The benefits of polished concrete flooring and the limitations.
Benefits of polished concrete:
Durability has got to be one of the most beneficial aspects of concrete flooring. Concrete flooring durability also comes from having the right design mix and placement (when concrete is originally poured). But either way concrete can compete with any other flooring system with regards to abrasive resistance.
A Concrete Surface if properly maintained can stay in great shape sometimes for 20 years. The type and amount of traffic will ultimately dictate a floors long term life but generally polished floors serve a long life cycle.
The Maintenance costs of polished concrete are one of the stronger benefits of polished concrete. They are simple to clean with a mop and a neutral PH cleaner. For large areas it makes more sense to use an auto scrubber.
Concrete Polishing is not considered a slippery flooring solution. The method best used to determine the coefficient of friction is using a bot-3000 measuring device. Even high gloss floors come in with more then passing standards determined b the American slip association.
There are a few reasons why polished concrete flooring offers eco friendly characteristics. First, we are essentially refurbishing a surface without adding much extra building materials. There isn’t any added flooring material as the floors are honed like a granite counter-top surface.
Secondly, this flooring option is light reflective. There have been studies to suggest that lighting costs can be reduced by 30% due to the energy efficiencies of this light reflection. Thirdly, most products used in concrete polishing are not hazardous chemicals but low VOC.
Beautiful and natural
Many people just like the vibe concrete floors communicate. It has sort of a minimalist feel. From a design standpoint the Industrial look is very modern. Many facilities enjoy not just the look but the fact that there isn’t grout lines to hold dirt.
Concrete floors do not hold dusts, dirt, or pollen’s. You can easily clean the surface to remove any contaminates brought in from outdoors.
Limitations of polished concrete:
Concrete floors can make a space echo. Concrete slabs bounce sounds off of other hard surfaces. Many people use rugs and couches to help absorb sound. In some cases some facilities may use acoustic panels to help with this issue.
Polished concrete costs
Many people and articles I have seen assume concrete flooring is the most cost effective option. This is a myth. The process of installing a polished concrete floor is comparable to other quality flooring systems.
Many other factors can drive the costs depending on ones expectations or outcome and the condition of a floor. It can be cost effective in cases of high square foot open areas.
Carpeted areas would be warmer, Concrete floors will be colder. This is true with most other hard surface flooring options. Some people make design radiant heating in the slabs to control this. Others may use rugs and carpeted areas to control this.
Try dropping a glass on a polished concrete floor vs a carpeted area.
Outcome of floor can be unpredictable
To understand this limitation you have to think of a slab as a imperfect canvas. There are two types of installs. Those done on new concrete and those on refurbished. Both situations can be unpredictable based on a number of factors.
Refurbished concrete floors:
Can have damage, trenches, patches and undesirable distress that will be shown in the final finish. Color is dictated by where the sand and cement where mined. If tile was down, there is a 99% chance of tile ghosting(tile grid pattern) will occur.
This all can be over come with the use of a polish-able overlay but there is a significant cost to that. Many times the overlay option is cost prohibited.
Newly poured Concrete floors:
Can also have damage. All construction sites have scissor lifts that can leak hydraulic fluid into slabs. Many times crews spill coffee ,energy drinks, or other solvents all over slabs.
Slabs can be designed wrong from a mix perspective. (fly ash, low psi, high water, air entrained, retarders, cures)
The placement can be bad at concrete pour. Maybe the slab wasn’t screed properly or was over troweled resulting in a burnt surface. In many cases you have inconsistent troweling methods where the fiend of the slab may be power troweled and the edges power troweled.
This all affects the consistency of a finished concrete floor. (see CPPA recommendations for design specification.)
The point of this sections is to communicate that the outcome of a polished floor is based on floor condition, slab design, slab placement techniques, and concrete polishing methods.