Mike & Lindsey choose polished concrete floors to complement their original terrazzo flooring

bags of concreteHOGT-graphicMike and Lindsey have been going full steam ahead on their ‘House of Good Taste’ remodel, and today they share their secondary flooring material decision. The couple appreciates the many good suggestions readers offered and — after much deliberation — they have chosen polished concrete as the finish for all of the non-terazzo flooring in their home.

refinishing concrete floors
Hallway before.

Mike writes:

We want to first thank everyone for their input on our floor decisions. We were overwhelmed by the responses, and it truly shows that Retro Renovation is a real community with real enthusiasts. We hope we did not disappoint anybody with the direction we went…

Choosing the secondary floor to the terrazzo has been by far the hardest decision in this remodel. We explored many options and spent countless hours discussing, researching online and visiting flooring stores. During the process we created a list of considerations that really helped to narrow down our choices. The secondary flooring had to be:

  1. Appropriate for the style of the house
  2. Not visually compete with the terrazzo
  3. Large dog and toddler friendly
  4. Help minimize or eliminate the transition point from the terrazzo (about an 1/8″-1/4″)
  5. Budget friendly of $8-$10 sqft installed
  6. Work in every room where there isn’t original terrazzo flooring, meaning there would only be two types of flooring throughout the entire house
  7. Able to work with the other finishes we have planned. Sorry, can’t give those away yet! 🙂

We never really warmed up to the idea of tile, not exactly sure why. Probably because the complete back half of our current home is tile and we are a bit bored with it. There are also what seems like a million tile choices, making it a bit overwhelming.

wood flooring

Then hardwood quickly rose to the top of the list, however, we had differing opinions about using a wood floor… causing a few heated discussions in our household. Thankfully, we were able to narrow down our hardwood considerations to a natural maple in a 2.5″ wide plank, engineered glue down. For those unfamiliar with natural maple, it is usually the flooring choice for basketball courts. It has a mostly uniform light color with some small darker sections running through it. We weren’t completely sold on the wood, so we got a local store to let us borrow a box to lay down text to the terrazzo and stone walls so we could get the full visual effect.In the end, we decided wood was not quite the right choice for us. Which made us return to an idea we had in the back of our minds the whole time — polished concrete! It met every item on our list, except the one that never seems to fall in line, the annoying little thing called ‘the budget.’

refinishing concrete floors
Hallway concrete floor overlay process — phase 1.

We had already called a few different companies about the terrazzo restoration, and luckily during this search we discovered a well referenced company that can do both terrazzo restoration and concrete finishing. Greg with Pro Surface Solutions turned out to be exactly the specialist we needed to get the job done.

refinishing concrete floors
Hallway concrete floor overlay process — phase 2.

After several meetings with Greg, we decided we both wanted and needed to do a full concrete overlay as opposed to working with the existing slab. The hallway leading into the house had be overlaid because the removal of the saltillo tile had left surface completely unusable. The slabs in the rest of the rooms were in varying condition, but most has significant cracks and issues. The kitchen had been tiled at one point, and we were told the tile lines would show through unless we did an overlay. Lastly, doing a overlay could also give us 100% completely flush transitions form the terrazzo and uniform finish from room to room.

refinishing concrete floors
Hallway concrete floor overlay process — phase 3.

In our initial research on concrete, it seemed like a simple and cost effective solution. Even one that was a reasonable DIY project. But for what we were trying to accomplish, it was going to be a much more complex process — one best left to professionals. We wanted polished concrete not stained or epoxy coated, meaning that our surface is just diamond polished, treated concrete that results in an almost glass like feel and look.

polished concrete flooring
Hallway concrete floor overlay process — finished except for final polishing, which will be done just before move-in.

Seeing the step-by-step transformation of the hallway really shows all the different steps it took to reach the finished look.

refinishing concrete floors
Kitchen floor before concrete polishing.
polished concrete floor
Polished concrete kitchen floor.

At this point, the polished concrete floors are not completely finished. They were taken to a certain level and then covered for the remainder of the construction. Right before moving in, the floors will be uncovered and the final treatment and polish will be applied.

polished concrete floor
Polished concrete floor in the bedroom.

