At Colorado Hardscapes, we do our best to help customers set realistic expectations. Sometimes it is difficult to foresee all of the potential site conditions of a possible project, but when it is feasible, certain things should be discussed. Let’s talk about polished concrete floors today. I personally love polished concrete. It’s a great finish, it can be decorative, and it’s relatively low in maintenance. Beautiful, unique floors are possible that can rival any terrazzo or even polished stone floors. They also can utilize the building’s structural concrete floor and not have to cover it up with any other finish with lower life-cycles.
However, as great as polished floors are, they have their limitations as well. By understanding their limitations, hopefully we can help guide design and installation decisions.
Your polished concrete floor is only as good as the concrete slab. Ok, that pretty much sums up EVERYTHING I want to say here. But, let me elaborate.
- If your floor has cracks and/or joints (let me tell you now, it probably does) – those cracks will be seen, and there’s a good chance they will be more defined with the polishing process. They can (and should) be filled, but will never “disappear”.
- If your floor is not perfectly flat, you will have inconsistencies on the surface. There may be areas where you see just a cement polished area and others where you see larger aggregate. Personally, this is what I love about polished floors – the organic uniqueness of them. However, if you’re expecting uniformity, either change your expectations or do everything in your power to have a perfectly flat floor (even at the edges where concrete tends to curl as it cures).
- If you need to have patches, dig trenches, or have different loads of concrete, it will be noticeable.
With existing floors – the finish that is currently on the concrete surface may affect the polished concrete’s final appearance.
- Tiles… ugh, these rank pretty high on my least favorite surface to remove off of concrete floors that will be polished. Usually because the tiles (VCT, ceramic, etc) have probably been there for awhile and this phenomenon called “ghosting” is 97% likely to occur. For whatever reason, tiles like to haunt the floors, long after they are gone.
- Carpet – glue can be a pain to remove. It’s possible, but realize that you will be paying not only for the removal of the carpet surface, but also the glue so that we have a workable surface to polish
- Armor plating – well this stuff just isn’t fun.
- Miscellaneous embeds – with re-models of older buildings; you may never know what you’ll find in the slab until you start construction.
- It’s messy and loud – there is no such thing as dustless or noiseless when it comes to polishing concrete.
Please don’t be scared of polished concrete floors. Like I mentioned earlier, they can be the most beautiful and lower lifecycle cost flooring choice. But please, understand the limitations and potential risks associated with specifying a polished concrete floor. If you need assistance specifying or reviewing a floor for potential polishing, please call Colorado Hardscapes. We can help you determine if a particular floor could be a potential candidate for a stunning polished concrete floor and the best methods to achieve your design intent. And with any concrete finish, I highly recommend having your contractor, whomever you choose, do an on-site mockup showing crack repairs, edges, and anything else that may come up in your particular project.