Upgrade from sealed concrete floors to a polished one
Mark’s gets a lot of calls from home owners who have sealed concrete floors in Melbourne that don’t look very good after a year or so. The quality of the sealant doesn’t hold up very well to constant use and begins to discolour, scratch and generally look very tired. This is one of the disadvantages of sealed concrete floors in that the surface is simply not as durable as a mechanically polished concrete floor.
We often get asked about the cost difference between sealing and mechanical polishing of concrete floors in Melbourne, we find people are surprised when we explain it can be 30 to 50% more expensive. Although it is simply down to the labour involved in producing a higher quality flooring finish.
What many people do is then choose to just get their concrete floor ground down then sealed. Although guess what, they don’t last as long so you end up having to re-do the floors a few years later. The money you save short term ends up costing you more in maintenance long term.
Sealing is a simpler process that requires less labour, less work and is simply putting a chemical sealer over the top of a concrete slab, that is why it can be so much cheaper. It is also the reason why so many companies can offer concrete sealing, they are mainly handymen who hire a machine and perform a quick DIY job. It isn’t the same as a company that is trained and does mechanical concrete polishing – a bit like comparing your local car wash for $10 vs a professional detailer. Mechanically polished concrete has more work put into it, more polishing, more finishing and is all about creating a beautiful smooth floor surface, most of the time in a high gloss finish.
So we do get a lot of requests about ‘upgrading’ or ‘converting’ a floor that is sealed into one that is fully polished. This is very easy to do with the right preparation and if you engage a professional concrete polishing company in Melbourne. We can remove the old sealant, make sure the floor is completely smooth & then do a mechanical polish to the level you would like.
How can you convert a sealed concrete floor to a polished one?
To convert an existing concrete floor that is sealed into one that is fully polished the first step that has to be taken is to grind the existing floor surface. We have to be able to remove all the old sealant and any other materials on the surface area of the concrete so the raw material is exposed and ready to be worked on.
How far we grind will depend on the final finish you want to have, it may be a light salt and pepper finish or a deeper full aggregate exposure that you are after.
In the photos above on the right hand side is an example of what the first step of the process can look like. We use our heavy duty concrete grinding equipment to remove everything from the floor surface. The two photos on the right are the finished floor which were done with a full stone exposure in the living area of this Melbourne home.
If you look closely you will see a little bit of colour in the aggregate and that is from the original concrete slab mixture. You won’t always see this, it just depends what aggregate was used in the original mix when the property was built. Most of the time they will simply be dark grey or charcoal in colour.
What is the cost of concrete floor grinding in Melbourne?
If you have an existing concrete floor that is sealed then all you need to do is have a floor grind so you can prepare it for either re-sealing or polishing. In most cases it will be a straight forward job.
Concrete grinding will cost approximately $50 per square metre*
* Although, sometimes we discover cracks or other areas of the floor that require more than a simple grind to be ready to be worked on. Cracks may need patching, areas of the floor may need levelling or there could be substances on the surface that require multiple passes.
You may have carpet, lino, tiles or floating floorboards already on the floor surface. Once they are removed we can do a floor grind to remove things like glue or any other residue that was left behind from those materials. Depending on how badly damaged the original surface is, the cost might me slightly higher than the standard rate as more work will be required.
What is the cost difference between concrete sealing and polished concrete flooring in Melbourne?
The cost difference between getting concrete grinding and sealing compared to fully polished concrete floors is about $30 per square metre or in percentage terms, it is 45% more expensive which is accounts for the extra labour required. So it is a similar principle to getting your car washed, a quick one is $20, but a deeper clean, wax and polish might be $80 or more.
Concrete grinding and sealing will cost $50 to $75 per square metre
Concrete polishing will cost $80 to $110 per square metre
The variance in the estimates above will come from the type of site it is, whether it is a new concrete slab or existing one, it’s condition, difficulty of the job site, timing of the year and the type of finish that is required. Mark can provide a free telephone consultation to discuss your requirements & a free written quotation so that you work out the differences in cost for your property.
