What is Magnesite Flooring? Pros And Cons Explained

Photo of a cracked magnesite floor. What is Magnesite Flooring?

Someone suggested you use magnesite flooring. But what is magnesite flooring? And what are the pros and cons of magnesite flooring for your home? Learn all the important things about it by reading below!

Magnesite flooring is created from magnesium oxychloride and is considered a form of cement. Magnesite has sawdust, wood chips, and/or other fillers added to the mix during production. This makes the final product stronger than cement, and it’s also low maintenance. Many experts refer to magnesite flooring as plaster, but for floors. This means you can make it look however you want in color and texture.

There are many pros and cons to consider if considering it for your home. Take a look at them all.

What is magnesite flooring?

Magnesite flooring has been in use since early in the 1900s. It’s made from calcined magnesite and magnesium chloride. It also contains fillers that help create a stronger mix. Most professionals use sawdust and wood chips since they’re inert and won’t cause any chemical reaction! 

It’s an alternative to concrete floors, it has a cushioning effect that is often lacking with typical concrete choices.

Fun Fact:

In the 1900s, some of the fillers used to include asbestos!

Is magnesite flooring dangerous?

Magnesite is created from chemicals, so chemical reactions are possible. The most common one is that it can seek out and corrode steel in your subfloor. This is a problem since steel is crucial for the structural integrity of your floor!

What is magnesite used for in flooring?

Magnesite is most commonly used for living rooms, entryways, and indoor/outdoor spaces such as mudrooms or sunrooms. Since it was cheaper than a lot of flooring, many homes used magnesite around their entire house, but it wasn’t always a good choice (more on that later).

What does magnesite flooring look like?

Magnesite is often confused with pigmented/painted cement since it looks similar to the untrained eye! It naturally has a red or pink hue, though it can be dyed any color to help it look unique and match the rest of the home. It can also be stamped and textured since it has the same texture as plaster on a ceiling.

Pros and cons of magnesite flooring

There are some great pros but essential cons to know about with magnesite flooring. So, let me introduce you to those in more detail to help you see what you’re working with.

Pros of magnesite flooring

  • Non-flammable and fireproof
  • Low maintenance
  • Durable
  • Can be used in any room in the house

When you think about how magnesite flooring was used back in the 1900s as a simple and cheap choice for flooring, these pros make a lot of sense. When you isolate these advantages from the disadvantages (below), it still looks like a logical option! While magnesite flooring isn’t as popular today as it was historically, some still have it in their homes — whether they’re aware of it or not!

Cons of magnesite flooring

  • Can corrode steel 
  • Not waterproof
  • Expensive to install

These disadvantages are crucial to think about seriously and keep in mind when you’re looking at protecting your home! If you have a slab foundation that is steel enforced (as many are), you’ll want to think about that seriously. Since magnesite flooring isn’t as popular, experienced contractors are few and far between these days, making it difficult to hire them cost-effectively.

Magnesite flooring VS other types of flooring

Need clarification about how to keep this kind of flooring in line with others as far as pros and cons? I don’t blame you — it is a confusing thing. Here are the summary points to focus on:

  • Magnesite flooring is lightweight and flame-resistant
  • Magnesite flooring doesn’t have water resistance
  • Magnesite flooring can be in many colors and textures
  • Magnesite is a common alternative to concrete

Generally, other types of flooring are more affordable and convenient for the modern homeowner. However, Mineral Expert explains that magnesite is often still used as a binding agent in modern flooring!

What are the styles of magnesite flooring available?

Magnesite flooring is whatever you want it to be. Color, texture, and thickness are customizable to make it into whatever you want. 

Where can you buy magnesite flooring?

If you want pure magnesite flooring, you’ll have to hire contractors to pour it like concrete. If you’re looking for it as an additive, you can find it in many types of click flooring or tile.

How much does magnesite flooring cost?

The Los Angeles Times reports that it costs $7-$8 per square foot to install since it’s a specialized practice now! It’ll likely cost more if you want a special color or texture. 

What is the installation process of magnesite flooring?

If you’ve ever seen cement poured and set, you’ll find that magnesite flooring will be a very similar experience. The steps include:

  • Mixing the magnesite
  • Adding pigment
  • Prepare the subfloor
  • Pour the mixture onto the subfloor
  • Add textures/finished effects as it sets
  • Allow drying
  • Seal between 24-48 hours after application

How to care for magnesite floors

Now that you know how magnesite flooring is implemented, let’s look at the main details to help you care for magnesite flooring. 

When cleaning it, you must use non-oil-based cleaners. Oil-based products can wear away the protective seal and finish to your flooring and start to break it down. You’ll want to rely on purpose-designed products for magnesite and use a power stripper if you need one. 

When repairing a weakness or a nick in the flooring, you’ll have to remove the magnesite where the area needs to be repaired and then replace it with more magnesite or concrete. It can be difficult to spot repair.

Sealing your magnesite flooring is the most important detail in protecting it properly. This protects it from potential water damage and helps keep it as durable as possible for as long as possible. 

Can you tile over magnesite?

You shouldn’t tile (or put anything at all) over magnesite flooring. This is because magnesite is not a good foundation and can easily break down, crack, and wear. You’ll need to replace the magnesite with something sturdier for a trustworthy subfloor!

It turns out that there’s a lot to know about magnesite flooring! Made from magnesium oxychloride and fillers such as sawdust, this is an age-old affordable, and customizable alternative to concrete flooring. It has many advantages but some significant cons to think about and plan for if you intend on using it for modern-day households.

Know someone curious about this flooring choice? Share this article with them to help spread the information they want and need!

Rosa Peterson

Rose is the writer and creator of Better That Home, a blog about home design and decor. Rose has been designing spaces for over 10 years and writing home design and decor for big publishers. She has been inspired by many other creatives from around the world and loves to share those inspirations with her readers. Read more about Rose here