Installation of polished concrete floors : processes and characteristics

When laying out a concrete floor covering, a wire mesh must first be laid over the entire surface so that the individual plates overlap. Then, the slab or concrete pour mixed with the required polypropylene fiber by volume must be placed. The result obtained is a floor with a minimum thickness of 5 cm and a maximum thickness of 12 cm, depending on the needs, with expansion joints every 10 or 15 meters to avoid cracking.

The flooring polishing process

Generally speaking, concrete is a gray to gray-black material (depending on the color of the cement used), and once dry, the texture is granular (due to the presence of sand) and not shiny. Therefore, the polished finish can be done manually or by a machine called a helicopter. The choice of either method will depend on the geometry of the surface, manual polishing is often used for stairs and hard-to-reach corners. Also, to reduce the gloss of the resin, matte and breathable waxes should be used.

Concrete flooring is usually used for outdoor environments, although it is increasingly used indoors these days, such as in garages, industrial buildings or office buildings. Indeed, there are several qualities of concrete depending on their use (pedestrian or road traffic, public or private building, etc.), for which it is necessary to take into account that the time it takes for the truck to reach the site influences its final quality. For this reason, it is often preferable to ask for a higher quality than that required.

Characteristics and advantages of polished concrete

A very durable product : recommended for budgets that require a noble-looking finish without spending too much and with a wide range of colors. If the air conditioning system is underfloor heating, more investment is needed in a thermal generator to reach the same temperature as the one in the house, even if it would be possible to use special resins. The thickness of the coating will require the doors to be brushed and a step will appear at the entrance to the room or house where it is applied, so it is only recommended in new construction. And for a house that does not have a great height clearance between floor and ceiling, the execution of this finish may result in the perception of smaller rooms, so it should only be done in large rooms and with a minimum clearance height of 2, 60m.

Requires specialized labor : special attention must be paid to drying and setting, especially in case of unfavorable weather conditions (excessive heat/cold or humidity). It is also advisable for a surface treatment and a glossy finish to turn to specialists in the field for a satisfactory result.

Microcement : this product has a rather bad reputation because it starts to crack after a few years. It has a thickness of 2 or 3 mm and is covered with a layer of polyurethane on top, leaving a plastic appearance that will flake off over time if the product is not of optimal quality. The final finish resembles stucco (glossier than in the case of polished concrete), although due to its low thickness. In new constructions, it will require the prior execution of a screed that will achieve the same result as polished concrete, at an additional cost. Special attention must be paid to this floor in damp or poorly ventilated rooms, as it is not breathable and stains may appear.

Polished cement : this is a selection of aggregates, pore coatings, varnishes and waxes with a thickness of 3 mm and with expansion joints every 500m2, so that they are not necessary in small areas. It is the top of the range of continuous flooring products, with high compressive strength and avoiding cracks and splits. As in the previous case, it requires a prior concrete screed but it is the most recommended of the three if it is to be installed over underfloor heating, although it is the most expensive. Since the final coating requires a pore covering product, varnishes and/or waxes that make its finish not plastic but breathable and waterproof, also allowing for the drying of any moisture stains that may come out in the interior.

In short, the choice of one system or another will not depend on the finish (in many cases the difference is almost unappreciated), but on its durability, the budget and the physical and constructive characteristics of the work in which it is to be executed. Concrete flooring with a polished surface or a glossy finish is currently an alternative solution for having a polished floor, so there are several advantages for polished concrete.

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