Polished concrete floor: Advantages and disadvantages of having one
Polished concrete floors have become increasingly common in many homes. They look great—minimalist and sleek. They’re also incredibly durable.
Polished concrete can fit right into a domestic setting. It has a clean and sharp look that can be nicely softened with the right furniture and décor.
Polished concrete flooring is one of the most versatile floor options out there. It can work for modern kitchens, sophisticated living rooms, and gritty man caves. Here is an overview of polished concrete as well as some great polished concrete solutions for your floor.
The Advantages of a Polished Concrete Floor
- Polished concrete has a stark look that makes small spaces seem large. There are no grout lines like with tile or joining seams like with floorboards, which means that a polished concrete floor is just one unbroken sheet of material.
- In sunnier spaces, the concrete will help lighten the space.
- Concrete is incredibly easy to clean since there are no cracks or crevices for dirt to hide in. It’s a great choice for anyone who doesn’t have a lot of time or energy to clean.
- You don’t have to worry about dealing with allergies if you have a polished concrete floor. Dust, dirt, pollen, and other allergens have a difficult time sticking to the smooth polished concrete texture.
The Disadvantages of a Polished Concrete Floor
- Polished concrete is not as comfortable under your feet as carpet, or even wood and tile flooring.
- Concrete gets pretty cold in the winter. You’ll want to wear socks or slippers on concrete floors during the colder months.
- Concrete that hasn’t been laid properly can develop cracks. They’re also liable to show up as your house settles.
- The polished concrete floor cost is pretty high, even if it might seem cheap at first. You’ll want to hire a professional to put it in. Decorative touches, like stenciling, will add to the cost.
- Concrete is unforgiving to dropped objects. A dropped phone may only bounce off a carpeted floor, but it’s liable to shatter if dropped onto a polished concrete floor. A dropped glass is certainly gone, as are most dropped ceramics. This might make concrete a poor choice of flooring for young families or habitually clumsy homeowners.
- Concrete floors cause rooms to echo quite a bit. This can make even small uncrowded rooms seem cavernous and loud.
Concrete Flooring Methods
You don’t need to have a cement truck back into you’re living room to lay concrete. Here are 3 techniques you can use:
- Steel troweled- this is a good technique to use for a basic polished concrete floor. You might end up with trowel marks on the final floor.
- Burnished- this is similar to the trowel method, but with a few more steps. After the concrete has set, a topcoat is added that makes the floor shiny. These topcoats are often wax, resin coatings, or liquid polishes.
- Honed- a honed polished concrete floor is as smooth as it gets. They’re sanded with industrial-strength abrasives. These grind the concrete down until it has a uniform smooth matte finish.
Polished Concrete Floor Finishes
If you’re looking to get a unique look, you’re going to end up spending quite a bit of money. They are some great options, though, and can offer you just the look you want. Here are the types of concrete floor finishes you can find today:
- Paste polish- the aggregate will end up being invisible and the color will be consistent.
- Deep polish- the aggregate will be exposed. This is a great option for an industrial-style space.
- Salt and pepper finish- this finish erases the top layer of concrete, exposing large pieces of sand aggregate.
- Stained concrete– you can get stains for concrete in just about every color imaginable.
- Colored concrete– this is a new design trend that’s only emerged in the last few years. Concrete dyes can look great, but they are also pretty expensive. You need to seriously think about using this option before you start spending money on it. The color penetration of the dyes means that the end result is much more vivid than stained concrete.
- Distressed concrete– this technique uses an artificial aging process to create a raw and rugged distressed look that looks great in industrially styled homes.
Decorative Touches for Polished Concrete Floors
You can have all sorts of decorative additions made toy our concrete floor. If you want to make it clear who owns this room, have your initials stenciled into the concrete.
You can also get all sorts of shapes stenciled into concrete, including logos and patterns. This is a great option for rec room themed around your favorite sports team. Stencils can be plastic molds or polyurethane lace stencils.
You can also get patterns stamped into the concrete to make it look like brick, stone, or wood. This can be a good option to get a certain look that’s much more durable than it would otherwise be.
Just remember that you can’t make any changes after the stencil or stamping is done. It’s a good idea to sleep on the idea, especially if it’s very dramatic and/or unusual.
Maintenance Tips for a Polished Concrete Floor
With the right maintenance and care routine, a polished concrete floor will last between 7 and 10 years before it needs to be re-polished. It can even last longer than that on occasion. Know that floors that require repairs because of neglect will have their warranty voided.
Clean Up Spills As Quickly As Possible
Concrete is tough, but it’s also porous. Liquid stains like red wine will soak easily into it and leave a permanent stain. The longer the liquid sits, the deeper and darker the stain will be. You won’t be able to get them, out wither, leaving your polished concrete floor with a permanent flaw.
