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Polished Concrete: The Clean, Bright Surfacing Solution

Polishing concrete can be assimilated to the work of a fine master carpenter, polishing the wood on a finished masterpiece, or to that of an artist carefully placing their final brush strokes—honing their piece of art until it is a thing of beauty. That being said, why choose polished concrete over other types of flooring and surfacing options—especially when there are so many to choose from? The following is an overview of the benefits to be gained from polished concrete floors and surfaces, and some answers as to why these qualities could make polished concrete the right solution for your environment.

SAFETY FIRST. In a world of rampant lawsuits and workers’ compensation claims, polished concrete lends a valuable safety element, in that it is slip-resistant. Even the high sheen exceeds OSHA and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements for slip resistance. And additional slip resistance can be factored into the finish-coating process.

ENVIRONMENTAL FRIENDLINESS. The implementation of a polished concrete surface uses no volatile compounds as opposed to some coating processes, and offers a great solution where allergies or asthma is a concern. Polished concrete makes use of a preexisting structural element in a building, eliminating the need to use additional raw materials. In addition to gaining these initial positive environmental benefits, these floors sustain air quality over the long run, as they don’t harbor dust or promote the growth of mold. The ease of cleaning also keeps toxic chemicals out of the water stream. What’s more, polished concrete acts as a heat sink to help maintain an even temperature, with the ability to retain heat when needed, as well as to remain cool, which can lead to lower energy consumption.

DURABILITY. Tile, wood, vinyl, carpeting, and many other flooring systems attract or trap abrasive agents such as dirt and grit which over the course of time act like sandpaper. Most of these flooring surfaces have coatings, and the sandpaper effect erodes the coatings, requiring repetitive maintenance. Wear and tear is entirely dependent upon the traffic pattern each floor sustains, and every environment is different, but polished concrete doesn’t typically break down easily and require sealing or waxing—it is a long-term, durable aesthetic solution that becomes more cost-effective every day.

HIGH LIGHT REFLECTIVITY. In many public settings, image is everything. If you want a bright and clean base to work from, a showplace that projects professionalism, and a striking natural beauty that adds to the green effect of less overhead lighting, polished concrete is an option to seriously consider—especially with reflectivity increasing by as much as 30%. Polished concrete surfaces create increased reflectivity and ambient lighting through an environmentally friendly solution.

NO FACILITY SHUTDOWNS. Again, no toxins or hazardous wastes are generated in the process of applying a polished concrete flooring solution, so work can continue right alongside an installation, largely uninterrupted. And polished concrete surfaces can be virtually dust- and mess-free, with new areas immediately ready for production and business as usual, with no downtime to factor into the cost.

AFFORDABLE ELEGANCE AND BEAUTY. A realistic approach and reasonable expectations must be part of the mix when taking on a polished concrete project. The nature of the beast means that imperfections are inherent, but they can often add character to the project. At Hascall & Hall, we believe in thorough contact with our clients, to ensure that the limitations of the substrate are well understood and expectations are properly set. Polished concrete is not for every space. Consultation with your flooring expert may, for example, determine that a decorative epoxy flooring system would be the better solution—we work hand in glove to ensure you get the optimal result.

LOWER MAINTENANCE COSTS. Wet-mopping is the only real cleaning required of a polished concrete surface, as opposed to waxing or other laborious and time-consuming maintenance. Simply put, they are more durable, easier to clean, and often more hypoallergenic. The nonporous nature reduces the occurrence of mold growth and the inhabitance of dust mites as well. Through reflectivity and ambient lighting, energy bills can be significantly reduced, and no topical coatings need to be applied to maintain the shine—just a simple damp mop with a pH-neutral cleaner. With the exception of the most heavily trafficked areas, polished concrete keeps its beautiful shine.

IMPROVED SURFACE STRENGTH. Choosing polished concrete can lend your existing concrete floor a new lease on life. As concrete ages and deteriorates, it becomes increasingly weak. It could be weather, improper initial installation, environmental issues, or surface stress, but whatever the cause the polishing process can strengthen weakened concrete and enhance long-term abrasion resistance with the proper densifiers. The condition of the preexisting floor will determine the number of grinding and polishing steps needed to achieve the desired effect.

AESTHETIC APPEAL. Often confused with the composite stone flooring solution known as terrazzo, polished concrete can take on a wide array of colors and appeals. With the right contractor, polished concrete can acquire the look of anything from marble or ceramic tile to slate and much more, and will often be the more economical choice. Different designs can involve aggregates or colored concrete, as well as seeding the mix with such particulates as glass, nails, bolts, or computer chips to create a unique and one-of-a-kind installation.  Stained concrete can also be defined not only by color but by character, most definitively by the application techniques used and the desired finished product. The stains are not opaque and solid, rather the substrate and application determine the finished product—each floor a work of art and never two the same.

The process may be called polishing, but in reality it involves a methodical grinding process that continues until the artist has attained the optimal degree of shine and of course, smoothness. Imperfections will show, nevertheless, so expectations need to be realistic. To achieve the desirable level of smoothness and shine, diamonds blades are needed to insure the best outcome possible. After appropriate diamond grinding, a crew experienced in polishing knows when to switch to the stage known as lapping, a process which uses a finer grit to slowly and carefully work the floor to the desired sheen.

When you need polished concrete flooring expertise, no challenge is too complex

Whether you have established or highly specialized commercial flooring needs, Hascall & Hall delivers! Applying our core principles of exemplary quality, rigorous safety, and infallible adherence to deadlines, we passionately serve the diverse design and functionality needs posed by historical and modern structures throughout the Northeast region. Contact us today at 1-800-464-1481 for a free consultation or to speak with one our flooring contractors or restoration experts.