What To Know About Concrete Floor Finishes

by TRP Ready Mix on December 9, 2022

The Ultimate Guide To Help You Narrow Down Your Pick

Concrete flooring dates back to 5600 BC when houses along the Danube River in (former) Yugoslavia used it. Today, one typically only finds exposed concrete floors in commercial buildings and basements. But that is changing.

More homeowners today finish their floors in concrete, seeking a more modern look. Instead of installing tile or wood on top of concrete, some homeowners elect to have their floors done in a concrete finish.

That’s where this article comes in, as we will investigate the different types of concrete finishes, along with the pros and cons of each.

 The Benefits of Concrete Floor Finishes  

Concrete is an inexpensive material to build with. It is often half the cost of finishing in tile or wood finishes. And to ensure that you keep costs down with concrete flooring, check out these tips.

Like clay, concrete is moldable. You can use it around corners and up hills. You can even make steps, counters, and benches with it. If you can imagine it, you can make it with concrete.

Concrete sets and cures hard as rock, making concrete floors durable. They can withstand up to 5,000 lbs per square inch (PSI). The surface generally remains stable and level over time.

Concrete is easy to maintain, with no grout in the tile, or seams in the wooden planks to clean. You sweep it and mop it, and it holds its beauty. Concrete does not scratch easily, and if cracks develop, they can be filled at a relatively low cost.

Concrete gives your home or business a unique look. You can turn your average home or business into a palace with a concrete floor finished the right way.

Types of Concrete Finishes for Floors  

The only real downside to finishes for concrete floors is the sheer number of choices. While not exhaustive, the following list of finishes represents the most common choices.

Sealed Concrete  

This is a catch-all term for different types of substances that can be used to seal bare concrete. Once the concrete laying has been completed, and the concrete has cured, concrete sealers are applied. Some popular sealants include:

  • Acrylics: water or solvent-based; they come in different colour
  • Polyurethanes: twice as thick as acrylic and very durable
  • Epoxies: polymer resin and other chemicals that bond with the concrete

No matter which type of finish you choose, these finishes enhance the look of bare concrete. Sealing also protects the concrete from mould, makes it more scratch-resistant, and makes it easier to maintain.

Polished Concrete  

This finish features concrete ground to a high-gloss finish with finer diamond-based pads. This floor retains a high sheen that catches the eye. All cracks and divots get patched before grinding for the smoothest finish possible.

This option has become one of the go-to choices for high-end home flooring finishes. It offsets high-end furniture and appliances to complete a look of opulence. It’s a look you couldn’t equal without spending a great deal more money per square foot.

At the end of the grinding process, a penetrating sealer is added to preserve the colour of the finish.

One downside of polished concrete is how it interacts with moisture. Given its non-porous finish, water hydroplanes on polished concrete. Put simply, it can get slippery.

Broom Finish Concrete  

They achieve this finish by pulling or pushing a broom over setting concrete. This creates ridges and valleys in the concrete that roughens up the surface.This finish works best for patios, driveways, and other outside applications.

It’s a bit too rough for indoor use. It wouldn’t look great in a home next to furniture and appliances.

The upside to broom finishes is how it interacts with water. The valleys created by the broom give water a place to go, keeping the ridges dry for greater traction.

Smooth Finish Concrete  

This finish is similar to polished concrete in appearance, but the smoothing process doesn’t go as far as the polished-floor process. First, the floor is levelled with trowels or levelling machinery. Then the floor is smoothed out with grinders to a smoothness beyond what you’d get with a sealed concrete floor.

Epoxy Finish Concrete  

Epoxy can revive an existing concrete floor that has gotten ugly. Or you can use it to seal a newly poured floor.

Epoxy comes in a variety of colours, including clear. It even comes in clear with specks of coloured material added.

One of the advantages of epoxy is that you can apply many layers to make the finish as thick as desired. Epoxy is strong. It has excellent adherence to concrete, as long as the concrete has been cleaned and prepared beforehand.

Acid Washed Concrete  

An acid compound of hydrochloric or phosphoric acid mixed with salts gets applied to the surface of the concrete floor once it has fully cured. The acid etches the concrete, creating unique patterns. The process of acid washing brings out various  colours and marbling effects in the concrete. What you achieve is a unique pattern in the concrete that you cannot get any other way.

How to Pick the Right Finish  

The choice comes down to the following factors: cost, location, traction needs, and finished look. Brushed concrete is best for traction but won’t look good in your home. Keep this finish for outside applications.

An epoxy or acrylic finish can be made skid-free, making them usable in the home. However, this type of finish is more often preferred in garages. While they look good, they do not garner the amazing appeal of other finishes.

A polished concrete floor will enhance the beauty of your home or business. There’s a reason why museums use them.Nothing else comes close to the look of this finish. The downside of this finish is that it is the most costly.

Another great option for high-end homes or business is the acid wash finish. The colours you get from this process will make your home or business unique and stand out to the eye.

The Takeaway  

Concrete flooring is enjoying a renaissance. Businesses and homeowners have been rediscovering its potential beauty and other qualities.

There are types of concrete finishes to meet all needs. Commercial, small business, kitchen, garage, patio, concrete works for them all.

Whether you are redoing an old concrete floor or putting in a new one, give TRP Ready Mix a call. We are your concrete experts in Ontario. If it involves concrete, we do it.