The great thing about the polished concrete trade is that every finish is unique, thanks to a variety of variables. Within this there is a variety of styles and shines from which to choose:
There is three main styles and three types of shine available with polished concrete:
The best way to explain the different styles of polished concrete would be to consider how much sand and stone becomes exposed after the treatment process. Every location possesses its own unique mixture of cement, sand and stone. This is what influences the final appearance and guarantees a unique look that won’t be found in any other home.
The process of achieving Salt and Pepper and Full Aggregate finishes is very different and involves a process that is progressive in nature, removing layers of concrete surface, initially revealing the finer sands and stone (for Salt and Pepper), before reaching the larger stone below (for a Full Aggregate finish).
For a cream finish, your concrete polishing specialist will polish the surface of the slab, to deliver you a subtle finish of textures and colours derived from a predominantly cement-based surface. This is in contrast to the other styles which involve grinding away surface cement to reveal more of the sand and stone found deeper in the slab.
The Cream finish is undeniably beautiful with all its’ textures and shades. It is also often misunderstood due to its title. The name it is given reflects the style as opposed to the colour, which can be cream, but also varies according to the make-up of the pre-existing concrete mix. A subtle blend of textures and colours will emerge, influenced by the constituent materials of the surface of the slab.
The first thing to mention when aiming for a cream finish is that in the current market place, it is often not possible to deliver this type of finish from domestic concrete slabs. A successful outcome relies on the pre-existing condition and consistency of the concrete floor. In order to achieve a cream finish your polished concrete specialist must be able to work on the concrete surface without exposing any of the stones in the concrete mix. This means it’s essential to avoid grinding away any of the surface material. This is often not possible when the concrete is either too soft, or too uneven. The problem with either of these situations, is that a grinding process is required to achieve a durable finish. And as soon a grinding process is needed we inevitably begin exposing the finer sands and stones contained in the underlying aggregate, which in turn prevents a cream finish from being achieved.
Provided that the concrete is of sufficient quality, your cream finish is achieved by densifying and refining the surface with diamond abrasives until the desired gloss level is achieved. Finally, with Refined, your floor is then sealed using the best topical (surface) sealer to help protect against the wear and tear of everyday life.
What Does the Salt and Pepper Finish Look Like?
The Salt and Pepper finish draws out the finer sands and aggregates within the concrete to produce a generally speckled look.
A ‘Salt and Pepper’ finish is achieved by carefully removing approximately 1mm from the surface, using a grinding process, to expose the finer sands and aggregates within. Once this initial grinding process is complete a set of progressively finer abrasives will be applied to the surface to hone the look until the desired level of clarity, shine and smoothness is achieved.
An advanced grout will be applied to fill aeration holes. During this process, the condition of the concrete is assessed and chemicals applied as needed, such as powerful densifiers, in order to secure the hardest, most durable of floors. Once the desired look is achieved, the work is sealed using advanced sealers.
A high quality pre-existing concrete mix is essential to a successful outcome due to the fact only 1mm is being removed from the surface.
What Does the Full Aggregate Finish Look Like?
A Full Aggregate finish reveals and shines the larger stones contained in the concrete slab, so it’s the stoniest looking finish of all polished concrete finishes.
The ‘Full Aggregate’ finish is achieved by grinding through more concrete than other finishes to reveal more of the larger materials contained in the concrete base. This is achieved first by grinding approximately 3mm from the surface to expose the larger stone within the concrete. After grinding, a set of progressively finer abrasives will be applied to hone the surface until the desired level of clarity, shine and smoothness is achieved.
An advanced grout will be applied to fill aeration holes. During the process, the condition of the concrete is assessed and chemicals applied as needed, such as powerful densifiers, in order to secure the hardest, most durable of floors. Once the desired look is achieved, the work is sealed using advanced sealers. The softer the floor the more chemical densifier that is required.
One of the misconceptions is that the shine comes from some sort of traditional polishing, when in fact the shine is produced by diamond abrasives, which are fitted to our machines. These abrasives are not all the same, both in terms of their quality and also because they are manufactured in ranges to cater to specific stages of a progressive grind and polish. In practice this means there is a wide range of abrasive tools, manufactured with many different diamond particle sizes. This wide range of tooling options is required to bring a surface incrementally to it’s desired finish.
A low to medium sheen.
A medium to high sheen.
The highest sheen, offering a high level of reflection.