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Category Archives: Polishing

Is Polished Concrete Environmentally Friendly?

Including a polished concrete floor in a building is an environmentally friendly decision. Some people have criticized concrete recently, citing negative impacts on the environment. This impact is largely the result of concrete being such a versatile and useful material. The scale at which we produce concrete can seem overwhelming. It is the cornerstone of homes, airports, skyscrapers tunnels, dams and almost every other infrastructure project. When looking at the scale of global concrete production it is clear that large amounts of CO2 are released in the manufacturing process.

Reducing Material and Transport

It may seem odd to claim that a polished concrete floor has a positive environmental impact. However, even those advocating for a reduction in concrete use will usually agree that there is no substitute for concrete as a foundation. While we can replace walls with SIPs and use environmentally friendly cladding and roofing options, there is no realistic substitute for concrete at ground level. By polishing existing concrete, we can negate the requirement for additional resources.

Unlike other flooring options, such as epoxy or tiles, polished concrete does not require any further material to be added to the project. It is a structural aspect of the building which performs a necessary task. By polishing the floor there is need for VOCs (volatile organic compounds) to be introduced. Nor is there any requirement for additional CO2 emissions from the production of new flooring materials. This extends to the reduced need for transport and packaging.

Energy Efficiency and Life Span

Concrete is also a highly efficient thermal mass; it can store a large amount of heat. Polished concrete will store heat when exposed to direct sunlight. This effect is more noticeable in a south facing room. With energy efficient underfloor heating, a polished concrete floor can effectively release the heat generated. Adding any other flooring to the concrete will act as a barrier and make the heating less efficient.

The other major benefit of polished concrete is its longevity, which is certainly unsurpassed in modern flooring methods. Other flooring options will break down and need to be replaced, while a concrete floor can last for the lifetime of the building.

There is a growing awareness of the need for greater sustainability in construction. We should all take this seriously and look for solutions which balance the demands of the building and its inhabitants with the need for low environmental impact. Polished concrete offers:

  • No additional natural resources
  • High thermal mass
  • Extremely high life-span
  • Light reflective surface can reduce the need for artificial lighting
  • Improved interior air quality, due to no retention of mould or dust mites
  • No VOCs

 

If you are interested in having a concrete floor polished, please contact us, so we can help to make the right decisions for your project.

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Gold Crack Concrete Repair on Polished Concrete

Kintsugi is the Japanese art of repairing broken ceramic wear. The craftsman would fix the broken pot or cup by filling the cracks with sap resin and gold powder. Inspired by Kintsugi, we recently created a gold crack concrete repair on a polished concrete floor. This has had the effect turning a flaw into a unique feature.

Gold Crack Concrete Repair

The philosophy behind kintsugi (golden joinery) is to accept damage as part of the history of an object, instead of treating it as a problem to be hidden. The same approach can be taken to polished concrete. This floor developed cracks over time. Instead of trying to match the colour of the floor the owner chose to have them filled with gold. However close to the floor colour a repair is, it will always remain visible to some degree.

Concrete is made from natural materials, including sand, aggregate and water, so its makeup changes over time as the water is released. Methods such as mesh, fibres and control joints can be used to reduce the chance of cracks forming, but it remains a risk. Normally we would use a filler to conceal the cracks as much as possible. The kintsugi style repairs are an option for customers who want to opt for a more dramatic statement. It works especially well in uncluttered spaces where the floor contributes significantly to the room’s appearance.

A gold crack concrete repair will look striking on any floor. Here we have installed the repairs on a floor with a rustic finish, so they introduced a sharp contrast to the rest of the room. On a variable or fully exposed concrete floor the effect would be quite different. We are enthusiastic about concrete. It is exciting to find new techniques we can use to develop both new and existing floors.

While cracked concrete may be seen as a problem, it is a part of the floor. Whether you wish to conceal cracks or whether you see them as a part of the story of your floor, Concrete Polishing can help.

 

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What is Polished Concrete?

Polished concrete floors are now a feature in homes across the UK. Ideal for contemporary homes, classic interiors can also benefit from the introduction of polished concrete. Many people, however, are unclear about how the polished effect is achieved.

