What are the differences between smooth concrete and waxed concrete?

Waxed concrete floors are very trendy when it comes to coating. Not only do they look great, but they are also durable, quite affordable, and environmentally friendly. In addition, they are suitable for homes as well as for businesses, warehouses, shops, restaurants, cafes, art galleries, etc. Plus, they offer a variety of shine. Your floor may have a fairly low sheen or on the contrary a high sheen that almost looks like glass.

If you are interested in concrete flooring for your business or home, find companies that offer both smooth concrete and waxed concrete. You are probably wondering: which of the two is better for my project? These companies will be happy to give you details, but be aware that in essence while smoothed concrete and waxed concrete may look almost the same, they are not at all. Some people ignore these differences which can create misunderstandings when requesting information or even a quote.

Smooth concrete and waxed concrete, apparently similar yet very different

Polished concrete and waxed concrete look almost identical. Even some contractors may find it difficult to distinguish between the two coatings first. However, their shine and finish are achieved in completely different ways. Smoothed or polished concrete is more labor-intensive and involves more steps than finishing waxed concrete floors. Concrete polishing is the mechanical process of polishing the surface of an existing concrete slab using industrial floor sanders. During this process, the concrete is polished using fine grains of diamond abrasives until the floor reaches the desired level of gloss.

  • Matte: The floor has a matte finish and will appear somewhat cloudy with minimal clarity or reflection.
  • Low gloss: the floor has a very low gloss with a matte finish. From a distance, you can start to see a slight reflection.
  • Semi-gloss: the floor will have a higher gloss than before. There will be good light reflectivity. The ground will clearly reflect the light.
  • High gloss: the floor produces the highest level of gloss, similar to glass with high light reflectivity. You could almost believe the ground is wet.

However, with waxed concrete, the high gloss is achieved differently. Both types of floors are durable, but polished concrete has a longer life and is more durable in areas with heavy foot traffic. Waxed concrete is a more affordable alternative to smooth concrete.

What are the differences between smoothed (polished) concrete and waxed concrete?

The appearance

Sometimes, as said before, it can be difficult to spot the difference between polished concrete and waxed concrete because they look almost identical. Smooth and waxed concrete floors can have a matte, satin or gloss appearance. However, the finish is achieved in different ways.


When choosing between polished concrete and waxed concrete, it is important that your flooring contractor understands the level of durability desired. Is it an area with heavy pedestrian traffic? Obviously if your project concerns a home the question is less on the agenda. Polished concrete is ideal in large spaces because it has a scratch resistant finish and is low maintenance. It also lasts for decades if properly maintained. Just like waxed concrete which is also expected to last for years.

The cost

Polishing concrete is more labor-intensive and more expensive than waxed concrete. If you are interested in a polished concrete floor but want a more affordable option, maybe look to waxed concrete, which has many advantages since it is faster and easier to apply. It does not require significant equipment to install it. In short, it requires less work, less time and is therefore affordable.

What are the advantages of smooth concrete?

Smooth concrete requires the application of a primary structure. It is mainly installed on horizontal surfaces, whether it is worktops, step tops or simply floors. But despite everything, smoothed concrete has advantages, including: the rendering of smoothed concrete is much more uniform and less marked and marbled than that of waxed concrete.

What are the advantages of waxed concrete?

Waxed concrete is lighter, so there are no structural loads. Its installation does not require joints. And no cracks are likely to appear as it dries. In addition, it can be applied to both horizontal and vertical surfaces.

How to maintain smooth concrete?

Smooth concrete is very easy to maintain. It washes off with or with a fairly neutral product. Avoid cleaning it with abrasive products.

How to maintain waxed concrete?

Polished concrete like other concretes is quite porous so you have to avoid dirt that can become encrusted. As its name suggests, after conventional cleaning (with a broom for example), its maintenance is done using wax that is applied with a soft cloth.

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