One of the most sustainable flooring types that is gaining acceptance lately is the polished concrete floor.

Why is it considered sustainable? well for starters, we save on resources. Why use expensive tiles or stones on top of a perfectly good concrete slab. Polished concrete floors do not require any voc spewing glues and adhesives needed to fix carpets or tiles and hence contribute towards improving the indoor air quality.

Polished concrete floors are being increasingly used in educational, commercial/retail, industrial and even residential projects. There are a lot of interesting examples of concrete floors if you search online. I specially like the acid stained polished floors.

So what is a polished concrete floor anyway? Lets look at the basics.

A polished concrete floor put simply is a polished concrete floor. It's that simple. But we do need to keep a few things in mind before specifying one. First and foremost is the quality of concrete slab we want to polish. Strength of concrete is important and a minimum of 4000psi concrete is recommended for an architectural polished floor. Flatness of concrete floor is another important consideration and will impact the type of look we want. Speaking of the look- polished concrete floors are categorized into 3 grades and 3 classes. Grade of concrete floor determines the look of the floor and class determines the level of polish .

The 3 grades are:

  • Grade I (cream finish): requires a very flat slab to begin with. In Grade-I slabs, none of the coarse aggregate is exposed while grinding resulting in a very consistent tone.
  • Grade-II (Salt n pepper): requires a little bit more grinding resulting in some exposed aggregate hence the salt n pepper name.
  • Grade-III (aggregate finish): As the name suggests, this grade of floor requires a little extra grinding to expose the aggregate resulting in a terrazzo like finish.

The 3 Classes are:

  • Class-I: Low reflectivity
  • Class-II: Medium reflectivity
  • Class-II: High reflectivity

Another consideration in a polished concrete floor is color. Color could be integral (mixed with concrete mix) for new projects or could be surface applied for both new and existing concrete slabs. In the case of surface applied colors, chemical stains (aka acid stains) provide a very interesting but unpredictable pattern. Chemical stains react with concrete to produce colors and hence result in an organic (or mottled) appearance. Chemical stains are available in earth tones. For indoor applications surface applied dyes can also be used and are available in a greater variety of colors.

 

Polished concrete floors look great, last a long time, age gracefully and cost a lot less than many other flooring materials ('sasta, sundar aur tikau' for my Indian friends). If you have used concrete floors in any of your projects please share your experience and pics.

Further resources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polished_concrete

http://www.scofield.com/architects/

http://www.concretenetwork.com/concrete/polishing/

 

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Architect
Comment by Vishal Charles on May 17, 2013 at 7:39am

@ Onizu If you polish IPS flooring then you have a polished concrete floor.


Architect
Comment by onizu on May 16, 2013 at 10:55pm

Is that what IPS is?

Comment by Bernhard Living on December 8, 2012 at 2:16pm

I never thought that concrete could look so beautiful. 


Architect
Comment by Laura Craig on October 9, 2012 at 10:38pm

Using the concrete slab on grade as the finished floor surface is more cost effective, maintenance costs are lower..


Architect
Comment by C V Sathyanarayan on June 4, 2012 at 3:39pm

Hello,


Thanks for the article.Would like to get local contacts of contractors/Vendors with proven track record capable of providing seamless polished concrete floor.


Architect
Comment by Vishal Charles on April 23, 2012 at 7:03pm
In most of the polished concrete floor photographs the floor seems seamless- but there must be some control joints or strips to prevent random cracking. Do you know how they achieve a seamless floor?
Comment by Concrete Art-FX on April 21, 2012 at 12:37am

Being a decorative concrete contractor, I can vouch for the fact that polished concrete flooring is extremely popular in high end homes especially with in-floor heating. We have had to purchase additional equipment to keep up with the demand for polished concrete. Another less know but becoming more popular is metallic epoxy flooring. This is a much more colorful option but is still gorgeous.

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