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How To Finish a Concrete Floor

Factory background with concrete floor, night scene.

There are many different options for commercial flooring out there, from the typical carpet tiles to peel-and-stick vinyl, but when you’re looking for something durable and attractive, concrete is the way to go. Whether your commercial space has existing concrete or is a new pour, finishing it can create an attractive look that can withstand heavy traffic and give you a relatively budget-friendly and low-maintenance finish.

There are also several different ways to finish concrete, from staining to epoxy. With a little research, you’ll be able to decide which is the right choice for your business’ specific needs.

What Are the Benefits of Concrete Floors?

Many people assume that concrete flooring is cold or unattractive, but they are actually becoming increasingly popular in areas where regular cleaning is necessary, as well as in commercial spaces. There are many benefits to concrete floors:

  • Low Maintenance: Most finished concrete floors require very little maintenance other than the occasional re-application of sealants. They can easily be wiped clean and the finishes provide protection against staining, water damage and chemicals.
  • Durability: Everyone knows that concrete is tough, otherwise why would we use it for so many heavy-duty applications? It’s especially great to have in a commercial setting because it can handle whatever you throw at it, including heavy furniture, equipment or lots of foot traffic.
  • Variety of Options: One of the biggest reasons people go with concrete floors is the wide range of finishing options. Concrete doesn’t have to be boring and gray. There are many colors of paint, stain and epoxy that can match the overall design scheme of any space.

If you’re looking for a durable, low-maintenance flooring solution for your commercial space, concrete is the way to go.

Most Popular Options for Finishing Concrete

If you aren’t sure which finish you’d like for your concrete floor, it is helpful to consider the most popular options. There is a reason why these finishes are the most often used: they’re all attractive and long-lasting. Remember to pick the one that fits the needs and requirements of your space for the best results.

Staining

Likely the most popular choice, stained concrete floors look sleek and modern, and the stains are available in a wide range of colors. Staining is a good option because the stains penetrate deeply into your concrete. You don’t have to worry about them rubbing off over time, unlike paint, which can eventually flake off. Staining also offers versatility to create patterns and designs on your concrete floor. You can completely customize the look of your commercial space.

There are two basic types of concrete stain: acid- based and water-based. Acid stains experience a chemical reaction with the concrete, which results in a mottled appearance that is completely unique to your floor. This addition of depth and character is why many people choose acid-based stains; however, there are fewer color options to choose from.
Water-based stains result in slightly more subdued results than acid-based, but there are a lot more colors available. You won’t get that mottled appearance that you get from acid stain, but many people prefer the more consistent coloring that comes from water-based stains.

Painting

Some business owners choose to go the concrete painting route, which is quick and easy but may not last as long as some of the other options available. The benefits of painting concrete are that there are basically endless color options to choose from. If you can find the color in a home improvement store, you can use it on your concrete. Plus, it is relatively easy to paint a concrete floor without professional help, so it can be much less expensive than some of the other options.

The downside of painting concrete is that the paint can chip, scratch or flake off over time, requiring fairly regular reapplications. If the area you want to have finished does not see a lot of traffic, then painting shouldn’t be an issue, as long as you keep it clean.

Sealing

If you like the look of concrete and don’t want to change the color, then you may want to choose grinding and sealing. This process involves polishing the concrete to your desired sheen and coating it with a durable, urethane-based sealer. This thin, protective film protects against wear and tear and comes in a range of finishes, from matte to high sheen.
The great thing about sealing concrete is that if it starts to look dull, all it takes is a quick coat of the sealant to bring it back to life. It’s also fairly low cost because it requires just a few passes of the grinder compared with other polished finishes.

Epoxy

Epoxy-coated concrete floors are extremely popular in high-traffic areas, like garages. If your commercial space is subject to cars, equipment or heavy machinery, epoxy is a great option. It’s a thick layer of coating that is durable and meant to last. It’s even a good way to fill in cracks or divots in any existing concrete.

Concrete epoxy is basically a type of paint that is the result of a liquid catalyst and a liquid hardener being combined before coating the floor. It doesn’t dry like normal paint, however. It hardens because of a chemical reaction created by the two ingredients. As a result, the surface of an epoxy floor is hard and durable. You can go with a basic standard epoxy or you can add terrazzo flakes or a metallic sheen, based on the look you want.

Preparing Your Concrete for Finishing

Before you can finish a concrete floor, it has to be prepared. Without proper cleaning, patching and degreasing, the finish won’t adhere and you’ll be left with the possibility of a scratched, flaked or crumbled end result that you’ll have to redo.

1. Clean

Likely the most important step—cleaning involves removing all debris and stains so that nothing interferes with the adherence of whichever product you go with. Many professionals start with water and then move on to chemical cleaners to ensure that there is no residue left on the concrete surface.

2. Patch

If you’re working with an existing concrete floor, it’s important to patch cracks, divots or crumbly areas before finishing. Unless you’re using epoxy, the products aren’t likely to cover up any problem areas and they may continue to get worse over time.

3. Degrease

Some concrete floors are subjected to greasy products, either from vehicles, equipment or chemicals. This type of residue must be removed before finishing. Chemical degreasers are best, since they can get down into the concrete and remove any grease stains that could cause discoloration or cause the finish to not stick.

Finish Your Commercial Concrete Floor Today!

There are a lot of options to sort through, but once you’ve decided on what is best for your business, you’re ready to enjoy a sleek, modern look that is durable and low-maintenance. Need help finishing your concrete floors? Contact Intermountain Concrete Specialists today at any of our seven locations. We’ll help you find the right products for your specific job so that you’ll get the high-quality results that you want.

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