What is polished concrete?

POLISHED CONCRETE IS BECOMING MORE AND MORE POPULAR… BUT WHAT IS IT?

The Answer…

‘Polished concrete is a superior interior design option for surfaces that leaves other options in the shade.’

The Polished Concrete Story

Although polished concrete has been around for quite some time, it is still relatively unknown, or misunderstood here in the UK, with very few providers able to offer high quality finished surfaces.

Seeing is Believing!

For people that have never seen a polished concrete surface, there is a real ‘Wow! Factor’ in seeing one with your own eyes.

Instinctive Expectation

With polished concrete floors there is an instinctive expectation to slip or slide, that quickly turns to surprise as the floor provides genuine grip underfoot.

What can you expect from a polished concrete floor?

Seamless beauty
Choice of finishes* – whilst remaining unique every time
Safe non-slip surfaces*
Low maintenance
Environmentally-friendly finish
Long-lifespan

*Note: Your choice of finishes can be influenced by many factors including whether or not you conduct any planning before your concrete is installed. To learn more about how you can influence the outcome of your polished concrete floor, read our blog post: 50 Shades of Grey.

How is the Polished Concrete Effect Achieved?

True polished concrete is referred to as mechanically diamond processed concrete. This is where the surface is honed using progressively finer diamond abrasives, along with the treatment of grouts (excluding cream finishes) and chemical densifiers during the process, which will give added stain resistance, wear resistance, reduced dusting and a much better all-round finish.

The surface is then polished using diamond abrasives until the desired gloss level is meet, the floor is then sealed. There is, however, so much more to polished concrete than this, every slab is different and a different approach needs to taken accordingly.

This process is not to be confused with a grind and seal (topical finish) where the surface is ground, scratches removed and then sealed using a topical sealer/guard coat to manipulate the look of a true mechanical polished concrete floor, the shine is created through the sealer, not honed and polished using diamonds and so will require a lot more maintenance. Mechanically processed concrete is incomparable to the ‘grind and seal’ approach in durability and aesthetics.

“Our passion is polished concrete floors and it shows.  Here at Niche polished concrete we pride ourselves on providing the best premium polished concrete flooring services in the UK, in terms of both quality of work and customer service.”

The Three Polished Concrete Styles Explained

The best way to explain the different styles of polished concrete would be to consider how much sand and stone becomes exposed after the treatment process. Every location possesses its own unique mixture of cement, sand and stone. This is what influences the final appearance and guarantees a unique look that won’t be found in any other home.

The process of achieving Salt and Pepper and Full Aggregate finishes is very different and involves a process that is progressive in nature, removing layers of concrete surface, initially revealing the finer sands and stone (for Salt and Pepper), before reaching the larger stone below (for a Full Aggregate finish).

Full Aggregate

What does the full aggregate finish look like?

A full aggregate finish reveals the larger stones contained in the concrete slab, so it’s the stoniest looking finish of all polished concrete finishes.

How is it achieved?

The Full Aggregate finish is achieved by grinding through more concrete than other finishes to reveal more of the larger materials contained in the concrete base.  This is achieved first by grinding approximately 3mm from the surface to expose the larger stones within the concrete.  After grinding a set of progressively finer abrasives will be applied to the surface to hone the look until the desired level of clarity, shine and smoothness is achieved.

The condition of the concrete is assessed and chemicals applied, as needed, such as powerful densifiers, in order to secure the hardest, most durable of floors. Once the desired look is achieved, the work is sealed using market leading sealers.  The softer the floor the more chemicals are required.

Matte, satin or gloss shines are available with all finishes.

Salt and Pepper

What does the Salt and Pepper finish look like?

The salt and pepper finish draws out the finer sands and aggregates within the concrete to produce a generally speckled look.

How is it achieved?

A salt and pepper finish is achieved by carefully removing approximately 1mm from the surface using a grinding process, to expose the finer sands and aggregates within.  Once this initial grinding process is complete a set of progressively finer abrasives will be applied to the surface to hone the look until the desired level of clarity shine and smoothness is achieved.

An advanced grout will be applied to fill aeration holes. During this process, the condition of the concrete is assessed and chemicals applied as needed, such as powerful densifiers, in order to secure, the hardest, most durable of floors.  Once the desired look is achieved, the work is sealed using market leading sealers.

A high-quality pre-existing concrete mix is essential to a successful outcome due to the fact only 1mm is being removed from the surface.

The condition of the concrete is assessed and chemicals applied, as needed, such as powerful densifiers, in order to secure the hardest, most durable of floors. Once the desired look is achieved, the work is sealed using market leading sealers.  The softer the floor the more chemicals are required.

Matte, satin or gloss shines are available with all finishes.

Cream

What does the cream finish look like?

The cream finish is undeniably beautiful with all its textures and shades, but the nature of the finish is often misunderstood.  The name it is given reflects the style as opposed to the colour, which can indeed be cream in colour, but not always.  The colour actually varies according to the pre-existing concrete mix.  A subtle blend of textures and colours will emerge, influenced by the constituent materials within the slab surface.

How is it achieved?

The first thing to mention when aiming for a cream finish is that in the current marketplace, it is often not possible to deliver this type of finish from domestically laid concrete.  A successful outcome relies on the pre-existing condition and consistency of the concrete floor.  In order to achieve a cream finish, we must be able to work on the concrete surface without exposing any of the stones in the concrete mix.  This means it’s essential to avoid grinding away any of the surface material.  This is often not possible when the concrete has not been installed correctly.  The problem with either of these situations is that a grinding process is required to achieve a consistent, level, durable finish.  As soon as a grinding process is needed we inevitably begin exposing the finer sands and stones.  The process of exposing the sand and stone prevents a cream finish from being achieved. That said we do work along side premium installers and would be happy to pass over their details.

The Polished Concrete Shines Explained: True Grit

One of the misconceptions is that the shine comes from some sort of traditional polishing, when in fact the shine is produced by diamond abrasives, which are fitted to our machines. These abrasives are not all the same, both in terms of their quality and also because they are manufactured in ranges to cater to specific stages of a progressive grind and polish. In practice this means there is a wide range of abrasive tools, manufactured with many different diamond particle sizes. This wide range of tooling options is required to bring a surface incrementally to it’s desired finish.

Matte

Satin

Gloss

How do I get a polished concrete floor?

If your concrete is already in place:

In our mission to be a market leading provider of stunning polished concrete floors, we insist that the concrete we work on has been laid to a particular standard.  To this end, we provide a concrete specification with all our quotations, which forms part of our Terms and Conditions.  To help many of our customers who are unable to confirm the standard to which their concrete has been laid, we do offer a sample service, which aims to give both parties an indication of the quality of the concrete and of the likely outcome:

  • Sample service – request a sample service here
  • Full quotation – An upfront quotation is more suitable when the quality and consistency of the existing concrete base is already known and the customer is confident about what they want and are ready to commit to a full contract. An up-front quotation requires more information before work commences and also comes with more clauses designed to allow adjustments for unexpected, or unforeseeable circumstances. Terms and conditions apply:

My concrete slab has not been installed:

Niche Polished Concrete will provide you with a process to obtain your desired finish. After you provide Niche with the information we need we will issue your quotation

As the quality of the concrete is critical to a successful outcome, we provide concrete specification guides and necessary information for your installation. We specialise in diamond polishing and not installing concrete, which we see as another specialised skill. With the right process these floors are truly stunning and worth the effort.

This is a perfect time for you to contact us, we can help you every step of the way.