Kitchen with polished concrete floorKitchen with polished concrete floor

Choosing the right finish for your polished concrete floors

See all articlesPolished concrete floors finishes
Concrete polishing
Policrete Team
Policrete Team
May 15, 2019
minute read

While some people might think that concrete only comes in one dull-looking grey finish, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Concrete is extremely versatile - a number of different colours and finishes can be applied to concrete surfaces, meaning you can easily achieve the right look for your home or business.

Getting the right look for your polished concrete floors involves careful planning and the right choice of concrete mix, grind level and surface finish.

Use this guide to help you choose the right colour, aggregate exposure (the amount of sand and small stones visible underneath the concrete surface) and finish to achieve the perfect polished concrete floors for your home or business.

Choosing the right colour and texture for your polished concrete floors

At Policrete, we source most of our concrete from Hanson, a supplier of premium landscape and decorative concrete, aggregates and sands for homeowners and architects, as well as durable concrete mixes for commercial buildings.

Hanson provides three types of coloured and textured decorative concretes, so you can pick the right concrete floors to match your design aesthetic.

Hanson Imagecrete Colour Concrete

Hanson Imagecrete Colour concrete
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Hanson Imagecrete Colour concrete comes in 62 different colours, so it’s easy to match the colour of your concrete with the design aesthetic of your home, business or outdoor space.

The colour is achieved by dispersing a liquid oxide colour mix into the concrete. Because these oxides don’t break down, the colour remains vibrant, even if the concrete is scratched or chipped.

Hanson Imagecrete Exposed Concrete

Hanson Imagecrete Exposed concrete
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Hanson Imagecrete Exposed concrete is a hard-wearing and low-maintenance surface that’s created by exposing some of the aggregates in the concrete. It has a natural look and is slip resistant, making it perfect for use in outdoor spaces. This is also a great option for high-traffic areas because it’s highly durable.

Hanson Imagecrete Polished Concrete

Hanson Imagecrete Polished concrete
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Hanson Imagecrete Polished concrete is a high-quality decorative concrete that’s perfect for those wanting an on-trend look for their home or business. The look is achieved by exposing the aggregates and then honing and polishing the surface to either a matte, gloss or high-gloss finish.

Polishing concrete actually strengthens the material, leaving it strong, smooth and resistant to stains. This means it’s really easy to clean and maintain.

Choosing the right level of aggregate exposure for your polished concrete floors

Before the concrete is poured, you’ll need to choose how much aggregate you’d like to expose. This refers to how much of the stone that sits under the concrete surface is visible. You can achieve a different level of aggregate exposure depending on how deeply you grind the concrete surface. Aggregate exposure levels range from nil to minimal to full-stone exposure.

Full exposure finishes are more forgiving than nil and minimal exposures because it’s an easier finish to get right. However, with careful planning, quality installation and the right choice of concrete mix, a great looking floor can be achieved at any exposure level. That’s why it’s important to work with an experienced concrete installer. Using the best methods, tooling and practices will ensure you get the best possible result.

Nil exposure finish

Nil exposure finish
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A nil exposure finish is achieved by very lightly grinding the concrete surface (grinding less than 3mm off the surface). This results in very little to no stones showing on the surface of the concrete.

A nil exposure finish is difficult to achieve because it requires that the surface be poured perfectly flat. While difficult to achieve, working with an expert concrete installer who both pours and polishes the concrete will ensure you have more control over the entire process, giving you the best chances of achieving a good-looking nil exposure floor.

Minimal exposure finish

Minimal exposure finish
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Minimal exposures are achieved by applying a light grind to the surface (grinding 2mm to 5mm off the surface) to expose small amounts of stone. This is often called a ‘salt and pepper’ look due to its uneven nature - some areas of the surface may have no exposure and some may have heavy exposure.

Minimal exposure is a more cost-effective option than nil or full exposure, while still achieving the much-loved industrial look.

Full exposure finish

Full exposure finish
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Full exposure is achieved by heavily grinding down the surface (grinding more than 5mm off the surface). With full exposure, you can see all the stones on the surface.

Full exposure is a popular choice in homes, restaurants and retail stores for its unique decorative look. It is, however, more labour intensive as it requires heavier grinding.

Choosing the right gloss level for your polished concrete floors

After grinding, concrete floors are honed and polished using different levels of diamond grit to achieve the desired gloss or shine level. The finer the diamond grit used, the higher the degree of shine.

Here you have three options to choose from: matte, semi-gloss or high-gloss.

Matte finish

Matte finish
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If you’re after an industrial chic or rustic look, a matte finish could be the right choice for your home or business. It creates a raw or natural look that is popular in restaurants, cafes and homes.

It’s also a good option for commercial floors and warehouses because it’s easy to maintain and won’t show dirt as easily. Because it’s less reflective, matte finishes can hide imperfections in your floor.

Semi-gloss finish

A popular option, semi-gloss has a lustrous shine, but is easier to keep clean than high-gloss finishes. Some imperfections may still visible, but semi-gloss floors still achieve good light reflectivity and sheen.

High-gloss finish

High-gloss finish
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Favoured in high-end homes and businesses, a stunning high-gloss finish gives polished floors the ‘wow factor’. High-gloss floors do require more maintenance than the other options, and dirty floors are more obvious, so regular cleaning is required to keep them looking great.

Due to how deep the polish is, high-gloss finishes will have the least amount of imperfections and the highest level of light reflectivity. This makes these mirror-like floors a great option when you want to create a bright space.

How to get the right look for your polished concrete floors

The key to getting the right look for your floors is careful planning. By working with a professional concrete specialist from the very start of your project, you’ll be able to make the right choices at every stage to achieve the exact look you want for your home or business. Get in touch with the Policrete team to learn more about different concrete finishes and looks.

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