Look down while around while you’re walking in a built-up area, what do you see. Concrete; there’s nothing like it is there? Nothing so uniformly grey, disheartening and back-to-basics (in a bad way) or so distressingly industrial. For many businesses the delights of the hardwearing, robust material that can last for centuries, is a perfect solution to heavy duty wear and tear in all kinds of premises, from factories, industrial units, right through to major showrooms. If only it didn’t look uninspiring in its unaltered form! Thankfully, concrete flooring has come a long way in the last few decades and this most basic and structural of materials has proved to be something of an ugly duckling/swan tale. At least, it is if you get a more polished look.
Concrete; Ancient History
Polished concrete has become remarkably popular in the last few years. The technology has been with us for a while and is the offshoot of the more traditional stone polishing techniques. Concrete itself has been used as a building material since ancient times and became particular popular in ancient Rome, where it was used to create massive, impressive structures at half the cost as had been previously possible. The canny Roman builders discovered that by covering their concrete creations in more expensive looking stone you could knock up an amphitheatre in no time at all and get on with the next imperial commission. Since then concrete techniques have gone and come and in the 19th century the upwardly mobile skylines of major cities across the globe were made possible by this most simple of materials.
Design meets Function
It’s only during the latter part of the twentieth century that design and functionality met half way. As concrete is now pretty much the most significant ingredient in many buildings, it seemed high time that it was given something of a designer polish; and that’s what happened. As concrete is so hard wearing it makes the ideal flooring material of choice for high traffic areas in both industrial and commercial settings. Easy to transport, pour and get into position, concrete is a perfect long term solution. In commercial premises and offices concrete floors have traditionally required an additional material covering to make their less than luscious looks bearable (and warm). However, with the advent of under-floor heating and the stone polishing adaptations, concrete can be not only functional but extremely attractive.
When professionally finished polished concrete (and its cousin, resin flooring) creates a stylish, high sheen which can, depending on what’s in the mix, offer an attractive, unique flooring. An excellent example is the harbour at Dun Laoghaire, Ireland, where the port authorities required a unique solution. The harbour setting allowed the contractor to create a polished concrete slab that was constructed using a specifically designed mix of aggregates and seashells which, when finished off with the polishing process, created a solid, robust, long-lasting and perfectly fitting finish. The final combination of man-made, yet seemingly natural, shore creates an unusual, unique and thoroughly charming look to what could have been an unremittingly industrial look. Combining the most basic of materials with modern technology, the harbour at Dun Laoghaire is an excellent example of just how versatile and attractive concrete can be.
Time to Shine
Dun Laoghaire is almost a work of art in itself, but polished concrete can offer an excellent solution in a range of more prosaic settings and has even been used to create unique features and floors in domestic settings. From kitchen work-surfaces to car showrooms the material can be manipulated and finished to fit any setting. For retail premises, such as DIY stores, this type of flooring can offer the required hardwearing commercial flooring, without the compromise on looks. Polished concrete allows a business to shine, in almost every sense of the word; creating a stylish, attractive finish to showrooms and stores, with all the required long-life effect that is necessary in these types of premises.
Industrial flooring doesn’t have to be ugly! Using traditional stone polishing techniques with modern materials such as resin and concrete flooring can create stylish, yet functional, design masterpieces.