Polished Concrete vs. Vinyl Flooring

Polished Concrete vs. Vinyl Flooring

Polished concrete vs. vinyl flooring. It’s not an easy decision, considering both provide an excellent solution for commercial flooring.

The look of concrete floors has been a growing trend for commercial interiors. Its popularity throughout the design community is due not only to the array of pattern and color choices concrete provides but also to the sleek and clean aesthetic it creates within a space.

While concrete flooring is a solid choice, interior designers have consistently relied upon luxury vinyl flooring to provide the popular concrete look. Why?

Installation of luxury vinyl flooring versus concrete is simple and seamless. Additionally, vinyl flooring is easier to maintain and offers a wider array of design choices that fit with any interior design approach.

Polished concrete and vinyl each have benefits. Examining some of their qualities is helpful to understand how they compare.


Polished Concrete Vinyl Flooring
Water Resistance Susceptible to moisture if not sealed Water-resistant and ideal for higher moisture areas
Maintenance Requires sealant and repolishing every 2-3 years No sealant requirements or repolishing
Cost $2-$6 sq. ft. for basic design; $15-$30 for more elaborate designs $3-$6 per sq. ft. for any design
Comfort Rigid underfoot leading to foot and leg fatigue Soft underfoot, especially with available underlayment
Applications Fewer applications owing to its hardness Multi-faceted, cross-purpose functionality

Cost Comparison of Polished Concrete vs. Vinyl

Let’s start by examining a critical factor with any commercial flooring installation – costs.

Multiple factors go into the cost structure of polished concrete, but it is comparable to vinyl. Let’s stress that it’s comparable to vinyl flooring for a basic look. More elaborate looks for polished concrete incur more labor costs and downtime.

Here’s what you can expect to pay:

  • Concrete: Depending on the look and complexity, concrete can cost as little as $3 to $12 per square foot. However, according to Concrete Your Way, more elaborate finishes can boost costs to $15 to $30 per square foot. This pricing also depends on whether a concrete slab exists and the preparation needed to apply stain or polish to the concrete.
  • Luxury Vinyl: Vinyl can cost anywhere from $3 to $6 per square foot for commercial-grade material, not including installation. That’s comparable to the costs for a basic polished concrete installation. However, with vinyl flooring, you can capture more elaborate looks without drastically increasing costs.

Even though the initial outlay costs for a basic polished concrete floor are similar to concrete-look vinyl flooring, you must consider ongoing maintenance costs, such as repolishing (more on that later).

Both Concrete and Vinyl Offer Design Options

Concrete has become a popular material and design look for flooring and wall spaces throughout the retail and hospitality industries—often used to add a more dynamic look to a space. However, while the look of concrete is much sought after, the choices in style it provides may be limiting.

Here’s why:

Concrete can be stained or dyed to match just about any color. You can also apply textural patterns while setting it.

As a result, you can achieve different stone-like looks or polish the concrete for a smooth look. The downside is that once applied, the look is permanent. So, you lose flexibility when updating the design.

In addition, when staining old concrete floors, the floor may not accept the stain due to previous sealants that have been applied, or even current marks or stains may not allow the new stain to absorb. That means you might have to pour new concrete.

In several ways, luxury vinyl flooring is more flexible than concrete in design. Vinyl is limitlessly customizable and designable, giving you the versatility to complete any interior design project.

Vinyl can also replicate the look and style of natural materials, such as stained concrete or stone and wood designs.

And if you want an updated look, vinyl flooring is much easier to replace than concrete.

Polished Concrete May Seem More Durable Than Vinyl

Concrete lasts a very long time. However, its durability doesn’t translate into design flexibility.

First, businesses in the retail and hospitality industry like to switch up the interior design of their spaces every few years as trends change.

It isn’t easy to replace and update a concrete floor. Cracking through and breaking up a slab requires a lot of effort.

