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Concrete Floor Finishes (Ultimate Design Guide)

Welcome to our concrete floor finishes ultimate design guide including the most popular types for your home.
Contemporary kitchen with polished concrete flooring, gray cabinets and white counters Concrete floors are becoming popular because of their durability and stylishness. Stylish, you ask, yes indeed. Thanks to the different types of concrete floor finish options that are now available, concrete floors are now both a durable and versatile flooring type that can suit almost any architectural style. The best part of having concrete flooring in your home? They provide you with a tough and low-maintenance surface that can withstand almost anything.

Concrete is hard to put a dent in and resistant to chemical damage. You don’t have to worry about scuffs or scratches. Concrete surfaces are also relatively easy to clean as they are water resistant. If liquid spills, just wipe it up. This water resistance also makes it easy to clean as, all you have to do to quickly clean the surface is to wipe it down, maybe with a bit of water. The only maintenance you will have to do is occasionally waxing or resealing the floor.

Types of Concrete Finishes

Depending on your taste, style, and needs, there is a wide variety of concrete floor finishes that you can choose to use in your home.

Concrete floors can be installed both indoors and outdoors and there are different types of concrete finishes that are sure to suit any need. So what are the best concrete floor finishes? Check out the most popular types of concrete floor finishes below.

Broom finish concrete Broom Finish Concrete

This is one of the most simple and basic forms of concrete finishes. To broom finish concrete, all that is needed is to take a broom to the surface of newly placed concrete before it fully dries.

Dragging a broom over the surface of drying concrete leaves behind small textured ridges. These ridges create an interesting and eye-catching pattern. That’s not the only advantage of a broom finished concrete surface, however. The biggest advantage is that the ridges left behind by broom finishing increases the traction of a concrete floor.

This simple yet effective surface is great for both the indoors and outdoors, but it is especially good for outdoor features like pathways and steps as it will keep them from becoming too slippery when wet because of rain or melting snow.

Salt finish concrete Salt Finish Concrete

This is another simple way to add an interesting bit of texture to a concrete floor or surface.

When you salt finish concrete, you simply apply a sprinkling of rock salt on top of concrete before it completely dries.
When the concrete is dry, you then splash water on the surface, until the layer of salt melts and washes away. What is left when the salt is gone is an interesting pattern of small pits and indentations – from where the salt previously laid.

This is also a particularly good concrete finish to use on outdoor concrete floors and surfaces as the pits and indentations help create good friction.

Sand finish concrete Sand Finish Concrete

Also known as sand wash concrete, a sand finish concrete floor is treated to have the texture and color of sand.

To get a sand finish concrete floor you need to choose a concrete mixture that uses sand as an aggregate. When the concrete floor is laid out and is drying, a chemical is then left on the surface overnight.

This chemical slows the drying of the top level of cement. The next day, the top layer can be washed off, exposing the sand below.

Trowel finish concrete Trowel Finish Concrete

Trowel finish concrete is achieved by using trowels to smooth out a newly installed concrete surface.
To achieve a trowel finish concrete floor, you need to lay out the concrete and – before it dries completely, go over it with a trowel leveling and smooth it out. A hand trowel or power trowel is moved over the surface to smooth it.

Float Finish Concrete

A float finish concrete floor creates a compact, smooth, and sturdy surface by running a float over laid concrete. Similar to a trowel finish except for the fact that it uses a tool known as a float, that comes in a variety of sizes.

Trowel Finish vs Float Finish Concrete

Trowel finish and float finish concrete floors look quite similar. Both these finishes produce a smooth and dense surface. The difference between these two concrete finishes lies in the tools that they use.

Float finishes are a little easier to achieve as floats often have long, extendable handles that allow you to efficiently smooth the concrete at a comfortable standing position.

Think long and hard about using trowel finish or float finish concrete on outdoor floors or areas with high traffic. Smooth concrete can be slippery, especially when wet.

Feather Finish Concrete

Feather finish concrete floor To feather finish a concrete floor, you need to apply a commercial feather finishing compound. Feather finish is a good way to breathe new life into an old, uneven concrete floor as it smooths out imperfections and leaves you with a smooth yet textured surface.

