When selecting the final look for your polished concrete floors, an essential aspect is the edge treatment. You may be shocked to discover that the outer portions of a polished concrete floor might take on a different appearance than the center areas.
But this is a fact of the concrete pouring, finishing and polishing process you must deal with. Various options are available to help unify your polished concrete surface that suits your budget and design requirements.
Let’s first explore the limitations associated with polished concrete edges, followed by the available choices and their corresponding price ranges.
Concrete Trowling Creates Different Edges
It’s important to note that the edges of polished concrete may not always match the rest of the floor. This is particularly evident for edges located at the perimeter of a building or around columns where hand troweling was necessary.
This disparity arises from the different techniques used by the concrete finisher, not the concrete polisher. In other words, the hand trowling technique necessary on the edges gives the floor a different appearance than a motorized trowler.
The concrete polisher has to do their best to make the two different finishes match, but it’s not always possible.
How Concrete Polishers Deal With Edges
To achieve consistency, the edges may need to be ground down, possibly by as much as 1/8th inch. However, this process exposes large aggregates, significantly increasing the cost of the floor polishing project—often by three to five times.
Furthermore, the heavy concrete polishing machinery can’t reach the edges effectively. Consequently, contractors use lighter edge machines or hand tools to polish the areas within 4-6 inches of any wall, column, or protrusion touching the ground.
As hand tooling or smaller edger machines require more time and effort to apply the same pressure, achieving a matching finish becomes challenging and labour-intensive, raising costs. The concrete polisher must set reasonable expectations for the client regarding the final appearance of each specific floor.
Partition Wall Edges
Polished concrete edges along partition walls (constructed on top of the concrete slab) will harmonize with the polished concrete floor. Typically, these partition walls are erected over a power-troweled floor, making the finishes more straightforward.
It’s best to begin polishing the floors at the edges of partition walls. This makes blending the center of the surface and the outer portions easier.
The cost of achieving polished edges on partition walls can be $5 per lineal foot or higher, depending on the concrete’s condition and the space’s size.
A more economical alternative to hand-polished edges is to paint a perimeter border, offering a finished look. This option acts as a room trim, separating the walls from the floor.
You can choose a paint to match the wall colour, a contrasting shade or go for patterns of different colours. There are many options to make your space the way you want it.
Painted edges vary in cost and can range from $2.50 to $4.50 per lineal foot.
Lastly, the most cost-effective option is to leave the edges unfinished. This choice is often made when the wall edges will be concealed by shelving or equipment.