Polished Concrete Floor Meifod Office

Concrete is mixture of sand, cement, aggregate and water. The reaction between the water and the cement creates the dense, hard substance present in almost every building. Using a specialist grinding and polishing machine concrete can be refined. The process is similar to sanding wood, where finer grit sandpaper is used to develop a smooth finish.

Instead of sandpaper, diamond grit is used to grind and polish the concrete. Diamond grit is a by-product from the jewellery industry, hard enough to refine concrete. Once the grinding stage is complete, a densifying agent is spread across the floor. This reacts with the concrete, making the surface harder. When the floor has been densified, the concrete is strong enough to be polished. This process again uses diamond grit to improve the surface. Each pass uses a finer grit to create a flat, gloss finish.

Once the desired level of shine has been achieved the floor can be sealed. On properly prepared polished concrete, it is the refining of the floor which creates the shine. A sealer is applied to protect the floor against liquids and dirt.

Why Do Some Concrete Floors Look So Different to Others?

The appearance of a polished concrete floor can vary a great deal. The biggest choice is how much grinding is performed. Grinding deeper into the floor will expose the aggregates in the concrete. The deeper the grind, the larger the area of the aggregates exposed will be. With little to no grinding, a rustic finish can be achieved. This is often seen in new builds, extensions and contemporary interiors. Existing concrete floors can be polished, or new floors can be placed specifically for polishing.

How Much Does Polished Concrete Cost?

Once the mechanics of concrete polishing are explained, this is normally the next question. Both polishing and placing concrete is highly dependent on the details of the project. Costs need to be calculated on a case-by-case basis. If you are considering polished concrete in your home or business, you can use the form at the bottom of the page to request a quote. This is a free service and will not place you under any obligation. Alternatively, you can call or email us to discuss your project in greater detail.

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Polished Concrete Stairs

While polished concrete floors are becoming more and more popular, polished concrete stairs are less often seen. Properly installed and polished, a concrete staircase can transform the look of a building. Split level spaces can be made to look great by connecting the polished concrete floor to the upper level in a seamless way.

To install a concrete staircase formwork is created to pour the concrete into. Once the concrete has begun to harden, the surfaces are hand trowelled. This continues the surface appearance seen on the floor. After a period of curing time the stairs can be polished at the same time as the floor.

These pictures were taken at a residential property where we installed polished concrete stairs. The form of the steps is mirrored on the reverse of the staircase. Low level lighting was installed on both side walls. This helps to create layers of light which refract off the polished surface of the staircase.

Polished concrete stairs are an impressive architectural feature. They provide a focus for rooms and add to the modern aesthetic concrete creates. They are an investment of time and money, though, and should be added to architectural plans at a very early stage.

A staircase can be built into a wide variety of shapes, including curves and corners. It is suitable for residential or commercial buildings, provided there is enough space to accommodate it. Before it is decided upon, we suggest that any clients ask their architects or designers to provide them with 3d renderings of how the building will look.

A polished concrete staircase can help to transform a building into a modern, dramatic space with immediate visual impact. If you, or your client, are interested in polished concrete stairs as part of your project please contact us for more information.

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Case Study – Stoke Floor Placement

A properly placed and finished concrete floor makes later polishing stages quicker and more effective. Achieving this takes experience and careful planning. It is also vital to select the right design mix and combination of products. A floor we placed in Stoke in July 2019 showcases how these elements can combine to create a beautiful floor, which will be ready to polish after curing.

To reduce the chance of cracking fibres were added to the mix design. We use a cellulose based fibre which does not pose the risk of balling and fuzzing the way polypropylene fibres can. It also takes on colour, so the floor can be integrally coloured or dyed. On this occasion we used a Silver Grey colour surface hardener, which is applied after the concrete has been placed. This product  also helps to create a harder surface, which is better able to take the pressure of the polishing stages.

