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A polished concrete floor choice is increasingly gaining popularity as a versatile option when it comes to interior design. Anyone looking for a unique type of floor — that too at low home remodel cost — should consider concrete floor polishing. It’s long-lasting, looks great, and is easy to maintain too. In fact, the benefits of polished concrete are many.

You can polish almost any concrete floor, whether it’s a new floor or an old one. The only difference would be that while a new floor may not require any special mix or design to look spectacular, with an existing concrete floor you will need some surface preparation prior to polishing it. This could include removing dirt, grease, blemishes, or making the concrete surface structurally sound. 

What is a polished concrete floor?

Shiny floorPolished concrete floor finish, by Peg Syverson on flickr [CC BY 2.0]

Polished concrete refers to concrete that has been treated with a chemical or concrete densifier and/or ground with fine grinding tools. These grinding tools of choice are diamond polishing pads and diamond-grit grinding cup wheels.

The process is similar to sanding wood. If you have an idea about the latter then you already understand the concept of concrete polishing. Adding a polished concrete floor is considered superior in many ways to tiling the floor or covering it with a carpet.

When choosing a flooring option, you need to consider the cost and functionality. If you use tiles or a carpet, chances are you will need to replace them in the future. This is not an attractive prospect for most homeowners. Concrete floor polishing is often a much better option.

Polished concrete floors are known for their long lifespan. They are durable and will not chip or dent naturally like softer surfaces. If you want a specific number, think a minimum of 20 years with proper care and maintenance.

The best part about a polished concrete floor is that it’s strong and resilient. It can withstand extremely heavy foot traffic and yet never chip or scratch.

The only downside is that waterproofing such a floor is difficult due to aesthetic restrictions. However, you can always coat the surface of the concrete floor with waterproof membranes.

How much does a polished concrete floor cost?

Polished Concrete FloorPhoto by Intellicents from wikimedia commons [CC BY-SA 4.0]

When considering a polished concrete floor, do consider the cost factor. The catch is that polished concrete needs a much deeper evaluation to know its price per square foot.

On average, a polished concrete floor costs between $3 and $12 per square foot. Of course, this amount depends on your location and the complexity of the project.

Such a floor is very cost-efficient as compared to marble, stone tiled, or a wooden floor. This is primarily because it lasts a house’s lifetime and may never need a replacement.

You need to do your math correctly and then decide upon the most reasonable option. Another economical alternative that comes at half the price is installing polished overlays to meet the demand for an aesthetic solution for polishing imperfect concrete floors.

Most importantly, a successful polished concrete floor requires that you should be clear about the requirements. From the architect, designer, to general as well as concrete and polishing contractors — everyone needs to be in sync. All of them must work together to reach the same goal.

The focus is not just to improve the condition of the concrete, but also make sure that it’s progressively finer with perfect floor flatness.

Read more: Cost to install laminate flooring

What is needed for polishing concrete? 

Concrete floorPhoto by Decorative Concrete Kingdom on flickr [CC BY 2.0] – theconcreteprotector.com

Polishing concrete floors is a serious operation that requires a heavy-duty machine. The polishing equipment has diamond-impregnated discs in order to grind the surface slowly. Diamond tools help you get the surface level you want. In the end, the floor will be smooth and glossy.

If you don’t want to buy such a machine, you can look into renting one. You can also get in touch with a general contractor who holds the experience and equipment to get it done right.

How to get a polished, shiny floor?

Polishing a concrete floor can be done either wet or dry polishing. When done correctly, diamond floor polishing takes time. To further beautify the floor, you might consider one of the concrete floor polishes on the market.

You may use a glossy sealer to create a shiny surface, and add an acrylic wax as an additional protective coat. You can choose a polyurethane and epoxy sealer that resists abrasion, stains, and heavy traffic easily. Or, opt for a water-based acrylic sealer that’s less expensive and easier to apply. 

While renovating or repairing your floor can be a DIY project, the best option is to consult a professional — either a floor polishing specialist or an architect designer in your area. You can talk about the design and any customization you want.

Then, you can choose from diamond polished concrete or one of the retrofit options. These alternatives are a good bet if you have a particular trendy design in mind.

Also, know that one of the most effective ways to dress up polished concrete is to apply a dye. You can use it alone as a primary coloring agent or with acid stains for an accent shade.

How long does it take to polish a concrete floor?

The total concrete polishing time depends on factors such as the level of polish you want, the floor size, the obstructions, and whether it’s a new floor or an existing one.

Keep in mind that before you begin polishing new concrete, you must wait until the concrete has cured completely. This generally takes up to 14 to 28 days after its placement. Existing floors that are soft and porous, on the other hand, may need extensive patch work and may take longer.    

What is the step-by-step polishing process?

  • Take off the existing coating with a 16 or 20 grit bonded diamond abrasive or T-RexTM.
  • Carefully seal cracks and joints with a filler, concrete sealer, or epoxy.
  • Smoothen the surface with a 30 or 40 grit metal-bonded diamond.
  • Whet with an 80 grit metal-bonded diamond.
  • Grind with a 150-grit metal-bonded diamond.
  • Densify the concrete by applying a chemical hardener.
  • Polish the floor with a 100 or 200 grit resin-bond diamond.
  • Brighten it with a 400 grit resin-bond diamond.
  • Polish with an 800 grit resin-bond diamond.
  • Finish with a 1500 or 3000 grit resin-bond diamond.
  • Apply a stain guard to protect the polished surface (it makes the floor easier to maintain).

Quick takeaways

Polished concrete is your ultimate flooring material. A polished concrete floor is one of the most popular choices and with good reason. As mentioned, such a concrete flooring surface is durable, cost-effective, easy to maintain, and stylish — all at once.

It’s smooth and visually appealing. Apart from the sophistication and aesthetic value it adds, such a floor is:

  • Durable with a long life-span
  • Low maintenance
  • Mark and stain resistant
  • Eco-friendly — involves no hazardous chemicals
  • Cost-effective
  • Versatile — found in residential, commercial, and industrial spaces
  • No waxing required
  • Increases light reflection — makes the area brighter

Now that you know that a polished concrete floor is one of the most viable options, why not go for it as soon as you can? Be warned: it will make your space truly remarkable and others jealous!

A Complete Guide to Understand a Polished Concrete Floor was last modified: May 10th, 2021 by Adam Wilson

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