Mechanically Polishing or Coating Distressed Vs. New Concrete Floors

August 9, 2018
Cementitious Overlays
Concrete Polishing

The high-gloss finish and ease of maintenance have made mechanically polished concrete and coated concrete floors the new VIPs of the flooring world. However, while these floors are beautiful regardless of the situation, the state of the underlying concrete does create different aesthetics. Some existing concrete floors can be heavily flawed, which creates on-trend distressed floors, while brand new concrete leads to a nearly flawless finish. Luckily, we can help create the look you desire.

Brand New Concrete Floors

If you are building a new home and interested in polishing or coating your concrete floors, there are a few things to take into consideration before pouring the concrete — if you are going for that flawless finish. These include:

  • A flat floor, with no roll to it. The concrete should not have “waves”, as these waves are only accentuated by mechanically polishing the concrete.
  • A smooth finish. The concrete should be power troweled, avoiding trowel chatter (trowel marks). They should also have a cream, or smooth, finish, without any sand or aggregate showing through.
  • Small expansion joints. Small expansion joints of 1/8th of an inch wide lead to better looking floors

A new floor, with no existing flaws. It was mechanically polished.
A new floor, with no existing flaws. It was mechanically polished.

Distressed Concrete Floors

Distressed concrete can lead to incredibly beautiful mechanically polished floors. It is currently in style to let existing floors show their character. Simply polishing these distressed floors creates a completely unique look. However, if the floors are too distressed or if you want a “newer” aesthetic, there are also things we can do. These include:

  • Patching materials. A patching material is skim coated across the floor to fill in voids. The floor is then mechanically polished or ground to prepare for coatings. If you choose to mechanically polish the concrete after the skim coating, the floor will still have the distressed appearance, but it will be smooth.
  • Cementitious overlay. If you want your distressed concrete floors to appear brand new, this is the option for you. A self-leveling cementitious overlay is put on top of the existing floor. This creates a nearly flawless finished floor.

This floor had an abundance of trowel marks. The trowel marks were ground down and minimized during the mechanical polishing process.
This warehouse had many voids and flaws. The floor was skim coated with a cementitious material and then mechanically polished.

No matter what type of look you are aiming for, coated and mechanically polished concrete floors are extremely durable and easy to clean. Contact us and let our experts help decide what type of concrete floor is right for you.

8 Ways to Upgrade Your Concrete Floor

There are so many ways to upgrade your concrete floor from polishing to coating to engraving or staining. We love helping our clients pick out the right fit for what they are looking to accomplish. Sometimes it’s a bit overwhelming to choose what to do with your concrete flooring. Here are 8 ways you can upgrade your concrete to protect and/or enhance it with a little explanation about each technique. We hope this helps when deciding what to do with your next project!

Mechanical Polishing

Mechanical polished concrete is a process that takes abrasives (diamonds) and mechanically places scratches in the concrete. This scratching process uses finer grit abrasives to remove and replace the scratches with smaller and smaller micro scratches.

The objective is to refine the floor and take away the small scratches so that you see a reflection in the floor. This process can be achieved with older concrete, new concrete and/or coated concrete.

This process is considered to be the maximum refinement method, and can be considered the best long-term solution for polished concrete.

Topical Polishing

Topical polishing is similar to the mechanically polished floor, but the course of action is shorter, and it leaves the floor at less than maximum refinement.

Most of the time the topically processed progression ends at a 200- or 400- grit step. These grits leave peaks on the top of the scratches that have zero lateral support. A topical sealer is then added and is placed into the gaps left by the scratching process. As the sealer settles and dries, it gives the appearance of being completely polished and is referred to as “polished concrete.”

This process is a much cheaper alternative to the mechanical process. The “topical polish” is exactly the same thing as putting on a coating. This method can be done with a burnisher, a floor scrubber and even a swing machine.

Decorative Epoxy Coatings

Epoxy floor coatings are hard wearing and durable solutions for both commercial and residential flooring. These floor coatings can be applied over concrete floors to provide a high performance and an attractive surface.

New technology now offers you the ability to choose almost any color. Metallic additives create a gorgeous surface and multiple colors can be randomly applied together revealing a swirling effect that is very unique and attractive.

Decorative Overlays

Overlays are a great option for concrete floors that are damaged or distressed. They are extremely durable and attractive. Overlays typically consist of a cementitious product, but some may be a combination of polyurethane and cement. They can be stained, mechanically polished, coated or stamped with any pattern you can imagine. Overlays are a great way to make an old concrete floor look brand new.

Dyes and Stains

The skies the limit when it comes to colorants. Multiple colors and patterns add to the beauty of your polished floor. There are a multitude of application techniques to add interesting effects when applying dyes and stains.


We can incorporate engraving into your polishing process to provide borders and logos. Engraving can turn ordinary concrete surfaces into slate, tile, stone, brick and much more.

Hardeners and Sealers

Hardeners/densifiers are products that penetrate into the concrete surface and react with the Portland cement and fills the micro-pores. This reaction creates a very dense surface that helps with ease of cleaning, abrasion, dusting, staining, and overall wear of your concrete surface. These products do not change the appearance of the surface but can generate a sheen after burnishing and actually becomes harder the more you use the surface.

Sealers are an option for some floors. Depending on your needs it may provide a shiny surface that is easy to clean. All sealers will need to be reapplied at some point depending on wear and tear.

Final Notes

Performance Concrete Polishing is focused on providing services that are related to concrete surfaces. These services are appropriate for new and existing concrete. The majority of services we offer are oriented to improving the aesthetic appearance of these surfaces. Decorative concrete services are the hallmark of this company, and we’d love to help you out with your next project!