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Polished Concrete vs. Sealed Concrete

Renovating your home or business's concrete flooring? You may be wondering what type of floor designs are available to you and which one is the best option for your needs.

Bare concrete and polished floors are among the most popular flooring designs in both commercial and residential settings because of their durability, minimal maintenance, and unique rustic appeal. But before you decide to have polished concrete floors installed in your home or office, it is important to first determine whether you want polished concrete floors or sealed concrete.

In this blog post, we will go over the differences between polished concrete floors and sealed concrete so that you can make an informed decision about which type of flooring is right for your space.

Looking For The Right Concrete Surface

Exposed concrete floors are not only visually appealing, but they are also long-lasting, cost-effective, environmentally friendly, and suitable for a variety of uses, including businesses, warehouses, retail areas, homes, restaurants, breweries, art galleries, and more.

With so many flooring alternatives accessible to property owners, how do you select the best type of concrete floor for your space? And with that, let us dive into the details of finished floors.

What Is Polished Concrete?

Polished concrete is a common flooring choice for many businesses and homes. In fact, in some areas of the country, it’s hard to find a building that doesn’t have polished concrete floors. Polished concrete has an industrial look and feel that goes with almost any decorating style. It's also a popular choice for spaces that need to be cleaned frequently.

The process of polishing concrete involves mechanically grinding down the top layer of your existing concrete until it gets smooth and shiny before applying sealer or wax to protect its surface. After the sealer or wax is applied, the concrete is protected from damage caused by foot traffic or chemicals spilled in chemical storage areas.

A polished concrete floor is less labor-intensive, more cost-effective, and has a longer lifespan than other types of surfaces. The process for polishing concrete is relatively simple, but it does require some expertise in order to achieve your desired finish. Polished concrete is also easy to maintain and will last a lifetime if cared for properly. The polishing process is also less labor-intensive than sealed floors.

Pros Of Polished Concrete

  • The shine and smoothness of polished concrete floors can give your space a high-end look and feel.
  • Polished concrete is low maintenance and is easy to clean and maintain, making it an ideal choice for high-traffic areas.
  • It’s long-lasting and durable.
  • Correctly polished concrete surfaces can prevent moisture intrusion and are stain-resistant and scratch-free.
  • Polished concrete is environmentally-friendly and sustainable because it uses recycled materials from the original concrete slab.

Cons Of Polished Concrete

  • The biggest downside to polished concrete floors is that they can be slippery when wet, so you’ll need to take caution when walking on them in the rain or during cleaning.
  • The strength and durability of this material can make the surface very hard, so it won’t cushion or “give” under feet.
  • Unfortunately, polished concrete floor tends to be colder as it does not retain heat very well.
  • Polished concrete floors can be loud like ceramic tile, natural stone flooring, and hardwood.
  • It can be more expensive than a grind and seal application but is much more durable.

 

What Is Sealed Concrete?

Sealed concrete is very similar to polished concrete, but it doesn’t involve grinding down the surface of the floor. Instead, a high-performance sealer is applied to the top layer of the concrete which gives it a shiny, high-gloss finish and makes it resistant to staining and fading.

Sealed floors are ideal for businesses or homes that want the benefits of polished concrete but don’t want to deal with the potential hazards of a slippery surface. Sealed floors are also low maintenance and easy to clean, making them a good choice for high-traffic areas.

Pros Of Sealed Concrete

  • Sealed concrete is very easy to maintain. All you need to do is sweep and mop it regularly to keep it looking clean and shiny.
  • Sealed concrete floors are less slippery than polished concrete, which makes it safer for commercial spaces and homes with small children or elderly individuals.
  • Sealed floors have increased slip resistance, resistance to moisture and shock, and are more sanitary as sealed floors don’t harbor as many germs.

