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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.

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 28th, 2020 by Adam Wilson
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Adam GolightlyConcrete etcMichael RichardDaphne GilpinDerek Dewitt Recent comment authors
Jordan
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Jordan

I’ve been looking for a good floor grinder, and I think that some tips would be good. I’m glad you talked about how floor grinding and polishing can be dry or wet. I’m going to have to look for a few good floor grinders and see what we can find!

Ridley
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Ridley

It’s good to know more about polished concrete floors. I didn’t realize that they needed to be ground down with diamond tools before they’re polished! We’ll remember that because we want concrete floors in our garage.

sutton
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sutton

I like how you talked about how popular concrete floor are for business. That’s what the floor of my office looks like, it gives it an industrial feel. Thanks for the information on why you should consider polished concrete floors.

Tiffany Locke
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Tiffany Locke

I’m glad that you mention how it’s important to use a heavy-duty machine and that you can rent, purchase, or hire a professional to get the equipment. Looking online should give you the chance to check the prices on the different brands and models. It could also help you research the quality of the different brands and models so that you can find one that will be able to properly polish the concrete so that you get the best results.

Prestige grinding & polishing
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Prestige grinding & polishing

Great article, The rise in the community wanting polished concrete floors does continue to grow. There are many beneficial reasons people are wanting polished concrete floors for there homes but the main reason is just that it looks awesome when done correctly

Kayla
Guest
Kayla

My parents just installed granite floor in our living room and they want it to be maintained. It was mentioned here that a polished concrete floor is a good option and may only sweep the floor for maintenance. Moreover, it will be best to hire contractors for concrete floor services.

Terry
Guest
Terry

I have noticed Homes with concrete floors have cracked. How do you prevent this from happening? I really want this look but not prepared to keep repairing.

Bethany Birchridge
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Bethany Birchridge

I thought it was interesting that fine-grit diamond discs were used to grind down the concrete floors and polish them. My uncle is working on building a new home for his family, so I think he may like to have a polished concrete floor in some areas. I’ll share this article with him, so he can decide if it’s right for him.

Joy Butler
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Joy Butler

Hi Adam, I’d like to thank you for your explanation of the difference between a carpeted floor and a polished concrete flooring. If you’re to ask me, I’d go for a polished concrete type of flooring. Because aside from not having any toxins for the air, a concrete flooring just needs a polisher to clean and maintain. More power!

Kit Hannigan
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Kit Hannigan

It sure is nice to know that polished concrete flooring is a popular and stylish choice among businesses. My daughter is looking to launch her clothing brand in the city, and she’s starting to plan out her first shop’s layout. I’ll be sure to share this article with her so she can consider if a flashy, polished concrete flooring will go along nicely with her setup in mind.

Extreme Epoxy Coatings
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Extreme Epoxy Coatings

Great and helpful blog to everyone. Thanks a lot for sharing this amazing article.

Hazel Owens
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Hazel Owens

That’s interesting that in order to polish concrete floors it requires the use of a machine that has diamonds in the blades which makes it smooth and glossy. My mom wants to put concrete in her kitchen since she’s remodeling it, so I decided to look more into it> I’ll have to tell her to find a company that offers concrete services to check if she can get it installed in her kitchen and so she can make sure the floor is smooth and polished.

Derek Dewitt
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Derek Dewitt

I want to get polished concrete floors for my basement when I remodel so thanks for sharing this. I like your point about hiring a flooring specialist to oversee this part of the remodeling. I’ll definitely find someone who is experienced with this so there’s no problems with the polishing.

Daphne Gilpin
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Daphne Gilpin

Thanks for explaining that the process of polishing concrete floors includes sealing cracks with a sealer or epoxy. My husband and I just bought a retail building with concrete floors, and we think having them polished would help bring some sparkle back to them. I’m glad I read your article because now I know what to expect from the process of having the floors finished.

Michael Richard
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Michael Richard

Thanks for this resourceful article. I have just bookmarked this page so I don’t miss any more of these.

Concrete etc
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Concrete etc

There are some interesting points in time in this article but I don’t know if I see all of them center to heart. There is some validity but I will take hold opinion until I look into it further. Good article, thanks and we want more! Added to Feed Burner as well

Adam Golightly
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Adam Golightly

My uncle is thinking about getting a polished concrete floor for his garage and basement so that it will be easy to clean while still looking really nice. He would really like to get it done by a professional so that it is done right. I liked what you said about how he should make sure that there aren’t any cracks by sealing them.