Next up is the terrazzo restoration!

polished concrete floor
Read our 2012 story on Troy’s project to polish the concrete floor in his Eichler.

Mike and Lindsey, the polished concrete looks great so far. It will be nice to see it all done next to your refinished original terrazzo flooring. Kudos to you for doing your homework, considering several different options and in the end meeting all your criteria for secondary flooring — well except for the inevitability of going over budget. We can’t wait to see how everything comes together in the end.

Read all of Mike and Lindsey’s stories about their Edward Durell Stone House of Good Taste

  1. JoAnn Rowland says:

    Thanks for sharing. I also would be very interested in a performance report on the polished concrete. I can’t afford terrazzo, so I have been looking into terrazzo tiles. If I can’t afford that, the polished concrete seems like a good option. I originally decided against a concrete topping because I was afraid of spalling. Wondering if you’ve had any problems with that?

    Thanks for your help.

    1. Mike and Lindsey says:


      Unfortunately I can not report back that our polished concrete floors have been without issue. We have a good amount of spider cracking throughout the overlay. Thus far it has all been cosmetic with no actual debonding from the slab. We were not thrilled with this and worked with the installer and manufacture of the overlay product and ended up getting a fair amount of our costs refunded back to us. Could never get a straight answer to why it occurred, install or the product itself. All in all is it a HUGE deal? Not necessarily, it is just cosmetic and most of it is covered by area rugs, and most people who visit never notice, but it bugs us and can’t really be fixed without completely moving out of the house for the floors to be jack hammered up and redone. Still love them in general, but the cracking has been a bit of a downer

      1. JoAnn Rowland says:

        Thanks for the information, it really does help to find the direction that is right for me with the restoration of my home. I think I have found cement terrazzo tiles that are affordable and sized large enough, 2’x2′, to achieve the look I was hoping for. Hoping that works out!

        I appreciate your help,
        Thanks again

  2. Lauressa Nelson says:

    I’d be interested to hear a performance report now, six months later, regarding the comfort of the cement floors. I’m wondering how it feels to stand cooking and cleaning in the kitchen on the cement? I’ve found that standing for long periods on the terrazzo is tiring to the feet and ankles. I hate ceramic tile in the kitchen for the same reason. We have the exact color terrazzo throughout the family room, bathroom and non-master bedrooms and the hallway that links them. The foyer, dining room, kitchen and formal living room have cement covered in either tile or carpet. We have been in the same debate between polishing the cement and using hardwood or bamboo–there are a million engineered choices–and were leaning toward a darker or even gray-toned wood to work with the colors of the marble specks in the terrazzo. Any updates on the cement?

  3. Bobbi Thomas says:

    Thank you for sharing. I am currently redoing my family room that was a 1972 addition. The rest of the house has terrazzo floors that for most of my life were hidden under wall to wall carpet. I tore the carpet out after a necessary master bath remodel and repainting. (It made a great drop cloth to keep construction dust etc off the terrazzo. )
    I am also planning on using polished concrete for my family room but was thinking of doing an acid stained finish. After seeing your pictures of the concrete I am thinking maybe the simple polished concrete is the way to go. I had similar requirements about transitions between rooms, easy maintenance and large dog friendly. Additionally I plan on staying in my home and aging in place so smooth transitions and easy maintenance make a difference.
    Just a side note. My parents bought the house a month before I was born, 1963, and I have lived here ever since. Still have the Ethan Allan Old Tavern Pine furniture and was able to purchase the furniture for the family room from an estate sale so it is the same vintage.

  4. Carol says:

    Very appropriate and excellent choice. I originally suggested maple floors and Armstrong “Atmosphere” linoleum tile. I totally agree with not using the maple. Seeing is believing. I think you made the best decision since it looks spectacular and blends with the terrazzo. Another reader pointed out that these are not our decisions, we are along for the ride. What a wonderful ride. Most of us will never be able to have a home of this nature due to many factors. The most important factor being lack of availability. Thank you so much for sharing.

  5. I had been giving a lot of thought to – when the time comes – replacing what was originally a tiled lower level family room with polished concrete. It’s such a great look – the initial photos look nice! I think it’ll be a great choice with terrazzo.

Comments are closed.