Choosing the right concrete floor for your new home

Lauren O'Grady
October 9, 2020

This week we completed the Polished Concrete grind and seal at our project in Bullengarook. Back at the start of the year our client’s visited the Showroom @Policrete and decided on the look they were wanting to achieve for their concrete flooring. There are a few options to choose from and it can be very much personal preference. The decision for the look you are wanting of your polished concrete look needs to be decided well before the concrete is actually poured, generally during the planning stages of your project.

The different options for a finished concrete floor are either:

Concrete Polished Finish or Burnished Finish:

Polished Concrete

This involved mechanically polishing concrete through grinding, honing and polishing. This is done using different sized diamond-bonded abrasives. This process reduces any bumps and dips in the concrete slab, and also grinds away any stains or marks in the surface.

A chemical hardener is applied to the surface to densify the naturally porous concrete before grinding it down to the desired gloss and smoothness. The polishing process actually increases the durability of concrete surfaces. This option is easy to clean, hard to damage and reflects light like no other surface.

With a Polished Concrete finish you can achieve different looks by choosing different: Colour and Aggregate.

Colour. The colour is acheived by the combination of Sand and concrete mix used. See examples below.

Grey Colour

Sand colour

Aggregate(stone). The stone can vary in size, colour and exposure(how much stone you see)

Stone size: How large or small do you want the rock size to be? Generally the sizes available are between 7mm and 14mm. You may choose to go exclusively with one, or combine both sizes for even greater variety.

Small aggregate  

Large aggregate

Stone Colour: What colour of stone are you after?

Bluestone, quartz, marble and crushed granite are among some of our most popular inclusions.



Are you still with me?? Keep up 😜

Stone Exposure: How much aggregate exposure do you want?

Different levels of aggregate exposure depend on how deeply you grind the concrete surface. Aggregate exposure levels range from nil, to minimal to full-stone exposure.

Nil exposure finish

A nil exposure finish is achieved by very lightly grinding the concrete surface (grinding less than 3mm off the surface). This results in very little to no stones showing on the surface of the concrete.

This finish is difficult to achieve because it requires the surface to be poured perfectly flat. That is why it is very important to find the right concrete company like @Policrete.

Minimal exposure finish

Minimal exposures are achieved by applying a light grind to the surface (grinding 2mm to 5mm off the surface) to expose small amounts of stone. This is often called a ‘salt and pepper’ look due to its uneven nature – some areas of the surface may have no exposure and some may have heavy exposure. Generally speaking this is a more cost-effective option while still achieving the much loved industrial look. Photo on the right is the floor from our Dunne Rd Bullengarook project

Full exposure finish

Full exposure is achieved by heavily grinding down the surface (grinding more than 5mm off the surface). With full exposure, you can see all the stones on the surface. Full exposure is a popular choice in homes as its more forgiving(great for kids that love making a mess on the floor). This option is more labour intensive as it requires heavier grinding.

Gloss Level Finish: How shiny do you want your floors to look?

After grinding, concrete floors are polished using different levels of diamond grit to achieve the desired gloss or shine level. The finer the diamond grit used, the higher the degree of shine. The different levels of shine are:


If you’re after an industrial chic or rustic look, a matte finish could be the right choice for your home. It creates a raw or natural look that is popular and won’t show dirt or imperfections as easily.


A popular option, semi-gloss has a lustrous shine, but is easier to keep clean than high-gloss finishes. Some imperfections may still be visible, but semi-gloss floors still achieve good light reflectivity and sheen.

High-gloss finish

A stunning high-gloss finish gives polished floors the ‘wow factor’. However, they do require more maintenance than the other options, and dirty floors are more obvious, so regular cleaning is required to keep them looking great. Not great if you’ve got a young messy family!!

Last but not least we have a Burned Concrete Floor option.

Burnished Concrete Floor

What is the difference between a Polished Concrete floor and a Burnished Concrete Floor? They can look very similar (especially the nil finish) but the process is quite different.

To achieve a ‘burnished look’ a Burnisher machine is used to heat and melt the concrete surface. This machine isn’t powerful enough to grind down a concrete surface. Then a chemical coating is applied, that is typically a wax-based product and is melted into the small pores of the concrete surface.

Burnishing has been popular for commercial floors for years and starting to gain momentum for residential homes. It’s durable, easy to maintain and a cheaper alternative to other floors. However, aesthetics was never a consideration for these floors. If the application of this floor is poor it can result in an uneven floor, highly visible bumps or dips, patchy-looking colour (dark in the centre of the floor and lighter on the edges) and if the floor hasn’t been protected certain stains such as sawdust or rust cannot be removed. We highly recommend using Ram Board, a heavy-duty temporary floor protection to protect surfaces from damage during construction.

Now, what is your favourite look??

The key to getting the right look for your concrete floor is early and careful planning. Whether it’s a Polished Concrete or Burnished Concrete floor, you need to choose a professional concrete specialist (like Policrete) to achieve the exact look you want for your home.

Free Guide

The Insider's Guide to Getting More Value from Your New Home Investment