Polished concrete flooring is the perfect solution for modern living spaces, having many advantages over other, more traditional flooring choices. Low maintenance, hard wearing and cost effective – polished concrete gives an appearance of stone, granite or even marble at a fraction of the price. Polished concrete isn’t only cost effective in of itself, it is also extremely energy efficient when used with underfloor heating thanks to its excellent heat conductivity.
Where can polished concrete be used?
Creating a seamless link between the different rooms and halls of your home, and even from exterior to interior. Whether in a residential or commercial setting, polished concrete flooring will hold up extremely well under heavy foot traffic. People often find that they also use less electrical lighting in spaces where polished concrete flooring has been used, due to its highly reflective nature.
It is these properties that make it ideal flooring for much more than ‘just’ residential properties – stores, warehouses and office buildings also make use of polished concrete for these very reasons. Being as hard wearing as it is, polished concrete also makes excellent patio spaces.
Making and installing polished concrete
Concrete mixture is normally poured over a steel / fibre-reinforced frame, this combination helps to prevent the concrete cracking. Underfloor heating would of course be laid first, with the concrete being poured over the top. Proper levelling, using vibration methods, can greatly increase the strength and heat transference properties of the concrete by removing air pockets.
There are a range of finishes available, meaning that the end result does not have to be plain grey. Coloured hardeners can be added to the surface of the concrete but it is important that the newly laid flooring be allowed to dry to the point where it can take the weight of the machine that is applying the finish.
The majority of polished floors are laid in sections, covered and left to set and strengthen. In warmer months this process can be a much faster one, and once complete the concrete can be uncovered and burnished – this removes any surface irregularities that can affect the overall appearance of the finished concrete.
Leaving enough time for the polished concrete to be completed
It is important to remember that freshly poured concrete must be left alone for a minimum of 28 days before polishing can begin. That being said, as soon as it is dry enough to hold weight, other work can continue so that the project suffers minimal disruption.
Keeping the surrounding areas at even temperature, as far as is possible, is also something that needs to be considered as sudden temperature changes are the chief causes of cracking in concrete. Of course, sometimes cracks are desirable, depending on the desired finished.
Where cracks are welcomed, control joints can be placed at predetermined points. Deliberate weak spots such as these will allow the concrete to crack in straight lines – this can give the appearance of tiles, and it brings the added bonus of helping to avoid cracks elsewhere in the floor.