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Polished concrete floors are perfect for busy families who want a clean, low-maintenance surface, and for business owners who want to reduce their maintenance time and cost whilst providing an elegant, unique look.
Polished concrete floors are a very economical alternative to timber and tile surfaces, typically along the lines of a high quality tile. The cost depends on how much aggregate will be exposed and the site conditions, and generally ranges from $70 to $100 per square meter.
Definitely not! Existing concrete floors may be grey, however, the polishing process may expose the interior aggregate that has a variety of colours ranging from cream to tan to brown, even to greenish or reddish tones, depending on the stones.
When you involve Superior Polish in the beginning of the planning stages of design, we can help you select aggregates, specifying their size and density. We can also incorporate integral pigments into the concrete, making it any color. Concrete pigments range from natural earth tones to bright blues and reds! We can plan the level of aggregate exposure, from almost none for a solid look to extreme exposure for a terrazzo look.
Another benefit of involving Superior Polish in the design is that we can advise the concrete contractor on mix design and placement techniques that will optimize your aesthetic results from the polishing process.
No. Concrete has a high thermal mass, meaning that it absorbs heat from the sun during the day, and releases it very slowly at night. Concrete helps keep your building warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
Maintenance could not be easier, requiring only a microfiber broom, and mopping with a neutral, non-abrasive cleaner.
Specialized densifiers are applied during the polishing process to create a very hard, dense surface that causes liquids to bead up and not absorb into the concrete. In many settings, this is sufficient protection, and no sealer is needed. In this case, polished concrete is extremely scratch-resistant, like stone.
In some applications, such as food preparation areas, we apply a topical sealer to protect against staining. This is necessary because although liquids do bead up, they are still physically touching the concrete and can cause stains. In this case, the sealer may be subject to scratching by hard or sharp objects, and the sealer (not the actual concrete) will require some maintenance.
Polishing can be performed either dry or wet. Depending on the site conditions (indoor, outdoor, finished construction or not) and the hardness of the concrete (very hard concrete may require wet polishing), we will determine an approach to get the best results with the least disruption to your site.
Polishing uses diamond pads in progressively finer grits. Each grit polishes out the scratches from the previous grit, until there are no more visible scratches, and the concrete has taken on the desired sheen. If aggregate is to be exposed, we start with very coarse (low grit) diamonds to remove more material. If no aggregate is to be exposed, we start with higher grits that do not remove material but begin to impart a sheen.
With new concrete, the concrete needs to cure for 28 days to achieve enough hardness to take on a shine. If no aggregate will be exposed, we will begin work after 28 days. If aggregate will be exposed, we need to work on softer concrete in order to be able to expose the aggregate, so we will perform the initial aggregate-exposing steps within a few days, then come back after 28 days to finish polishing.
Our polishing equipment can be used to quickly remove vinyl, glue and thinset without the use of harsh chemicals. We can also grind down uneven joints to restore the flatness of a floor. Contact us for any floor restoration or maintenance needs.
Concrete benchtops are the most unique, personal benchtop option because they are made from scratch for each client. To determine whether concrete is right for you, think about whether you believe that:
Even though it is a completely custom material, concrete is competitive in price with standard benchtop materials. The price is competitive with high end granite, generally around $1000 per square meter and up. We are happy to work with you and your designer to give you an estimate on your project, and we can help you with options to fit your budget.
Any color! Concrete can be made in hundreds of colors including every color on the spectrum. Any color can be produced in a solid, speckled or variegated pattern. And, you can specify embedded stone, glass, or other objects. You can specify the color, size and density of embedments. Coupled with the many color choices, you have myriad design options.
Superior Polish specializes in custom color development. We can customize existing colors or match the color of an item such as a paint chip or fabric. The process takes about 3 weeks. We produce two or more 150x150mm samples and submit them for your approval.
Concrete is a natural, handmade material. Many factors such as humidity, sand lot and cement lot can affect the final appearance of the concrete. All of our color formulas record the type of sand, type of cement, and exact measurements of pigments to 1/10th of a gram, and we use specially developed software to calculate mix design. However, colors can still vary because of the aforementioned factors.
Another factor that contributes to perceived variation is simply the size of samples. A 150x150mm sample will look different than a whole benchtop simply because the small sample does not capture all of the natural, random variations that will occur over a large surface. The color in a 150x150mm sample may appear completely uniform, but a whole benchtop in that exact same color will not appear as uniform. The same situation occurs with other natural materials such as granite. If you are looking for perfect uniformity, you might not be right for concrete, and you should choose solid surface instead.
For concrete, edging is formed and cast rather than cut like granite or solid surface. Therefore, edge choices depend on the availability of appropriate trim moulding. For example, Superior Polish can do pencil, beveled, concave, bullnose and reverse cove edging, and other custom edges may be available. Edging may be placed on top or bottom of the countertop.
Superior Polish benchtops can accommodate all types of sinks including drop-in, undermount and apron front.
The minimum lip of concrete around all sides of sinks is 75mm. Concrete can also accommodate drop-in cooktops. The minimum lip of concrete in the front of a cooktop is 75mm. We recommend 75mm for the back also, but 50mm will suffice.
Superior Polish can make integral concrete sinks of almost any shape. Bathroom vanity tops are an excellent application of integral concrete sinks.
We do not recommend integral concrete kitchen sinks for engineering reasons. Kitchen sinks are deep and have angles that would put large stresses on the concrete and have high potential for cracking. Also, the size of kitchen sinks generally dictates a very thick concrete bottom that would be a problem with standard plumbing and cabinetry.
Concrete vessel sinks are also possible, and concrete’s versatility means that the sink can be any color and shape.
