Are you finding it hard to select the best finish for a polished concrete floor?

Well, we can’t complain, as the resurgence of love for polished flooring has spoilt us with choices. Even a while back, people were opposed to the idea of installing a shiny concrete floor in their homes, and designers confined polished concrete surfaces to commercial spaces.

But, the tables have turned, and this fascinating surface has made it to the top of interior design concepts. However, one thing about polished concrete that’s yet to be fully understood is the right finish.

And, compared to popular beliefs, it doesn’t come with a single level of gloss. To demystify the topic of polished concrete, we came up with this guide to talk about the various finishes offered by concrete workers and how they can work in your space. Also, we have tried to dig a little deeper about the aspects of design.

So, without further delay, let’s begin!

Choosing The Right Finish For Your Polished Concrete

Polished Concrete Hallway

Levels Of Gloss

When it comes to the look and design of a polished concrete floor, the most obvious feature is its gloss or shine. Even though it’s common to believe that there’s only a single gloss finish, this isn’t true. So, to make your choice easier, we have listed the most common gloss finishes seen on polished concrete surfaces.

You should also remember that the high gloss finish may not work for bathing areas or living rooms. Hence, with due diligence, consult a professional before considering a finish for your floor.

1. Matte Or Flat

It might come as a surprise, but a polished concrete surface can have a matte finish. This makes the finish a popular choice for spaces like the living room or restaurant floors, where a glossy finish wouldn’t work well or might lead to accidents.

Apart from practicality, the matte finish also creates a nice rustic texture close to the grey concrete. It’s also preferred for flooring in warehouses or industrial areas, where machinery usually covers the floor. It’s an excellent option for those who don’t like reflective surfaces.

To get this finish, a person needs to stop grinding the concrete at a coarse level of about 100 grit to avoid getting the glossy sheen, and this gives it the attractive rustic look often chosen for indoor areas or outdoor spaces like patios. Also, adding a stain to the matte surface would make the polished flooring look more attractive.

2. Semi-polished Or Semi-gloss

Are you looking for a surface that isn’t overly glossy, but has some amount of natural sheen? If yes, then the semi-gloss or semi-polished finish would be an excellent choice. We assure you that it isn’t as confusing as it may sound.

Some concrete workers also call it the satin finish because of the low reflection on the surface. Also, there are levels to this finish that can either bend towards the flat side or the glossy side.

Hence, you should ensure a proper discussion with the contractor for the desired finish. Usually, the use of diamond abrasive pads up to 800-grit level brings this finish on flooring.

A low-gloss look works well with household interiors and in commercial spaces like an automobile showroom, where the floor shouldn’t look jarring with the other items present on it.

3. High-gloss

When it comes to polished concrete floors, the most iconic look has to be the high-gloss finish. This level of lustre goes well with most designs, and it makes a room bright and attractive.

It’s a breeze to clean this glossy floor, and it requires no waxing or re-polishing to maintain the shine. This makes this floor finish excellent for spaces where you need to add a high-end look.

It’s also a popular finish for commercial places like malls or retail stores, where the floor’s reflection creates a dazzling environment. Even office spaces look great with high-gloss white or cream polished concrete flooring.

Moreover, some polished concrete workers have even managed to get a glass-like effect by buffing and grinding the floors with the finest diamond bits. Usually, fine diamond abrasive pads of up to 3,000 grit strength are used to bring out the shine of a concrete surface.

Aggregate Exposure

In most cases, the polished concrete floor is plain grey, but the speckled look is also prominent, especially in old households or commercial places. This look’s achieved by removing the top layer of the concrete to expose the aggregates (materials such as sand and gravel added to the concrete mixture) through grinding.

Here are some of the finishes of aggregate exposure seen in polished concrete flooring:

Exposed Aggregate Polished Concrete

1. Nil Exposure

At times, you may want to have little to no aggregate exposure in a polished concrete floor to maintain a plain or flat look. This is one of the most complex finishes to achieve, as only the top layer of the concrete is slightly ground with a diamond abrasive.

You will need a perfectly flat concrete surface to achieve the look. As this is an intricate and time-intensive job, we recommend you consult a professional who has experience working with polished concrete. 

Polished concrete surfaces with nil exposure often have a cloudy finish, and some experts are able to enhance their appearance with stains for an exceptional look.

2. Minimal Exposure

Have you seen a polished concrete floor that is slightly speckled? If yes, then you might have come across the salt-and-pepper or the medium exposure finish.

Professionals usually use light-handed grinding to achieve this look by taking off the top layer of the flooring until they can see sand or gravel bits. It gives a timed appearance to the floor, which looks even better with a high-gloss finish.

As concrete is randomly poured to form a big slab, the pattern that comes out from the grinding is always a surprise.

3. Full Exposure

When the surface is heavily cut or ground, it exposes the larger stones present in the concrete mixture. This almost looks like if someone has dissected the floor to expose its insides.

Taking this idea as an inspiration, many designers have experimented by adding unusual things like screws and bolts to the concrete mixture to give an uncommon finish to the polished flooring. Besides, even while using the usual concrete mixture, the outcome may vary based on the colour of the sand and stones.

The fully exposed finish looks fantastic in indoor and outdoor spaces, especially in rooms where the floor needs to stand out. However, as it requires heavy work, old concrete floors might not be able to take the pressure of grinding.

Frequently Asked Questions

Matte Polished Concrete

1. How Long Does Polished Concrete Floors Last?

The durability and strength of polished concrete floors make the surface an integral part of industrial and commercial spaces that need floors to last long. The exact lifespan of a polished floor would depend on various aspects like regular footfall and usage, but on average, polished concrete floors last for 20 or more years.

The best part of installing a polished concrete floor is that it requires minimal care. You wouldn’t need to spend time waxing or re-polishing the surface every other year. Frequent cleaning is necessary to keep the polished floor shining, but you can achieve that with a wet mop.

2. What Is The Best Finish For Concrete Floors?

We don’t think that there’s a universal finish that will work for all spaces. If in doubt, we recommend you consult an experienced contractor who works with polished concrete floors. However, an essential thing to remember while choosing a finish for the flooring will be the purpose of the space.

For instance, a high-gloss finish won’t work in a household with kids and pets, but it would look great in certain parts of a house which are off-limits for them.

Polished Concrete Finishes

While working with polished concrete, you will learn that it takes patience and planning to get the right match. Working with a professional gives you the advantage of living the arduous calculations to them.

However, if you want to work on it yourself, don’t shy away from taking help from the experts when required. Having said that, definitely look up ways to add a personal touch to the polished concrete flooring.

With that, we have come to the end of this guide to choose the right finish for polished concrete flooring. As there’s no definitive guide to it, follow your guts and have fun while doing the project.

Don’t forget to let us know if you have further queries related to polished concrete flooring. Till then, goodbye and take care!