Is My Slab a Good Candidate for Polished Concrete?

February 16, 2021

We can all mostly agree that polished concrete is one of the most durable and economical finishes for concrete.  However, agreement over how polished concrete looks once complete is often a 50/50 split over, “Awesome!!” and “Eh..”. 

The main reason for this is the actual slab conditions prior to polishing.  Truthfully, we can “repair” almost any concrete surface to make it shine (see photo).  It is almost nearly impossible to hide those repairs and stick within realistic budgets on large scale projects.  As the polishing contractor, blame is often placed on us to blend these defects.  In a high end architectural situation where looks are important, there is a costly method that actually sources the same rocks present in the initial concrete mix matrix (if known).  Most times though, especially on large restoration jobs, we are stuck with getting as close to a match as possible.  When budget restricts, we are often stuck with a quick “function over form” repair (see photo).  This photo is a great depiction of some joints that required an extreme restoration and refill.  As you can see the original concrete was an integral colored concrete and the patch material was natural color. This photo is also a great depiction of the look of tile ghosting caused by moisture transfer through the grout.  These two virtually uncontrollable characteristics of a floor can be a real deal breaker for the client with high visual expectations of a flaw-free floor. 

Our recommendation:  The real key here is the management of expectation.  Some of our clients appreciate the floor defects and welcome them as “unique” and “character”.  The other half would never accept this and will choose an epoxy coating to hide the flaws and go for a more uniform look where circumstances allow.  Last and most important, we ALWAYS suggest a polished concrete mockup on your exact floor to showcase how that floor will look once polished.  This small proactive step saves time and money from having to reverse decisions deep into a process if things aren’t shaping up to expectations.

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