Contributor: Emma Riley
Concrete is a composite material of aggregates bonded together with cement that hardens over time. That’s the boring part. What people have used concrete for over the centuries is perhaps more interesting, using it to build our cities and most frequented event spaces. Today though, concrete has a brand new look that has become increasingly popular for both commercial and domestic purposes, used to create a stylish and unique finish for indoor spaces.
This new look comes as a result of advanced technology and products that allow us to embark on concrete grinding and polishing that creates a highly smooth and high-gloss surface with a professional finish. No longer simply used for structural purposes, concrete is now a desired aesthetic look that many now desire for their developments.
Concrete is highly durable material. This is the reason it is used so much in developments throughout any major city or town – stadiums, housing developments, roads and infrastructure all use concrete as an integral part of their design for its strength and durability. In addition to this, the polishing process initiates a densification of the material hardening the concrete slab and maximising its durability. The attraction of a floor surface that has an extremely long shelf life and resilience against scratches, cracking, water damage and blemishes is clear.
The aesthetic appeal is a large factor in the material’s increasingly common usage. Far from a simple grey floor space, polished concrete can be unique and elegant depending on the process and ingredients used to create it. Various colours and patterns are also available making it a surprisingly versatile flooring option. By using different variations of aggregates, sand, stains, dyes, decorative engravings and stencilled graphics, a beautiful floor finishing can be achieved.
Maintenance of this surface is incredibly easy. As a single solid unit, there are no areas where dirt or corrosive material can hide. This means that no unwanted areas of grime need to be handled with costly and expensive cleaning methods. Moderate cleaning products applied directly to the surface are all it takes to keep polished concrete looking fresh and clean. Other materials such as wood may need much more care and attention when it comes to long term maintenance. In order to achieve a desirable finish, waxing treatments and constant cleaning is sometimes necessary – but not with polished concrete flooring.
As a result of the easy maintenance of this product, hygiene levels are usually much higher in developments that integrate them into their designs. The cleaning process is much faster first of all, but also the material does not harbour any bacteria that can be transmitted to humans if not attended to. This is especially useful in kitchen layouts.
While there are many benefits to using polished concrete floors, there are of course some downsides that may not make it the perfect option for your home or development. The biggest one ironically is also one of its greatest attributes – due to the high strength and durability of the material, dropping anything delicate or expensive on this surface will likely result in damage. In contrast to carpet or linoleum, a phone, laptop, vase or chinaware may not survive a fall to the floor.
Another drawback is that it can be cold to the touch when not directly exposed to the sun or within a heated room. Those who like to walk around bare foot in their homes may find it uncomfortable. Also the consistency of the finish across the entire surface may vary slightly, especially with large scale spaces. The changes might not be drastic, with the floor probably being only slightly lighter around the perimeter, but if you are a perfectionist, or if you are designing a development where attention to detail must be exact, then you may want to think twice about using polished concrete flooring.
Our best advice is to go and experience it for yourself. Check out any new development that has integrated the material into their floor space and consider how it might be used in your own. There are also plenty of online examples that you can also browse to get a better sense of patterns, colours and textures.
Advance Group is the UK’s leading specialist in concrete floor management which includes grinding, maintenance, polishing and restoration. They are Safe Contractor approved and are qualified under the Retro Plate System. They are also members of the KSG Group and are IICRC accredited. Advanced Group’s valued clients have included BT, Warburtons, Hammerson, Balfour Beatty, Wilmot Dixon and Workman.