Getting a concrete floor sealed is more cost effective compared to other material choices. At Haynes Polished Concrete our company can be contracted to seal concrete floor areas in the Melbourne area that are between 50m2 and 1000m2 in size for homes, retail stores, showrooms, industrial or commercial areas. The cost to get concrete sealing in Victoria is very affordable compared to other options. For example we would normally do a concrete grind and seal which will cost between $50 and $75 per metre depending on the sealant type & job site.
You might be considering the use of another flooring material to put on top of the cement like carpet, tiles, outdoor pavers or stencil concreting in Melbourne but you have to compare the potential cost elements;
- How much does it cost to purchase the raw materials?
- What is the freight cost to have the materials delivered to you?
- What is the cost to prepare the surface area to be used?
- How much does it cost to have the materials layed?
- Do you have to then treat the materials once they are installed & how often does this need to be done again?
What you will very quickly discover is that grinding and sealing your existing concrete is a more cost effective choice, if not cheaper, than getting carpets, outdoor paving, floorboards or tiling. The cost calculation gets even more complicated when you consider that some of these materials need to be treated regularly to maintain their finish e.g a timber deck should be re-stained regularly.
For example getting indoor tiles laid might cost around;
- $35-$120 per square metre depending on their level of experience
- $20-$28 per square metre for simple standard ceramic tiles or ($60-$160 for porcelain or artisan tiles)
- $40-$80 per square metre to have them sealed if required
- $200 to $500 in local delivery fees
assuming the floor area is flat the cost to lay tiles might sit between $90 and $250 per square metre which will potentially be more expensive that just using your concrete slab.
Is a sealed concrete floor better than a polished one?
In simple terms a mechanically polished concrete floor is better than a sealed one – the finished surface is harder and therefore more durable. A sealed concrete floor is still a great choice, you just have to keep in mind that it’s durability will depend on how well the floor was prepared and the quality of the sealant that was used. Once the sealer wears then you will begin to see scratches and marks on the concrete floor. For a mechanically polished surface the treatment steps are more intense which leaves you with a harder floor surface that lasts longer.
You can repair a sealed concrete floor that has scratches, here’s an example of a property where we repaired their floor.
When trying to choose between the different types you have to consider the space and level of durability that might be needed. You have to consider things like how much foot traffic will it have to endure, will vehicles be driving over it, does it need to carry shelving, fixtures or other furniture or will it be exposed to the weather?
A fully polished concrete floor will give you long-term durability and includes the benefits of densifying, hardening, and dust-proofing with its scratch-resistant surface that requires little maintenance. It can last for decades if it is properly maintained. However with sealed concrete it may need to be resealed every one or two years which can be an expensive exercise.
So the money you saved in the beginning you end up paying in maintenance over a long period of time.
What does exposure and gloss level mean when polishing or sealing concrete?
We mentioned earlier that for this home in Melbourne they opted for a full exposure finish, in the illustration above you can see why there is so much texture in the finished floor. We cut much deeper into the slab which exposes more of the aggregate. A simple way of comparing would be like this;
You can choose how much or how little you want to expose, each finish has its own unique appearance and characteristics and we refer to them as;
- Surface Polish Finish or Nil Exposure
- Salt & Pepper Finish
- Random Exposure Finish
- Full Aggregate Exposure Finish
Gloss or shine level
The final choice you make is the level of shine and this is normally split into 3 x levels of matte, satin & gloss;
- Matte floors are typically finished at 100 to 200 grit ploish stage. This will still give a nice low diffused sheen to the floor with very little too no reflection from down lights.
- Satin finish is typically 200 to 400 grit polish stage. This will give a slightly more reactive floor with more reflection from down lights and light from windows.
- Gloss finished floors are typically finished between 1500 to 3000 grit these are highly reflective floors that have a sharp reflection from down lights and so provide the most durable scratch resistant floors available. They will also provide the most energy efficient floor as far as lighting goes.
There isn’t a right or wrong really when it comes to choosing a combination but you do have to consider how you think you will manage to maintain it.