Characteristics of a Polished Concrete Floor

Polished Concrete is an economical, durable, low-maintenance flooring solution that is aesthetically pleasing which can be made into a one-of-a-kind work of art. This unique flooring system has many characteristics you should know about before deciding on what flooring solution best fits your needs. Below is a list of these characteristics inherent with a polished concrete floor.

Tips to Remember

  • Some floors may be completely damaged, in which case an overlayment product may better fit your needs.
  • For existing construction we will work with the condition of the concrete. Cracks, chips and stains that are currently in the concrete may still be visible upon completion of polishing. If the current floor is uneven there may be extreme variation in aggregate exposure.
  • For new construction we can work with and advise the contractor that will be placing the concrete. This will help achieve the proper conditions for polishing. If our recommendations for the placement of concrete are not achieved the finished product can be greatly effected.
  • Our recommended contractor is K. Johnson Construction, Inc. They have placed many floors that have met or exceeded our expectations for a polished concrete.

If the Concrete is New or Old it is Subject to Random Cracking

If existing concrete is full of cracks and chip outs polished concrete may not be the right choice for your flooring needs.

For new concrete we can work with you to design a control joint pattern to minimize cracking. We recommend a max of 10 ft between control joints. Our assistance with a control joint layout does not guarantee that your floor will be free from random cracking.

Cracks in both old and new concrete will be filled to remove any hole that may act as a “dirt trap”. Filled cracks are a patch and will not match with the remainder of the floor. They will still be noticeable upon completion of the polishing process.

All Concrete will have a Variation in Finish and Aggregate Exposure

For existing construction we have no control over how the concrete was placed. Under these circumstances we cannot guarantee uniformity in finish or aggregate exposure.

For new construction we can recommend finishing techniques that can help produce better uniformity in aggregate exposure. However, even in new construction aggregate exposure will vary.

Aggregate exposure at edges may not be consistent with the majority of the floor. We recommend a base trim around edges. (Equipment characteristics limit grinding and polishing to within ½” of edge.)

The floor under toe-kick, drinking fountains and other similar objects may not have the same consistency as the main body of the floor. We recommend grinding and polishing prior to the installation of such objects.

Highs and lows in the floor may cause areas of greater and lesser grind that can lead to a variation in aggregate exposure and finish.

Samples will not Represent the Finished Look over the Entire Floor

Starter samples, usually 12″ x 12″, are a representation of average color, level of finish and aggregate exposure for a given job. There will be a variation seen throughout the finished floor which will not match perfectly with the given sample.

On-site samples, usually 10′ x 10′, will give a better representation of color, level of finish, and aggregate exposure. The characteristics of an on site sample cannot be reproduced over the entire concrete floor. Every piece of concrete has variations that can be found throughout the floor prior to polishing. These variations will transfer over during the polishing process. Therefore, color, level of finish and aggregate exposure will differ from that of the on-site sample.

The Finished Floor is Susceptible to Staining, Scratching, and Chip-outs

On most floors there will be a densifier and stain resist product used which will help protect the floor. These products will buy time to clean a spill. If spills are not cleaned in a timely manor the densifier and stain resist will not prevent stains. Some acidic products may stain or “etch” the surface instantly depending on the level of acid in a product. The best prevention to staining is cleaning all spills in a timely manner.

A polished concrete surface is a dense surface but may scratch if a heavy or sharp object is pulled across the floor.

If an object is dropped on the floor the surface may chip, leaving behind a void in the concrete.

For staining, scratches, and chip-outs there are ways to help mask the problem, but there may not be means to remove the problem. Stains may be reground and polished, but if the stain penetrated deep into the concrete, it will remain after re-polishing. Depending on the size, scratches and chip-outs may be filled but will still be noticeable after completion.

It is essential that the floor be kept clean. Dirt and other contaminants on a polished concrete floor will act as sandpaper and will diminish the floor’s appearance. Polished concrete is not produced in a factory. It will not be completely uniform throughout the surface, along the edges, in corners or underneath objects.

If you are looking for a completely uniform system, polished concrete is not the right flooring choice to fit your needs. However, if you are looking for a unique flooring option that is beautiful, long lasting and relatively easy to maintain, polished concrete is the right choice for your flooring needs.