What is the difference between painting, using epoxy, sealing or polishing your concrete flooring?
Mark gets a lot of questions from people who are trying to work out the difference between a DIY painting job on their concrete floor vs using epoxy, getting them sealed or investing to get them completely polished. Obviously, the biggest difference between these different floor treatment methods is the final visual appearance but there are other considerations.
- Painting – is quite literally grabbing a roller and painting over the floor like you would the walls or ceiling in a building. Assuming you have prepared it correctly then the pain will just roll on fairly easily. You can obviously choose a range of colours and the final finish will be most likely matt, semi-gloss or gloss. The question will be how long does it last for which will depend on the surface preparation, number of coats and quality of the paint as well as the application. There are floor paints that you can buy from Bunnings that include an etcher to make the surface rough, a primer to get it ready for painting, the surface paint and even a grip layer can be added if required.
- Epoxy – this type of floor surface treatment may be a good choice in some circumstances. It is made up of resins and hardener to create a solid, durable floor surface. It can be a fairly simple mixture or you can add flakes to it which might give the floor a concrete polished ‘look’. Epoxy is mainly used in workshops, food processing areas or anywhere there may be chemicals spilt on the floor because it is chemical resistant, Although not all epoxy brands are equal. Like anything there are good and bad ones. Some of the cheaper ones will being to fail within a couple of years of being but down due to delaminating or chipping.
- Sealants – a lot of people get a bit confused about sealants. If you paint your floor, use epoxy or even lay tiles there are hundreds of products available that will ‘seal’ the final layer that will get walked on. A sealant is generally a hard-wearing chemical that covers the treatment underneath to prolong the life of the floor. It is possible to get your concrete floor prepared with a grind to make it smooth & then simply have it sealed to give the room an organic, rustic feel. You might see floor imperfections, cracks and other abnormalities but that is part of its charm.
- Concrete polishing – this process is completely different to the others listed above. Quite literally it involves cutting into the concrete to take the top layer off, then using polishing compounds the floor is given a finish that makes it look like a piece of art. You aren’t adding layers of chemicals that sit on top of the concrete, you are literally polishing the floor to give it a hard surface.
Generally what you are comparing is the process of putting different types of chemicals on top of a concrete floor vs getting the actual floor surface mechanically polished. It’s similar to putting carpet, floating floor boards or vinyl – they are just materials of different types getting put onto another material.
Imagine it another way, dipping a rock into paint to give it a nice look vs cutting and polishing it to bring out its natural colour or texture.
Depending how thorough you are when you prepare the surface, the quality of the materials you use and how many coats you do your floor might last a year or a few. Even though it is more expensive compared to painting, using epoxy or sealing, getting a polished concrete floor will practically last a lifetime and most likely not need to be done again.
Can a DIY epoxy floor be repaired?
One of the ways our company makes money is to help people in Melbourne to repair their floors. We don’t build a new one of course, but using our floor grinding equipment we can strip a concrete floor so that any material, resin, glue or even sealant is removed from the top layer of the concrete. We can essentially help you ‘start again’ with a new floor surface.
The biggest factors that contribute to this is because people don’t prepare their floors correctly and also underestimate how durable the other material choices like paint or epoxy can be, even with a polyurethane coat over the top of them. Proper floor preparation needs to be done where its gets tested for moisture and done when the right climatic conditions exist otherwise it increases the chances of failure. Before you start you need to determine if your garage floor is porous or has a sealer that had been applied to it at some stage of its life. To check, pour a small amount of water onto the concrete, if it soaks in then that is a good sign. If it pools at all, then you may have an existing coating or sealer which needs to removed with a grinding service before you can start. To remove previous concrete coatings you may you may need to grind back the coating with the use of a mechanical grinder.
This is critical because all of those chemicals have to have the right conditions and time to stick and harden properly.
The benefit of mechanical polished concrete is the cost to get it done is only slightly more, but it will last forever rather than needing to get a re-coat every couple of years. All the DIY jobs that people post on Instagram might look amazing, but what they aren’t showing you is all the hard work involved and how it stands up to 6 or 12 months of use.
What is the cost covering a concrete floor with epoxy or pain vs polishing in Melbourne?
Doing the research is easy, a quick Google for the costs to get a floor treated in Melbourne will throw up all kinds of ball park figures from $50 per sauare metre to over $150 depending on the actual materials used, how many layers are being done and the preparation needed. Sure you can drive to your local Bunnings and have a crack yourself. Although when you add up the time, cost of application products, cost of preparation materials, the paint or epoxy you’ll use, colour chips and a sealant you will be surprised how quickly it adds up.
Concrete grind and seal will cost between $50 and $75 per square metre*
Concrete polishing will cost around $110 per square metre*
* This will depend on the sealant chosen and amount of repair work that may be required. Cracks may need patching, areas of the floor may need levelling or there could be substances on the surface that require multiple passes.
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 epoxy on a concrete floor better than one that is polished?
Sure we are biased, but a mechanically polished concrete floor is a harder, more durable surface compared to epoxy. Pouring epoxy over your concrete is like adding a layer of chemicals on top of it. So over time, it can wear out, delaminate or even chip whereas a floor that has been polished won’t.
Epoxy is used primarily to add another layer of protection to floors and that is why it is used in so many rented commercial sites to avoid floor damage. Polished concrete benefits from the innate durability of its base material concrete. Once the mixture sets and hardens, it becomes just as strong as natural stone slabs. It can handle high volumes of foot traffic on day to day basis while being resistant to chips or cracks vs most other flooring materials.
The other consideration is how much protection do you need against mould or moisture, When properly finished and sealed sealers help keep liquid spills from making their way through the pores on the floor. This reduces the chance for mould or mildew to form.
Epoxy can also help prevent spills from penetrating the floor’s surface. However, it can still suffer from moisture damage as this material doesn’t adhere well in damp environments. Given that epoxy doesn’t breath after it cures, it basically traps moisture below the floor’s surface. This can cause several different problems such as the floor’s paint peeling off and bubbles or blisters forming as well as mould and mildew formations.
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 an epoxy floor it may need to be redone every one or two years.
So the money you saved in the beginning you end up paying in maintenance over a long period of time. That’s why it pays to speak to one of the polished concrete floor companies in Melbourne.