Polished concrete has been used in warehouses and workshops for decades. However, it’s only recently that they’ve become popular in the home. But are they expensive to install?
The average cost of polished concrete floors in the UK ranges from £110-£160 per m2, which includes pouring the concrete then finishing and sealing it. Therefore, for a typical home with a footprint of 45m2, it’ll cost on average £5000-£7200. However, if you already have a concrete floor and want it polished, the job will cost about £50/m2, or £2250 for this size house.
It’s commonly thought that residential polished concrete floors are cold and slippery. On the contrary, polished concrete floors are sleek and modern and are unique features in many kitchens and bathrooms. Furthermore, when correctly sealed, they are non-slip and comfortable for the entire family to walk on with bare feet, especially if the homeowner uses underfloor heating. And as concrete is good at storing heat, when insulated from below, you’ll find it economical too. However, most people will probably use polished concrete as a floor for their garage, as oil spills are easily wiped up and won’t soak into the sealed concrete surface.
This guide shows the benefits of polished concrete, how much it’ll cost you to have one, and how professionals install a floor like this. Choosing a reputable contractor might be difficult for the average homeowner, so we also provide a form on this page for you to complete and submit. We’ll ensure you receive some quotes to help in your research.
How Much Does Polished Concrete Flooring Cost?*
These estimates show the cost of installing new, polished concrete floors in typical-sized buildings. First, compare your home’s footprint with those in the table. Then, use it as a starting point for your research.
|Floor Size||Cost Range||Average Cost|
|2-Bed Terraced House 32m2||£3,520-£5,120||£4,320|
|3-Bed Semi-detached House 45m2||£4,950-£7,200||£6,075|
|4-Bed Detached House 75m2||£8,250-£12,000||£10,125|
|3-Bed Bungalow 75m2||£8,250-£12,000||£10,125|
|Single Garage 18m2||£1,980-£2,880||£2,430|
*We compiled these polished concrete floor prices from various online resources. Every home is different and might need preparation before pouring the concrete and during the finishing process. Therefore, these figures are estimates.
Polishing a concrete floor is a skilled job and not suitable for DIY. Therefore, always contact a local contractor or specialist concrete flooring company to get an accurate quote for your home or garage. Alternatively, complete the form on this page.
It’s relatively simple to use the cost calculator. On average, you’ll spend £110-£160/m2 to install a new polished concrete floor. Therefore, for a rough estimate, measure the ground floor area of the room or rooms you intend to improve and multiply the measurement by these figures. Alternatively, you can multiply the floor area by the average of this range, £135/m2, for a ballpark figure.
The areas shown above are for the structure’s footprint, not the total floor area. We use the footprint and ignore upper floors because it’s usual for domestic properties to have concrete flooring on the ground floor only. However, commercial buildings or apartment blocks, which often have block and beam flooring, can use polished concrete on all floors.
It’s always easier to pour and polish new concrete floors when constructing a new building or doing extensive renovations. It’s not something to do while living in the property. The only exception is when polishing a garage floor, as you can always leave the car in the driveway.
Polished Concrete Floor Price Factors
Many factors affect the price you pay for having a new polished concrete floor. In the list below, you’ll find the most significant variables:
Large rooms cost more in materials and labour. However, even though tiny rooms such as bathrooms don’t need large amounts of materials, they can be challenging to work in when using a concrete polishing machine in a small working area. Therefore access difficulties might increase the labour costs.
When constructing a new concrete floor, it’s essential to provide a stable foundation to prevent subsidence and cracking. Building a foundation requires removing the existing floor and excavating the underlying ground. Furthermore, because of variations in the local geology, soil conditions and water table, the excavation depth can only be determined when the excavator reaches stable subsoil. Therefore, the deeper you excavate, the more soil you must get rid of, and the more hardcore and concrete you need. Thus, excavation depth significantly determines the cost of your new polished concrete floor.
Existing floor’s condition
Read this section alongside the previous paragraph on excavation. The type and condition of the existing floor determines what must be removed and how you rebuild the foundation for the concrete floor. Some existing concrete floors might have adequate foundations, so only replace the concrete. In comparison, a timber suspended floor will require complete removal, followed by installing new floor foundations. Remember that the Building Regulations Part C requires new concrete floors to have radon sumps included in their construction in certain parts of the UK. Therefore, you must incorporate sumps to ensure the floor complies with the Regulations. The Regulations also specify adequate damp proofing, but your contractor should know this.
If you intend to walk barefoot on the new floor, you need to remove the chill. This involves installing insulation below the concrete (to comply with the Building Regulations Part L, Conservation of Fuel and Power) and adding underfloor heating. You can use either “wet” or “dry” methods by connecting to the existing central heating system or using an electrical heating element. Whichever heating method you choose, have them installed by qualified and competent professionals certified by your local authority. You can find local authority approved heating engineers or electricians who can self-certify their work on the Competent Person Register.
Dyes to change the colour of the concrete will make the floor complement your existing décor. Moreover, polishes and seals will increase the life of the concrete and make the floor easier to keep clean. However, all these add to the overall cost.
If replacing the entire floor is too expensive. Or, if the existing concrete floor is in good condition and only needs a new lease of life, you can polish existing concrete.
