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What is Polished Concrete?

Katie Munday
Katie Munday

Polished concrete is a construction material that is most often used as flooring. It is created when ordinary concrete is ground down and then polished. Some benefits of polished concrete are that it is relatively low-cost, requires little maintenance, is durable and has a unique appearance. Its shortcomings are that it might be uncomfortable to stand on for long periods of time, might make a room feel colder and might make louder sounds when walked upon than other kinds of flooring. Polished concrete can be found in office buildings, government buildings, warehouses, retail stores and many other venues.

Traditionally, concrete is polished using a special machine. The machine rubs diamond-containing disks or segments against the concrete to wear it down. Diamonds are used because their hardness helps grind concrete most effectively.

A concrete floor is one inexpensive option for hard flooring.
A concrete floor is one inexpensive option for hard flooring.

Grinding and polishing are done in several steps. Initially, segments with a coarser or rougher grit are used, and although the amount of grinding needed at this stage varies, rough grinding is typically done three or four times. After this, a hardener is applied to the concrete to fill in its pores.

Next, disks with a finer diamond grit are used to again grind down the concrete. This fine grinding, called polishing, is also done several times and continues until the floor achieves the desired finish. Finally, a sealant might be — but is not always — applied to the concrete.

Polished concrete flooring requires little maintenance. It periodically needs mopping, but other than this, it requires little regular cleaning or maintenance. How often it needs mopping depends on the amount of traffic on the floor and the type of use.

This type of flooring does not need to be waxed, thanks to the hardening solution applied to it during grinding. It also resists scuff marks, stains and other normal signs of wear. It is durable and does not need to be replaced as often as some kinds of flooring, so it is considered to be environmentally friendly. Polished concrete does, however, need to be refinished every five to 10 years.

Polished concrete has a distinctive look. It is very smooth and has a glassy appearance, because it reflects a significant amount of light. Sometimes the concrete aggregate will be exposed.

Not all polished concrete flooring is identical, though. It can be decorated in a variety of ways. These variations might involve altering the color or texture of the concrete. For example, polished concrete can be painted, stamped, patterned or stained.

One possible downside to polished concrete flooring is that its hardness might make it uncomfortable to stand on for long periods of time. Its hardness can lead to more noise during use than other flooring options. Also, polished concrete’s thermal conductivity can make a room cooler.

Discussion Comments


I've noticed a popular trend now is the use of polished concrete countertops. A friend of mine decided to remodel his kitchen, and he decided he wanted granite countertops. The salesman at the home improvement store suggested he consider polished concrete first. The store had some samples of the finished product, and I could barely tell the difference between polished concrete and real granite.

The manufacturer used a concrete stain and different additives to suggest the color and texture of granite. One sample had a matte finish that didn't look like granite at all, but the other samples had a hard coating applied to them. My friend decided that polished concrete costed a lot less than granite, so he hired a contractor to install it in his kitchen and bathroom.

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    • A concrete floor is one inexpensive option for hard flooring.
      By: Lilyana Vynogradova
      A concrete floor is one inexpensive option for hard flooring.