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Everything to Know About a Concrete Floor Finish

Last modified: 2022-12-12 | Approximate reading time 4 mins

Cynthia Pigeon

Are you planning on giving your concrete floor a finishing touch to add a little extra flair to your home? There are various finishing techniques that are well worth checking out. 

Types of Concrete Floor Finishes

Finition d'un plancher en béton

Source: Unsplash

There are two main methods used for concrete floor finishes, which are complemented by different staining techniques. These include the following:


The best way to achieve this concrete finish is to start the smoothing process at the same time as the concrete is being laid, so prior to curing. The tools used to do this successfully are a levelling tool, concrete float, finishing trowel, and broom.

After smoothing out the concrete surface, cement masons will then cut the expansion joints to allow the slab to move horizontally, thereby preventing cracks. Next, the sealant (most likely epoxy) will be applied, ensuring that the house is properly ventilated over the ensuing days.

A smooth concrete floor is not as hard-wearing as a polished finish, yet it has many advantages, such as being eco-friendly, durable, inexpensive, and aesthetically pleasing. It can also be used as a thermal mass and doesn't require any additional coating.


This second technique shouldn't be undertaken before day 28 post-concrete pour. That’s about the time it takes for the slab to reach 90% of its mechanical strength.

This technique consists of grinding the slab with a workbench diamond saw blade to remove layers of concrete (over several rounds) in order to get a perfectly smooth surface. The final step consists of applying a sealant to protect the surface.

Between the benefits of this kind of finish and the aesthetic, ecological, and economic aspects, polished concrete floors are durable and don't require much maintenance. Like smooth concrete floors, they too can be used as a thermal mass and don't require any additional flooring installed. Also, polished floors create a semblance of natural light in your home.

Types of Coloured Concrete 

Polished Concrete: Clear Epoxy Concrete

This finish, which is both aesthetic and practical, will give your floor the best possible protection while adding a touch of elegance to the room in question. Moreover, polished concrete is very easy to lay and will work wonders in your garage or basement. 

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Metallic Epoxy

Concrete floor finish longevity

Source: Depositphotos

For a long-lasting and durable floor with a three-dimensional gloss, we strongly recommend metallic epoxy flooring. By using this type of finish, you'll benefit from a unique design (various visual styles and incredible colours) and exceptional stain, water, and wear resistance. Moreover, epoxy flooring combined with a metallic finish is extremely easy to maintain and can be installed in no time.

How much does a concrete floor finish cost?

In terms of costs, and different finishes, smooth concrete is significantly less expensive than polished concrete, which runs about $9 per square foot, not accounting for the cost of the concrete itself. Stamped concrete, an alternative to smooth concrete, is even more expensive at $13 per square foot.

Should you choose an epoxy floor, expect to pay between $3 and $8 per square foot, depending on the surface itself, its condition, and the duration of the work.


A concrete slab finish is subject to various conditions that affect the concrete itself. Namely, the concrete must be:

  • Hard granular aggregate;
  • Not hold more than 4¾ gallons of water for each bag of cement;
  • Form a plastic mixture, which should be poured without interruption and without any water pooling on the surface;
  • Well compacted through vibration, or by tamping and spading.

The slab may require additional changes to reinforce it with stronger materials. This process can be carried out as the concrete is poured, in a single layer, or by laying the material as a separate layer after the slab has cured.

Here are the ground rules for each method:

  • A single-layer finish must be laid during construction. Therefore, one must monitor the conditions during which it’ll be done. 
  • A separate finish means that the building needs to be sealed and heated.
  • The concrete must be consistent so that bleed water doesn't seep through the finish.
  • The slab must be wet, but not heavily flooded, before installing the separate finish.
  • The slab's surface must be thoroughly cleaned with a metal bristle broom before the separate finish is laid. Also, a thin liquid bed of mortar should be applied.

Curious about the cost of flooring materials? Check out our Flooring Renovation Guide to find out more. 

Thermosetting Resins

There are a number of different options to showcase your concrete floor, including two-component thermosetting resins, like epoxy or a polyaspartic coating.

For example, these products are solvent-free, odourless, and an excellent alternative for your kitchen flooring. However, it's best to hire a professional to lay the flooring, as it can be a bit tricky for a first-timer.

The following section outlines the steps to applying an epoxy coating:

  • Polish the floor with a benchwork diamond saw blade; this will improve the flooring’s adhesion.
  • Use a primer that can be dyed with metallic pigments, for example, for unique visual effects.
  • Apply the preferred amount of epoxy coat(s). Clear epoxy is the best option.

Naturally, concrete floors are suitable for basements too, especially if you have a fairly new property. In such cases, it’s perfectly possible to finish the floor directly on top of the concrete, provided that the slab is well protected. This way, you'll have more space by sparing additional layers of concrete.

However, this technique shouldn't be considered in older homes in which mould or moisture build-up is a common occurrence. First, you need to establish the level of humidity prior to proceeding with this type of project.

Are you about to tackle a floor renovation project? Don’t forget to check out our article Floor Renovation Project: Checklist of the Steps to Follow

Cover image source: Pexels

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