Polishing an existing concrete floor costs about £50/m2. Therefore, an average UK bathroom with an area of 6.25m2 costs about £315.
Pros and Cons
There are many advantages to installing a new polished concrete floor in your house. So, it’s a wise choice for any homeowner. The following are some of the best.
- Polished concrete floors will last a long time without significant deterioration.
- You don’t need to do much maintenance. These floors only need to be vacuumed or swept regularly, then washed and dried. Occasionally, reseal the surface using a good quality sealant.
- Polished concrete looks good and makes your home appear modern, sleek and sophisticated.
- This flooring material is ideal if you want to install underfloor heating.
- Choosing a light colour, such as a white polished concrete floor, will reflect light. This not only looks stunning, but it will also lower your energy bills by reducing the necessity for interior lighting.
- You can choose from a variety of colours and finishes.
- The floors will be waterproof, stain-resistant, and anti-slip by choosing the correct sealer.
- Polished concrete is more affordable than hardwood, marble, tile, or other floor coverings.
- Unlike most other flooring alternatives, correctly installed polished concrete doesn’t suffer from mould or damp damage.
- Polished concrete can be used indoors or out, and dyed or stained from a vast range of colours.
Surprisingly, polished concrete floors don’t have many disadvantages.
- For a floor to look great, you must ensure the concrete doesn’t have stains or discolouration embedded in the concrete before applying the finish.
- Unfortunately, a hard and durable surface like concrete has no springiness underfoot. Therefore, it’s not like walking on wood or a carpet, which might be a problem if you have small children that continually fall over.
- Unheated surfaces like concrete are cold to the touch. Therefore, you should install insulation below the concrete and use underfloor heating. However, once the concrete has warmed through, it will hold heat for a long time.
- Polished concrete is a hard, smooth surface, reflecting sound and causing echoes. As a solution, scatter rugs on the floor to absorb as much sound as possible.
Polished Concrete Flooring Installation Steps
Although it’s wise to hire a professional to install your polished concrete floor, the customer should know what the job entails. Therefore, we’ll run through the installation steps without going into too much detail.
- After excavation, lay hardcore to the correct depth, using a compactor to remove voids.
- Install a damp-proof membrane and insulation, followed by reinforcing mesh and underfloor heating if required. Contractors know the correct reinforcing and insulation, depending on the floor volume.
- Pour ready-mix concrete to a minimum depth of 100mm. Use rakes and a concrete vibrator to ensure a level surface.
- Add colour if required to the surface. Then use manual and power floats to keep the surface refined and smooth.
- Using a powered concrete polisher, bring the cement to the surface while it smooths and hardens. This step can take 4-15 hours, depending on the concrete mix and weather conditions. Temperatures below 5⁰C cause ice crystals to form in the concrete, permanently damaging its matrix. In contrast, hot weather evaporates water from the concrete, causing the mix to shrink. Concrete doesn’t harden from drying out; the curing process is a chemical reaction that needs water. Therefore, prevent moisture from evaporating too fast.
- Allow the concrete to cure completely. Sometimes this takes up to a month after pouring before it’s ready for the next stage.
- Polish the floor using a concrete scrubber or, preferably, a polisher with progressively finer diamond encrusted pads to buff the surface to the desired sheen.
- To seal the floor, use a penetrative sealant that soaks into the concrete but doesn’t prevent moisture from escaping. This allows the surface to breathe.
Are polished concrete floors worth it?
Polished concrete flooring looks expensive when done correctly, and it can be expensive to install. However, the durability and longevity make it more affordable, over the long term, than most other floor coverings.
Is it cheaper to have polished concrete or tiles?
Polished concrete is cheaper to lay than tiles and is much easier to clean. Therefore, it is cheaper initially and reduces the time needed to keep it looking good.
Is polished concrete slippery?
Even though polished concrete appears slippery, it isn’t. When your contractor installs the concrete correctly and uses the right products to seal the surface, it is slip-resistant, even when the floor is wet. Therefore it’s suitable for outdoors and indoors, and especially good in bathrooms.
Can you have a polished concrete floor in the bathroom?
Polished concrete floors look great in a bathroom. There’s no grout between tiles which gives a clean and smooth appearance, thus improving waterproofing. In comparison, tile grout starts to crumble after a few years of heavy use, allowing moisture to spread underneath the tiles causing them to lift. However, there are a couple of features you should insist on.
- Concrete floors can feel cold with bare feet. So, install underfloor heating at the same time.
- Use a textured finish to reduce further the possibility of slipping on the wet surface.
Should you seal polished concrete?
Yes, definitely. Although polished concrete has a dense surface that is partially water-resistant, it makes sense to seal the surface to add a protective layer.
Sealed polished concrete:
- Prevents the surface from abrasion and subsequent dusting.
- It fills the concrete pores, preventing dirt and moisture from becoming trapped in the concrete matrix.
- It makes the surface harder, extending its life and reducing maintenance.
If you decide to have a new concrete floor, why cover it with tiles, flagstones, carpet or other surface coverings? Instead, choose a polished and sealed concrete surface with underfloor heating. But don’t try to do the job as a DIY project. Polishing concrete needs training and professional knowledge for a quality finish.
Complete the form on this page to receive up to four local polished concrete flooring quotes from specialist contractors that know what they’re doing and will charge you a reasonable rate.