Myths of Concrete! Understanding What You’re Standing On

Bi-colored, smooth Troweled MicroTop floors.

DEBUNKING THE MYTHS OF CONCRETE TO REVEAL THE TRUTH

Frequently clients who want polished concrete floors tell us they want a durable, low maintenance material that lasts a lifetime. High-performance architectural concrete certainly checks all the boxes, but there are differences. We think understanding the wide variety of options in concrete flooring is important, otherwise, you may pick a floor that is ill-suited to your needs. Let’s first start with the basic types of concrete floors.

Overlays

Beginning with the thinnest concrete floor application, an overlay (pictured above). The overlay is applied on top of an existing concrete slab anywhere from 3mm- to ¾” – thick depending on the type and selected finish. Options in overlays include both Modena or Microtop, which come in a wide range of colors, and textures for the look your after. 

Topping Slab

Adding a bonded slab of 3” or more increases the range of design possibilities. Through polishing techniques, toppings can incorporate decorative stains, seals, and surface-applied densifiers. Greater thickness allows for decorative saw cuts or imprinting (stamped concrete) that can break colors into patterns or establish room boundaries. 

New Slab

When installing a completely new slab, the options are limited only, by the possibilities of concrete and the client’s imagination.

Consider some common myths about concrete floors that relate to expectations and what is best for a project.

Myth #1: Concrete is maintenance-free!

Though no flooring is maintenance-free, polished concrete offers some incredibly low-maintenance possibilities. Polished concrete floors don’t require annual resealing or waxing and can be cleaned with a natural sealer. When actually, over time polished concrete floors will benefit from re-burnishing, or diamond polishing to restore their shine. Otherwise, maintenance is as low as can be expected with any flooring material. 

All other types of concrete floors require some degree of routine maintenance in the form of either resealing, waxing, or both.

In retail applications, it is not hard to find concrete floors that have suffered the effects of time and traffic. Therefore, they no longer show well for the wear. These wear patterns caused by improper installation, lack of maintenance, or both. For example, one well-maintained floor that looks great even after a decade of use is installed at Colorado College originally completed in 2010.                                                                      

Myth #2: Concrete polishing processes are all the same.

The life and luster of a polished concrete floor is tied to both the craftsmanship and commitment applied during the polishing process. Architects, contractors, and builders may have different ideas on what exactly polished concrete means, but Colorado Hardscapes does not. Polished concrete requires adding both a densifier and a stain blocker and carefully working them into the concrete with diamond grinding and polishing pads. Colorado Hardscapes recommends using Bomanite® products and polishing system, a seven-step process that delivers rich color and premium shine.

Myth #3: The durability of all concrete is equal.

While it is true that nothing is more durable than polished concrete, the idea that all concrete floors are equally durable isn’t accurate. Durability depends on the choices made during design. Polished concrete floors offer unsurpassed durability. Micro-topping systems, however, apply only a thin layer of concrete to the surface of an existing slab leaving the decorative floor vulnerable to scratches and dents much like hardwood flooring. 

Certainly, we have an almost endless number of options; colors, hardeners, stains, dyes, finishing techniques, and additives that can be mixed with concrete, the choices feel infinite. Therefore, this can be daunting for some decision-makers. First, consider three questions as you select your flooring options. The volume of traffic? The typical use conditions? The willingness to invest in long-term maintenance? These answers will reduce the multitude of options down to the few that make sense for your situation. Consider your choices, ask questions, and learn more by scheduling a conversation about decorative concrete with Colorado Hardscapes in our new samples showroom today.

Our showroom has all the options in concrete flooring to consider. Stop by, take a look around, and we are available to answer any question you may have.