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We Polished the Concrete Floor in Converted Barn: A Case Study

By: Mary Williams BA (hons) - Updated: 1 Apr 2011 | comments*Discuss
Polished Concrete Concrete Floor Floor

Julie and Robert Macdonald have moved around a great deal and have renovated a number of properties over the years. During the course of each project, a number of different floorings have been brought in - but it was only in their most recent renovation that they considered creating a concrete floor.

Julie said:

“My husband has always had to move around a lot for his job and wherever we have lived we have enjoyed renovating a different property. Usually this has involved buying a period house in a state of disrepair, doing it up and then giving it our own interior style.

Buying a Redundant Barn

Our last move, however, saw us take a slightly different direction, however. Instead of buying a house that needed work, we bought a redundant barn and applied for planning permission to convert it.

Our aim was to make it into an eco barn – and to be as green as possible in both the design of the house, and its fittings and furnishings. We worked closely with the architect in the design and layout, and researched the most Environmentally Friendly options at every stage – we wanted to have solar panels, a ground heat source recovery system and rainwater harvest.

When it came to flooring the barn, our original intention was to use Reclaimed Wooden Boards. There was no floor to speak of already in the barn so we would have to create one but using salvaged materials would be a green option. But as work on the project really got underway, we began to consider another option, keeping the concrete floor.

Considering Polished Concrete as an Option

My husband Robert had never heard of polished concrete before but I managed to find a few examples in magazines and showed him what it could look like. We discovered it was a technique that could be used on brand new concrete or on a surface that had been in existence for a while. Robert is always keen on trying something different – and opting for polished concrete meant we were not bringing any additional flooring materials into the barn - so in many ways it was a very green solution.

The barn is pretty large and we decided to keep concrete on the whole of the ground floor. This meant the large kitchen, the living area, family room dining room, study and downstairs cloakroom would all have the same concrete floor running right through. Upstairs we would use the reclaimed boards.

All the external work and the internal structural side of the operation were finished before the polishing process began. The concrete was fairly light in colour and a test on a small section in one corner of the living area showed us we would end up with a floor that was a wonderful, grey stone colour. It would have a slightly industrial look that we decided would contrast well with all the wood in the old barn and its new great glass windows.

Employing a Contractor

We employed an expert contractor to come in and polish the floor. They brought a machine with special sanding and grinding equipment attached to it, and everything went well with the process.

It has been two years now since the floor was polished and the sheen has lasted beautifully since then. Some areas, such as the kitchen, hallway and cloakroom, have been left as shiny concrete. In the living area, dining room, family room and snug, however, we have chosen to put down thick, highly textured, brightly coloured rugs to offer contrast and warmth.

Everyone who visits the barn comments on how wonderful our floor looks, and many are surprised to learn what it is made of – they can’t believe it really is concrete."

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