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Flooring: Polished concrete

Polished concrete floors can make a stunning design statement in your home or office. They are also comparatively inexpensive, durable, easy to clean and maintain and will last a lifetime.

Because of their beautiful design aspects, polished concrete floors are best installed in a large formal or open plan area, such as a dining room, family area or formal lounge, where the unusual surface textures or embedded patterns can be seen to advantage.

Polished concrete also looks striking in an entrance hall or foyer.

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Patterns in polished concrete

Patterns and textures are created by including a decorative aggregate such as river stones, black basalt fragments, shells, coloured glass pieces, old coins, or larger elements such as car parts, old CDs, saw blades - anything you like that will make a design you can live with forever.

Other design elements can be cut or scraped into the surface and treated with dyes to provide a contrast before the surface is polished.

Alternatively, you can strike a more subtle textured note by simply revealing the base aggregate or having this aggregate dyed a natural tone.

Your flooring contractor needs to be aware that the end result will be polished, and so the floor needs to be of a high standard.

Install new or retrofit polished concrete

While it's probably best to start fresh with a concrete floor that will exhibit a unique design after polishing, it is possible to refurbish an existing concrete floor to polished glory. This can be done in two ways:

  1. the existing floor can be sanded back to reveal the underlying aggregate and then polished; or
  2. a 50mm thick topping layer of fresh concrete can be added with the decorative aggregate or inclusions dropped in.

This second method runs the risk of reducing the finished heights of door openings and ceilings.

Polishing and finishing decorative concrete floors

After the decorative surface is revealed, the floor is treated with a liquid hardener to provide a very glossy look and give the floor extra strength.

When the hardener has cured, the floor is sanded three times to polish it, then sealed with a stain and block out sealer to reduce water and oil staining.

Cleaning and protecting your concrete floor

Concrete flooring will not chip or dent like softer surfaces such as timber, and is easy to maintain. Mopping with warm water once a week is the only maintenance required.

Some contractors recommend a neutral cleaner and conditioner in the water that leaves behind a dirt-resistant film.

Except for high traffic areas, polished concrete will keep its shine for years. If it does ever dull, it is easy to restore. Simply buff the floor with a commercial polishing compound.

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