Second, selecting stained or polished concrete requires meticulous floor preparation. For example, stains and polishes are not made to disguise imperfections, so any debris that may be remaining will show through.

Third, new stains can’t penetrate older, stained concrete, preventing the stain from taking. In addition, depending on the amount of traffic, concrete will need to be sealed regularly to provide a protective layer for the surface.

Finally, although concrete floors hold up well, they require repolishing every two to three years, especially in high-traffic areas. If your existing concrete needs repairs or you need to pour a completely new concrete slab, you’ll spend even more.

Cracks in Concrete Floors Are a Problem

Even though concrete floors are durable, they can crack. Those cracks produce unwanted issues, especially for commercial flooring:

  • Imperfections in the floor’s aesthetics and appearance
  • Moisture control concerns
  • Cleaning challenges
  • Odor control
  • Infestations

Equally important, although you may think otherwise, polished concrete can crack and chip from falling objects. For example, cans falling from a shelf can damage the flooring. Even if the floor doesn’t crack, anything fragile will most likely shatter when hitting the floor.

If any of these concerns arise, repairs are expensive. Typically, polished concrete floors must be stripped and resealed.

Vinyl Flooring Offers Equivalent Durability

When considering polished concrete vs. vinyl, you might think concrete owns a substantial edge. By most accounts, polished concrete floors last 20 to 30 years. However, many luxury vinyl floors offer similar longevity.

For example, a 20-mil wear layer, typically recommended for commercial application, can last up to 20 years.

And remember, you can expect to repolish concrete floors every two or three. So luxury vinyl flooring provides a similar lifespan without repolishing the floors.

Equally important, if issues arise with vinyl flooring, you can repair it. You can often replace the damaged tile or plank, particularly with luxury vinyl flooring. Even larger sections requiring repair require less attention than polished concrete.

Overhead view of a seating area showing concrete-look vinyl flooring

Water Resistance of Polished Concrete vs. Vinyl Flooring

Vinyl flooring uses a rigid, closed-cell vinyl material that is more water-resistant. Using a suitable adhesive makes it ideal for higher-moisture areas. It’s worth noting that some vinyl flooring products, like rigid core, deliver 100% waterproof performance.

Contrastingly, polished concrete is susceptible to moisture if not sealed properly. That’s one of the reasons it requires resealing – to improve its water resistance.

If moisture or liquid gets into the pores, it can sit within and lead to mold or mildew. If the moisture freezes, it can lead to cracking.

Moreover, acidic foods, paints, solvents, cosmetics, tracked-in asphalt, and cleaning chemicals will stain polished concrete. Even with sealing, it can remain porous and subject to staining.

Vinyl Flooring is More Comfortable Than Concrete

Comfort is also a significant component of the comparison between polished concrete vs. vinyl. Polished concrete’s hard surface wreaks havoc on joints and lower backs. It also offers no cushioning in the event of a slip and fall.

Conversely, concrete-look vinyl is soft underfoot and less stressful for employees on their feet all day. It also provides a somewhat softer landing spot if someone falls on the flooring.

Polished Concrete and Vinyl Flooring Applications

Polished concrete is used only in a few industries: hospitality, retail, supermarkets, and corporate office spaces.

Conversely, vinyl flooring suits almost any environment—healthcare, education, multi-family, corporate, supermarket, retail, or hospitality. Vinyl also performs exceptionally well in areas susceptible to high moisture and humidity.

So, if versatility is a major consideration when deciding between polished concrete vs. vinyl, luxury vinyl owns an edge.

Parterre® Offers Endless Vinyl Flooring Options

Parterre® offers a designer line of commercial vinyl flooring products. Its assortment of LVT flooring includes a broad selection of concrete-look vinyl flooring options.

The design tool lets you see how any of the company’s flooring options look in your room. To do so, select a room scene, choose a surface design, and select your color palette.

For questions, contact a rep near you or call 888.338.1029.