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The floor was being placed on one of the hottest days of the year, so extra care had to be taken. Concrete laid in very hot conditions will often hydrate too quickly, which can lead to cracks forming as water bleeds out and the concrete shrinks too rapidly. Spraying water on the slab can offset this issue, but that in turn weakens the surface of the concrete. To help achieve the floor the client was looking for we applied a finishing agent, DAY1, instead of water. This extends the concrete’s workability time, helps protect it from drying too quickly and also adds further strength to the concrete. As the images below demonstrate, a power trowel can be used to create a smooth, sealed slab. This is the ideal surface to create a rustic or industrial style floor from. Power floating helps to keep the aggregates to the lower part of the slab, reducing the chance of exposing them during polishing.

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The addition of the fibres, surface colour and finishing aid allowed us to achieve a fantastic finish on what proved to be the hottest day on record. What really brought the floor together was the skill and experience of our team. Placing decorative concrete is a complex process involving a high degree of care and judgment. The high quality of the floor is visible from the images on this page, and is testament to our staff’s commitment to quality polished concrete floors.

This is just the first part of a longer process. Once the initial curing period is over, the floor will be polished to raise the gloss level and then sealed to protect the concrete against liquids and contaminants. This has been a great project to work on, and has provided us with a fantastic start on what will become an another amazing polished concrete floor.

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Concrete Polishing – PICS Golden Trowel Winner 2019

The Golden Trowel is an annual award handed out by PICS, and Concrete Polishing is delighted to have been awarded one of this year’s top prize winners. The award winning polished concrete floor was installed in Hencote Winery, Shrewsbury.

PICS have been supporting the stamped and decorative concrete industry in the UK since 1992. They are experts in decorative concrete floors, and we are thrilled to receive this accolade from them. Concrete Polishing strives for visual excellence with every floor, trying to exceed the expectations of our clients. It is rewarding to have that recognised and affirmed by experts in concrete technology.

 

PICS have been supporting the stamped and decorative concrete industry in the UK since 1992. They are experts in decorative concrete floors, and we are thrilled to receive this accolade from them. Concrete Polishing strives for visual excellence with every floor, trying to exceed the expectations of our clients. It is rewarding to have that recognised and affirmed by experts in concrete technology.

Hencote Winery is a fantastic venue which has received rave reviews for its wine, its restaurant and for its accommodation. The restaurant commands exquisite views of the Shropshire hills. We crafted the restaurant floor using integrally coloured cement and a decorative golden aggregate. The design of the restaurant allows natural light to flood into the room, bringing out different colours in the floor at different times of the day. The exposed aggregate and high gloss reflect light, helping brighten the space after sunset. Hencote selected clustered single bulb lighting, directed by opaque shades. The lights are reflected in the floor’s dark surface, creating a starlight effect.

This was a challenging project. With such a large space, and few architectural features, the floor is a major factor in the overall look of the restaurant. Concrete Polishing was excited to be part of this project and it is rewarding to see it appreciated by the PICS and the decorative concrete community.

Since Hencote we have continued to develop as a company, building our knowledge and skills in the field of polished concrete. We aim to build on this success and continue exceed expectations, creating attractive and hardwearing floors across the UK.

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Why a DIY Polished Concrete Floor Will Cause Problems

We were recently approached by a customer who wanted to know if it feasible for him achieve polished concrete floors in house, instead of hiring contractors to do it. While it is not impossible, we would not advise anyone to attempt to create DIY polished concrete floors. Even for existing flooring contractors, polished concrete can pose a range of challenges. Each floor is unique, and no list or guide will be able to fully prepare for the difficulties to be encountered.

There are a range of concrete floor finishes available, but not all of them a suitable for every floor type. It can take an expert to assess the floor properly. The hardness of the concrete, the state of and repairs and the viability of the finish need to be considered. Without experience it is easy to select incorrect tooling which will be ineffective or rapidly break down. These can be costly mistakes which will quickly eat into a budget.

There is also the correct application of the floor treatments to be considered. Polished concrete owes its strength to liquid grout, densifier and sealer. Identifying which types of each product are correct for a concrete floor only comes with practise. The machinery and tools required are also designed for expert use. A DIY polished concrete practitioner would also need to consider how to dispose of concrete dust and debris left behind by the polishing process.

