Burnished Concrete Floors: The Alternative Commercial Flooring Finish

Burnished concrete floors are regular concrete polished multiple times for a tough surface with a shiny finish. It’s commonly used in homes and commercial spaces. This article covers how it’s made, its types, plus its pros and cons.

What Is Burnished Concrete Floor?

Many customers mix up burnished concrete with other finishes because they look similar. Concrete burnishers, or power trowels, use rotating blades like concrete grinders, but they’re different.

Burnishers can’t grind down concrete. They’re for heating, melting, and buffing a wax-based coating into the concrete’s pores.

You can use a densifier with burnishing concrete for shine, durability, and toughness. However, a wrong installation can ruin the expected finish.

Types of Burnished Concrete Floor Finish

There are two primary methods for achieving a burnished concrete finish:

Steel Trowel Burnishing

This method uses hand or mechanical trowelling to create a shiny surface on the concrete. The quality of the burnish depends on several factors, including when the concrete is placed, its slump, how well it’s compacted, the finishing techniques used, and how it’s cured.

The concrete’s strength should be at least 32 MPa for a high-quality finish, ensuring enough fine material for a smooth finish. The process usually works with a concrete slump between 80 to 100mm, allowing a 15-20mm tolerance, aiming for a smooth, durable surface without trowel marks.

Wax or Resin Burnishing

This approach involves applying waxes or resins to the concrete floor to make it shine. Floor waxes, liquid polishes, and resin-based coatings can produce a burnished finish.

After curing, these coatings are polished with equipment to achieve the desired shine. The final look depends on the concrete’s density, coating, and burnishing technique.

Benefits of Burnished Concrete Floor Finish

Benefits of Burnished Concrete Floor Finish

Below are the most important benefits of burnished concrete floors.


The durability of burnished concrete floors is remarkable. They can withstand heavy foot traffic and equipment without peeling, scraping, or damaging, thanks to their high gloss finish.

Polished concrete floors resist physical wear and damage from alkalis and acids, which typically corrode untreated concrete. They are also abrasion-resistant.


In business settings, burnished concrete floors reflect light well, making the most of existing light sources. This creates a better environment for employees and visitors, reduces energy costs, improves safety, and shows your company in the best light to everyone who comes by.


A well-made, sealed, and maintained burnished concrete floor can last over a hundred years with the right care.

Easy Upkeep

The surface is easy to clean due to its smoothness. However, it’s important to keep it dust-free.


A well-polished surface prevents water from seeping through.

Long-Term Savings

Compared to other types of flooring, burnished concrete is less prone to damage. It doesn’t need replacing, saving you future costs. Maintenance expenses are also reduced.

More Resilient in the Face of Traffic

A burnished concrete floor finish can be used on interior and exterior surfaces. It adds extra protection against damage from foot and vehicle traffic. It can withstand more foot traffic over time compared to other floor coatings.

Sustainable and Kind to the Environment

Burnished concrete floor finish is a great choice as it avoids harmful coatings or adhesives. It also uses no chemicals for maintenance and cleaning, making it environmentally friendly over time.

Excellent for Any and All Properties

You can add a burnished concrete floor finish to any property. It suits all kinds of buildings and fits any space with concrete.

Best Practices to Follow When Burnishing

Here are some best practices to keep in mind when burnishing:

1. Make Sure You Have The Right Supplies

To start your burnishing process, you need to gather specific supplies. You’ll need:

  • A Microfiber Floor Care Kit for dry and wet dust mopping
  • Solutions for cleaning and degreasing floors
  • Floor burnishing pads, either soft or coarse
  • Solutions for polishing floors
  • A high-speed floor burnisher
  • An auto floor scrubber, though this is optional
  • Wet floor signs, which are also optional

2. Ensure That The Right Machine is Being Used

Burnishing needs a specific machine. Burnishers and buffers are not the same; you can’t use a burnishing pad on a buffer and expect it to work. Burnishers run at high speeds, from 1,500 to 2,500 RPM. This fast spinning creates more friction with the floor, giving it a shiny “wet look.”

3. Preparing The Burnishing Area

To polish a floor, first block all entrances to the area you plan to work on. You can use ropes or signs to keep people out. It’s crucial to inform everyone that the area is off-limits. Move all furniture, tables, racks, and displays out of the way to prepare your workspace.

Dusting and wet mopping the floor is recommended before using a burnisher. Buffing the floor can also help remove deep scratches, scuffs, and stains. The burnisher spins fast but doesn’t apply much pressure, so it only lightly works on the top layer of the floor finish.

Sweep the floor well to remove all dirt and debris. Vacuum any dust from cracks and crevices using a HEPA dust collection system. Mop the floor with a dust mop and a wet mop to eliminate all dirt and debris. A clean floor will shine the most. Start with a clean floor to get the best shine.

4. Burnish Your Floor With The Right Pad

Burnishers usually work on the top layer. However, the depth of their work depends on the pad used. Soft pads are best for a high-gloss shine without changing the floor’s finish too much. But there are also coarser pads for high-speed machines.

