The Hardscaper Blog:

Full-Depth Polished Floors VS Polished Overlays

Showcasing an example of Modena overlay Polished floors at Health Peak Offices completely furnished.

Most interior architects understand that full-depth polished floors are installed on new construction whereas polished overlays are installed on renovation projects, but is there more to consider while choosing a flooring option? What are the other, less-discussed differences, and what effects will they make on your final design? 

The four main differences between full-depth polished floors and Modena polished overlay are consistency, composition, cost, and cure time. As we dive into these categories, we hope you see that one option isn’t better than the other, but rather, each has its strengths and could be the better option depending on the project.



Showcasing an example of full-Depth polished concrete floors on existing floors.
Polished Floor on Existing Concrete

Since full-depth polished concrete is poured with slight variations in elevation, every floor will have pockets of deeper aggregate exposure. The only way to avoid uneven full-depth floors is by doing a deep grind on the entire floor. Additionally, count on occasional shrinkage cracks in full-depth floors. 

Designers wanting uniform aggregate exposure typically go for Modena for their polished flooring option. Not only does this product guarantee uniform aggregate exposure, but its non-shrink mix eliminates nearly all cracking.


Modena flooring at Dairy Block office lobby.
Dairy Block Modena

A strong floor is a long-lasting floor. At Colorado Hardscapes, we don’t settle for full-depth polished floors with less than 4,500 PSI. That being said, Modena has a standard PSI of 7,000.

 As far as colors go, in both products, color possibilities are limitless for aggregate, integral colors, and dyes. 

If you’re looking for aggregate exposure over ½” in diameter, full-depth polished concrete is the practical choice. Although Modena has the potential for large, exposed aggregate, it would mean increasing the thickness and therefore increasing its price.

While Modena isn’t practical for large-exposed aggregate, at 3/8ths” thick, it opens the door for zinc divider strips. For example, at Dairy Block, our clients chose to install Modena on a newly poured sub-slab to include the desired pattern using divider strips. 


If cost is your primary concern, full-depth polished concrete is going to be your best choice for new construction. Modena is typically twice the price of full-depth floors for new construction. On the other hand, if you’re looking to replace old, ugly concrete floors, Modena polished overlay always beats the cost of a full tear-out and re-installation.


Markley Honda

Finally, let’s talk about cure time. For full-depth polished concrete, cure time takes at least 14 days before continuing the polishing process. In contrast, Modena’s cure time only takes one day. This is one of the most enticing traits of Modena, especially for those short on time. 


At the Health Peak offices, Boots Construction contracted us to install 5,600 SF of grey Modena on top of their existing concrete floor. We didn’t add any specialty aggregate, dye, or integral color to the mix to achieve the desired minimalist look. You may be wondering why the client didn’t decide to just polish the existing, uncolored concrete. This decision was a lot more thought out than what may be perceived at first glance. 

Health Peak Office

The client had a few things in mind. Firstly, they wanted even exposure of their floors without doing a deep grind. Secondly, many shrinkage cracks had formed on the existing concrete, again, failing to meet the requirements of the client. Lastly, there was a recessed area next to the elevators. Patching this space to achieve equal elevation would risk a visual contrast between the two areas. 

For this project, Modena was the obvious choice, although, it all came down to preference.  If you like the look of industrial/rustic floors, polished concrete will get you there at a comparably low price. In contrast, if you need consistent exposure or zinc divider strips, Modena will go above and beyond your expectations for old and new construction. 

Health Peak Office


Overlays and full-depth polished floors vary greatly when comparing color, consistency, composition, cost, and cure time. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed once you realize the many possibilities. We’ve found that our Design Center is the best tool for narrowing them down into a handful of options. If there’s one thing we hope you take away, it’s that one product is not necessarily better than another. Feel free to stop by or call our office to schedule an appointment at our Design Center. We’d love to help you in your process.

If you would like to know more about the differences between full-depth polished concrete and overlays, please feel free to contact Colorado Hardscapes at 303•750•8200.