The durability and aesthetic appeal of polished concrete floors have become very popular in for years for both residential and commercial spaces. Their affordability and durability make them attractive for both home and business owners. In addition, they are environmentally friendly. The ability to select the color, sheen, including a high gloss glass-like finish, make them extremely popular in many retail, commercial and residential applications.
When you begin looking into exposed concrete flooring, you’ll find the options for sealed concrete and polished concrete. This may have you wondering what is the difference between sealed and polished concrete? They both can appear similar, but there are a few differences.
While the end product may seem similar, the processes are different. The more labor-intensive is polished concrete. It requires more steps during the finishing process. Simply put, polishing concrete involves polishing a concrete slab. This involves using floor grinders equipped with industrial-grade diamonds. The surface is repeatedly polished with increasingly finer diamond abrasives to reach the polish level desired. In the industry, this is defined by the levels of 1-4 which represents a matte finish to a high gloss. This process takes time to achieve the desired results.
Another approach is sealed concrete. During this process, the gloss shine is reached by using a sealer. While this process is faster and more affordable, it is also less durable. This makes it less useful in high traffic areas.
The type of commercial space or residential space will help determine the amount of shine or light that is desired. For instance, a warehouse may not need to have a high amount of shine on the concrete flooring. However, a restaurant or brewpub may desire a high gloss finish for the additional light and aesthetic appeal. It really comes down to the desired finished look.
The name of this process accurately represents the process. First, the concrete flooring is ground down, then it is sealed. The grinding process removes any contaminants and exposes any cracks so they can be repaired. The flooring is then cleaned and sealed. In some cases, additional layers of sealant may be recommended. If you choose, dyes can be added to create earth tones to the flooring.
When you are trying to decide between grinding and polishing concrete, there are a few additional things to consider. First is the appearance. While it may seem to be difficult to tell the difference between the two, the grind and seal flooring will have a more consistent appearance. This is because the finish is achieved with a topical sealant rather than relying on the natural profile of the concrete. If you are attempting to have matching concrete flooring throughout a space, this may be a better option. Also, with grind/seal flooring, you have the option to introduce color stains to produce desired effects.
When looking at space use, the needed durability will affect your decision between the two processes. High traffic areas generally use polished concrete for its long-lasting finish. It is scratch-resistant and needs only minimal maintenance to last for decades. When you use sealed concrete, they may need to be resealed each year.
If the area is routinely exposed to stains such as oil, grease or spills, sealed concrete floors will be the better option. They are easily cleaned. Many other flooring options would be permanently damaged from exposure to these contaminants. For multi-use areas, you may consider using a combination of polished and sealed concrete depending on the use of the space. For instance, the entrance area of a home may have polished concrete. High traffic areas, like the kitchen or bathroom, may benefit from having sealed concrete flooring. The option of using both techniques can be the best of both worlds.
While polished concrete flooring requires more labor and costs, if used strategically, the desired results can be achieved. Still, sealed concrete flooring has its use in both homes and businesses. When faced with a choice, it’s important to approach a space thoughtfully to achieve the best results.