete countertops are only a small factor; however, it is the time and labor of creating the form, detail work, polishing, coloring and finishing that adds to the price.
Most concrete countertops are custom made from scratch and can cost anywhere from $45 – $225 per square foot.
Factors that affect the price of concrete countertops are the details including, inlays, custom accents, decorative edges, surface finish, colors, and level of detail and experience on the installer’s side. You must also factor in the transportation and ultimately the installation that both play a big part. More detailed pricing info
Also visit Cost of Concrete Countertops
Garage Coatings and Epoxies: Epoxy coatings, color flake, granite epoxy, quartz flooring, epoxy quartz, etc.
From a simple one-color epoxy coating to a more complex quartz trowel down system, all use epoxy as a binder and sometimes a urethane as a topcoat to coat and cover concrete, creating a uniform, consistent finish that is chemical resistant, and easy to maintain. Epoxy and urethane materials are the primary cost factors.
Thin coating systems use much less material than thick ones. For example, a gallon of epoxy can yield over 100 square feet at 1/64th of an inch, but only about 13 square feet at 1/8th of an inch, and thickness usually determines the durability and longevity.
Prices for an epoxy system can range from $2 – $15. Garage coatings average around $3 – $6, whereas a clean room like in a meat packing area with special cove base and sanitary requirements may cost around the $7 – $12 per square foot.
Other factors that effect the price of decorative concrete
A big factor in the cost of decorative concrete finishes (mainly floors) is the condition of the concrete and the necessary repairs, leveling and preparation to get a good bond. This is where it is important to be educated on the difference in bids and what exactly your installation contractor is going to do!
In order to ensure a long lasting surface, it is critical to get proper surface prep done. Many low-ball companies will skimp on the surface prep and initially save you $1or $2 dollars per square foot, but may end up costing you thousands to repair or redo a failing floor.
Surface preparation may include: sanding, grinding, acid etching, cleaning, shot blasting, scarifying or other technique, but either way the surface must be clean and free from all contaminates that could act as a bond breaker. Surface preparation can easily add $1 or $2 per square foot, but is the best money you’ll ever spend.
Let me summarize by saying even though I have tried to give a range of costs and prices for various decorative concrete systems, each and every location, system, application, product, installer, situation and variable is different. To get exact pricing for your application contact your local installation professionals and find out for yourself.