Concrete is currently very popular throughout architecture and home design, a fact that extends to polished concrete floors. The concrete slab serving as the foundation of your home once had to be covered up by a “suitable” flooring material such as hardwood or tile, but this is no longer the case. Today, polished concrete floors are considered chic and a perfect compliment for any home with a modern design.
Whether you’ve already decided to go with polished concrete floors or are still mulling it over, this guide will explain all of the advantages polished concrete floors have to offer.
What Is A Polished Concrete Floor?
Polished concrete floors are simply concrete floors treated with a chemical densifier to fill in the natural holes and pores on the concrete’s surface. They are next ground down (like using sandpaper on wood) using fine grinding tools. You can choose how fine you want your concrete floors to be. For instance, 400 grit is widely considered the bare minimum for polished concrete floors, but a floor with 3,000 grit will be noticeably smoother than that standard.
This means that polished concrete floors are measured by grade (how many exposed aggregates are there?) and finish (how shiny is it?).
The Appeal Of Polished Concrete Floors
First and foremost, concrete flooring is considered a “green” flooring solution because of its sustainability. It takes your home’s pre-existing foundation and utilizes it as your floor, preventing you from needing to burn the materials and energy typically required to put in a floor.
Concrete also offers a modern aesthetic that serves as the perfect complement to modern design. It has an industrial vibe and a clean, straightforward look that goes with nearly any interior design.
The Benefits Of Concrete Flooring
One of the biggest benefits enjoyed by polished concrete floors over other flooring solutions is how easy it is to maintain. Once your floor is polished and sealed, maintenance becomes very easy. You can clean it with a simple mop and soapy water once per week, or spot clean with a rag as necessary. It’s really quite forgiving in the cleaning department!
Allergens such as dust mites and mildew are also incapable of existing in a concrete floor, making it an excellent choice if anybody in your family suffers from severe allergies. There is no such thing as humidity or moisture damage for a concrete floor either, making it an extremely desirable material in areas where the threat of water damage is omnipresent.
Furthermore, polished concrete floors are extremely durable. Other flooring materials such as hardwood chip and dent over time, but not concrete. In fact, concrete floors can last over a hundred years if properly maintained, while tile’s average life expectancy is only 10-20 years. This makes concrete flooring a viable long-term solution in a space where such durability is rarely found.
Contrary to what you might expect from the smooth appearance of a concrete floor, they are also non-slippery. As long as you keep it clean and dry, polished concrete is a safer alternative to polished marble or linoleum tile.
How Can Polished Concrete Be Customized?
If the standard concrete grey is too cold for your tastes, numerous options are available to help you tailor it to your liking. For example, stains and dyes can transform your concrete flooring into any color you choose, ensuring a perfect match with your decor. Better yet, the staining or dying process will give your concrete floors an even more polished look, lending it a more appealing appearance and feel.
Concrete is extremely malleable while it’s wet, allowing scores, radial designs, or any other pattern you can think of to be drawn into it with ease. This can add geometry and complexity to your space, providing stylistic options that other materials simply cannot match. Take advantage of the blank slate offered by concrete to come up with something truly amazing!
It is also possible to enhance the appearance of your concrete floors with accessories. For example, a small plush rug can break up the sterile look of a shiny expanse of concrete to make the entire space feel warmer. Alternatively, set up a striking color contrast between your shiny concrete flooring and your walls. Whether you go dark floor-light walls or light floor-dark walls, you’ll add a crisp aesthetic to the entire room. Natural elements such as wood or faux animal skins also provide a stunning contrast with concrete’s industrial feel, so you can use those if they appeal to you. The possibilities are endless!
Like any other concrete surface, concrete floors also benefit from borders that help it feel more finished. This is a great way to add an extra layer of sophistication to your space.
Retrofit Vs. New: Which One Is Right For You?
New concrete flooring is easier to install and therefore cheaper, but it is certainly possible to retrofit concrete flooring into an existing home. The retrofit process involves either cutting and sanding the existing concrete slab to make it polished or adding an upper layer of polished concrete at least 50 mm thick over the existing foundation.
If you opt for new concrete flooring, you get some additional stylistic choices to make. Decorative aggregates such as granite, black basalt mix, or riverstone may be mixed into your concrete to give it a unique look. You can add additional materials during the finishing phase, such as glass, seashells, metal, and/or chips of porcelain as well. These options help ensure that you end up with a concrete flooring system that you absolutely love!
How Do Concrete Floors Measure Up To Alternatives In Price?
Price is an important consideration for nearly everything, and the flooring system you choose is no exception. As with anything else, the cost of polished concrete floors depends on the complexity of your vision, whether it’s new or a retrofit, and how much customization you’re interested in. The good news is that concrete floors are often among the cheaper options available to you.
On average, concrete is slightly cheaper than popular flooring options such as vinyl, linoleum, or wall-to-wall carpeting. It’s 33 percent to 50 percent cheaper than hardwood or ceramic tile flooring, and obviously much less expensive than natural stone.
The bottom line is that polished concrete floors are cheaper, easier to maintain, and more durable than most other flooring options on the market today. Some people may be turned off by its strong industrial vibe, but a variety of options are available to help you tailor its appearance to your specific home. Concrete floors are clearly worthy of consideration in your next home.