There’s a reason that concrete has been in use since long before the Roman Empire was a twinkle in the eye of the global community: it’s durable, reliable, and can be used for a wide range of applications. One of those is a highly decorative flooring option.
There are a lot of misgivings about using polished concrete as finished flooring, ranging from a belief that it can never compare visually to other floors, to the thought that it’s simply too cold for comfort. The truth is that polished concrete flooring is incredibly flexible and can be made to look like pretty much anything you can imagine.
Polished Concrete Flooring Embellishments
Although basic polished concrete can look pretty slick, especially if your client is going for something that can mimic uncut stone in appearance, custom cuts, sandblasting, dyes and stains will give you the ability to breathe any sort of design into the floor itself. This is the sort of hard surface that refuses to budge and will be in place for decades to come.
For a floor that’s still interesting, but not as labor-intensive, you can use coatings that will give the appearance of embedded pebbles or glass, depending on your client’s vision for their space. The textures that are possible are limitless. Polished concrete literally removes all the creative boundaries that make wood, tile, and other flooring options much less imaginative options.
Where Polished Concrete Works Best
Polished concrete won’t necessarily jive just anywhere, despite its flexibility. It’s best in the same spaces where unfinished concrete makes sense, like:
Large commercial spaces. Not every polished concrete floor has to be over the top with custom cuts and logos, but they do make good solid surfaces for spaces that get a lot of foot traffic. Not only can customers participate in customizing their floor to evoke any mood, but they will also rest assured the floor will last and last.
Lobbies and first-floor common areas. In multi-family buildings or multi-office structures, lobbies and common areas are good candidates for polished concrete floors. They’re easy to keep clean and can have a very upscale appearance when approached with consideration.
Residential basements. Walkout basements (and even fully immersed basements) can really level up with a polished concrete floor. If these areas are used for entertaining, the floor can add a lot of richness to the space, as well as being totally water-resistant should there be seepage or flooding in the future.
Upper-end homes built on slabs. Residential homes can be good candidates for polished concrete floors, provided the homeowner is willing to commit to a floor that’s difficult to change out as fashions change. Larger homes built on slabs are excellent choices since they offer spaces with enough square footage for some amount of detail work. If you’re building from the ground up, it’s possible to add in-floor heating to help combat the tendency of concrete to be cool due to its constant contact with unexposed soil below the house.
Of course, this is just a short list of the many places where concrete flooring can work. The material is flexible enough to use it literally anywhere that the structure can support a heavy concrete floor. The top-selling points of this type of surface are its durability, longevity, and design flexibility.
Have you worked with polished concrete floors? We’d love to see some project photos in the comments if you care to share them!