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Concrete can be given a variety of beautiful textured finishes, but for interior concrete floors, a smooth finish reigns supreme. A smooth finish gives concrete floors a sleek, high-end look and is easier to clean and maintain. Smooth finishes also make a perfect base for different decorative treatments like acid stains, concrete dyes, and floor paint.

There are a number of methods you can use to create a smooth finish in both newly placed and existing concrete. You can even make rough, damaged concrete floors smooth and even, giving them a glass-like appearance.


To make a new concrete floor smooth, the usual method is to use a steel trowel on the wet surface. To smooth small projects, a hand trowel is pushed and pulled across the surface of the concrete. For large commercial or industrial floors, finishers use ride-on or walk-behind power trowels to obtain a smooth, even finish.

Learn more about using concrete trowels to create a smooth, dense surface.

Tip: It's best to let an experienced concrete finisher handle troweling because timing and techniques are important for good results.

Mechanical Methods

If your existing concrete floor has minor flaws or glue residue (see How to Remove Carpet Glue from Concrete Floors), mechanical methods may be needed to smooth the surface and remove imperfections.

The fastest and most efficient method is to use a concrete grinder or a floor buffer fitted with a sanding disk. Although this equipment can be rented, it can be tricky to operate if you don’t have experience. It is important to keep the grinder moving, overlapping each pass slightly, to prevent divots, uneven spots, or swirl marks in the floor.

Tip: To stay safe while grinding, wear safety glasses and a dust mask to shield yourself from dust and debris.

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Polishing is one of the most popular methods for smoothing concrete floors, resulting in a high-gloss, mirror-like finish. The polishing process uses concrete floor grinders outfitted with diamond abrasives. The grade of the abrasives used, ranging from coarse to fine, will determine the final degree of shine and smoothness.

You can polish almost any structurally sound concrete floor, whether it is new or old. However, there are some exceptions, such as floors that are wavy, need extensive patching, or are extremely porous. An experienced contractor can usually determine if your floor is a good candidate for polishing.

Learn more about how to polish concrete floors.

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Concrete Overlays

Sometimes, it's simpler to use an overlay to hide small flaws and rough areas on a concrete floor. An overlay fully refinishes the concrete surface, creating a clean canvas for the application of stains or dyes. Some overlays can also be polished to achieve a reflective sheen.

Before applying an overlay, thoroughly clean the floor to remove any debris, dirt, and existing coatings or sealers that could prevent the overlay from bonding. You should also repair any significant cracks or gouges in the floor using a suitable patching compound. If not, they could telegraph through a thinner overlay, such as a microtopping.

Learn more about concrete overlay products and materials.

Self-Leveling Compounds

Self-leveling overlay systems for concrete floors offer numerous advantages. Placed at a greater thickness than other overlays, they even out high and low spots, cover up damaged concrete and provide a smooth, durable new surface. These pourable toppings also self level without troweling, making them a good solution for smoothing and leveling concrete with minimal effort.

Self-leveling toppings are primarily used to correct uneven or damaged floors and compensate for height variances. But you can also use them for decorative purposes by adding integral color to the self-leveling mix or by enhancing the overlay using stains or dyes.

Learn more: How to Level a Concrete Floor

Tip: Before applying a decorative treatment to your newly leveled floor, allow the self-leveling compound to dry for the amount of time recommended by the manufacturer, typically at least 24 hours. Once dry, the surface can simply be sealed and left exposed or covered by a decorative coating.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are smooth concrete floors slippery?

As with other flooring options such as laminate, marble or ceramic tile, smooth concrete floors can become slippery when wet. Applying a high-gloss sealer may also reduce traction somewhat, but that's easily remedied by mixing a non-slip additive into the sealer before application. A non-slip additive can also improve the safety of smooth concrete floors in areas frequently exposed to moisture, such as entryways and kitchens.

When kept clean and dry, polished concrete floors are generally no slicker than other smooth concrete surfaces, and tend to be less slippery than waxed linoleum or polished marble. See Can Polished Concrete Be Slippery?

Can I give exterior concrete a smooth finish?

Any outdoor concrete surface can become slippery when it gets wet or icy. But smooth surfaces are especially vulnerable because they provide little traction. Similarly, concrete garage floors exposed to melting ice and snow from vehicle tires can be more hazardous if the surface has little slip resistance.

Although it’s certainly possible to give outdoor concrete a smooth finish using the same techniques described above, most outdoor slabs are given some sort of textured finish for safety purposes, such as a float finish or broom finish. Many of these finishes can be highly decorative as well.

What are the decorative options for smooth concrete floors?

Concrete stains, dyes, paints, and coatings make it possible to turn a smooth concrete floor into nearly any hue imaginable, from basic brown to vibrant multi-colored designs. But if you prefer a minimalist look, smooth concrete floors can also be left their natural color and sealed with a coat of clear sealer. Learn more about the most popular coloring options and techniques for concrete floors.

Smooth concrete floors can also be given a variety of sheen levels, ranging from low luster to high gloss. Generally, polished concrete floors or floors finished with a high-gloss sealer will have the highest sheen levels. An added benefit of smooth, glossy floors is that they reflect more light, which can save energy and reduce electricity bills.

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