Polishing concrete is, in our opinion, best left to professionals. Correct application of machinery, tooling and chemicals is key to achieving a high quality floor in a residential property. It is unlikely that there would be any great savings to be made through DIY polished concrete. Our contractors are trained and equipped to deal with the challenges concrete can throw up, leaving our clients with attractive, hard wearing concrete floors.

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Why Bare Concrete is a Poor Choice for Industrial Floors

Concrete is known as a hard material, used in almost every construction project. So why would you need to polish a concrete floor? Concrete is not going to be damaged by people walking over it, is it? In fact, there are a number of reasons why bare concrete is a poor choice, especially in an industrial environment. We have compiled a list of the problems that unpolished concrete can cause.


Damaged Concrete Floor

Damaged Concrete Floor

Increased Risk of Damage

Concrete is a strong material, but it can be damaged by impacts or the stress of repeated heavy weights. As it dries out, a process that can take a very long time on a large slab, there is the risk of cracks forming. These cracks represent weak points which can develop into more serious problems. A large slab will have expansion joints cut into it to control cracking. These can also fail, with the edges breaking down and spalling. Once concrete is damaged, the affected area is likely to grow.

Liquid Spill on Concrete Floor

Liquid Spill on Concrete Floor

Vulnerable to Liquids

Concrete is naturally porous, which is to say that is has a large number of microscopic holes within its structure. These will absorb liquids quickly. This causes staining and marks which look unsightly. More seriously, in very cold conditions liquids within the concrete can freeze, causing deep cracks which severely weaken the structure. Toxic or hazardous substances can also transit through concrete to the soil outside, posing an environmental risk.

Open Pores on Concrete Floor

Open Pores on Concrete Floor

Dust

Remember those microscopic holes? They are filled with a substance called calcium hydroxide, which is a byproduct of the initial hydration when the concrete is mixed. Over time this is ejected from the floor as dust. This problem is made worse when mechanical or other heavy traffic moves over the floor, as it will release more dust. This dust needs to be cleaned up regularly and can pose a risk to health.

Unreflective Concrete Floor

Unreflective Concrete Floor

Low Reflection Levels

A factory, warehouse or other workplace with an unpolished concrete floor will look dull. This is due to the low light reflection of the surface. This can reduce staff productivity and must be offset with additional electric lighting, adding to a building’s running costs.


What these problems add up to is an unsightly floor which will likely degrade over time, risking slips and accidents. By having the concrete polished you can resolve these problems. The polishing process strengthens the concrete, making it better able to withstand heavy and mechanical traffic. Once sealed it will resist liquids, so they can be mopped up quickly. The calcium hydroxide which is released as dust is transformed into C-S-H, a crystalline substance which improves the floor strength. Polished concrete is also far more reflective and attractive, returning light back to the surroundings.

Most existing industrial concrete floors can be polished. Where there is existing damage, repairs can be made. Contact us today to see how an industrial or other large space can be improved by concrete polishing.

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Polished Concrete Vs Epoxy Flooring

For a long time, industrial-sized floors have used epoxy, or similar resin based coatings. This provided a flat, tough floor which would stand up to mechanical traffic. More recently, polished concrete floors have risen in popularity. We have often found that customers can confuse these different types of flooring. There are also misconceptions about the pros and cons of each system.

Both an epoxy floor and a polished concrete floor use the existing concrete slab as a starting point. To lay any kind of resin, you must add a further layer to the floor, which can be poured or trowelled onto the concrete slab. The floor will bond to the top of the concrete. Polishing concrete involves using a mechanical process to grind and polish the floor. Chemicals are added to improve the concrete hardness, and to seal it against dirt and liquids. These chemicals are absorbed into the floor, unlike an epoxy which lays on top of it.

