One of the strongest, and most unique facets of this industry is that the materials used in one style genre can find new life in another. While traditional practice included separate materials and stylings for separate genres of works, a methodology that is still very relevant, there is an increasing trend that sees an overlapping of different styles as well as materials throughout these traditionally separate genres.
An example where this idea is gaining momentum is through the use of polished concrete flooring. Traditionally concrete floors have been associated with warehouses and factories, but they been rejuvenated with a move across from a typically industrial flooring material to a practical and stylish design feature in almost any genre.
Concrete flooring is readily used in industrial spaces due to its’ low cost and simplicity. Pouring a concrete floor is standard trades work, but when you add a polishing machine to the equation, the results are incredible, often for as little as a couple of dollars a square foot. Due to the rudimentary nature of concrete flooring and its ease of installation, it naturally lends itself to time saving applications.
Its hardiness and economic value aside, the key to any building material’s resurgence has a huge amount to do with aesthetics. The true catalyst for polished concrete coming into fashion in commercial and residential spaces is down to new polishing and finishing practices, which take the industrial flooring into the realm of design focus.
Aesthetically, polished cement is an industry chameleon. It has the ability to completely change its style according to the three basic finished methods of steel trowelling, burnishing and honing.
The most traditional of these forms, trowelling, involves a polishing and laying process that creates flat, smoothly polished grey floor. This is incredibly popular in industrial spaces, as it offers the stereotypical polished cement design finish.
Burnishing follows a similar process, but offers more shine and lends itself to surface coating, or the process of coating the cement with paint or a sealer, giving the illusion of different materials, such as sandstone or gravel.
Honing will smooth the cement, but wont add shine. This procedure is typically used in conjunction with further aesthetic finish processes such as chemical stains; which add colours patterns to the cement flooring through a chemical mix of metallic salts and a slightly acid solution, surface coatings, patterns and colour.
Surface Coatings: Colour and Patterns
With colour being such an important and influencing addition to any design scheme due to its strong connection to our psyche, the idea that almost any mix or pattern certainly offers an added power element to designers. Any colour may be added to the cement solution and dries as normal without any further painting procedures. With the ability to create colour schemes to exact colour specifications, designers have the ability to influence a persons subconscious and create spaces that reflect the design ideology to its fullest extent.
In taking a traditionally industrial material and creating a finishing process, which enables aesthetic pleasure in addition to traditional durability, a mundane material can be completely rejuvenated.
By Jane Parkin