Burnished Concrete vs. Polished Concrete

November 24, 2022

Concrete is not all grey and is not just for driveways. In contrast to this popular misconception, concrete is available in various forms and colours. 

Even after knowing the range of choices, most people simply go for polished concrete in Melbourne. It is because they do not have time to research it deeply. So, we are here to discuss two popular choices in concrete floors—burnished and polished. 

But what is the difference between the two? 

And which one is right for your project? 

Keep reading to learn more about burnished concrete vs. polished concrete before you take a wild guess. 

Burnished Concrete

Burnished concrete is a popular choice for indoor floors because it is easy to maintain and clean. Plus, its sleek, modern look can make a space pop. You create burnished concrete by using a power trowel to smooth out the surface of the poured concrete. 

A wax-based chemical is applied to the slab before burnishing. Then, drive a high-speed burnisher that rotates at up to 2,500 RPMs on the surface. As the burnisher moves, the chemical melts into the cracks and holes in the concrete and buffs the surface to a high shine. 

Burnishing equipment does not exert sufficient downward pressure to remove defects and polish the surface. Instead, the coating will be melted and smoothed across the surface by the pads, giving the surface a uniform look.

In order to improve shine and durability during the burnishing process, a densifier can also be employed, but not to the same degree as in polishing.

However, one downside of burnished concrete is that it is susceptible to scratches and scuffs. 

Polished Concrete

Polished concrete is created by grinding down the surface of the poured concrete until it achieves a smooth, glossy finish. 

Unlike burnished concrete, polished concrete is much more resistant to scratches and scuffs. This makes it an excellent choice for high-traffic areas like commercial buildings and busy homes. 

The most significant advantage of polished concrete is you get to alter the levels of shine as per your need. There are four levels of sheen achievable in polished concrete. 

  • Level 1 (flat): Using a below 100-grit resin bond often results in a level 1 polish. The floor may appear rather foggy with little to no clarity or reflection when you stare down directly at it.
  • Level 2 (satin):  You can achieve a level 2 honed polish with a 400-grit resin bond. This grit level gives a matte finish with a low gloss. You can begin to notice a faint overhead reflection when you stare directly down at the finished floor. 
  • Level 3 (semi-polished): By using a diamond abrasive with an 800-grit or higher, you can attain a level 3 polish. When compared to a level 2 finish, the surface will have a significantly greater shine and enhanced light reflectivity. The floor will vividly reflect side and above illumination from a distance of 30 to 50 feet.
  • Level 4 (highly polished): Going up to a 3,000-grit resin-bond diamond will yield a level 4 shine. While polished to this degree, the surface is extremely shiny, allowing you to clearly see your own reflection when standing right over it. Also, the floor looks to be moist from several angles. 

However, one downside of polished concrete is that it requires regular maintenance in order to keep its shine. 


Both burnished and polished concrete need less upkeep, especially compared to other building materials. 

Starting with polished concrete: 

  • After the surface is ready for foot activity, experts advise placing floor mats around the entrances to stop grit from the outside from damaging the surface. 
  • Polished surfaces also need sealing. 
  • It will be less worn and scratched with regular cleaning and mopping.

Comparable to polished concrete, burnished concrete requires similar maintenance: 

  • A sealant should be used.
  • The floor should be kept free of debris to avoid scratching. 
  • Thorough burnishing and additional wax chemical applications

How Do Results Differ?

Both techniques provide a beautiful gloss and a smooth finish. 

  • Polished Concrete: The slab is improved by polishing concrete to boost durability, reduce bumps and flaws to make the slab smoother, and eliminate surface faults. 

Besides, you may choose between a high gloss finish and a low sheen, depending on how much exposure and shine you want.

Also, a chemical densifier makes the porous concrete tougher and denser, in addition to grinding and mechanical polishing. It assures survival for a long time and is more resistant to damage and wear.

  • Burnished Concrete: Burnishing also makes the concrete feel smoother but not as thorough as polished concrete. The bumps and valleys still exist beneath the wax-based chemical. That means it won't fix the defects but will only cover them up. 

You may also ensure the use of a chemical densifier with the burnished concrete. It will increase the durability.  

However, burnishing is a much quicker and more affordable process, making it more accessible for those who may not have the funds for a thorough cleaning.


When deciding between burnished concrete and polished concrete, you will need to consider a few things, such as cost, maintenance, and durability. Weighing all these factors will help you decide which flooring is right for your project.

Also, it is not a bad idea to reach out to a professional, such as Excon, to clarify your doubts and quickly come to a decision. Because whether it is polished concrete or burnished concrete, it hugely depends on the kind of lifestyle you want. 



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