A Homeowner’s Guide to Polished Concrete Floors
Polished concrete is the one residential flooring material you can’t buy at your local home improvement center, yet it’s often the first thing you’ll notice when you walk through the door. Homebuilders are catching on to the many benefits of concrete floors, including its durability, resistance to stains, light-reflecting qualities, and easy maintenance. Interior designers love the sleek beauty and endless customization options they have to offer.
For homeowners, polished concrete flooring can deliver an upscale look at a lower cost, compared to other high-end flooring materials, yet it is one of the most economical flooring materials because of its low maintenance costs and long lifespan.
What Is Polished Concrete?
Polishing a concrete floor is not much different than sanding a wooden surface. Heavy-duty polishing machines equipped with progressively finer grits of diamond-impregnated segments (similar to sandpaper) are used to gradually grind down the concrete to the desired degree of shine and smoothness. Because polishing is a multi-step process, you can choose the level of sheen and aggregate exposure that meets your aesthetic requirements.
Most new and existing concrete floor slabs can be polished. Imperfect concrete floors or existing wood or linoleum floors can also be covered with polished concrete by installing a cement-based overlay. Polished overlays are a great option when you want to cover old or outdated floors and create a blank canvas for customization.
What Are the Benefits of Polished Concrete Floors?
Polished concrete floors are a popular choice for today’s homeowners because they have a clean, sleek, and industrial look that complements contemporary décor. Beyond their aesthetic qualities, polished floors are also durable, easy to maintain, and abrasion resistant, making them an ideal surface for active lifestyles.
Polishing gives concrete a degree of shine similar to polished marble or granite, making it an affordable alternative with the same brilliant, mirror-like finish. Unlike wood or linoleum floors, polished concrete never needs to be waxed, coated, or refinished.
Even when compared with traditional stained concrete floors, polished concrete has an edge. When concrete floors are stained, they need to be sealed to prevent abrasion and wear. Polishing, however, makes the concrete’s surface denser and locks in the color.
What Are My Design Options?
The design options for polished concrete are almost unlimited. You can choose nearly any color and use decorative engraving to create patterns or graphic designs. It’s also possible to embed colored aggregates or pieces of glass before polishing for a terrazzo-like finish, and even control the floor’s reflectivity and level of shine.
The most common methods used to color polished floors are concrete stains, dyes, and integral color. The most interesting looks are often achieved by using a combination of techniques, such as layering different dyes over basic colors.
How Do I Choose the Right Color and Finish Options?
Despite the unlimited color options and patterns available, basic gray is one of the most popular color choices for polished concrete floors, mostly due to its neutrality and ability to blend well with any color scheme. Warm tones of walnut, sand, and chocolate brown also work well with traditional design schemes.
Polished concrete finishes range from satin (low- to medium-light reflectivity) to highly polished, which will give you a super-reflective, high-gloss surface. Satin-finished polished floors impart more warmth and subtlety, while highly polished floors intensify the color and create more of a “wow” factor. No matter what level of polish you choose, your floor will perform the same in terms of durability and ease of maintenance.
Another benefit of polished concrete floors that many people often overlook is their ability to brighten a room with their high-light reflectivity. Light-colored polished concrete floors can help save energy and reduce lighting bills by amplifying the amount of natural light entering your home during the day and reducing the need for artificial light at night.
Polished concrete can be an affordable yet upscale option for your home. Research the colors, patterns, and styles available to find the perfect concrete flooring design to suit your tastes.