Concrete floors merge durability with endless customization options for a great solution to heavily used, high-traffic areas.
Combining these factors make concrete the perfect flooring choice for industrial buildings, medical institutions, schools, churches, offices, bars, restaurants, salons, and retail spaces. Additionally, there are various ways to incorporate your company logo, theme, or colors into the floor design for even more enhancement.
Concrete provides a great alternative to traditional floorings such as marble, stone, tile, wood, carpet, and linoleum. Even better, concrete is highly durable, easy to maintain, and long-lasting. If your business already has concrete floors, applying a decorative treatment is an affordable and environmentally friendly way to update or repair them.
With their smooth, reflective surfaces, polished concrete floors invite an array of options for scoring, coloring, and creating borders, grids, bands, lines, and many other geometric motifs. Color choices, textures, patterns, and finish options combine for limitless design possibilities.
Below are several ideas for you to consider when updating the polished concrete floors at your business.
A colored stain is the most popular enhancement application for already existing polished concrete floors. It is one way to add color and provide a remarkably fresh look and smooth surface. Stained surfaces are striking in appearance and add an artistic approach to flooring. They create variegated, translucent, and uneven color effects that are beautiful.
Using stain offers an opulent, rich color that can't be accomplished through other means. Staining permeates the concrete to infuse it with translucent and luminous tones, unlike a solid layer of opaque paint. The colors vary depending on the application techniques used and the surfaces they are applied to. The results can look like everything from stained wood to natural stone to polished marble or even tanned leather.
There are two types of concrete stains: acid-based chemical and water-based acrylic. Both kinds can be applied to old, new, plain, or previously colored concrete floors. Stains are highly effective for revitalizing lackluster or dull floors because they penetrate the surface. Most have excellent wear resistance and UV stability to be applied to either exteriors or interiors.
Acid stains work by penetrating the surface and reacting chemically with the calcium hydroxide in concrete. It becomes a permanent part of the concrete and won't peel, chip, or fade. However, the color palette for acid-based stains is mainly limited to earth tones – blue-green, terra cotta, brown, and tan.
The water-based stain has a broader choice of hues beyond the more subdued palette of acid-based. There are dozens of colors, including black, white, and even metallic. It also penetrates the concrete to produce permanent color, ranging from translucent to more opaque.
Similar to wood stain, all concrete stains are semi-transparent. They're intended to enhance the surface rather than disguise it. They do not hide blemishes, cracks, or other flaws in your existing concrete floors. They will also not wholly conceal the texture or mask an underlying color. If you have an existing concrete slab with spalling or significant cracks, it is not a good staining candidate. Any patchwork will show right through.
Additionally, because stains must soak into the concrete to achieve full-color saturation, they can't be applied to surfaces covered by anything that might inhibit penetration. This includes all types of oil, coatings, sealers, glues, grease, dirt, etc.
Concrete dyes offer more color vibrancy and can be more intense. Because the application is fast and easy to use, many businesses often choose to use dyes for their polished concrete floors.
These coloring agents can achieve vibrant tones and amazing color transformations simply not possible with stains.
Concrete dyes are color solutions that are translucent. However, they do not react chemically with the concrete, unlike acid-based stain. They contain very fine coloring agents that penetrate the concrete surface instead.
Both solvent- and water-based dyes are available, and each has unique qualities. While it's possible to achieve interesting variations, dyes tend to create more uniform and predictable colors versus stain.
Dyes are very popular for coloring concrete floors in commercial situations. They are available in more vibrant tones, such as cobalt blue, purple, orange, yellow, and red. They can be used full strength for greater depth of color or diluted with water or solvents to produce paler shades. Companies produce custom colors by mixing different dyes.
This method is ideal for stenciling bold graphics or company logos on polished concrete floors, especially in a lobby.
Occasionally, an uncolored, plain polished concrete floor is preferable over something stained or dyed. A standard grey polished floor will highlight the beauty of what is being displayed, such as cars or artwork. In many retail situations, this floor won't compete with the consumers' attention and allow them to concentrate on the merchandise.
The natural grey color is often left bare for the simple and industrial look of concrete. Polishing concrete requires a series of steps, and each step in the process increases the shine and reflectivity. The end product of this option is still quite beautiful.
Besides coloring with stains and dyes, scoring and engraving are other ways that polished concrete floors can be customized. Various application techniques and multiple colors can create stunning and intricate patterns.
Engraving, also known as etching, uses special equipment to create designs on an existing concrete floor. Engraving is a permanent treatment that won't wear away. The patterns are carved into the concrete rather than topically applied. The surface can be further enhanced with staining for truly spectacular results.
One of the best flooring ideas is to stain the concrete to give it color and then engrave a pattern. The engraved area is now uncolored, so it looks like the grout between tiles. Another idea is to use several colors after etching to highlight different patterns.
