Rising from the concrete jungle

Concrete exteriors are popular for modern house designs. (Pictures: iStock)

Concrete has long been a go-to material for the building industry.

It’s weathered the elements since ancient times – proving its strength, durability and versatility.

Its usage worldwide, ton for ton, is twice that of steel, wood, plastics, and aluminium combined, according to Wikipedia.

But what was once confined to the urban landscape is shirking its concrete jungle tag and expanding into our homes and hearts.

Everything from polished concrete floors to benchtops, light fittings and accessories is taking on a cement hue. There’s even special effect paint to give your walls a rough-strewn look in place of the real deal.

As an exterior cladding, concrete is aesthetically pleasing but it brings with it a range of other benefits that are making it a popular choice among home builders and renovators.

Apart from the fact that it’s strong, concrete is low maintenance, soundproof and can withstand our harsh elements such as rain, wind and fire. It’s also termite-proof.

Depending on the look you’re aiming for, concrete walls can be left natural, if you do decide to paint them they only need to be repainted every five to 10 years.

Another key benefit of concrete in housing construction is it’s high thermal properties. It can absorb heat in the warm weather and release it during cooler periods – helping reduce energy costs.

Polished concrete floors provide much of the same benefits as far as durability, maintenance and lifespan, and there are a variety of colour and texture effects to personalise the look.

It can be cold underfoot, particularly in winter, but so too can floor tiles.

Interior concrete walls can bring modern, clean lines to a home.

Clad an entire room in it for an almost industrial vibe, or use it as a stand out feature wall.

If you’re concerned about having to live with concrete floors or walls long past the trend’s use-by date, there are less permanent, cheaper alternatives to bring a touch of the natural element inside.

Concrete table and bench tops are popular at the moment and look beautiful juxtaposed with timber cupboards or table legs.

Try a concrete light fitting to bring an edgy look to the kitchen or as a feature in a hallway.

Candle holders, plant pots, lamps can all be used to bring concrete in to your interior design and can easily be replaced if you tire of the look.