Can You Polish A Concrete Driveway?

It’s common to polish indoor concrete floors to make them better looking, easier to clean and longer lasting. But what about a concrete driveway? Can you polish it? Yes, you can definitely polish a concrete driveway. In fact, it’s a great way to improve your concrete driveway and extend its lifespan. 

In this post, we answer all your questions about polishing a concrete driveway including the benefits, possible downsides and how to go about it. 

Can You Polish A Concrete Driveway?

The main concern for most homeowners when it comes to polishing their concrete driveway is that it will be too smooth and slippery to drive and walk on safely. But that’s a misconception. Polished concrete may look sleek and smooth but it is not slippery thanks to a high coefficient of friction

Polished concrete floors are common in industrial settings where they easily surpass safety requirements. 

So a polished concrete driveway is not the safety hazard you might assume it to be. It offers plenty of traction even when wet. To further improve traction, you can apply an anti-slip finish using a sealer or conditioner. This can be especially handy if you have a sloped driveway and in snowy conditions. 

Benefits of Polishing A Concrete Driveway

Benefits Of Polishing A Concrete Driveway

1. Aesthetics 

Unless you are going for the raw concrete look of brutalist architecture, polished concrete looks better than rough unpolished concrete. Polishing a concrete driveway gives it a beautiful smooth finish that enhances your entire outdoor space. 

Depending on how finely the concrete is polished and what kinds of additives (e.g. hardeners) and finishes you use, you can choose how matte or glossy your driveway looks. 

Polishing is a great way to improve the look of an older concrete driveway that has started to age and show signs of wear. Once polished, it is almost indistinguishable from a new concrete driveway. 

2. Increases Durability 

A concrete driveway is one of the most affordable and longest lasting types of driveway. An unpolished concrete driveway will still last several years, but it will wear badly, require constant maintenance and lose its beauty in no time.

Polishing a concrete driveway ensures your driveway looks great for a long time and is easy (and inexpensive) to maintain.  

A polished concrete driveway is much more resistant to scratching, chipping, scuffing, peeling and other kinds of damage. 

Polishing also makes the concrete more moisture resistant. Considering moisture is one of the biggest enemies of concrete (often leading to cracking, flaking and peeling), polishing goes a long way in extending the lifespan of your driveway.  

Another reason polishing concrete is great for longevity is that it hardens the driveway. This reduces wear and tear from tires and other kinds of traffic. 

3. Easier Cleaning and Maintenance

Because polishing makes concrete smoother, cleaning becomes easier. There are fewer spaces for dirt and debris to get into, so a quick sweep or scrub is enough to keep the driveway clean. 

A polished concrete driveway is also more resistant to stains from oil, chemicals, car tires and other substances. So you are not constantly having to scrub at stains or use harsh chemicals to try and get rid of them.

Of course, polishing doesn’t make a concrete driveway stain-proof. You still need to be careful about spilling chemicals on the driveway and remember to quickly clean up any spills before they work their way into the concrete. 

It’s also a good idea to seal the concrete once you’ve had it polished. This provides extra stain and dirt protection. 

In addition to making cleaning a breeze, polishing a concrete driveway also makes maintenance a lot easier. Unpolished concrete is prone to cracks, scratches, peeling and other issues that you have to constantly patch up. 

You may even have to resurface the driveway every few years to fix major damages, a process that’s not cheap. 

Polishing a concrete driveway eliminates most of these problems. You don’t have to keep repairing and resurfacing the driveway. In most cases, resealing the polished concrete every few years is all that you need to do. So you actually save a lot of money keeping your driveway in good condition.  

How a Concrete Driveway is Polished

Polishing a concrete driveway is a multistep process that involves mechanically grinding the concrete surface with increasingly finer tools to achieve the desired level of smoothness. Diamond tools are typically used to cut and polish the concrete. 

The exact process will vary depending on the condition of the driveway and the desired results. But here’s the general process. 

  • The concrete driveway is cleaned to remove dirt, dust and debris. 
  • The first grind is done to expose the aggregate under the concrete surface. This is usually done using 30-50 grit metal or resin diamond pads. 
  • Before grinding the driveway further, the contractor checks the concrete surface for any cracks or damage. These have to be patched before the driveway is polished. 
  • Next, a densifier or hardener can be applied onto the concrete surface before the next grind. This hardens the concrete and improves the results of polishing. It can also prevent damage when polishing softer concrete. 
  • The next steps involve polishing the driveway with higher and higher diamond grit. Depending on how smooth a finish you want, the entire process can be anywhere from 4 to 10 steps with the last polish being an 800 grit or higher. Densifier is sometimes applied in between grinds to make polishing easier and achieve a smoother finish.
  • Finally comes the finishing. This is where various substances can be added to the driveway. Common additives include anti-slip conditioner, colour or stain, and sealer.  

Here’s a video showing the entire process, including the glossy results. 

Do You Have to Seal a Polished Concrete Driveway?

Simply polishing concrete, without doing anything else, is enough to make it highly resistant to damage, stains and dirt. In fact, polished indoor concrete floors are often left unsealed.

But for a concrete driveway, sealing after polishing is highly recommended. It adds an extra layer of protection to the driveway, making it even more resistant to stains, scratches, cracking and fading. 

In most cases, the same contractor who will polish your driveway will also seal it.  

Polishing vs. Grinding & Sealing A Concrete Driveway

Polishing is a great way to protect and restore a concrete driveway. But it is intensive and can be fairly pricey especially for a long driveway. 

If you are looking for a cheaper alternative, consider a grind and seal. This involves grinding the concrete driveway to remove the top surface and reveal a newer and smoother surface. A sealer is then applied to protect the concrete. 

The main difference between grinding and polishing is that grinding usually involves a couple of steps; the first using coarse grit and the second with a finer grit pad. The aim is not to smoothen and buff the concrete but rather to remove the top surface. 

In some cases, the concrete driveway can be resurfaced with a fresh concrete layer. 

Grinding and sealing a concrete driveway is cheaper and faster, but doesn’t offer the same results as polishing. 

Pros and Cons of Polishing a Concrete Driveway 


  • Greatly improves longevity. 
  • Improves aesthetics. 
  • Makes the driveway easier and cheaper to maintain. 
  • Improved stain and fade resistance. 
  • Polished concrete is slip-resistant. 


  • Pricey compared to other options like grinding. 
  • Takes more time and effort than grinding the driveway. 

Final Thoughts 

While it is more expensive to polish your concrete driveway compared to grinding and sealing it, you’ll likely save money in the long term. 

A polished concrete driveway retains its hard and smooth finish for 20 years or even longer with good maintenance. So it’s a one time expense. After that, all you need to do is re-apply a sealer every few years. 

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