You can easily buy a feather finishing product in a hardware store and apply it yourself.

Check the label of the feather finish that you bought, and then pour the recommended amount of water into a container and mix in the feather finish. Make sure that you do not overwater the mixture as it will lower the strength of the resulting compound. Apply the feather finish to your floor using a steel trowel and wait for it to dry.

Brushed concrete finish Brushed Concrete Finish

A brushed concrete finish is achieved in much the same fashion as a broom concrete finish, except instead of dragging a broom over the surface of drying concrete; here you drag a brush over it.

You can create a variety of differently textured concrete floors this way as the ridges that will be left behind will depends on the type of brush that you use. The size of the brush bristles as well as their hardness of softness will leave different types of ridges.

Smooth Finish Concrete

Kitchen with smooth finish concrete floors Smooth finish concrete floors are the most basic type of concrete floors. They are achieved by simply smoothing and leveling the surface of drying concrete.

The polishing of a smooth finish concrete floor is achieved usually by the means of either trowels or floats. However, if you truly want to achieve a smooth concrete surface with no imperfections its best to first use a float over the top layer of drying concrete and follow it up by running a trowel over it to ensure that there are no imperfections.

Top-Cast Concrete Finish

To achieve a Top-Cast concrete finish you will need to use a commercially available surface retarder called Top-Cast.

Using Top-Cast on your concrete floor produces a similar effect to an aggregate finish as the compound is designed to expose the aggregate in the cement. Because of this, Top-Cast is capable of creating a concrete surface that comes in a variety of colors and texture – it depends on the type of Top-Cast that you use. It is easy to use and apply, all you have to do is decide on the effect you want.

Acid Wash Concrete Finish

Bedroom with acid wash concrete floors An acid wash concrete finish gives you a concrete floor with a mottled patter – much like what you would find in a pair of acid washed jeans.

To get an acid wash concrete floor, you need to apply an acid wash solution. You can buy acid wash commercially or mix some of your own. Acid washes work by dissolving some of the upper layers of laid cement and exposing some of the aggregate below.

If you decide to mix your own acid wash, you need to buy a safe acid from a home improvement or hardware store. We recommend either muriatic, phosphoric, sulfamic, or citric acid.

Fill a watering can with a mixture of water and your chosen acid. You can probably use 1 gallon of water for 60-75 square feet of concrete. As for how much acid to mix in, you should check the label. Depending on the acid, it might recommend you use 10 to 50 percent acid.

Sprinkle the solution over the concrete and scrub it in with a broom. The solution should create some bubbling on the surface. Leave it on for about 10 minutes or till the bubbling stops.

Wash off the acid solution with a solution of water and baking soda. We recommend 1 gallon of water to one box of baking soda. Let the floor dry.

Epoxy Finish Concrete

Epoxy finish concrete garage To epoxy finish concrete, you need to apply epoxy coating. You can buy epoxy coating in a variety of colors at hardware or home improvement shops. This type of concrete finish gives your floor a glossy sheen and usually comes in solid colors. An epoxy finish is especially good for concrete floors in high-traffic areas such as the garage as it is very resistant to abrasions and scuffs.

If you are looking to brighten a space, you should look for a metallic epoxy finish. This finish mimics the sheen and color of metal and is about as durable and water resistant as metal itself.

If you’re planning to epoxy finish a new concrete floor, we recommend you wait 28 to 2 months before applying epoxy coating. This will allow your floor to dry and set thoroughly. Clean the floor and let it dry overnight.

There are usually two types of epoxy coating, solvent-based and water-based. Water-based are usually clear, so if you want to maintain the solid grey look of bare concrete but add a bit of shine, this is what you should use. It is solvent-based epoxy coating that comes in different colors, solid and metallic.

You might want to apply a coat of epoxy primers first and this will create a better bond between the coating and floor and increase the floors durability. Use a roller brush to apply the primer and let it dry for about 12-24 hours.

Apply two coats of epoxy coating using a roller brush. Check the label at the store, it will usually tell you how many square feet the epoxy can cover. Make sure you buy enough to coat your floor twice. Leave the first coat to dry for 24 hours. Apply the second coat and wait another 24 hours.

