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Polished Concrete versus Other Flooring Materials

Decorative polished concrete offers a number of advantages that other flooring materials can’t match, particularly when it comes to durability, performance and sustainability. Here, we compare polished concrete floors with some of the alternatives.

By Anne Balogh, The Concrete Network

  Wall-to-wall carpet Ceramic tile Vinyl or linoleum Wood or wood laminate Natural stone (such as slate or marble) Polished Concrete
Available in a wide spectrum of design options
In addition to adding color with dyes and integral pigments, you can use the polishing process to reveal colored aggregate and other decorative embedded objects. You also have a choice of sheen levels, from a subtle gloss to a brilliant, mirrorlike shine.
See Options with Polishing Concrete Floors
Yes Yes Yes Yes No Unlimited
Longevity and performance
Polishing produces an extremely dense, abrasion-resistant surface that will last a lifetime with proper care. Carpet, tile and even wood floors eventually need replacement, which uses up resources and creates disposal problems.
Poor Good Good Good Excellent Excellent
Ease of maintenance
Not only are polished floors easy to clean, requiring only occasional damp mopping, they hold up well under heavy forklift and foot traffic. The glossy surface also eliminates the need for waxes or coatings while resisting stains.
Maintaining the Shine

(needs frequent vacuuming; stains easily)

Good Good

(linoleum may need occasional waxing)

Good Good

(may need sealing and occasional waxing)

Can radiate heat and store solar energy
Concrete flooring is often a central component of passive solar home designs, because the slab absorbs the heat of the sun during the day and releases the stored heat as needed at night.
No No No No Yes

depending on the material

Vulnerable to humidity and moisture damage Yes No Yes Yes No No
Can harbor mold, mildew, dust mites and other allergens
Concrete is a great alternative to carpeting for people who are allergic to animal dander and dust mites. Concrete also is an inorganic material and won’t support the growth of toxic mold.
Yes No No Yes

(mold and mildew, if the flooring becomes wet)

No No
Is a sustainable flooring alternative
In addition to using sustainable materials, polished concrete does not require the use hazardous chemicals, coatings, adhesives or cleaners. Another green advantage: Polished floors are highly reflective and can save energy by reducing artificial lighting requirements."
No Yes Maybe

(if using linoleum made from all natural materials)


(if made from reclaimed or FSC-certified wood)

No No
Average cost per square foot installed
Depends on the level of finish, decorative options and complexity of the project. Polished concrete is an economical alternative for homeowners or businesses that can't afford marble or granite but want the same mirrorlike finish.
See how to get the look of granite or marble with Concrete Polishing
$3.38 - 6.61* $11 - 22* $2.64 - 5.64* $8 - 10 $20 - 50+ $3 - 7

(for a 3,000-grit finish and the use of an impregnating sealer)

Average lifecycle cost
With low maintenance costs, savings in energy costs, and a super-long lifespan, polished concrete is one of the least costly floors you can own over time.e
High Low Intermediate Intermediate Low Extremely low

*Source: Old House Web