Establish a Maintenance Schedule
The best way to be sure you maintain your polished concrete floor well is to create a regular schedule of maintenance. Your schedule should line up with the amount of traffic the floor gets.
If the floor sees traffic around the clock, for instance, a morning and evening cleaning schedule will probably work best. You need space and time to make sure everything is done correctly.
Regular cleaning will keep sand, dust, and other debris from sitting and accumulating long enough to start degrading the finish. Since concrete has soil as an ingredient, which will attract dust particles.
Even a floor that seems clean but hasn’t been cleaned for several days will collect particles that will begin to work like sandpaper on the finish. This will cause the concrete to use the smooth polished concrete texture. The accumulated dust particles will also dull the finish and ruin the look you want.
Get the Right Products and Tool to Protect the Finish
Regular cleaning is vital, but you need to make sure it’s done with the right tools and products. These will help protect the finish. The wrong kinds can actually damage the finish over time.
There are two methods for cleaning polished concrete floors: manual cleaning and cleaning with automatic equipment. Manual cleaning is preferred, since it’s more effective, more detailed, and allows the cleaner to notice if there are any damaged areas.
Manual cleaning is done by sweeping to remove dust and grime. Use a microfiber dust mop to help protect the polished finish. Regular brooms may scratch it up or cause it go dull. Immediately clean up any spills to help prevent their seeping into the porous concrete.
Use pH neutral cleaners if you need to use cleaners, which is quite likely. Sometimes, water is simply not enough to clean the polished concrete well. Avoid using ammonia, bleaches, citrus cleaners, pine-based cleaners, and vinegar. These are not pH neutral cleaners.
The cleaner should sit on the polished concrete floor just long enough to loosen dirt and grime. Remove it before it dries. If the cleaner is allowed to dry on the surface of the concrete, it will create a dull haze and can cause discoloration.
You should work in small sections to make it easier to clean up all the cleaner. If you decide to wet mop, make sure that the mop and water are both clean. You don’t want to spread damaging particles across the floor as you try to clean it.
If you use an automatic floor scrubber, make sure it has soft and non-abrasive pads. Harder pads can cause scratches and etching that damage the polished concrete finish. The wheels on your equipment should be made of rubber or similar materials to avoid scratching, as well.
There’s a lot of variation in the color and texture of standard cleaning pads. White pads have a soft texture and work very well for cleaning high gloss concrete floors.
Soft beige pads also have a very soft texture and will help keep the polished concrete floors from dulling. Most of the others choices aren’t a very good fit, typically because they have abrasive surfaces that will cause scratching and etching.
Don’t Use Damaging Substances
Never apply wax to a concrete floor. It’s a very common mistake, but also a pretty serious one. Applying wax will void the warranty of the polished concrete floor.
Sooner or later you’ll have to remove it and the warranty will not cover it. Wax builds up over time and needs to be routinely stripped away. The removal process will dull your finish across the entire floor.
Avoid applying tape to the floor. The adhesive can cause damage when it’s removed. You should also avoid using degreasers. They are abrasive, which will lead to a duller and discolored finish.
Cleaners that have acids are another product you should avoid using since they can cause etching and may also dull the gloss of your finish. If you do use cleaners, look carefully at their pH levels before you use them on a polished concrete floor. You want to use ones that are as pH neutral as possible.
You should avoid getting water on your polished concrete floor for the first three days after installation. The sealers need time to cure properly so that they can provide the best possible protection to the polished concrete from the very start.
Regularly Re-Seal the Concrete
You’ll need to reseal your polished concrete floor every few years. This process will help prevent stains from setting in easily and help keep that shiny polished concrete texture intact. There are a number of types of concrete sealers on the market.
Look for ones that are made for high gloss polished concrete floors. Sealing a concrete floor is fairly cheap and you can typically do it yourself in a few hours. You’ll need to let the sealer cure for a few days, so schedule the sealing process wisely.
Warming up the Look of Polished Concrete
Polished concrete floors can look great, but it does have a very harsh and cold look. This can be great for some styles, but it might not work for others. It can also be very hard on bare feet. Here are some tips to warm up your cold concrete floor:
- Pile on the rugs. If you have a polished concrete floor in a living room or rec room, put down rugs to help keep the room from being too harsh. This will also give people somewhere to warm up the feet on colder days, as well as keep the echoing to a minimum.
- Allow in a lot of sunlight. This turns the space into something airier and less intimidating.
- Use lots of colors. If you have gray or neutral concrete floors, make sure there’s enough color in the room to keep it from being depressing.
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