Cons Of Sealed Concrete

  • Sealed concrete doesn’t have the same high-end look as polished concrete, so it may not be suitable for some applications.
  • It can be difficult to repair sealed concrete if it becomes damaged.
  • Compared to polished concrete, a sealed floor works better in low-traffic areas.
  • A low-quality concrete sealer tends to scratch more easily and attract dirt and dust.
  • The lifespan of a sealed concrete floor is also typically shorter than that of polished concrete.
  • Sealed concrete floors require regular resealing and maintenance.

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Factors To Consider When Choosing Between Polished And Sealed Concrete

When choosing between polished concrete and a sealed concrete floor, there are several factors to consider.

1. Appearance

Polished concrete has a high-end look that can be difficult to replicate with sealed concrete. If you’re looking for a luxurious feel in your space, polished concrete may be the better option.

Sealed concrete is more subtle and doesn’t have as much of a shine as polished concrete, but it still looks clean and modern.

Nonetheless, which flooring option is best for you depends on your personal preference and the overall look you’re trying to achieve.

2. Purpose Or Function Of The Space

What are you using the space for? If it’s an office, retail store, or restaurant, then polished concrete might be better because of its high-end appearance. Additionally, a high-traffic area like a busy office or restaurant would be better with polished concrete because of its durability.

However, if it’s just a garage that needs some sprucing up with new flooring, then sealed concrete would work just fine. Sealed concrete is more subtle and doesn’t have as much of a shine as polished concrete, but it still looks clean and modern. 

If you’re looking to install flooring in a residential space, then consider the purpose of your home. If it’s a family home with kids and pets, then you’ll want something that is low-maintenance and easy to clean like sealed floors.

3. Durability

Polished concrete is a very durable flooring option and can withstand a lot of wear and tear. Sealed concrete is also a durable flooring option, but it doesn’t have the same level of durability as polished concrete. It’s better suited for low-traffic areas like a residential home.

When it comes to durability, polished concrete is the clear winner.

4. Budget

The cost of polished concrete is cheaper than sealed floors. However, you should consider the installation process and maintenance costs as well.

Polished concrete needs to be installed by a professional and it requires regular resealing every few years in order for the shine to stay looking good. On the contrary, sealed concrete can also be done professionally or DIY with a few simple steps.

Overall, the cost of polished concrete is cheaper in the long run, but it does require more maintenance.

5.  Maintenance

Both polished and sealed concrete floors require some amount of maintenance, but it’s significantly less with a sealed floor. All you need is a mop and some soapy water to clean your floors every week or two.

On the other hand, polished concrete needs to be resealed every few years in order to maintain the shine. In between sealings, you’ll need to use a special floor cleaner that doesn’t strip away the sealant.

When it comes to maintenance, sealed concrete is the easier option.

6.  Environmentally-Friendly

Polished concrete is not environmentally friendly because it uses harsh chemicals and solvents to achieve its shine. Sealed concrete, on the other hand, is a more eco-friendly option because it doesn’t use any harmful chemicals or solvents. It's simply made of natural materials like cement, water, and sand.

If you’re looking for an eco-friendly flooring option, then sealed concrete is the better choice.

7.   Installation

Polished concrete is more difficult to install than sealed concrete. It requires special tools and knowledge in order to get the shine just right. As for sealed concrete, it is a simpler process that can be done by a professional or as a DIY project. 

Therefore, when it comes to installation, polished concrete is more difficult and time-consuming. So if you’re looking for an easy installation, then sealed concrete is the better choice.

Polished Concrete Vs. Sealed Concrete: The Verdict

Both polished and sealed concrete have their own benefits, so it ultimately comes down to what you need and want from your flooring. If you’re looking for an industrial look with easy maintenance, then polished concrete is a good option. However, if you want a shiny finish that’s resistant to staining and fading, then sealed concrete could be a better choice.

Overall, when choosing between polished concrete and sealed concrete, it’s important to consider the purpose of the space, how much traffic the space will receive, and your budget. Both flooring options have their own benefits and drawbacks, so it’s up to you to decide which one is the best fit for your needs.

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