The biggest difference is that an epoxy floor will fail over a far shorter time. It is prone to develop scratches, which will hold dirt and grease. It will also flake, chip and peel as it fails. A polished concrete floor does not have these problems. There is no topical coating to peel or chip away. It is much harder to scratch, and the sealer will help to repel any dirt or grease. A thin epoxy floor can fail after two to three years, with tougher floors lasting around five. A polished concrete floor, however, can last for the lifetime of the building.

There are some industries where a resin floor is the better choice. Storing or processing heavy chemicals or acids, for example. This is because even when polished, concrete is porous. Hazardous chemical spills can transfer to the soil outside. Epoxy floors provide a better solution for dealing with hazardous or toxic chemicals. For almost every other industry, concrete polishing will provide a better flooring solution.

Industrial Polished Concrete Factory Floor

Polished Concrete Floor

Epoxy Resin Coated Floor

Epoxy Resin Coated Floor

Polished concrete can be maintained using water and a low pH cleaner. Epoxy will require additional detergents and additives to prevent dust and debris building up. Once an epoxy floor has started to degrade, cleaning becomes even more difficult. Dirt becomes trapped inside scratches, chips and peeling sections.

Both polished concrete and epoxy floors will start out looking clean and bright. To maintain a polished concrete floor, periodic burnishing and re-sealing are recommended. Once an epoxy floor sustains damage it is difficult or impossible to return it to its original appearance. Often the only option is to replace it.

Polished Concrete Warehouse Floor

Polished Concrete Warehouse Floor

Failing Epoxy Warehouse Floor

Failing Epoxy Warehouse Floor

The success of a polished concrete floor can be limited by the existing concrete slab. Damaged areas, cracks or spalling expansion joints can affect the quality of the finish. As experienced concrete polishers we know how to deal with these issues and can repair floors prior to polishing.

Over the lifespan of the building you can make huge savings by choosing polished concrete over an epoxy or other resin based floor. You will be investing in a superior product which will provide a wide range of features you will benefit from.

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Warehouse Polished Concrete Floors

Warehouse space is one of the biggest beneficiaries from concrete polishing. There is no other flooring that offers an equal combination of strength, resistance and flatness. For facilities managers, who maintain a business’s warehousing needs, polished concrete can be the answer to many of the problems they face on a daily basis.

The first and most significant benefit that polished concrete has, compared to a normal concrete floor, is the strength. The polishing process densifies the concrete, creating a crystalline substance within the concrete’s pores. This provides a significant boost to the strength of the surface, making it less likely to sustain damage. Warehousing often involves heavy machinery and goods, which can easily lead to damage on a unpolished concrete. Worse still, concrete surrounding a crack, control joint or impact point can become brittle, continuing the damage. The polishing process minimises this risk.

The second benefit is the surface itself. Polished concrete has a smooth surface which does not abrade materials or machinery. It also sealed to resist liquid spills, reducing the risk of accidents. Contrary to initial impressions, polished concrete is a low slip surface, even when wet. The smooth can be polished to a highly reflective gloss finish. This can actually help to reduce the electrical running costs of a warehouse by reflecting light. The polishing process also prevents the floor from producing dust. The dust is instead used to create the C-S-H which strengthens the floor.

The third major benefit is that a polished concrete floor is a useable surface for such a wide array of business types. If a unit is being rented out, this is key. Often landlords will have to repaint or repair a floor between tenants. This leads to downtime where buildings are not generating rents. Polished concrete floors comply with the needs of numerous industries including:

  • Food processing
  • Food storage
  • Precision engineering and manufacturing
  • Medical and pharmaceutical production
  • Data farms and server rooms

All of these industries, and more, benefit from the clean, dust free environment which concrete polishing can provide. Few industrial spaces will need to adjust or improve their flooring when moving between such tenants.

The final benefit is the appearance of the floor. Unfinished concrete floors are rough, abrasive and dull. By having the concrete polished a far more attractive interior is created. This can help entice tenants, showing that care and attention has gone into the upkeep of the building. It also make the space more welcoming to prospective clients and customers who might visit a business in such a building.

Polished concrete is a long lasting, durable and strong floor which can last for the lifetime of the building. It provides daily benefits and raises the value of any warehouse or industrial sized unit it is placed in.

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