Splash backs are cast and finished separately and deck mounted after the benchtops are installed. Splash backs are nominally 25mm thick and can be from 75mm high to full height. Outlet openings are cast in, not cut on site.
Bare concrete is very porous and will readily stain. Virtually all concrete kitchen benchtops are sealed to prevent staining; however the degree to which these sealers works varies significantly. Commonly used sealers include wax and penetrating acrylic sealer. Both of these are inexpensive and easy to apply. However, neither offer significant stain or heat resistance, and both require frequent reapplication to prevent the formation of a “patina”.
Superior Polish’s sealer is different. We use a high-performance sealer that is exceptionally durable and provides excellent resistance to incidental contact with staining agents such as red wine, lemon juice and olive oil. Complete care instructions are included in your Owner’s Guide. Touch-up of any marks that do occur is simple and easy.
While the sealer is durable, it can scratch if cut with a knife or subjected to heavy, sharp objects dragged across the surface. Cutting on the concrete may compromise the integrity of the sealer and allow stains to permeate the concrete matrix. Cutting on the concrete will also ruin knives, requiring a professional resharpening to reshape the damaged edge. Remember, concrete is made with stone, the same thing used to sharpen knives (and will therefore dull them just as easily). If you do scratch a countertop, you can easily repair it yourself using your Touch-Up Kit.
As with almost all types of benchtop surfaces, it is best to use trivets. Concrete can microcrack if exposed to high heat, and the sealer is not elastic enough to “absorb” these microcracks. The surface will appear “crazed”. However, the Touch-Up Kit can be used to minimize the appearance of these microcracks, just like it is used to touch up scratches.
All of the slabs are precast in our shop and fully finished and sealed prior to installation.
When it comes to concrete benchtops, there are two basic processes: cast-in-place and precast. Cast-in-place involves building forms and pouring concrete in place, directly on the cabinets. While this avoids the hassles of transporting heavy slabs, it does tie up the site for many days (or weeks), and it involves a messy process. In addition, cast (or pour) in place provides fewer options and less control over the finished product. Generally the only finish available is a trowelled surface, which is either acid stained or colored with pigments. The quality of the concrete, the finished appearance and ultimate performance of the countertop are all hampered by the fact that it’s all being done on site under a rushed time schedule.
Precast concrete, on the other hand, moves all of the processes off site into a controlled environment. In the structural engineering community, it is well known that precast concrete is superior to cast in place concrete, mainly because tighter quality control can be exercised. Curing, which is a critical step that is commonly misunderstood, can be closely monitored. Moving the process to a shop allows greater flexibilty in terms of the look of the concrete. Glass, stone and other objects can now be embedded; these require extensive wet grinding with diamond power tools to reveal the embedded objects and hone and smooth the resulting surface.
There are 2 methods of precasting: wet cast and glass fibre reinforced concrete (GFRC).
Wet cast uses a more traditional concrete mix of sand, aggregate and cement poured into forms. Our formula uses specialized admixtures to achieve the ultra-high surface quality needed for interior kitchens and bathrooms. We use local ingredients whenever possible.
Because of our education with The Concrete Countertop Institute, we are able to reinforce wet cast concrete properly to prevent cracking. Proper steel reinforcement is essential to combat the large stresses placed on a long, thin slab of concrete such as a benchtop.
GFRC is concrete that is structurally reinforced with a large loading of alkali-resistant glass fibres instead of with steel. It is built up in 2 stages: a thin “mist coat” that is sprayed into the forms and provides the surface appearance, followed by a very fibrous “backer coat”. GFRC is extremely strong, flexible and light compared to wet cast concrete.
Superior Polish will work with you to determine which type of concrete is best for your project, depending on the look and shape you want to achieve.
Although benchtops are one of the last items to be installed, concrete benchtops should be selected as early as possible. Here is an outline of the process:
Concrete benchtops are templated just like quartz and granite. Templating is done after any existing benchtops are removed, or after new cabinets are fully installed. Your contractor needs to arrange for existing benchtops’ removal. Almost all concrete benchtops require physical templates from the finished and installed cabinetry.
In some cases, such as small or freestanding pieces, we can fabricate from CADD drawings instead of physical templates. We will advise on templating requirements for your project, and we provide your contractor with a templating checklist to help him prepare. All fixtures that penetrate the concrete, such as sinks and faucets, must be available at templating time.
Concrete benchtops are handled and installed just like quartz and granite. Seams are caulked with a color-matched acrylic caulk. Your contractor needs to arrange for plumbing and electrical hookup no earlier than 24 hours after the benchtop installation.
Often concrete benchtops can be designed without seams. Seams may be located around sinks and cooktops, or wherever required for structural reasons. Or, seams may be necessary due to the logistics of getting the slabs into the house if stairs or corners are involved. Superior Polish will work with you to design seam placement that is both structurally sound and aesthetically pleasing.
Seams are typically 1.5mm wide, similar to tile grout lines. However, it is important to realize that concrete benchtops are hand made and hand processed; they are not machine cut, so tolerances for seams are more generous than with quartz or granite. Seam appearance is minimized by using color-matched acrylic caulk.
No. Standard precast concrete weighs about the same as quartz or granite of the same thickness., and glass fibre reinforced concrete weighs half as much. Typically, no special considerations are necessary for standard kitchen or bathroom vanity tops. Cantilevered slabs, bartops on kneewalls and similar situations sometimes require brackets or other structural supports. Superior Polish can advise on support requirements.
Yes. Superior Polish warrantees the structural integrity of the concrete for one year after installation. Concrete will of course last a lot longer than a year, but if any problems were to occur, they would occur in the first year. We subject the concrete to much larger stresses while handling it than clients ever could once it is installed. In addition, Superior Polish provides each client with an Owner’s Guide and a direct phone number for support from Damian Meehan.