With innovative new solutions, concrete surfaces are no longer known as raw slabs meant to be covered with tiles, carpets, or other materials. Today, there is an increasingly popular demand for decorative concrete finishes that are a creative blend of function, practicality, and stunning beauty.
1. Polished Concrete Finishes
Using diamond dust-covered polishing disks, concrete surfaces are ground to a smooth and shiny polish that lasts for long periods of time with very minimal re-finishing. Polished concrete flooring removes the need for costly materials such as carpets or vinyl surfaces.
The beauty of polished concrete comes from the creative application of techniques that make concrete an artist’s canvas. The use of aggregate materials, for instance, results in interesting designs in concrete finishes. It requires skilled hands to polish concrete into a fine level, without sacrificing the original strength of the concrete surface. Another technique, known as staining, breaks the single-color monotony of concrete by introducing interesting hues, or stains, to the surface.
2. Pre-cured Concrete Finishes
Many beautiful concrete finishing solutions are done when concrete is still wet. Shades of colors are added after concrete pouring and prior to drying, rendering an aesthetic appeal that makes the color look as if they are natural parts of the concrete.
When color is added to a whole mixture of concrete, soft earth tones or pastels are the finished results. To achieve more vivid colors, the use of a dry-shake color hardener allows for color to be spread and troweled across a newly-poured concrete slab, producing streaks or patches of brighter colors in concrete finishes.
Stamping stone, wood or tile patterns into wet concrete results in appealing concrete solutions perfect for patios, walkways, and even interior floors.
3. Post-Cured Concrete Finishes
Concrete staining is commonly done on post-cured concrete surfaces. Also known as acid etching, an acidic chemical stain releases metallic salts into the concrete slab and transforms lime deposits into colored compounds. To achieve more intense colors, higher cement composition is required. The temperature can affect the shades produced by chemical stains, with hot weather resulting in lesser stain penetration
Another post-curing concrete solution involves saw-cutting deep grooves into cured concrete. These half-inch deep grooves add texture to concrete finishes. With slight color variations in the concrete, a checker-board effect or other textured designs can be created.
4. Concrete Overlays/Resurfacing
Concrete overlays are a great way to repair damages in the existing concrete surface. Overlays are less-costly alternatives to replacing the entire system. A mixture of polymer resins are the most common overlays in concrete, due to their good performance.
For concrete floors that can be repaired or re-surfaced, concrete overlays work well when certain conditions are met, such as a sound base or foundation, no severe damage has yet occurred, or the concrete surface is not built on unstable grounds. Failure in any of these conditions is not advisable for concrete overlays.
5. Radiant Heat Concrete Finishes
Radiant heat flooring systems allow for ground heat to circulate through the floor via ingenious tubes within the concrete surface. Radiant heat concrete finishes maintain consistency in temperature, which can be adjusted easily. This system consumes less energy and is even possible for existing concrete finishes with no prior radiant heat system installed. All it takes is retrofitting tiny electric mats into thin cement overlays and embedding them into the existing surface with minimal change to the entire floor system.