The phrase “Polished cement floor” can lead to confusion. From the customer’s point of view, this term can be misunderstood as a self-levelling mortar.
Many people who hear the term “polished cement floor” for the first time ask themselves: How is it different from a polished concrete floor. Also, they might ask themselves: How is it possible to polish cement?
In this short article, we want to explain what polished cement floors are and eliminate any doubts about one of the most important materials in the field of industrial construction.
What is polished cement?
Polished cement is a finish based on the same composition as a mortar; it is made up of sand, cement, water, and fine stone particles. After being placed as a coating on the surface, it then goes through a polishing process.
Generally, polished cement is classified as an aesthetic coating, however, it is an additional layer that provides greater protection, durability, and resistance to traditional flooring.
This finish needs to be polished to achieve aesthetic standards related to gloss and uniformity. However, another purpose for polishing the surface is to close the microscopic pores, making it impermeable.
Difference between polished cement and microcement
Polished cement and microcement are historically linked. This is because microcement was created to replace polished cement, producing greater aesthetics for surfaces and simplifying the pouring process, since, properly laid, micro-cement doesn’t need to be polished.
The most important differences between polished cement and microcement are the following:
- Regarding their composition, microcement is a mortar that contains, in addition to the conventional components, resins and quartz which provide a shine of its own to the coating’s mixture.
- In contrast to polished cement, microcement has particles that bind together into a dense cluster and divide when reacting to water, creating smaller particles.
- The minimum thickness of polished cement coatings is 5 centimeters, whilst the thickness of microcement finish is between 3 and 5 millimeters.
- Concrete floors with polished cement require joints. However, micro-cement allows for continuous, joint free surfaces..
Polished cement finishes are more useful in industrial environments, for both internal and external. Meanwhile, micro-cement finishes are ideal in internal domestic environments or any other that is undemanding and has a low-traffic.
What are the characteristics of a concrete floor with polished cement?
A concrete floor with polished cement meets the basic requirements of a traditional floor, adding new aspects that improve the behavior and performance of its surface.
Amongst the main characteristics of a polished cement floor are:
- High resistance to wear due to compression or friction.
- Good resistance to humidity.
- High waterproof rating.
- It is a long-lasting material.
- Levels and eliminates imperfections on the concrete’s surface.
- Low thermal and acoustic insulation.
- Aesthetic surface, with a shiny appearance.
- Polished surface is susceptible to losing its gloss, so it requires periodic maintenance.
- Aesthetic surface, with a shiny appearance.
- Vulnerable to scratches.
- Non-slip, safe, and eco-friendly surface.
- It can increase lighting in spaces.
Use of concrete floors with polished cement finish
As we mentioned previously, concrete floors with polished cement finish have been used for flooring industrial buildings. However, it has also been used for other types of spaces.
Polished cement coatings are used in logistics centres, warehouses, shopping centres, parking lots, and many other facilities.
A few years ago there was a trend to pigment polished cement finishes to make floors more attractive. This trend is typically used in malls, office blocks, airports etc., where appearance is important.
In industrial buildings and other industrial facilities, polished cement finish can reduce the consumption of electrical energy, since this type of floor is capable of reflecting a high percentage of light.
Here at BECOSAN®, we recommend, that once the floor has been polished to the required standard the BECOSAN® densifier should be applied over the entire surface to reinforce the concrete. This lithium-based product binds the surface of the concrete together and allows the concrete to withstand heavy traffic.
And after the polishing phase is complete then we apply the BECOSAN® Sealant making the floor much more resistant to the absorption of liquids leaving the surface stain free for many years.
A final polish and you have a hard, flat, smooth and beautiful concrete floor that will maintain its sparkle for many, many years.