Spruce up your concrete floors with a quick polish and shine.
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Gone are the days where polished concrete floors were only ever found in warehouse and car dealerships. Now, it has become the finish of choice amongst trendy homeowners or those looking for a durable, long-lasting floor.
Find out how to install polished concrete floors in your home with our expert guide.
Why should I polish my concrete floors?
Commercial and manufacturing facilities have been reaping the benefits of polished concrete flooring for years. Not only is it one of the most hard-wearing floors out there, but it's also some of the most affordable on the market. Even better, with the correct installation and proper maintenance, you can expect to enjoy your concrete flooring for years to come.
How much does it cost to polish a concrete floor?
Working out the cosy of polishing a concrete floor isn't a simple task. It depends on several different factors including:
- Condition of the original floor. Rough or cracked concrete will require extra grinding to prepare it for the polish.
- Surface size. Small and awkwardly shaped spaces cost more than larger areas as the work is more intricate.
- Finish required. Certain types of concrete such as exposed aggregate or stencilled concrete will cost more.
- Polishing method. There are three different types of polishing methods (grind and seal, homing and mechanical), all of which have different price points.
Taking all of this into account, an installer will give you a polished concrete cost per square meter. The below cost estimates from trade platform Hipages cover some scenarios:
- If your space is open, easy to get to, in good condition, and can be polished using the grind and seal method, they may quote you a relatively low price of $25 per square meter.
- If, however, your concrete is a little worse for wear and will be more labour intensive to get the job done, you may be quoted around $50 as a mid-range price.
- At the higher end of the scale, mechanically polished concrete will set you back between $75 and $100 per square meter.
How can I finance polishing my concrete floors?
There are plenty of ways to borrow the capital needed to polish your concrete flooring:
- Personal loan. If you've got a good credit rating, you may be able to secure a personal loan, with some having maximum loan amounts of up to $30,000 or more.
- Credit card. Depending on your personal limit, and the cost of the renovations, you can use your credit card to cover the polished concrete cost.
- Home equity loan. Some mortgage lenders will allow you to borrow money against the current value of your home.
- Redraw facilities. If your lender supports the initiative, you may be allowed to withdraw a small amount of money from previous mortgage payments to spend on home renovations.
The step by step process for polishing concrete floors
To achieve a high-quality finish on your polished concrete floors, you'll need to get your hands on specialist equipment such as a concrete grinder and discs with different levels of abrasiveness.
If you don't want to spend the money on hiring the equipment, you can bring a professional in to do the job for you.
Remember, if you're laying new concrete, you will need to allow around a month for it to cure before beginning the polishing process.
Either way, here are the steps you need to follow to achieve that polished shine:
- Prepare your floor by:
- Mopping and sweeping the area
- Removing any old coatings that have been applied
- Repairing any cracks in the concrete
- Use a coarse grit abrasive disc on your concrete grinder to remove any stains or particularly rough areas on your concrete. Move the grinder slowly in circular motions for the best results.
- Polish your floors with a fine-grit abrasive disc to ensure a smooth and glossy surface.
- Finally, use an extra-fine abrasive disc on your concrete grinder to go over your floor once more.
- When you're happy with the finish of your floor, apply a layer of polish or sealant to protect the floor from everyday wear and tear.
How long does it take to polish a concrete floor?
Polishing concrete is a labour intensive job, and it will take around two days to complete just one room. The exact time depends on the size of the surface area, if there are any awkward obstacles to polish around and the condition of the original concrete. If the concrete floor is in a particularly bad condition, it may add another day to the polishing process. Contrary to what you may expect, smaller areas take longer to polish than larger areas as they require intricate work.
How to choose a polishing company
The easiest way to compare polishing companies is by collecting quotes, portfolios and testimonials from local companies. Doing this will allow you to choose a reputable and trustworthy company who will provide a quality finish for the right price. Skilled companies will also offer a warranty period, within which they will return to fix a problem if something goes wrong.
How to find professionals to polish concrete floors in Australia
There are plenty of ways to find local tradesmen that can polish concrete floors. A quick online search will reveal local and nation-wide companies, allowing you to compare their services. Alternatively, ask for recommendations from people you know, or use a website like Oneflare, Airtasker or Hipages to post your job and get quotes.
What questions should I ask a concrete polisher?
