Polished concrete is becoming increasingly popular in both commercial, municipal, and residential spaces. However, the cost and time involved in polishing may make this an inaccessible option, which is where many contractors will offer burnished concrete as an alternative. So, what’s the difference between polished concrete and burnished concrete, what are the results, and do they require different maintenance needs? We’re taking a closer look to help you better serve your clients and offer more services that can meet their needs.

Comparing the Process of Polished vs. Burnished Concrete

First, let’s look at how both methods are done.

Polished Concrete

Mechanically polishing concrete is an intensive process requiring multiple steps including using a concrete grinder and rough grit diamond pads to get a smooth surface free of stains, bumps, and flaws. Initial passes use a rough grit pad and become increasingly fine over multiple pass overs. Then, polishing pads are used to achieve the desired gloss in gradually finer grits. In addition to grinding and mechanically polishing, a chemical densifier is applied to make the porous concrete harder and more dense, ensuring it will last a long period of time and be more resistant to damage and wear.

Burnished Concrete

Burnishing concrete provides a lustrous and durable finish and both machines spin at high power, but those are the only similarities. Burnishing involves applying a wax-based chemical to the slab, then a high-speed burnisher that spins up to 2,500 RPMs passes over the surface, melting the chemical into the pores and divots in the concrete and buffing the surface to a high shine. Unlike grinding machines, burnishing machines don’t provide enough downward pressure to grind away flaws and polish the surface. Instead, the pads are designed to melt and smooth a coating over the surface to create an even appearance. A densifier can also be used during the burnishing process to increase shine and durability, but not to the extent that it can with polishing.

The Results of Polished Concrete and Burnished Concrete

As we mentioned, both methods offer a smooth finish with an attractive sheen. Polished concrete improves the slab to increase the durability, minimize peaks and valleys to make the slab itself smoother, and eradicate flaws in the surface. Plus, you can customize how much exposure and shine you achieve whether it’s a dull sheen or a high gloss finish.

Burnished concrete coats the concrete so while it may be smoother feeling, the peaks and valleys are still present under the wax-based chemical. It won’t repair flaws but it does mask them while adding the densifier does improve durability. However, burnishing is a much faster process and also less expensive which makes it more accessible for people who may not have the budget for a comprehensive polish.

Maintaining Burnished and Polished Concrete

Both polished concrete and burnished concrete are fairly low-maintenance, especially compared with other materials. Both surfaces should be sealed, and once it’s ready for foot traffic, we recommend using floor mats around the entrances to prevent grit from outside from scratching the surface. Regular sweeping and mopping will also minimize scratching and wearing it.

You can maintain a polished surface by running a dry burnishing machine (with zero chemicals) over the surface once every few weeks or months and once a year apply a sealer to keep the gloss even and bright.

Burnished concrete is maintained similarly – a sealer should be applied and the floor should be kept clean of dirt and grit to prevent scratching. A full burnishing with re-applications of the wax chemical will need to be done more regularly to maintain the finish and cover any flaws.

Order Your Concrete Burnishing Machines and Grinders Today

We have a wide selection of surface preparation equipment, including powerful burnishing machines and floor grinding machines that allow you to get a beautiful finish that lasts. To learn more about our products and get assistance on which one may be right for you, reach out to us today at  (815) 278-1308 or fill out the form below to learn more.