I hear it about once a week, a client comes into our showroom and says something along the lines of, “I want a concrete floor because I want a durable no-maintenance floor.” If only it were that easy! We need to first address the many different definitions of concrete floors. Let’s begin with overlays. Overlays are applied over existing floors and add anywhere from a credit card thickness to 3/4” to the existing slab, depending on which finish is selected: stamped, broomed or troweled. Another option utilizes architectural concrete applications of 3” thick or more. These options offer finishes that range from staining and sealing to varying levels of polishing that add a densifier to the surface. Decorative saw cuts can also be used to break up colors into patterns or separate rooms and boundaries. Finally, starting from the ground up by pouring a fresh slab allows a change in the mix design; the options with this choice are limitless.
Now that we know the basic definitions and processes, let’s address the common myths:
Myth #1: Concrete is maintenance free. The truth: Nothing, I repeat, nothing, is maintenance free. The lowest maintenance choice would be a true polished concrete floor. These require no re-sealing or re-waxing and can be cleaned with a neutral sealer.Over time, they may require re-burnishing or diamond polishing to restore the shine. All other concrete floors require some degree of maintenance through re-sealing and/or re-waxing.
Retail flooring with obvious traffic wear is everywhere. This chronic problem is due to improper installation or maintenance. The floor at Colorado College in Colorado Springs gives us a fine example of a well-maintained floor. This floor was placed around a decade ago and still has its original gloss levels due to the level of maintenance taken by the on-site staff.
Myth #2: All concrete polishing processes are virtually the same. The truth: Far from it – every contractor and architect has his/her own interpretation of what a polished floor is and should be. Some think a couple passes of a polisher qualifies a floor as “polished”. However, the true benefits of a polished floor come from a thorough process which includes a densifier and stain blocker worked into the floor with the passes of the diamond grinding and polishing pads. We recommend the Bomanite Polishing system, which is a seven-step process. Learn more about Bomanite’s different systems here.
Myth #3: Concrete floors are the most durable flooring option. The truth: The durability of the floor depends on the process. If you choose a polished floor, I would agree, apolished concrete floor is extremely durable. However, if you choose a micro-topping system, it has many of the same characteristics of a fine wood floor. It can be dinged, dented and scratched.
Your choice of flooring will depend on what is most important to you – maintenance-free, aesthetics, or a combination of both. Each application has its benefits.