Polished Concrete Floors Explained

Few Tips for selecting a suitable polished concrete style & installation requirements.
How do you determine what is the most suitable polished concrete floors method?
What should be recommended to my Architect, Builder & polishing contractor to assist in achieving my goals to high industry standards?

Polished Concrete Floors & Finishing Standards

Informed Choices

When considering polished concrete, the 7 key points below should be considered. Do please take these polished concrete flooring recommendations into consideration early in your building or renovating process. 

1. What is my desired result and look?
2. Can the finish be re-furbished with minimal disruption and cost?
3. How do I expect my polished concrete flooring to perform?
4. Do I have the ability to maintain my chosen finish?
5. What type of environment is it to be, is it new concrete or a refurbishment application?
6. Ensure there is a specification clearly detailing the process in its entirety.
7. Clear understanding of maintenance requirements and warranties.

Economic Value

Use of the construction slab to be the floor finish offers genuine savings. Applied coatings and floor coverings require minimum floor tolerances and installations standards which requires the floor to be prepared correctly. Because these requirements are quite often excluded the real  cost are not noted. 

Removing existing floor coverings leaves behind the flooring glue. Existing floor coatings in poor condition need to be fully removed.  Therefore floor condition plays a key role which usually blows out the original budget.

Polished concrete will save plenty of money. Larger the facility floor, the more attractive the savings will be. Saving is calculated over a 6 to 8 year cycle. As mentioned earlier, if the floor condition is beat up, polished concrete may not be viable. This when we would most likely suggest a quality commercial grade floor coating system.

Polished concrete with clear finish floor coating have their key application areas for sure. But when clear finis polished concrete is called up, these coatings will cost a lot more in the long term.

Finally, we can guide you through what is most appropriate for your requirements.   

Defining the Quality of Polished Concrete Flooring

What It Is

Mechanically polished concrete floors when done correctly, is a ecological concrete floor treatment. Correct procedures eliminates any concrete floor dust issues. This treatment is rather cost effective simply due to the concrete surface improvement.

This procedure is called densifying. As a result, chemical reaction occurs which basically glues the cement paste and sand together.  We won’t go in to detail on this reaction here but you can certainly look in to it.

There are many benefits mechanically polishing concrete floors offers in contrast to film coat sealers. Mechanically refining is a total grinding and polishing process that utilise purpose designed diamonds. These diamonds are bonded in metal and resin compounds to achieve specific tasks.

minimum aggregatehiperfloor polished concrete finished to lower gloss
Example of coating free, mechanical polished concrete to a new home

Specially blended concrete hardeners and impregnating sealers are important too.  This type of sealer forms a barrier near the surface rather then sitting on top. This barrier is therefore invisible. Polishing can be done using wet and dry methods.  Dry polishing is Ultimate Floors preferred method. Slurry from wet work is harder to contain and also can be quite messy. 

Some Liquid Magic

The whole mechanical refined process and silicate treatments structurally changes the concrete wear zone transforming it into an extremely hard, easy on the eye surface that is smooth to super smooth.

Exceptional resistances to abrasion is a shining light also. Simply being a process that has zero top coatings applied, the mechanically polished concrete will not fade, have problems with coatings peeling or having a yellow look from UV light effect over time. Concrete floor polishing equipment is far from equal.

It Is a System

Truly polished concrete floors are crafted with many refinement steps to achieve ongoing gloss retention. Achieving a visually glossy surface can be manipulated by unethical measures in the industry that leave a floor looking fantastic today, though looked aged in a relatively short time.

Ensuring your home of facilities mechanically polished concrete floors are as the contractor committed to, can be tested for the quality of refinement Protect your investment and have an independent scientific testing method to hold the concrete polishing contractor accountable. Further consultation and technical information can be provided.

What It Is Not

Clear top coat sealers in most cases are passed off as “Polished Concrete”. This adds further confusion when clear coatings like urethane’s, acrylics or epoxies are used to protect or enhance concrete floors. Polished concrete tends to be more about a look then a method these days.

Coatings are quite often used and you may not be aware there are better options. Contractors are applying them as part of their process which may not be in your best interest. Generally speaking, concrete top coat sealers and coatings do the same job of protecting the porous concrete surface.

Coatings have a place to fit in with budgets or something shorter term, though the resistance to marking, peeling, chipping or general performance varies.

Follow Up

If you to choose a clear coated finishes make sure you know the name and type as this will help you out with a compatible sealer for future maintenance top coats. Coated finishes are put into 2 categories; grind & seal for external and honed & sealed for internal areas.

Honed & sealed comes under the topical polished category. All these coatings perform differently and some are not even designed to be used on concrete. During and after the application of these coatings they need to be buffed with a high speed buffer for the shine to be produced and regular buffing to keep the shine along with maintenance top-up coats.

honed & sealed external using water based acrylic
Water based acylic provides basic performance for this grind & sealed situation

Failures Do Happen

Unfortunately, to many coating applications go bad. This may be an environment or applicator issue or a combination of both. The most common problems are, moisture and alkalinity which are easily tested for.

Moisture test is an elimination process to ensure the concrete surface, regardless of age meets the Australian Standards for coatings to concrete substrates. A simple PH test for alkaline levels is recommended where moisture testing is beyond the acceptable margins.

Some Awesomeness

All in all, honed & sealed polished concrete is still an awesome look, however lacks the long term durability of mechanical polished concrete floors such as our in house Designed Polished Concrete and Husqvarna HiPERFLOOR

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