Kitchen with polished concrete floorKitchen with polished concrete floor

Everything there is to know about polished concrete

See all articlesPolished concrete guide
Commercial flooring
Policrete Team
Policrete Team
July 13, 2021
minute read

Polish up on your polished concrete knowledge

Polished concrete is one of the most beloved and in-demand floor surfaces. Gone are the days when concrete floors were exclusively for industrial districts and outdoor pools. Now, you'll find polished concrete floors everywhere from chic cafes and high end stores to suburban homes across Australia.

In this article, we're going to tell you more than you ever wanted to know about polished concrete. You'll get the inside scoop on polished concrete, with answers to the most pressing polished concrete questions.

At Policrete, we're not just the top polished concrete installers in Melbourne. We're also passionate and enthusiastic about what we do, and knowledge of this surface is absolutely concrete. Read on to find out more about polished concrete, or look around our website to learn about our polished concrete services.

What is a polished concrete floor?

Polished concrete floor

Concrete is a composite material, meaning it consists of a few different elements. It's made from an aggregate (some sort of rocky material like sand, crushed stone, or gravel) and a binding material, like cement, and water. Concrete as a material is known for its versatility, strength, and cost-effectiveness.

A polished concrete floor is made by pouring a slab of concrete on the ground, polishing it, and applying a protective finish.

Polishing dry concrete floors has only been commonplace since the 1990s, when some Tunisian workers misinterpreted their instructions and accidentally polished a hardened surface. The results were so attractive, people started polishing dry concrete right around the world.

You can find out more about what polished concrete floors are on our website.

How polished concrete became the cool surface for interior design

For many years, people tended not to use concrete for their residential floors, or even in commercial settings. Concrete was considered something of a 'working man's' surface, and was relegated to outdoor areas, factory floors, and other industrial uses.

However, industrial chic has been on the rise as a design style for decades, and the aesthetic shows no signs of abating. People are impressed by concrete's practical and visual appeal, and natural compisite material like concrete is also more ecologically sustainable and better for the environment.

Is polished concrete flooring expensive?

You might be under the false impression that polished concrete is expensive. On the contrary, polished concrete is one of the most affordable surfaces on the market. And it's not just affordable to install; doing maintenance on polished concrete floor is also easy and cheap.

When looking at both the long and short term costs of installing a polished concrete floor, it's plain to see that the surface is far from expensive. If you already have an old concrete slab at your property and are looking at having it ground and sealed, a new-looking concrete floor can be even more affordable.

Read on to find out more about the costs of polished concrete.

What are the advantages of using polished concrete in a commercial space?

Polished concrete is increasingly popular in commercial spaces, like shops, bars, supermarkets and cafes. There are a few different reasons for this:

  • The installation time for polished concrete is comparably short when compared to other flooring types. This means that down-time is reduced, which means there is less of an interruption in trading hours.
  • Polished concrete is easy to clean and maintain, and is resistant to scratches and stains. In high-traffic and potentially messy workplace environments, choosing polished concrete is a no-brainer.
  • With a trendy and stylish look, polished concrete floors add visual appeal to a business. It's a simple way to make a space more 'Instagrammable'.

Where in the home can you install polished concrete?

Polished concrete floor bathroom

Because it is so versatile and easy to clean, polished concrete is a great choice for any room in the house. In kitchens and bathrooms, polished concrete is a great alternative to tile or linoleum. Even in bedrooms, hallways, living rooms, and studies, polished concrete is a much beloved choice for floors.

Polished concrete is a far cozier surface than many people realise. It's a great foundation for rugs, and hydronic in-floor heating systems can make a concrete floor feel warm and welcoming in even the coldest parts of Australia.

Are polished concrete floors cold?

It is a common misconception that concrete floors are cold in winter. Actually, polished concrete can be one of the best surfaces to have in the house during winter.

Polished concrete is a 'thermal mass material'. This means that, unlike other types of floor, concrete is good at absorbing and storing heat. When you heat your home, polished concrete floors absorb the heat in the air and trap it. Then, after the heater has been turned off, the heat that has been stored in the concrete floors will continue to keep the home nice and warm.

Is outdoor polished concrete different to indoor polished concrete?

There are many different kinds of polished concrete floor, with some better suited to indoor areas, and others well suited to the front yard or back garden. A big difference when approaching outdoor polished concrete is that it tends to be less polished, leaving a coarser and more textured finish. Particularly smooth polished concrete is usually intended for indoor areas, because it can be slippery when wet.

There are other options for outdoor settings, like honed concrete and a grind and seal concrete finish. These finishes are more suitable for outdoor use, allowing you to have polished concrete outdoors for things like:

  • Commercial foyers
  • The pavement around swimming pools
  • Entertaining areas
  • Outdoor public spaces

How to clean polished concrete

Cleaning polished concrete floors is easy; it's much more straightforward than cleaning comparable surfaces like tile, where grout has to be taken into account, or carpet, where a deep clean can only be undertaken by a professional for a fee.

For day to day spills and maintenance, the process for cleaning polished concrete floors is simple. It only needs to consist of sweeping and/or mopping.

There are a couple of extra details to keep in mind (for example, it is important to use a cleaning agent with a neutral pH level, because that will make it easier to remove dirt particles), but mostly, cleaning polished concrete floors is a task that only requires common sense.

What is the process for installing polished concrete?

polishing concrete

Pouring and polishing a new concrete floor is a complicated task, and should only be undertaken by specialised professionals. In unskilled hands, a new slab of concrete can be ruined by structural cracks.

There are a few variables that alter the process of installation, such as whether or not you're interested in getting hydronic heating, and the level of exposure grind you would like.

In general, the process of installing a polished concrete floor involves:

  • Preparing and levelling the surface
  • Placing foils into the ground, if you want hydronic heating
  • Pouring the slab, and protecting it while it dries
  • A polish and seal to finish the surface

If you'd like to find out more about the process of installing a polished concrete floor, you can read our guide to construction timelines for pouring polished concrete.

Can you pour concrete over old concrete?

Polished concrete floors are durable, but they don't last forever. Old concrete floors can crack and start to look worse for wear, with chips and fading on the finish. Removing a concrete floor is a difficult task, so it can be tempting to just pour a new concrete floor over old concrete. While this is possible, there are some issues with the approach.

  • If the old concrete floor isn't prepared correctly, it can bond to your new concrete floor. This will result in a surface that cracks more easily than it should.
  • Pouring a new concrete floor over an old one is often not the most cost-effective way to rejuvenate the surface.
  • The new polished concrete floor will be significantly higher than the old level, because it's being poured on top of it. This might make the floor in one room higher than another, or cause a host of other logistical issues.

Often, a better approach is to grind and seal your old polished concrete floors. This removes the top layer of the concrete floor, taking away the imperfections and ravages of time, and leaves you with a very affordable new-looking floor. Concrete screeding is also a common practice, where the slab is ground back and a screed is applied to the surface.

Why should I choose polished concrete over other floor surfaces?

Polished concrete has several advantages over tiles, carpet, floorboards, and other flooring types. Some factors are subjective — we think that polished concrete is beautiful, for example, but taste and style are deeply personal considerations.

Other factors, however, are entirely objective. When it comes to things like the lower price of polished concrete and the ease of cleaning a polished concrete floor, there's no argument that polished concrete is the better choice.

Four of the biggest factors that people reference when choosing polished concrete floors over another surface are:

  • Maintenance
  • Versatility
  • Warmth and energy efficiency
  • Sustainability

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