Residential Concrete vs. Commercial Concrete

Are you planning on starting a building or construction project? Then, one of the things you should probably know before starting is that all concrete is not the same. They differ in many areas – strength, durability, weight, etc. The reason for these differences lies in the purpose of the concrete. Here, we will look at the differences between the concrete used for commercial buildings and residential buildings, and their various application areas in both constructions.

Residential Concrete:

It covers all types of concrete used for construction and enhancement of houses, apartments, condominiums, and all other structures constructed for living purposes. Concrete can be used in many aspects of residential construction. It starts from the foundation of the house, which is, in most cases, made with concrete. It is also used the walls, especially as precast concrete which comes in various shapes that can be easily fitted together to construct a building. Concrete is also used for flooring, and even the roofs can be made of concrete.

Commercial Concrete:

This covers all types of concrete that are used in building and improving business and commercial facilities such as retail stores, warehouses, industrial buildings, office complexes, restaurants, and other commercial centers. This concrete is ubiquitous, and you will find it in many areas within a commercial building. Such areas include the pavements, walls and facades, walkways, stairs, parking lots, etc. 

Comparison Between Residential Concrete and Commercial Concrete

Strength and Durability

Although the strength and durability of concrete is a crucial reason why it is used in construction; not much emphasis is placed on this in residential construction, which is why most times; ordinary concrete is used instead of any special type. This is because residential buildings do not undergo as much pressure or carry a heavy load like a commercial building. For instance, the floors of a residential building do not bear much weight as the heaviest things in the home are usually furniture and appliances. The walls also carry a little load, mostly the roof, except in few cases where the house has multiple stories. The only areas of residential construction where a more reliable concrete may be required are in the garage and driveways, due to the weight of the car.

On the other hand, commercial construction usually demands more strength and durability from the concrete that would be used. This is mostly due to the heavy load and pressure that such buildings have to bear, in terms of weight and the volume of activity on them. For instance, the strength of concrete required when building a shopping mall will far exceed what is needed for a single-family house. This is because a shopping mall carries much more weight in terms of long-span roofs, multiple stories, the stock, appliances, and amenities within the mall as well as having to withstand the pressures of constant activity. This is why special high-performance concretes such as prestressed concrete, reinforced concrete, and others are usually used.


Given that residential construction uses regular concrete most times, it goes without saying that the cost is relatively cheaper. High-performance concrete and other concrete that are used usually require additives in the form of chemicals and materials to reinforce it further are not usually used in residential buildings. Also, in the mixing process or in the case of precast concrete, the manufacturing process of residential concrete is less complex and without the technicalities that lead to an increase in cost. In some cases, such as building steps, concrete slabs, and home improvements, a homeowner can even mix and prepare the concrete himself with ingredients gotten from the local store. The labor cost for residential concrete is also lower as the concrete used most does not require any specialized knowledge to use.

For commercial concrete, the price is usually higher. This is because the cost of concrete is generally determined by the ingredients used and how it is mixed. The special nature of commercial concrete means different additives need to be included depending on the purpose. For instance, heavy concrete which is usually used in high-level industrial areas uses heavy rocks as aggregates. Air-entrained concrete that serves to protect a structure from harsh cold uses fatty acids and resins as additives. Lightweight concrete used as insulation of steel uses clay and other special aggregates. Prestressed concrete that is prepared to support a heavy load, withstand pressure, and prevent cracks, are manufactured in a complex manner. All these special additives and or production processes make them more expensive than residential concrete.

Overlays and Finishes

Residential concrete tends to go for fewer aesthetics. This is usually because in most cases, the concrete is further laid with a different material. For instance, a concrete wall in a residential building will most likely be covered with paint, while a concrete floor could further be covered with tiles, wood panels, carpet, rugs, etc. Stained concrete, which is a type of concrete that comes with patterned designs, is used sparingly or with astonishing simplicity in residential constructions.

However, overlays or finishes are one of the significant features that differentiate commercial concrete from the residential ones.  Starting from the aesthetics, commercial concrete goes for more decorative and elaborate finishes. It might be to fit into an overall design theme, for branding, or any other reason. These finishes could be on the walls or floors. For instance, the glass or glass fiber reinforced concrete is a special concrete with glass fiber embedded in it and is used mostly for commercial building facades. Overlays have more functions than just aesthetics; they also serve to make the concrete more durable. Commercial concrete needs to be capable of withstanding spills, abrasions, constant foot traffic, among others. To achieve this, they are usually coated with different kinds of coatings such as epoxy terrazzo, metallic epoxies, etc.

Common Types of Concrete

Although a type of concrete can be used for both residential and commercial purposes, some are commonly used for one purpose than the other.

Concrete that is mostly used for residential construction includes ordinary concrete, lightweight concrete, and polymer concrete.

Commercial concrete includes prestressed concrete, reinforced concrete, and high-density concrete.