Polished Concrete Flooring: SMART FLOORING OPTION [Mar 2012]

‘Polished concrete eliminates the need for continually replacing your flooring, making it a value for money proposition’ says Parmeet Bhalla, Director, BGSB Concrete Solutions
Concrete polishing is steadily becoming the preferred choice of those looking for the ultimate no-wax/ epoxy flooring material. Thanks to recent advances in polishing equipment and techniques, concrete floors, both old and new, are attaining high-gloss finish that never needs waxes or coatings. The superior durability and performance of concrete mean that it is not surprising that an increasing number of retail, warehouse, and office facilities are opting for polished concrete flooring.
Almost any concrete slab can be polished, regardless of its age. Moreover, no special acid agents are required in order to prepare the surface. The initial preparation consists of 5 or more steps of surface grinding. This is done in order to achieve a dense surface. Polishing with resin diamond grids subsequently follows this procedure. Additionally, based on specific requirements, lithium based floor hardeners and penetrating surface densifiers are also used for arriving at the right sheen.
Choosing an ApplicatorPolishing concrete is a specialised job and therefore is best done by an experienced applicator. They will ensure that the slurry is kept off your property, ensuring a tidy and clean work area. It is therefore important that you choose an experienced concrete flooring contractor if you are planning a new concrete pour for your factory, warehouse or office facility. One good way to select an experienced applicator/contractor would be to go through referrals. They are one of the honest sources of information that can help you zero in on an experienced applicator/contractor.
Value for MoneyPolishing concrete and using lithium based densifiers will actually harden the surface of your concrete floor and not slippery, which makes them the preferred choice for factories, warehouses, offices and residential units globally. Polished concrete eliminates the need for continually replacing your flooring, making it a value for money proposition. There are certain specific steps that are taken in order to ensure that areas such as bath and showers, where high moisture is an issue, the floor is made more slip proof, than any other flooring material. This is done using an impregnated sealer, which through its penetrative action permeates into concrete pours. This in turn results in a scour finish that acts as an anti-slip surface, without compromising on the aesthetics.
Earlier single sealers were being used in the process of polishing concrete. Since the slab tends to hold the cold within, the use of single sealer was often inadequate to address issues related to thermal efficiency of concrete. Today, a combination of three sealers, known as ‘sandwich’ is used in the process of polished concrete flooring. A penetrating sealer first of all penetrates and seals all the pours. This reduces the phenomenon of temperature rising to the surface. The application of an additional shield coat protects against mechanical damage. The final coat ensures the durability of the flooring, for years to come without removing any of the sealers, while also preserving the sheen of the floor.The advantages of polished concrete flooring, as compared to other flooring materials are:Durability:  Concrete floors are durable and strong. They don’t stain easily and don’t wrap around the way wood floors can. They also don’t crack or split the way linoleum or tile can sometimes do. Unlike the case of carpets, stone, marble or PVC, there is no need for replacing the flooring from time to time throughout its life span. The fact that concrete floors exist as long as the slab exists, coupled with minimal maintenance, and makes them the most ideally suited for those looking for a durable and cost-effective flooring option in the short, as well as long run.
Dust Free Floors: Dusting is a phenomenon which often occurs in the case of unpolished concrete. It occurs when tiny particles of dust are pushed to the surface by an upward force. In several cases, dusting could lead to epoxies, sealers and other coatings off the surface, leading to high maintenance costs. Dusting is completely eliminated in the case of polished concrete floors.
Dense Surface: The dense surface of concrete floors prevents the penetration of the surface by oil, chemicals, etc. This particular property makes them ideally suited for industrial, commercial and warehouse applications. The flooring is also more abrasion resistant in tune with the requirement of industry standards.
Strengthens Aged Concrete: There are several reasons including, surface pressure, curled cold joints, improper curing, joint shoulder failure and water logging damage, to mention only a few, that could lead to wear and tear of concrete floors with age. The process of polishing concrete actually grinds the top surface of the old concrete floor, levelling it perfectly in the process, while also densifying the surface beneath, resulting in aged concrete is being strengthened and an increase in the impact and abrasion resistance capabilities of the surface.
Slip-Resistant Floors: Regular cleaning and mopping will ensure that polished concrete floors are far less slippery than other flooring options.
Superior Aesthetics: The increased reflectivity that is ensured by polishing concrete helps in preserving the sheen. Unlike in the case with other types of flooring, it is possible to preserve the good looks of polished concrete floors with minimal maintenance. The high quality gloss makes them suited to a variety of purposes, whether it is an up-market mall, airport lounge, or industrial premises.
No Tire Marks: Tire marks caused due to friction of tyres skidding over a coated surface is something that is not likely to happen in the case of polished concrete floors, since there are no resins to burn on the surface. This makes polished green floors ideally suited for industries, factories, and warehouses. This particular property also means that there is less wear and tear of tyres, ensuring cost savings.
Minimal Maintenance: The smooth polished floors do not place much strain on mops, pads, or brushes, which would in turn last longer. Moreover, polished concrete floors are considered generally easy to clean, since the dense floor automatically repels oils and contaminants, making the maintenance schedule less demanding, as compared to other flooring options.
Economical Flooring Option: Since there is minimal cleaning and maintenance cost involved, apart from savings on energy and reduced tyre wear, added to the durability factor, polished concrete flooring is considered a highly economical and elegant option, as compared to the other flooring systems.
Minimal Curing Time: The curing time required in the case of polished concrete floors is minimal. The lack of toxic or hazardous topping chemicals means that it can be safely used in a variety of premises, including pharmaceutical industries, medical supply units, and food manufacturing units, while at the same time meeting strict regulatory standards. Since there is very minimal curing time involved, it can also be used in hospitals, without the premises being vacated during application.
No Floor Coatings or Wax Required: Polished concrete floors can be created without the use of floor coatings, wax, or sealers, making it a cost-effective flooring option.
Sustainable/ Green Flooring Option: Since the use of floor toppings, coverings, coatings, or wax is drastically reduced in creating polished concrete floors, they are considered a green flooring option. Green rating agencies including the coveted LEED rating system award points for polished concrete floors, since they contribute to a sustainable habitat.
Author:Parmeet Bhalla is the Business Development Director of BGSB Concrete solutions Pvt Ltd, a leading concrete polishing and toppings service provider in the country. His company is based in New Delhi and leads BGSB’s vision of re-facing floors all over the country. BGSB’S services range from super flat flooring, polished concrete, stamped concrete, acid staining & self level floorings. The company specialises in all areas of concrete re-surfacing from: restoring, decorating old or new concrete inside and out.

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