Any surface prep professional will tell you that an untreated concrete floor is a pain. A hard troweled concrete floor is easy to maintain in certain circumstances. If you don’t polish or coat concrete, you’ll quickly end up with cracking, spalling, and other damage that will require extensive remediation. 

But which should you choose—polished concrete or a concrete floor coating? Let’s break down the advantages of each option to provide some insight for your next project.

Concrete Coatings

Concrete coatings are ideal for both commercial and residential projects. Because coated concrete floors are nonporous and lack any joints or cracks, they won’t collect filth, mold, or bacteria. This makes them much easier to sanitize than flooring options like carpet and tile. 

Types of Concrete Floor Coatings

One of the best things about this flooring choice is that there are a variety of coatings out there, so you should be able to identify one that best fits the unique needs of your project. Three of the most common concrete floor coatings are epoxy, urethane, and acrylic.

Epoxy coatings adhere tightly to concrete and create a naturally waterproof barrier that makes your concrete floor stain-resistant, mold-resistant, and highly durable. Urethane floor coatings hold up to UV exposure and maintain their gloss and color better than epoxies, but don’t adhere to concrete as tightly. Lastly, acrylic floor coatings create a thin layer of protection that stands up to UV exposure and heavy traffic.

Polished Concrete

Polished concrete is extremely versatile and can be used in projects ranging from corporate offices to residential garages to restaurants. The typical high-gloss look of this flooring option makes it aesthetically pleasing, while the durability created by the polishing process makes it an affordable, low-maintenance option when taking the lifespan of the floor into account. It’s also nonporous, easy to clean, and environmentally friendly!

You can polish a concrete floor with several different machines, including planetary grinders and power trowels. To create a polished concrete surface, you’ll need to use high-quality diamond tooling in progressively finer grits. The process can be fairly time consuming and labor-intensive, but more efficient equipment and techniques are being developed each year. Power trowel polishing, for example, offers up to a 75% reduction in labor over traditional grinding methods.

Polished Concrete Finishes

The concrete polishing process can expose different levels of aggregate, resulting in a wide range of looks that can be matched to many different aesthetics. A cream finish, for example, has only a small amount of aggregate exposure, while a salt and pepper exposes more. To further customize the look of your floor, polished concrete can be dyed or stained in a variety of colors and made anywhere from matte to high gloss.

Which Is Right for Your Project?

When it comes to choosing between a concrete floor coating and polished concrete, you’ll have a number of different factors to consider—including the location of the installation, the end user’s needs and expectations, your budget, ideal maintenance plans, and more.

The state of the existing concrete surface may end up making the decision for you. If you arrive at the job site to find extensive damage to the substrate, you won’t be able to polish the concrete without repairing or replacing material. On the other hand, concrete coatings are applied over the substrate and may be able to mask slight imperfections in the concrete.

Finally, you’ll need to consider future repairs and maintenance. Coatings scratch, but they can be replaced. In fact, they’ll absolutely need to be replaced; some water-based epoxies only last for a few years! Repairing damage to a polished concrete floor is a more extensive process, but a high-quality floor will last for years with minimal maintenance. Ultimately, the choice comes down to whichever material will best meet your needs.- i would mention something here about the price difference and maintenance costs. Polished concrete is much cheaper to maintenance whereas the coatings will require to be replaced every few years regardless of how much maintenance is done to them

Need Concrete Polishing and Finishing Tools, Equipment, or Consumables?

Brushing up on your technical skills before a massive project? Struggling to find a reliable materials supplier? You’ve come to the right place—we just so happen to be the complete package! Runyon Surface Prep is a full-service sales and rental facility supplying concrete polishing and surface preparation materials to customers across the country. 

We’re dedicated to seeing you succeed in your endeavors and will do whatever it takes to help you accomplish your project. Whether that means providing technical training or ensuring your shipment gets on a plane the same day you order it, you can count on us. If you have any questions about our offerings or want to pick our brains on the best concrete coatings and polishing products out there, give us a call.