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Design Options with Polished Concrete

Polished concrete is a surface that provides a very unique and appealing look. As Greg Demmert of Demmert & Assoc. in Los Angeles points out, “Polished concrete floors are unique because the aggregate exposure is all different. No two floors are exactly the same.” Combined with a unique look, and a highly durable and economical surface, polished concrete is a prime finish for both residences and commercial facilities.

Polished Concrete’s Natural Characteristics
If you’re considering polished concrete, it’s important to be aware of what a polished surface does not provide. John Buteyn, Senior Technical Manager with Colorado Hardscapes explains, “People have to be comfortable with the theme of the concrete. It can produce rustic-looking results. Imperfections will show, so the floor has to fit the character of the space.” Buteyn explains more in this article about what to expect from a polished concrete floor.

This organic look, with various areas of coarser aggregate and unevenness of veins, is what appeals to most people who want a polished concrete floor. But as Demmert points out, “If you want a perfectly consistent floor, concrete is not the answer. Choose another surface.”

Popular Methods for Sprucing up Polished Concrete
Many people opt to keep concrete in its natural state. “We get requests for a lot of earthy tones,” says Demmert. Some people want to turn the concrete more of a gray color, as it tends to appear brown, he says. The most popular ways to enhance the color is through stains and dyes.

Buteyn also says that polished concrete can be enhanced through scoring, or cutting lines and patterns into the concrete surface. Designs include grids, borders, banding, and radial lines. “Then we use dyes and stains to accent the panels or banding,” he says.

Adding Design to Concrete Before Polishing
If the decision is made to polish concrete in advance of the concrete being poured, there is a stunning array of available options:

  • Colored aggregate can be applied to the concrete mix or seeded into the top layer of the mix. The polishing process will reveal these aggregate.
  • Integrally colored concrete can be used.
  • Glass can be seeded into the mix. The polishing process will reveal the glass pieces.
  • Nails, bolts, computer chips, or any other objects can be seeded into the mix and then polished smooth
  • Of course, any of these options can be combined together or into a pattern.

Next: Read about outrageous polished concrete projects