Both interior and exterior polished concrete floors can be engraved. Outdoor engraving can transform a patio, walkway, driveway, parking lot, or pool deck. Indoor engraving can create unique patterns and designs for stores, restaurants, or lobby entryways in many businesses.
Even better, new or old concrete floors can be etched. Fresh concrete is engraved after the concrete has cured for a month. With old concrete, thorough cleaning is necessary first. Sealer, paint, grease, and dirt will prevent the stain from penetrating. With many patterns, the flaws in old floors can contribute to the look of the engraving.
Applied stains penetrate the engraved surface to create beautiful colors. Unique designs and special color effects are possible. This is achieved by mixing two or more colors before application or applying one color over another.
Any cobblestone, tile, or brick patterns engraved into your polished concrete floors will remain for the life of the surface. The design is permanently etched into the concrete.
However, the colors may change over time. Concrete stains are hard to predict, and sometimes they become darker with age and wear. This often creates an even more authentic look of old brick or stone.
Scoring is a simple way to add texture and depth to a blank floor. It's an excellent option for both new and old surfaces by cutting a series of grooves into the concrete to create designs or patterns. It's different from stamped or engraved concrete in that texture is not added to the surface.
Also known as saw cutting, scoring can be done on either indoor or outdoor concrete flooring. However, before beginning a scoring project, your concrete must be structurally sound, and the surface should be intact. A decorative overlay is a better solution if there are unsightly cracks or areas where the concrete floor is chipping or flaking.
Use scoring to create rectangles, stars, diamonds, bands, or straight borders on the surface. Then stain the scores to contrast with the abutting concrete flooring.
Very popular and the most cost-effective is the scoring pattern of a large grid design. It is often cut at an angle into a diamond shape. The entire floor can then be stained a brown shade to create a feeling of warmth or look like stone. A scored grid pattern is a great way to add interest to your polished concrete. Go with a single color design or upgrade to a more complex version with multiple colors in the pattern.
Also, consider adding some circles or curved lines to your design if you need something with a bit more flair than a basic grid.
Scoring can also be used to create the outline of a graphic or logo on your cement floor. This makes a unique focal point that works particularly well in business lobbies and entryways.
Scoring driveways, pool decks, and patios are generally more affordable and popular than stamped concrete or natural stone paving. There are various patterns to choose from, although grids are the most common for outdoors.
A pattern that looks like natural stone can also be scored into any outdoor concrete floor. Although it's easier and more authentic looking to mimic cut stone with straight edges, a skilled decorative concrete contractor can score concrete with a random stone pattern.
Exterior concrete flooring is commonly scored with bands and borders; parallel score lines and a contrasting color create decorative bars that can intersect in the middle. A frame can be cut along the edges of a driveway, resulting in a clean, finished look. Score lines are still very effective, even when only using one stain or dye color.
There is an increasing demand for an aesthetically pleasing solution for polishing imperfect concrete floors. Therefore, as an economical alternative, more and more contractors are now installing overlays.
A concrete overlay is a thick liquid product applied over an existing floor to repair or decorate the surface. Depending on the desired finish, these can be applied as thin as a feather, or up to ¾ of an inch. An overlay can be used over an older floor with cracks and imperfections to give it a completely new look.
Colored aggregate can be added to the concrete mix overlay or seeded into the mix's top layer. As the floor is polished, this aggregate is revealed to give the floor texture and color.
Overlay additive ideas include:
Of course, any of these options can be combined or made into a pattern.
A similar solution to update an imperfect floor is to grind the floors just enough to expose the aggregate and smooth rough areas. Then, apply a topical sealer. This might be called the "sealed, exposed aggregate look." While still looking like a polished cement floor, the shine is a result of a topical coating.
A Few More Polished Concrete Floor Ideas
Compared with residential floors, commercial concrete floors usually have greater demands on durability and performance. Commercial floors often need finishes or coatings to withstand stains, abrasion, and heavy foot traffic. They need to be easier to maintain, clean, and repel food stains and spills, especially in restaurants and food manufacturers. To avoid injuries to customers and staff, commercial floors must also be slip-resistant.
In high-visibility retail stores or restaurants, floors may also require unique decorative treatments to convey a particular atmosphere or attract attention. In hospitals, schools, etc., sometimes concrete floors are patterned or colored to improve foot-traffic flow and direct people.
Polished cement floors can be colored or graphically enhanced to reflect a business logo or school mascot. In high-traffic retail facilities, epoxy terrazzo coatings are a popular choice for decorative flooring installations because of their durability and design versatility.
Giving concrete floors a dazzling metal-like patina, the newest commercial concrete floor coatings are metallic epoxy overlays.
Because they brighten indoor spaces by reflecting overhead lighting, high-gloss polished concrete floors are also popular in retail and commercial spaces.
Various decorative treatments are available for fresh concrete, including textured finishes, exposed aggregate, and pattern stamping. Does your business have a floor in need of decorative flair or repair? Give your polished concrete floors a dramatic and lasting makeover instead of ripping them out and starting over.