Are you struggling to select the best flooring material for an upcoming project? Relax – help is at hand! Read our concise comparison of polished concrete and resin flooring systems to make an informed decision about which floor is right for you.
In the world of flooring, polished concrete is the new kid on the block, standing out from the crowd and moving up the popularity ladder and making friends quickly.
In recent years, polished concrete’s popularity has soared due to improved grinding techniques that allow for the creation of more attractive finishes. Not only is it popular, it’s also adaptable to new environments and suitable for commercial and industrial facilities.
Although polished concrete has achieved recent accolades in the industry and provided architects and designers with alternative flooring options, it doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily the best option for everyone – designers will need to weigh up the obvious attributes of polished concrete against the enhanced performing profile of A* student seamless resin.
Seamless, resin based flooring materials can provide commercial spaces with greater durability, as well as lifecycle cost savings. Epoxy, polyurethane and methyl methacrylate (MMA) are three of the most common seamless resin materials.
Whether your project is for the industrial, retail, leisure or hospitality sector, it’s important to remember that the finished surface should meet the required criteria for appearance and functionality, as well as the project’s budget and construction constraints. Therefore, understanding the benefits and disadvantages of each type of flooring is key to finding a particular facility’s flooring solution.
Let’s begin with team – Polished Concrete
Polished concrete is a concrete floor that has been chemically treated and ground down to a smooth, shiny surface with progressively finer diamonds.
- The hard-wearing properties of concrete mean that a polished concrete floor is robust and if well maintained can last for an extended period of time without getting scratched chipped, dented or otherwise deteriorating.
- It’s easy to sustain a hygienic environment with polished concrete, as it does not support mould growth and its low maintenance finish means that weekly washes with warm soapy water are all that are required for cleaning purposes, saving time, energy and effort, compared to floors that need waxes and sealers.
- Health associations have endorsed polished concrete floors, as they prevent the build up of allergens such as animal dander, dust and dust mites, all of which thrive in carpeting.
- Polished concrete is the more sustainable option when compared to concrete as it avoids the extra carbon footprint incurred by manufacturing, transporting and installing additional materials. The LEED standard even includes guidelines on how using polished concrete flooring can help qualify for LEED credits.
- The condition of the existing concrete is the key consideration when determining if polished concrete is a viable option. Certain problems such as cracks, delamination and dusting can be repaired, but if the substrate is too far gone, the concrete will either need to be replaced or have a special concrete overlay applied.
- If the concrete is of a good standard but with relatively poor level tolerances, then it will be more difficult to polish the surface, so additional labour and aggregate exposure would be required.
- Polished concrete floors are susceptible to moisture and need to be properly sealed on both the top and the bottom. If liquid does infiltrate the pores of the concrete, this could cause mould and mildew to grow and if the liquid freezes, could lead to serious cracking in the slab.
- Concrete expands and contracts during changes in temperature and these fluctuations are another potential cause of cracking. Cracks can be repaired with a waterproof sealant, resin application or cement overlay, however matching the colour and texture can prove very difficult.
Now let’s talk about team – Seamless Resin
Resin flooring can be manufactured from one of several formulations, with epoxy, polyurethane and MMA being three of the most common materials.
Epoxy based systems have traditionally been the most popular form of resin flooring and the widespread use of this material stems in large part from the variety of colours and formulations available.
- Epoxies boast a wide range of advantages that help to create a functional, hygienic and easy-to-maintain surface.
- Epoxy systems can be installed that are vapour permeable, low odour and cost effective with excellent dustproofing qualities.
- Epoxies offer a wide variety of colour options and decorative effects, which is best exemplified by the almost unlimited design potential of seamless resin terrazzo systems!
- Water based epoxy coatings at the thinnest end of the scale have a limited life span of two or three years and will need to be recoated after this time to maintain a viable surface.
- Epoxies generally have a slower cure rate compared to polyurethane and MMA floors.
- An epoxy system may require one or two seal coats to remove porosity.
Polyurethanes tend to dominate the thicker, more robust end of the resin flooring spectrum. Depending on the system, polyurethanes can be installed as a flow applied, self-smoothing or trowel applied mortar.
- The true benefit of a polyurethane finish lies in the exceptionally robust nature of this material. They hybrid chemistry of polyurethane concrete makes them an extremely hard-wearing and robust flooring option.
- Thanks to this durability, polyurethanes will maintain a seamless, impervious and easy to clean finish for an extended period of time.
- Polyurethanes are great at resisting rapid and extreme changes in temperature as well as seasonal thermal cycling without cracking.
- Some managers and architects can be put off by the cost of a polyurethane floor, however it is important to note that choosing a cheaper solution will usually mean installing a thinner or more aggregate filled system that won’t provide the same long-lasting properties.
MMA systems get their name from the methyl methacrylate catalyst that is central to their formulation and which gives this material the following key benefits. The application versatility of this type of resin flooring has seen it become popular in a wide variety of market sectors.
- MMA resin floors can fully cure in less than an hour and can be installed at extremely low temperatures. Both of these factors make it ideal for speeding up a construction schedule or for a flooring refurbishment project that needs a fast turn around.
- This type of floor can be installed on top of a wide variety of substrates including concrete, steel, tiles, marine ply and other resin materials.
- MMA systems exhibit incredible bond strength and high compressive strengths as well as a wide temperature range.
- Like the other resin materials, it can evoke a luxurious aesthetic and be installed in bright, intricate patterns (just check out this project at Perth train station if you don’t believe us!)
- The flooring exhibits a strong odour during installation, though it is harmless and disappears quickly.
So – which team do you support – Popular Polished Concrete or Super Seamless Resin?
To sum up: choosing polished concrete will remove the need to source and install extra material, however it also results in the site being subject to the quality of the substrate for the look, longevity and effectiveness of the flooring. In contrast, the type of material, thickness and functionality of a resin system can be adjusted to fully optimise the area.
If you’d like to find out more about this topic, click here to download the whitepaper Comparing Polished Concrete and Resin Floor Options for Commercial Environments.