Swirl Finish Concrete

Living room with swirl finish concrete floors A swirl finish concrete floor is one that is textured to create overlapping circular swirls. This interesting and unique pattern is achieved by moving a trowel over the drying surface of the concrete in a circular or curving pattern. The swirls can be as deep or as big or small as you want.

The unique textures and patterns achieved by this finish also have the added benefit of increasing the traction of the surface and decreasing the chances of slips and falls.

Concrete Aggregate Finish

Home driveway with concrete aggregate finish Also known as exposed aggregate finish, this is basically a finishing method where the top layer of a concrete floor is washed away so that the aggregates can show through.

Concrete is a mixture of Portland cement and an aggregate, which is usually some sort of rock or stone. Mixed together with water, the cement becomes a paste that covers the aggregate.

In a concrete aggregate finish, the aggregate used is chosen for its attractiveness. It could be bits of granite, sea shells, colored glass or colorful stones. When the concrete is set, it is treated with a chemical that will slow the hardening of the cement. After leaving the chemical in overnight, the surface water is then used to wash the surface and the top layer of cement is removed and the aggregates are left exposed. This results in an variety of unique patterns and textures that also provide a durable yet non-slip surface.

Concrete Finish Options

Because of the variety of concrete finish options available in the market, a concrete floor can be made to suit almost any room regardless of the style.

As we mentioned, the different types of concrete floor finishes come in a variety of colors and stains, so you can choose one that matches the overall look of the room.

You can also choose to get a finish that will allow your concrete floor to mimic other flooring material, such as marble or slate. You can easily apply decorative touches like stenciled designs to ensure that you get a floor that is truly unique.

Cost to Finish Concrete

Modern kitchen with concrete flooring white cabinets The cost of finishing a concrete floor will depend on the type of finish you use and the size of the area that you will be finishing.

A simple polish finish or stain will cost your about $2-6 for every square foot. A more elaborate finish, such as a complex stain, such as the acid wash, could cost $5-8. A highly decorative finish, for example one that mimics the color and texture of marble or that incorporates stenciling could cost about $7-15.

If your finish requires you to apply a special solution or compound, the price will depend on the cost of the compound and the area you are going to cover.

• A popular feather finish brand is Ardex, you can get a 10 lb bag for about $19 and it’s supposed to have a coverage of 16.7 square feet per bag.
• Water-based epoxy coats cost about $30-50 a bucket while solvent-based epoxy coating comes at around $45 a bucket.
• A gallon of Top-Cast can cover 200-300 square feet and a five gallon pail will cost around $230 depending on the type.

Most Popular Concrete Patio Finishes

Stamped concrete patio with outdoor furniture Because of concrete’s strength and durability, it is a popular material for use in creating outdoor landscape designs. Concrete patio and patio floors are a hardy but elegant addition to any home garden, creating a beautiful and comfortable space for homeowners and their guests to enjoy good weather and fresh air.

When we are thinking about concrete patio floors, some of the best and most popular concrete finishes to use are those that leave a textured pattern (also called stamped concrete) on the surface to increase the friction of the floor. Because a concrete patio is outdoors it tends to be exposed to the elements and smooth concrete can be slippery when wet. Textured or rough concrete finishes are the best choice here so popular concrete patio finishes.

A simple yet elegant solution to create a beautiful but slip-proof concrete patio floor would be to use broom, salt, or brush concrete finishes. Swirl finish concrete will also suit a concrete patio and is relatively easy to apply.

Of course, concrete floor finishes that leave a roughly patterned surfaces will also help increase friction. If you have the time, you can also use sand, Top-Cast, acid wash, and concrete aggregate finishes on areas that are high-traffic.

It’s best to use concrete finishes that leave you with a smooth surfaces in areas that are not high traffic or for other features such as planters, railings, and benches. Trowel finish and float finish concrete would provide a nice surface to sit so consider using this to create raised benches around your patio. For decorative touches and spots of color, consider creating boarders or decorative patterns using epoxy finish concrete.

How to Finish Concrete Video

For more related information check out our gallery of concrete kitchen countertops here.

Written by Brooke

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