These allow your burnisher to also work as a buffing tool. But be careful. The high speed of a burnisher can easily remove layers of finish.

5. Setting Up The Burnisher Machine

Select burnishing pads based on the floor finish and machine. Specific pads remove scuff marks effectively but may wear down the finish quickly. Expect some trial and error when matching pads to finishes.

Lean the machine back on its handle to attach the pad. Use centering devices to keep the pad in place and screw them into the driver. Properly mount and tighten this piece to the driver.

6. Preparing Your Solution

To apply the floor-restoring solution, use a mop or a spray bottle. Xtreme Polishing Systems’ floor waxing and sealing products are recommended. With a spray bottle, you can apply the solution while burnishing, keeping the pad wet without stopping.

You can use both methods together for a simpler process. Make sure to follow the specific instructions for your burnisher, as some only work well with the mop method, where the solution needs to dry first.

7. The Process Of Burnishing The Floor

Make sure the burnisher and pad are ready. Tilt the burnisher back so the pad doesn’t hit the ground. Turn on the machine and lower the head/pad to the floor gently. Use a burnishing solution or cream for better results. Start with small areas before moving to larger ones.

The burnisher moves smoothly; just steer it. Some burnishers can dig into the surface to remove deep scuffs. However, other models only polish the floor without digging in, which protects the motor and extends its life.

When burnishing, overlap your passes to ensure no spots are missed and achieve a shiny finish. Change your burnishing pads regularly to prevent debris build-up. If a pad doesn’t give good results, flip it or replace it.

8. Let The Machine Guide You

Use a burnisher by moving it forward and back, not side to side like a buffer. Burnishers are generally easier to use. Turning the wheels controls the pad’s height, angle, and movement direction. Move the burnisher straight and overlap the previous path slightly on the next pass.

9. Taking Care Of The Cleanup

Burnishing is a dry process, different from buffing, and it might produce dust. To prevent dust buildup, keep a dust mop handy. Dust-control burnishers are also an option to reduce dust.

Clean the area with a dust mop and wet mop, or use an auto scrubber after burnishing to remove any dust. A 1500 RPM dust control burnisher, can significantly decrease dust by collecting it as you polish, making cleanup much easier.

After burnishing, take down any caution and wet floor signs. Move objects back to where they were. Rinse the used pads well. Soak them in water to prepare them for future use. This soaking helps remove dirt, making the pads ready for reuse.

How to Achieve a Great-Looking Burnished Concrete Floor

How to Achieve a Great-Looking Burnished Concrete Floor

Getting a good burnished finish is hard. The concrete slab must be properly poured, finished, and cleaned before starting. Skipping steps here can lead to bad-looking floors. Another issue is that poured cement often has slabs with darker centres and lighter edges.

Burnishing a large area might result in a patchy-looking floor, with some areas lighter and others darker. Many failed burnishing jobs are due to inexperienced installers.

A professional concrete installer will use a power scraper to make the surface shiny before burnishing. This step removes footprints and marks. Hiring an experienced installer is crucial because poor trowelling can make the floor uneven. Any small surface flaws will be obvious once the floor is finished.

DC Flooring offers high-quality decorative concrete finishing services. We offer a wide range of services for different budgets and meet your specific design and use needs. Our team is trained and certified by industry experts in concrete floor polishing. We use the latest equipment and a precise method to ensure our flooring is consistently high-quality and durable.


Is burnished concrete sealed?

Yes, burnished concrete is often sealed. Sealing protects the surface from stains, moisture, and wear. A high-quality sealer can also improve the shine and durability of the burnished finish. Different sealers are available depending on the desired appearance and level of protection.

Can burnished concrete be coloured?

Yes, burnished concrete can be coloured. Colour can be added during mixing or applied to the surface before burnishing. This allows for a wide range of hues and finishes, offering customisation to match any design aesthetic. High-quality dyes and stains ensure the colour penetrates deeply for long-lasting results.

How often should floors be burnished?

The frequency of burnishing floors depends on the level of foot traffic and the type of finish desired. Weekly burnishing may be necessary for high-traffic areas to maintain a glossy shine. In less busy areas, monthly burnishing could suffice.

It’s important to monitor the floor’s appearance and perform burnishing to keep it looking its best. Regular burnishing also helps extend the floor’s life by reducing surface wear.

What colour pad should you use to burnish a floor?

The pad colour needed to burnish a floor usually depends on the type of finish you want to achieve and the condition of the floor. Typically, lighter-coloured pads, such as white or tan, are used for softer finishes and maintenance burnishing.

Darker pads, like brown or black, may be recommended for more aggressive burnishing to remove scratches and restore shine. Always consult the manufacturer’s guidelines for the best results.

Does burnishing remove material?

No, burnishing does not remove material. Instead, it compacts and smooths the surface. This process increases the shine and density of the concrete without taking away any of the floor’s substance.

Burnishing polishes the concrete to a glossy finish by generating heat through friction, bringing out the floor’s natural beauty without material loss.

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