Polished concrete is definitely one of the hottest market trends in decorative concrete today. Polished concrete floors give massive appeal to a modern and retro look that people are looking for today.
When we look at modern commercial and industrial flooring facilities we will undoubtedly find a honed and sealed or a polished concrete floor. This seems to be the new standard that has been around for the past five to ten years and can be seen in Woolworths and Coles and Bunnings, household names in Australia today.
The business community has embraced polished concrete as the new standard when a combination of aesthetics, durability, reduced construction costs, and minimal environmental impact is desired.
As such, many large retailers are switching to polished concrete floors as the standard flooring for both new and existing stores. Polished concrete is a growth industry, this wasn’t the case 20 years ago, however, today it now dominates the decorative concrete marketplace, as evidenced by the annual revenue it generates.
The growth in the popularity of honed and sealed or polished concrete is unlikely to wane, especially as everyday people walk on it at least every week as they go about their DIY projects, as they will most likely need things from a Bunnings, or need bread and milk from the local IGA, Woolworths or Coles.
We are getting more and more enquiries about residential property owners looking at polished floors, especially after the 2022 floods in Queensland where many homes were flooded and carpets had to be pulled up. What do they do now? Now people are realizing that they don’t need to cover the old concrete again with a carpet, even bedrooms and living areas in a home can be a honed and sealed or polished concrete floor – and it looks good!
In spite of the many benefits of polished floors, there are also many inexperienced trades entering the market who are attracted to the lure of easy money. While this trade can produce a profitable business, many applicators and installers have ventured into the industry without really knowing the true costs and having a good understanding of the market. What’s more, setting up a grinding and polishing business is expensive, not only in equipment but in the cost of learning. It takes a large capital investment to start a concrete polishing business.
What’s more, if you make a mistake, damage a floor, or a client doesn’t pay because the outcome of the new concrete polisher didn’t achieve the standard then the hard reality will soon replace the perception of easy money.
Not only do you need significant capital investment to start a polished concrete business, but it will also very quickly become apparent, as we and others have quickly learned, that polishing concrete requires a high level of concrete expertise, on-the-job experience, and sufficient capital and cash flow to survive the initial startup, learning and early growth phase of the business.
When it comes to polished concrete, and I have witnessed this first hand, is that the biggest mistake new applicators and installers new to concrete polishing make is to assume that all concrete is a good candidate for polishing.
This couldn’t be further than the truth, with polishing, the concrete you start with has the biggest impact on what you end up with, and in many cases, the installer has no control over how the concrete is placed and finished.
Each concrete slab should be considered its own unique canvas with all its own unique characteristics and therefore the applicator must learn to read concrete and interpret the best method and process to follow bearing in mind the outcome the client wants to achieve.
Concrete polishing is an art that comes with years of experience, learning from others, being on the floor behind the machine, and problem-solving, a fact often missed by the novice installer.
We are fortunate that most specialist stores and product manufacturers invest in technical training and or onsite support. Thus the level of education provided by the supply side of the industry regarding the reality of what it takes to be successful has increased dramatically.
On our first commercial job, we hit so many problems we thought we were going to fail, but we didn’t give up. We also reached out to friends and colleagues in the industry who in their kindness came to look at what we were doing and offered tips.
If it wasn’t for one of the local specialist trade supply stores, where we had purchased thousands of dollars of diamond disks and densifiers, we would have failed our client and it would have cost us tens of thousands of dollars. With their help and guidance, and an extra pair of hands on the job helping us, at no extra cost, we got through it and the client was happy.
This learning trend needs to continue, with emphasis not only directed toward the installer side of the business but also to end-users as well. About twenty years ago, polished concrete was marketed and sold to designers and owners as a maintenance-free flooring option. However, it didn’t take long before many polished floors began showing significant wear and required some level of maintenance to perform as promised.
This led to an industry-wide reality check in the mid-2000s that brought the marketing side of the industry in line with the true production capabilities of polished concrete floors. It is a testament to the staying power and market acceptance of polished concrete that the industry absorbed those initial failures, changed the marketing focus, developed new products and systems to meet the demands, and now produces durable products. Polished concrete not only survived those early failures but learned from them, adapted to the demands of the market and kept right on growing.
There are five current trends that everyone in the concrete polishing industry should be aware of:
- Minimalist design
The clean, simple industrial look is the prevailing design trend for both commercial and residential polished concrete floors
- Developments in equipment
Today’s concrete polishing equipment offers greater versatility than ever before, accommodating projects of various sizes and budgets
- Diamond tooling
Today’s diamond tooling increases production, remove scratches more effectively, and lasts longer, resulting in better-polished finishes
- Wet vs. dry concrete polishing
Many installers have adopted a hybrid approach to polishing, using both wet and dry methods as the job warrants and diamond tool performance additives like C-Complex
- Densifiers and impregnating stain protecting sealers
On-the-job performance and cost are the biggest factors to consider when selecting the best densification system to use.
In the weeks ahead we will learn about these trends and both installers and applicators alike will benefit from the industry knowledge and experience Barefoot Concrete brings to the market.
Contact us today to discuss your polished concrete floor project.