Granolithic flooring offers a visually pleasing alternative to traditional concrete. The mix of cement and aggregate, can be polished to a smooth finish and sealed with a durable surface coat. The process creates a strong, dense surface, which is ideal for bearing extreme weights in factories and other industrial settings. Although granolithic flooring can sometimes make a room feel cold, the infusion of texture, color and inlaid design can restore warmth to this masonry flooring.
Granolithic flooring differs from ordinary concrete flooring in that it uses an aggregate, or mix of materials, instead of a single uniform cement. This style of flooring mixes marble chips directly into the cement. The marble chips give the finished floor a distinctive "mosaic" look. Grinding the finished floor brings out this effect to varying degrees -- as the top layer of concrete gives way to a smooth surface of aggregate in either a dull or glossy finish.
The two main installation methods for granolithic flooring are "monolithic" and "precast." In monolithic installation, workers pour the aggregate mix into a slab defining the desired floor area, using a measure of one part marble chips to three parts cement. This mix must stand for 48 hours before polishing. The workers later add a layer of protective sealant, treating the surface with an acid solution beforehand to make sure the sealant adheres properly. These sealants may come in a variety of colors and finishes. In precast installation, workers simply use tiles of granolithic material formed in advance at a manufacturing facility, using a hydraulic press to fit them securely into the floor.
Advantages and Disadvantages
Concrete-based flooring, such as granolithic flooring, can withstand heavy loads, making it a good choice for warehouses, factories and other workplaces that store, make or use heavy objects. The relatively inexpensive materials and labor required appeal to the budget. Unfortunately, these kinds of floors can cause some problems even as they solve others. The tendency for sounds to bounce off the hard concrete surface, for instance, leads to noise problems. The floors can also prove hard to clean and feel constantly cold.
Certain modern innovations can now lend a degree of high-tech comfort to granolithic or other concrete flooring. Radiant concrete floors, for instance, solve the problem of the floors feeling cold all the time by installing heating elements just underneath the slab. This touch can add warmth to a room or even serve as the main heating system for a large commercial facility that uses granolithic flooring throughout the installation.
William Norman has more than 14 years of experience as a professional copywriter. Specializing in articles, online content, marketing collateral and multimedia scripts, his clients have included the University of Texas at Austin, Capital One Bank and America's Incredible Pizza Company, among others. Norman has a Master of Fine Arts in playwriting from Rutgers University.