Raised floors are a much better, drier, and warmer alternative than concrete slab floors. However, many homeowners like the industrial look of polished concrete slab floors. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. The primary considerations are warmth, maintenance, comfort, durability, and cost.
The Advantages of Raised Floors
Raised floors are the floor of choice for many reasons. They're easier to walk and stand on than concrete slabs. Wood floors give a little, making it easier on your knees and back if you must stand on them for any length of time. While a concrete slab may be easier to clean in a kitchen, workshop, or bathroom, it's also harder on the body. If you live in a flood zone, you'll pay less insurance for a raised floor system.
Raised floors give warmth and color to a room and are the classic and timeless choice for floors. Concrete can be painted or stained to appear warm, but nothing says true warmth like wood. They can also be installed in any room with ease.
Raised floors are warmer. Concrete tends to hold cold and to suck away warmth. If the concrete slab is on the ground, it will also tend to pick moisture up into the home and be a constant source of mold, even if sealed.
Raised floors allow homeowners to relocate plumbing with much greater ease. Pipes set into concrete slab are literally "set in stone." To move a kitchen sink, toilet or plumbing requires tearing up the concrete floor and re-pouring it. With a raised floor you'll have easy access to all your pipes, clean-outs, and machinery.
Cost is a primary factor as well. If you're building in a flood zone or on a slope, the cost of pouring a concrete slab to meet code is much less expensive than setting a foundation on posts and beams and installing a raised floor. On the other hand, concrete slab poured on clay or unstable soil means you'll make up the difference in cost by repeated repairs to cracked concrete and ruptured pipes.
It's possible to add a raised floor to a concrete floor. If you have a loft, warehouse, commercial property, or building where the floor already exists, you may be wondering whether to keep the concrete or install a raised floor.
If you're constructing a home, raised floor construction makes it easier for others to continue work on the house.
Advantages of a Concrete Floor
Some of the advantages of a concrete floor include low maintenance. Once sealed and finished, a concrete floor is essentially a no-maintenance floor. If sealed, there aren't a whole lot of things that will penetrate the seal. Dropping objects on the concrete will do more harm to the object. If the concrete is chipped or damaged, it's easy to repair. Concrete can be painted or stained to look like wood, brick, or tile. Heating elements can be installed in the concrete to make it less cold. Concrete, once laid, can also be tiled, carpeted, or even finished in a variety of colors if you get tired of it.