Anyone else used Polished Concrete

Discussion in 'Remodel Forum & Blog' started by asuwish, Nov 3, 2006.

  1. asuwish

    asuwish New Member

    Messages:
    23
    Location:
    From Canada
    I am having my bathroom renovated and I'm considering putting in a polished concrete floor and tub deck. I think it looks awesome from the sites I have searched but I'm not sure it's worth the trouble for such a small space. Has anyone else on this site done this? Any pros/cons to share with me? I will have radiant heat in the floor as well.
  2. Mike50

    Mike50 DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    699
    Location:
    Southern California
    My bedroom floor is concrete. I like it. It's not polished.
    I would proceed with caution as with any new application/technology.

    1. Speak with consumers that have 5-10 years experience with a concrete bathroom floor. I've seen some photos-but it's still a rare application AFAIK.

    2. My concerns are Erosion & Drainage. In many cases (and mine in particular) the Only places on my concrete slab which have eroded, cracked and become powdery is where it was exposed to water.
    Concrete absorbs water depending on a number of factors. Each slab is different.

    Polished concrete protects the finish from day to day traffic. I have no clue about daily puddling from the shower area.

    I'm not a pro and I would contact Kemiko & Scoville(?) for additional professional opinions other than your contracter.

    Not cheap BTW.

    It's a great look.

    good luck...



    Mike
  3. three things to consider

    I looked into this a lot in the last few years, and I have helped a couple people to do projects with concrete that look good finished.

    A few points.

    First, the law. Please note the legal difference between buying a thing that you carry into your house and buying a service that builds a thing that is structural in your house. Big difference. This explains why you will easily find people offering concrete countertops; it is simpler to sell, legally. And it is a thousand times simpler to offer to the general public on a web site, legally and commercially. By simple I mean that there is less risk of running afoul of the laws and regulations governing construction. Nobody likes being fined.

    However the same concrete is used and the same skills are required, whether the application is a floor (made on site obviously) or a tub surround that you have made off-site and carry in to your house. If you are willing to hire professional advice, call a concrete fanatic who make countertops. If you are in Ontario or Quebec, call Jennifer McComb of Alchemystik. To come on-site and build something with you may require a licensed construction trade person. Exceptions exist under law too. You have to be able to understand how much and how many of the various risks you are assuming.

    Second, the work. If you do the entire project yourself, that could produce great results too, but you're not going to be able to know in advance what it will look like, no matter how many people you pump for information so be prepared that you may have to backtrack, rip out and start over at some point in the process. You could just get to work without overstudying it, and learn while doing. Example: use a resurfacing mortar as a first layer to get the floor as you want it, minus a quarter inch, and then add a layer colored with a cement pigment. This top layer could be self-leveling cement or a high-performance cement like the product used for airport runways. You could put heating cables in your floor too. When you do the work yourself, you have a huge advantage over the hired professional, since you can decide how much daily progress is the right amount of progress; you don't have to make the project pay your bills for you, so you don't have to cut out the kind of steps that might lead to a few days wait here and there. There is no reason why in-floor heat cables will cause a waiting period, but it does take the time it takes and the average professional is sensitive to how much time the average buyer is willing to pay for, for visible progress. By the way, I know about heat cables, having done it for myself, for famliy and friends. I recommend you put heat in your floor.

    Third, the look. What do you think of the look of epoxy finish on concrete floors? This is something you may have seen in commercial spaces, as retrofits or new. Do you know what smooth concrete eventually looks like on countertops? Do you want to walk on that same material / surface and risk dirtying it even more with shoe rubber, dirty feet, urine droplets and more? You can have that look, and seal it with almost "invisible" sealants.

    David
  4. Randyj

    Randyj Master Plumber

    Messages:
    1,047
    Location:
    Alabama
    Hi! This is my first post here. I just found this forum today. I am a fledgling plumber and am builidng a house. I live in an old dilapidated mobile home on the building site and with little funds and tight budget am basically building this house by myself. My plans are for radiant floor heat in a concrete slab floor. I'm focusing on polished concrete with grooves cut to simulate tile. I'm also favoring concrete counter tops to match the floor. I'm in Alabama where this type of heating system is still very new and few people have heard of it. I'll post some questions about the heating system in a separate topic. The concrete should be suitable if sealed and can be decoratively stained. However, the color may vary quite a bit from the advertised color. If you stain, which I would suggest, I'd be sure to do a test on a sample piece of concrete or in a hidden area. One good thing about concrete is that it can be painted and there are alot of products on the market for tough floor paints. There are a few specifically for garages which are extremely durable but may not be desirable in living areas. Shop a little to find something you'd like and check out the home improvement stores.
  5. Bob NH

    Bob NH In the Trades

    Messages:
    3,317
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    One of the problems with in-floor heating of a concrete floor on earth is that the heat transfer from the concrete to the earth is a lot better than from the concrete to the air. Therefore, you are putting a lot of the expensive BTUs into the earth, which is a virtually unlimited heat sink.

    With in-floor heating you want good insulation between the concrete and the earth.

    http://www.cement.org/tech/cct_con_design_floors.asp

    http://www.concrete-polishing.com/

    http://www.austinenergy.com/energy%20efficiency/programs/Green%20Building/Sourcebook/concreteFloors.htm

    Not all concrete is the same. The concrete required for decorative interior floors is usually much higher strength than used for most construction. Also, you need a thicker floor than you would pour in your usual garage, and you need good reinforcement.

    Finished interior floors are often prestressed by a process called post-tensioning, where reinforcing wires are tensioned after the concrete is set to apply a compressive stress to the floor to prevent cracks. That is not a DIY process.

    Cutting grooves in the floor may cause problems. Grooves are sources of stress concentrations which almost always result in cracks at the groove. Also, the sharp corner at the saw cut will be susceptible to breaking off and it will look ugly.
  6. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,262
    Location:
    New England
    Instead of cuttting the concrete to make the pattern, use the concrete stamps...you can get some that look like stone, tile, etc.
  7. toolaholic

    toolaholic General Contractor Carpenter

    Messages:
    874
    Location:
    Marin Co. Ca.
    all radiant slabs are insulated today, with ridgid

    In the 50s they didn't. son inlaw and Daughter are in the buss.

    I have a great book on concrete counters
    "concrete countertops cheng Taunten press

    Don't ever use fiber in concrete! groes HAIR!
  8. asuwish

    asuwish New Member

    Messages:
    23
    Location:
    From Canada
    Thank you for all your replies and links. Lots of good information for me to ponder - especially the last link that refers to staining and how if anything, including drywall dust hits the floor, the stain will react. I'm passing that great tidbit on to my contractor! I will keep you posted as to how it all works out.
  9. Randyj

    Randyj Master Plumber

    Messages:
    1,047
    Location:
    Alabama
    BobNH... thanks for the great links. I've got my styrofoam ready to go and plenty of plastic for moisture barrier. I've kinda sorta been studying and planning this build for several years. Just getting it done is the biggest problem...every step is a major stress...not wanting to screw up!

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