When polished concrete first came around everyone wanted to use it, and it was installed anywhere epoxy floors would ordinarily be used. Now, however, businesses understand the differences between these materials, and know that both epoxy and polished concrete have their place.
So what type of commercial flooring should you choose? Figure it out by asking yourself these questions:
1. How often will the floor be cleaned?
Will the area be cleaned once a week? Once a day? Even more often? What will it be cleaned with?
Polished concrete flooring is ideal for settings that will be cleaned on a daily—or even more frequent—basis with an autoscrubber. While other materials, including epoxy, are damaged by frequent exposure to autoscrubbers, polished concrete only becomes more polished. This makes it ideal for commercial buildings with frequent cleanings.
Unfortunately, polished concrete must be cleaned with an autoscrubber to keep it in good condition, whereas epoxy can be cleaned with a regular old mop. This makes epoxy much better for residential basements and garages.
2. How essential is this operation?
Is the building open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week? Are operations absolutely essential to your business? Will you be able to section off areas for maintenance and redirect traffic as needed?
Any flooring will eventually need maintenance, but polished concrete needs far more regular maintenance than epoxy flooring. If you can’t afford to make accommodations for this maintenance, stick with epoxy.
3. What will the flooring be exposed to?
Will harsh chemicals be used in this space? What about dyes and solvents? None of these elements will damage epoxy flooring, but they will erode polished concrete. Heavy impacts will also cause more damage to polished concrete. On the other hand, epoxy doesn’t do nearly as well as polished concrete in sunlight.
It’s also important to consider what you’ll be exposing to your floor. Polished concrete is not recommended anywhere that food is actively made, packaged, or handled.
4. What do you want the environment to feel like?
Both polished concrete and epoxy are shiny flooring materials that can be dyed to match your office aesthetic, but there are a couple key differences. For starters, polished concrete is 100% light reflective, so it can brighten up your space and even save on energy costs.
The other major difference between the two is how they look over time. Polished concrete tends to remain flatter and show less obvious damage, whereas epoxy flakes and peels.
5. How much do you want to spend?
The first installation of polished concrete usually costs more than an epoxy coating, but the flooring tends to last longer (7-13 years vs 5-7 years) and will cost less when it comes time for a second installation. Epoxy, on the other hand, costs less during the initial installation, but the price for refurbishment is higher.
If setting up a small commercial space you can even do epoxy yourself to save a significant amount of money, but polished concrete can only be installed by professionals.
As with any big financial decision, it’s always best to look around and see what others are doing. If everyone in your industry uses polished concrete, there’s probably a reason for that—and vice versa. If you don’t know many other entrepreneurs in your industry personally, consider reaching out on an industry-focused forum. A local forum might even be able to connect you with the right company for the job.