Polished and Sealed Concrete Floors: Choosing the Right Product for Your Project
Learning how these floors differ ensures you select the right option to meet your needs
- Sealed and polished concrete are sometimes used interchangeably
- The two flooring types have significant differences
- These differences influence where you’ll use each floor type
- Learning the ideal usage for these floors helps you make the most of your project
Concrete flooring terminology can be confusing. Unless you’re in the industry, terms like polished concrete and sealed concrete probably don’t mean very much. Both floors are shiny and made from concrete, so it’s easy to believe they’re the same thing.
However, these two concrete terms are entirely distinct. Each is developed through different processes and has different uses and installation methods. Their durability differs significantly as well.
Understanding how these floors are different will help you select the right one for your project. This guide will define polished and sealed concrete floors and explain which environments are best for each to help you feel comfortable with your decision.
What is polished concrete?
Polished concrete refers to the mechanical grinding and polishing of a concrete floor. The process utilizes industrial-grade tools to flatten, densify, polish, and seal the concrete until it is completely smooth and shiny.
Once the process is complete, it leaves you with a low-maintenance and durable commercial floor. It’s also easy to clean and allows easy movement in an industrial setting since wheels and slidable items won’t get caught on its smooth surface.
Polished concrete is affordable, too. It would be next to impossible to find something as durable at this price point, particularly if you already have concrete floors installed.
The best places to install polished concrete
Many locations can benefit from the installation of a polished concrete floor. Increasingly, high-end residential buildings use polished concrete in central or common areas. You might also see polished concrete in the basement of a single-family home because it requires far less maintenance than carpet.
In the commercial world, warehouses are an excellent place to opt for polished concrete because these floors are incredibly durable. They also make it easy to maneuver forklifts and other machinery around the building. Retail stores will commonly use polished concrete, too, as the smooth surface makes it easy to move displays, and customers can push their shopping carts around with ease.
Firehouses often have polished concrete floors because they are easy to clean and maintain. The same goes for government buildings, airports, office suites, industrial plants, and other high-traffic locations.
Places to avoid polished concrete
You can use polished concrete nearly anywhere, but there are a few places where other options will suit you better. Learning about these locations can help you make a decision.
First, you don’t want polished concrete in locations where people will be standing for long periods. The flooring is incredibly hard and can lead to sore feet and legs. You can put anti-fatigue mats down to alleviate this issue, though.
Polished concrete also isn’t the best for kitchens or bathrooms. These floors are prone to staining, so when grease, fat, and other substances spill onto the concrete and aren’t cleaned immediately, it could damage the floor.
The same goes for science labs, milk-producing facilities, battery storage areas, and anywhere else with acidic materials. Acid can ruin polished concrete, so seeking an alternate flooring type is advisable in those situations.
What is sealed concrete?
Sealed concrete is simply a concrete floor with a layer of acrylic plastic, epoxy, or polyurethane over it. This layer spreads over the entire floor, filling imperfections and creating a shiny finish. Sealed concrete doesn’t require grinding or buffing, so it’s a far quicker and easier process.
The main benefit associated with sealed concrete floors is stain resistance. The sealant you select creates a barrier between stain-causing materials and the concrete, so it better protects your floor from dropped or spilled items. Applying an adhesive with a moisture barrier is also possible, reducing water damage wherever you use it.
Sealed concrete is available in different sheens from matte to high gloss, so it looks great and is low cost since your contractor won’t have to start the process by grinding the floor down and removing imperfections. It’s also very quick and easy to install – quite similar to painting your floor.
Where to use sealed concrete
Sealed concrete is practical in garages, storage rooms, stairwells, and driveways. You can also install it in kitchens and bathrooms because of the layer of protection it provides against spills.
Remember that sealed concrete is best in low-traffic areas because continually walking or driving on the floor could cause damage. When this type of damage occurs in excess, you may need to completely remove and replace the sealant.
Where to avoid sealed concrete
You’ll want to avoid sealed concrete in retail stores, warehouses, and other spots that will have heavy traffic on their floors. These floors are prone to damage and wear, and you could find yourself having to constantly maintain the flooring if you apply a sealant in a high-traffic building.
It’s also wise to avoid sealed concrete in locations prone to moisture unless you invest in a moisture-resistant sealant. Speaking with your contractor ensures you know where sealed concrete is a viable option and when you should go with polished concrete.
Making the best decision for your project
The concrete floor type you select will ultimately depend on the. Generally, polished concrete is better for large rooms and high-traffic areas, while sealed concrete is the choice in spaces that could be prone to spills. Determining the best option for your project before you begin can help you avoid slowdowns as you complete your project.
Learning concrete flooring terminology might not be a priority in your life, but reading up on the basics can streamline some decisions as you finish a build or renovation. The pros at Concreate are another resource at your disposal, as we have the concrete knowledge and experience to put you on the right track. Contact us or head to thisisconcrete.com for more information on polished and sealed concrete floors.