Setting Expectations in Polished Concrete Floors

Polished floors in stair treads polished to a deep grind.

WHAT TO INSPECT, EXPECT, AND SIMPLY ACCEPT ABOUT POLISHED CONCRETE.

Generally, the secret to success in construction and design is no secret at all. It’s a dedication to promises made and promises kept and planning to be ready for anything. One thing you ought to be able to avoid is ghosts in your polished concrete floors. 

Colorado Hardscapes is committed to helping clients and consumers understand the wonderful possibilities of decorative concrete. Among the many types of decorative concrete, perhaps the most misunderstood is polished concrete. Typically used as a flooring application, but also as counter-tops or stair treads or even some vertical applications. Polished concrete has a well-deserved reputation for being low-maintenance and durable with a unique beauty that rivals terrazzo or stone. 

Designers and builders, however, are obligated to look beyond the basics. They have to make right-fit decisions about material selections that will still look great after 30 years of use. Let’s start with the most important thing. If you want a polished concrete floor that looks fantastic for a lifetime, then you need to understand that the floor will only be as good as the slab beneath it. Cracks, joints, chips, or wear patterns, will all shine through the end product when the floor is polished.

Here are a few things to think about in a structural slab when considering polished concrete.

Cracks and Joints: 

The years and types of lives a concrete slab has lived, the more likely the surface is to have imperfections. Cracks and joints can and should be filled. Doing so will diminish their impact, but imperfections are part of what gives a polished concrete floor its beautiful, amorphous character. 

Level Surfaces: 

Just as the concrete is likely to have scars, the building’s imperfections can be evident in how level the concrete currently is. Where there are inconsistencies in the slab, there will be inconsistencies in the polished surface rendering visible larger pieces of aggregate. Consistency in the finished product is largely dependent on what is possible and what the client is willing to pay to achieve it.

Patches, Trenches, and Batches: 

Everything matters because everything shows through the finished surface. Previous concrete patching and/or trench work can be unsightly. Even the possibility of different loads of concrete in the original materials must be assessed.  

After considering the condition of the structural slab, it’s important to consider what flooring materials were previously applied and what polish concrete means during construction. 

Tile: 

Scared of ghosts, here they are! The glue used by VCT, ceramic, travertine stone, or other tiles penetrates the concrete below. Typically this is only at the seams and discolors the subslab in a possible grid-like pattern. Creating an effect called ghosting and unless expected, some owners may hate it. We’ll steer you in a different direction. 

Carpet: 

Carpet glue can be problematic and difficult to remove. That means costly and time-consuming.

Armor Plating: 

Can you imagine this stuff looking good? We can’t.

Embeds: 

Construction means and methods, materials, and know-how have been changing since people started creating structures. Whatever is in the slab will likely have an impact on a polished concrete floor for better or worse.

Intrusive Construction: 

With basically any type of concrete project, the truth is it is heavy, messy, and loud. There is no noiseless, dustless concrete polishing.

Site Mock-Up: 

Expect your contractor to develop an on-site mock-up. Working with the exact materials and conditions is imperative. This is closest you’ll get to see what the finished product will look like before the floor is done. 

When thoroughly explored, considered and appropriately chosen polished concrete floors meet every expectation of them. Colorado Hardscapes is here to help. Contact us today to consider the possibilities of polished concrete in local applications.