Asking a few extra questions can tell you a lot about the company and the service they provide:
- What experience do you have working with polished concrete floors?
- Does your company provide a guarantee or warranty?
- Can you provide a quote for the job along with a time frame?
- Do you have public liability insurance for working on my property?
How to negotiate with a concrete polisher
Good communication and respectful considerations are two key ingredients when it comes to negotiating with your concrete polisher. It's always a good idea to build common ground with the service provider to find an agreement that suits both of you. Whatever you do, make sure you stay in control of your emotions.
Expert tips about polished concrete
By Chris Stead, Finder's expert DIY and home renovations writer
Is polished concrete better than tiles?
Despite the different colours and styles you can get nowadays with polished concrete, for most people it will never look as good as tiles or pavers. Looks isn't where polished concrete gets its edge. Instead, it's in cost. Before you can tile or pave a floor, you generally need a concrete base. Outside of using pavers, you can get away with aggregate (road base) instead, but that's not as ideal as just forming up a slab.
Inside the home in places like a bathroom, you'll lay straight onto the concrete on a ground floor, or in a top floor likely use sheets of Scyon fibre cement to form the hard base you need to hold the weight of tiles.
Bottom line is, if you've already got the concrete, you can just polish it up and give it a nice finish and live with that instead of throwing down all the money for tiles and a tiler. It's a significantly cheaper approach. And polished concrete doesn't need nearly the same maintenance as there's no grout lines to pick up debris and house mould.
In my home, we tiled the important showpiece rooms; the bathrooms and the toilet. However, in the garage and the laundry, we just kept the concrete slab that was already there on the ground and then polished and sealed it. This was far more cost effective, and it's two areas of our home where durability and functionality win out over looks every day of the week.
Do you have to polish exposed concrete?
No, you don't. While polishing concrete gives it a nicer look and finish, and can help make it more slip resistant, it isn't completely necessary. You can, of course, just seal it yourself. There's no trick to it, other than having the concrete as clean as possible before you put on the sealer. Then you just pour the clear liquid into a container and paint it on with a brush or a roller, depending on how big the space is.
The look of the concrete will not change, but the sealer will prevent water and moisture from getting into the floor.
Tips to make sure the concrete looks as good as possible
If there is a chance that the concrete is going to be left exposed to be either polished or sealed, make sure the concreters know. That way they can make sure they finish off the floor as nice and possible and leave none of the rough elements they might if they know the slab is just going to be covered up.
It's also worth thinking in advance about where you want any water to flow when spilled on the concrete so that the concreters can angle the floor to accommodate. If you don't give them guidance, they could do something like angle the floor off the edge of the slab, not knowing that you intend to build a wall there later in the build. This happened to me, and now water that gets into my garage during a storm tends to pool in the corner rather than move back outside. Frustrating.
About Chris Stead
Finder's expert DIY and home renovation writer, Chris Stead, spent two years as an owner-builder. He was involved day-to-day from the groundwork up in constructing a two-story family home with a pool and separate granny flat. Working alongside every trade on the journey, tools in hand, he went through all the successes, failures, stress and financial decision making required to renovate in Australia.
Pros and cons of polishing a concrete floor
- Cheaper than lots of other flooring options
- Very durable and long-lasting
- Easy to clean and maintain
- Lots of different designs and finishes to choose from
- Holds heat from sunlight
- Gets cold in the winter
- Needs sealing every six to nine months
- Can be a safety hazard
- Loud to walk on
- Only suitable for some spaces
Warehouses, lobbies, retail stores and kitchen spaces all lend themselves perfectly to polished concrete thanks to its durable nature. To ensure that your floor stands the test of time, make sure you hire the right professional for the job.
Frequently asked questions about polishing a concrete floor
Are concrete floors bad for your health?
Concrete floors are known to cause some health issues, especially if you're spending a prolonged amount of time walking on them. Common problems can include shin splints, lumbar strain and achilles tendonitis.
How long does polished concrete last?
Polished concrete is one of the most durable floor finishes around, and should last at least ten years without any problems. To ensure a long life, it's important to make sure that you install the floor properly and maintain it regularly throughout the years.
How do you keep polished concrete floors shiny?
A surefire way to keep your concrete floors shiny is to apply a penetrating sealer once it has been laid. In terms of regular maintenance, you'll also want to dust and mop the floor daily as dirt and grime can ruin the shine of your floor.
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