Compare Materials

Polished Concrete versus Other Flooring Materials

Decorative polished concrete offers a number of advantages that other flooring materials can't match, particularly when it comes to durability, performance and sustainability. Here, we compare polished concrete floors with some of the alternatives.

Wall-to-wall carpet
Ceramic tile
Vinyl or linoleum
Wood or wood laminate
Natural stone
(such as slate or marble)
Polished concrete
Available in a wide spectrum of design options

In addition to adding color with dyes and integral pigments, you can use the polishing process to reveal colored aggregate and other  decorative embedded objects. You also have a choice of sheen levels, from a subtle gloss to a brilliant, mirror like shine
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
No
Unlimited
Longevity and performance

Polishing produces an extremely dense, abrasion-resistant surface that will last a lifetime with proper care. Carpet, tile and even wood floors eventually need replacement, which uses up resources and creates disposal problems
Poor
Good
Good
Good
Excellent
Excellent
Ease of maintenance

Not only are polished floors easy to clean, requiring only occasional damp mopping, they hold up well under heavy forklift and foot traffic. The glossy surface also eliminates the need for waxes or coatings while resisting stains
Poor
(needs frequent vacuuming; stains easily)
Good
Good
(linoleum may need occasional waxing)
Good
Good
(linoleum may need occasional waxing)
Excellent
Can radiate heat and store solar energy

Concrete flooring is often a central component of passive solar home designs, because the slab absorbs the heat of the sun during the day and releases the stored heat as needed at night. Concrete is also ideal for use with radiant floor heating systems.
No
No
No
No
Yes,
(depending on the material)
Yes
Vulnerable to humidity and moisture damage
Yes
No
Yes
Yes
No
No
Can harbor mold, mildew, dust mites and other allergens

Concrete is a great alternative to carpeting for people who are allergic to animal dander and dust mites. Concrete also is an inorganic material and won't support the growth of toxic mold.
Yes
No
No
Yes
(mold and mildew, if the flooring becomes wet)
No
No
Is a sustainable flooring alternative

In addition to using sustainable materials, polished concrete does not require the use hazardous chemicals, coatings, adhesives or cleaners. Another green advantage: Polished floors are highly reflective and can save energy by reducing artificial lighting requirements.
No
Yes
Maybe
(if using linoleum made from all natural materials)
Maybe
(if made from reclaimed or FSC-certified wood)
Yes
Yes
Average cost per square foot installed

Depends on the level of finish, decorative options and complexity of the project. Polished concrete is an economical alternative for homeowners or businesses that can't afford marble or granite but want the same mirror-like finish.
$3.38 - 6.61*
$11 - 22*
$2.64 - 5.64*
$8 - 10
$20 - 50+
$3 - 7
(for a 3,000-grit finish and the use of an impregnating sealer)
Average lifecycle cost

With low maintenance costs, savings in energy costs, and a super-long lifespan, polished concrete is one of the least costly floors you can own over time
High
Low
Intermediate
Intermediate
Low
Extremely Low

* Source: Old House Web
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