In recent years, concrete has gone from being a purely functional building material to a much-desired, modern addition to interior design. If you're renovating a home with an old concrete slab, this means that you can spare yourself the expense of brand new flooring and create an attractive and contemporary look with the existing one.
Old concrete will need some attention before it looks great and performs well as a solid and low maintenance floor. Here are the three basic steps that are involved in transforming a dull and dated concrete slab into a stunning and stylish new floor for your home.
Old concrete will generally be a little worse for wear after decades of use. Once the old floor covering has been removed, you may find that the concrete slab is uneven, pocked and stained. Grinding is done to resurface the concrete, removing the damaged top layer to expose a fresh surface for your floor.
You can opt for a medium grind, which will preserve the concrete look and won't expose too much of the stones that were used for aggregate when the concrete was mixed. A deeper grind will expose much more of the aggregate and is a good choice if you like the speckled and decorative look that this will provide.
The next step is to polish the freshly ground surface of your concrete slab. Your concrete contractor will use a very fine grade sander to buff and smooth the concrete, giving it a soft and finely textured feel. Polishing also removes any small imperfections or marks left over from the harsher grinding process.
As well as contributing to the aesthetic quality of your concrete floor, polishing also provides a functional purpose. It helps to create a better surface for the final process, adding a sealant, and means the concrete will be less porous and require less sealant to achieve good coverage.
The final step in creating a beautiful concrete floor is to apply a sealant. This is important to ensure that your new floor is dust free, water resistant and stain resistant. A sealant is particularly important in rooms such as the kitchen, bathroom and laundry, where the floor will be regularly exposed to moisture.
The most common sealant used is an epoxy-based resin. This liquid sets into a rock-hard and impermeable finish that will protect and extend the life of your concrete and also gives it a sleek and glossy look. Depending on your preferences, you can opt for different levels of sheen, ranging from a low-gloss, almost matte finish through to a gleaming high-gloss finish.