March 24, 2021
In recent years, concrete floors, traditionally found in industrial spaces, warehouses, and manufacturing plants, have been given a new life. Many designers have incorporated this flooring option into offices and residential spaces. The simplistic and natural look of the concrete gives off a modern, clean, and minimalistic feel. The surrounding decor will ultimately determine the overall feel for the space whether it be sophisticated and sleek or fun and bright. With their versatile look and relative ease of maintenance, it is no wonder why this flooring option has been so popular.
Before you consider these flooring solutions for your space, be sure to understand the available choices for achieving these looks and each method’s benefits and limitations.
There are three main options when it comes to the treatment of concrete floors:
Plain: Plain concrete will give you a durable, smooth, light gray floor. The appearance can be modified using dyes and etching techniques to fit a variety of décor.
Concrete alone is not stain or moisture resistant, and therefore it is not fitting for every environment. Plain concrete floors are also prone to dusting.
How this look is achieved: The concrete is poured and allowed to cure. For colored concrete, pigments are often added to the concrete mix prior to pouring. Another option for colors is to add stains or dyes to the surface.
Polished: Polished concrete floors bring plain concrete floors to the next level and offer a unique aesthetic. Polishing concrete adds a layer of sophistication and added protection to the floors. The polishing process removes the top (often chalky looking) layer and reveals the aggregate in the concrete. Polished concrete is available in matte, satin, or gloss or even high-gloss.
Polished concrete isn’t chemical resistant, but is stain resistant. (These floors can still be stained if spills aren’t cleaned promptly.) Polished floors are not ideal for environments that require hygienic floors. Their naturally porous surfaces leave places for bacteria and germs to hide, and they are also prone to dusting.
How this look is achieved: The concrete is poured and allowed to cure. Floor grinders equipped with diamond abrasives are used to remove the top layer. If the concrete is soft a densifier may be applied before grinding or in between grinding passes. The concrete is ground down by gradually progressing from coarser-grit to finer-grit abrasives, until the desired shine and smoothness are achieved.
Sealed: Sealed concrete floors take polished concrete floors to an even higher level when it comes to protection. Typically referred to as grind and seal, the polished look remains about the same, but the level of chemical and abrasion resistance is boosted.
How this look is achieved: The concrete is poured and allowed to cure. Floor grinders equipped with diamond abrasives are used to remove the top layer. A densifier may be applied before grinding or in between grinding passes. The concrete is ground down by gradually progressing from coarser-grit to finer-grit abrasives, until the desired look and appropriate concrete surface profile is achieved. Next the floor is cleaned and prepared to have a sealer added. The needs of the space and its environment will determine what type of sealer is best.
Grind and seal floors offer abrasion, chemical and stain resistance. The sealing process increases the service life of the floor and eliminates dusting, but it must be noted that this option is also not moisture resistant. Moisture can be an issue for many flooring solutions. For grind and seal applications, it can initially interfere with the bond process, or later it can cause premature failures such as blistering.
How do you know if your concrete has high levels of moisture? There are several ways to test. Dur-A-Flex recommends using in-situ Relative Humidity Testing per ASTM F-2170 as a quantitative test method. The limit for most epoxies is 75% RH.
If the moisture is not an issue, take a look at Dur-A-Glaze® Grind and Seal. It is the concrete floor sealing system designed by Dur-A-Flex. It features a clear epoxy primer and optional body coat, and is finished with a durable urethane topcoat ensuring excellent UV, wear, and chemical resistance. (If moisture levels are too high, there are other decorative resinous flooring solutions that can be considered, such as a Hybri-Flex flooring system.)
As always, Dur-A-Flex wants you to choose the right flooring solution (the first time.) Our sales and technical support teams are available to assist in this process. It is never too early to start the conversation.
Author: Jes Grant
Jes Grant is the content development manager for Dur-A-Flex. She has over 15 years of experience creating content for various technical industries, and has been featured in several publications for her writing and design work.