TREND REPORT: Things to consider with polished concrete floors

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There was a time when it was unusual to see a polished concrete floor outside a gallery or showroom, but times have changed and this good-looking, hard-wearing flooring is now more common in family homes. Keen to create a concrete floor you’ll adore?

Here’s our guide to the things you should know:

What are the advantages/disadvantages of polished concrete floors in the home?

Polished concrete floors are relatively inexpensive to create, extremely durable and low maintenance. On the downside, some people find them cold and hard underfoot so if you live in a cool climate you may want to install underfloor or inslab heating or think about softening the surface with rugs. Very highly polished surfaces can also show marks, such as foot or paw prints.

Where do polished concrete floors work best?

Polished concrete floors are heavy and are usually only suitable for ground floors. The footings and foundations of your property must be strong enough to bear the weight of the concrete.

Polished concrete floors work well in contemporary, open plan spaces. Think twice before polishing concrete in older properties, where it may look out of character. Polishing concrete in smaller rooms with details such as skirting boards is time-consuming and therefore more expensive.

Concrete Floors laid in a house

What are the different types of polished concrete floor?

There are two main types of polished concrete floor:

  • Grind and Seal involves grinding back the top layer of concrete and then sealing it with a matte, semi- or high-gloss sealant;
  • Mechanically Polished Concrete (MPC) floors are ground back, densified/hardened and then polished to the required level of shine. MPC floors take longer and are more expensive initially, but are more durable and look good for longer.

Can I polish an existing concrete floor?

You may be able to polish an existing concrete floor providing its level, intact and in good condition.

‘If you have a really good sub-strate floor that’s thick enough, structurally sound and with no significant cracks, it can come up really well with just sanding and applying an epoxy resin,’ says Cinzia Gagliardi of Refresh Renovations Illawarra.

Stephen Cox of Refresh Renovations Central Coast says polishing existing concrete adds character to a home.

‘Concrete is an inconsistent product. When restoring old concrete, you get what you get – there can be imperfections, but that’s part of its appeal.’

Newly Polished Concrete

What preparation is required before polishing an existing concrete floor?

Any existing floor coverings must be carefully removed and the condition of the concrete sub-strate expertly assessed. Cracked or damaged sub-strates may be polished if a cementitious topping is added.

What is aggregate and why is it important?

Concrete is made from cement, sand, water and aggregate – usually crushed stones or rock, but more decorative options such as glass beads are also available. The type, size and quality of the aggregate affect the strength, durability and weight of the finished concrete. It can also affect how much it shrinks as it dries, and its colour.

‘There are various types of stones and additives that can be put into the concrete for effect. One client collected blue Bombay Sapphire bottles, crushed them and then sprinkled it over the concrete prior to final screed. Once polished they had fantastic blue glass specks through the slab,’ says Jim Gleeson of Refresh Renovations Auckland Central.

Concrete Machine

Before pouring a new concrete floor, talk to your polisher about whether you want the aggregate fully exposed, randomly exposed or not exposed at all. They will advise you on how best to achieve the look you want.

What kinds of finishes are available for polished concrete floors?

Polished concrete floors are usually matte, semi-gloss or high-gloss. Matte and semi-gloss are good choices for residential projects, as they don’t show dust and marks as much as high-gloss finishes.

Concrete Floor in a bathroom

Do polished concrete floors come in different colours?

Concrete varies in hue according to the colour of its basic ingredients – cement and sand. It can be coloured by adding oxides to the mix or by including different aggregates.

Is polished concrete suitable for bathrooms floors?

‘Polished concrete can look nice in bathrooms - there’s no grout so it gives a very clean look. It’s easy to slip on a highly polished floor when wet though, so you need a finish with extra sanding to give it some texture,’ says Cinzia.

How long does it take to create a polished concrete floor?

This will depend on factors including the size and location of the floor, ease of access, the floor condition and the finish required. Most jobs take at least three to five days.

Man laying concrete floors

Should I move out while my concrete floor is being polished?

‘Polishing concrete can be time-consuming, especially for large areas. It can be noisy and messy and fine grit dust isn’t something you want to be living with. Move out if you can, particularly if the concrete is in an area you need to access,’ says Cinzia.

How much do polished concrete floors cost?

The cost of polishing a concrete floor can vary considerably depending on the condition of the floor to be polished, the amount of labour needed, and finish and products required. The location and ease of access to the property are also important factors.

Get in touch with Refresh to discuss your home renovation project

For more information on how you can create a high-end looking floor at a reduced cost, contact your local Refresh Renovation expert today!

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