What is Polished Concrete?

The answer may seem simple right?  It’s concrete… that’s polished.   Many people just assume that this form of concrete is simple, easy and has been around for many a year, almost as long as modern concrete itself.  People today a pressed hard to believe so, the truth is though, is that it is actually a very new form comparatively speaking and a rather new technological advancement in the concreting world.


Before the 1990s, polished floors were normally either a dark granite, or a white glossy marble material.  Because of this, concrete was rarely used uncovered in areas that required a finer aesthetic finish.  Normally any concrete surface would be covered eventually in carpet, tiles or a laminate product to increase its visual presence.

The change to polished concrete actually occurred by accident in Tunisia.  A contractor assigned to polish stone floors, a normally  “wet” polishing process.  Leaving his workers to finish the job, they continued polishing the entire floor area as told, except there was one catch – some of the floor was concrete, and they were already dry polish!   Workers however commented on its appearance (let’s be honest, they were probably trying to save their jobs) and what would follow would be a quick transition and world-wide dispersal of the process so that by the time the new millennia in the year of two thousand came around, the process was already vastly popular.


There was a reason why concrete wasn’t polished until so recently in its history, and that is the same reason people use it for a building material in the first place – it’s extremely hard and strong (another is that ordinarily, must concrete surfaces a dull grey and to many, not visually appealing so no one really thought to try it initially anyway).

Because of it’s tough nature, specialised equipment is required to polish floors to a level that gives it the looks that people expect today.  While the machinery to do this work is readily available today, a concrete polishing tool isn’t something that you find in everyone’s back tool shed.

The most important part of the process is having the machinery with a tougher material that n concrete, in which most cases, diamond grade grinding disks are used.  To get the highly aesthetic, smooth surfaces that people expect of the finished product however, still takes significant work.  Polishers will often start with a lower grade grit (maybe 50 or a 100) and then slowly increase the disc grit, which means are finer result, and smoother surface.  Sometimes up to twelve passes can be made, which can be an extremely slow process for larger surface area.

At the same time, a “densifer” application to the floor is required, enhancing the polishing process.  Other material may be applied, such as grouts and fillers where cracks or holes may already be in the surface.

Results and Uses

The results of the final product provide a surface that matches that of the marble and graphite floors that proceeded the new method, and who set the benchmark for polished floors.  While you do not always want a polished surface when it comes to concrete (not every driveway or outdoor space needs it) whoever there is a surface that you want to be equally visually appealing and still providing the same strength and durability as any other concrete surface. 

So the answer is, wherever you want a polished concrete floor!  The polishing will almost always be an additional cost associated with the concreting service however, but it is something that can be done at an alternative date, or even done on your already existing concrete surfaces.

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