Industry Dilemma

Requesting ‘Polished Concrete’ Pricing? A large problem you will run into…

Unlike wood, tile or carpet flooring- ‘Polished Concrete’ is a very loose term when it comes to specifications and ITB’s. Manufacturers’ such as Armstrong, Mannington or Centiva are listed in the specification for such other flooring options. Even in the scenario the manufacturers’ were not listed in the topical flooring specification- a wood floor is to be a manufactured wood product, ceramic manufactured ceramic, etc. etc.

While Polished Concrete (loosely) is the use of chemically reactive densifier, concrete grinding equipment fixed with diamond abrasives; which are passed in progression to finer and finer stages, there exist many definitions & ‘processes’ today.

These many definitions & ‘processes’ are not themselves an issue to our industry: They are ‘options’. These options allow building owners to have exposed concrete finishes per their budget, building traffic and use. The issue being these ‘options’ are all being referred to in todays’ market as ‘Polished Concrete’.

Examples of Exposed Concrete Options:

Mechanically Polished Concrete

The use of a chemically reactive densifier, concrete grinding equipment fixed with diamond abrasives which are passed in progression to finer and finer stages. A quality Mechanical Polish can range from 5 up to more than 10 grits.

Burnished Finish

The use of a high speed floor burnisher (propane or electric) to pass generally 3-5 different series of nylon burnishing pads infused with diamond abrasives, in succession to finer stages. A chemically reactive densifier may or may not be used in this process.

Ground, Honed & Sealed Concrete

The use of concrete grinding equipment fixed with diamond abrasives which are used in theoretically 2-3 progressive stages. The machinist first opens the surface with an aggressive diamond grit to remove surface obscenities and/or expose aggregate per client request. Then the minimal required passes are completed to remove the initial diamond’s’ scratch pattern and moderately close the surface pores of the concrete to accept a topical sealer. A topical sealer is applied and then propane or electric burnished to a high gloss.


The exampled options above, all being referred to as ‘Polished Concrete’ becomes an issue for property owners & true Mechanically Polished Concrete installers alike:

Property Owners

Owners and management firms are enticed to purchase Polished Concrete for their properties because Polished Concrete has been media marketed as a low maintenance, long term, aesthetically pleasing flooring option which holds 100% true for a correctly installed Mechanical Polish> Unfortunately, Polished Concrete does not arrive in a store bought box such as the topical flooring scenarios. When taking Polished Concrete bids, owners are head ached with drastic price differences from invited contractors. These prices may vary from $1.00 to $7.00 per square foot when comparing the options bulleted above. Most often owners are completely unaware to differences in contractor procedure or processes they have or have not included in their cost.

Mechanical Polished Concrete Installers

Concrete Polishers who offer a true, mechanically polished process and bid accordingly are losing owner awards to the high number of ‘theoretical’ Polished Concrete bids placed by contractors who will do the most cost effective, lenient system, sold to building owners as a ‘low cost Polished Concrete Process’. Owners are unaware of the longevity and maintenance concerns and are obviously quick to play into the ‘theoretically polished concrete’ at such a discounted rate.