Concrete has been used in buildings and infrastructure projects for centuries owing to its unrivaled properties. It is durable, fireproof, impact-resistant, and easy to clean. But it wouldn’t be this great without the use of concrete hardeners, which penetrate it and create a chemical reaction to help harden and dustproof its surface.
With a lot of information about polishing concrete out there, doing it yourself is not impossible. You can polish your concrete floor successfully and deliver results like a professional. But how does one go about it?
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Acquire the Correct Concrete Polishing Tools
Before you resolve to start any concrete polishing project for your concrete floors, it is essential to get the correct tools first. Apart from experience and skills, experts are able to get that professional look because they use specialized tools. Therefore, you need to use the same tools to reach more solid results.
The primary tool you require to polish your concrete adequately is the concrete polisher. The principal function of this mechanized device is to spin an abrasive pad at high speeds upon your floors. These concrete polishers come in different sizes. If you are working on a large project, then you’ll obviously need a larger-sized polisher. This is an expensive piece of machinery, costing you thousands to rent the polisher.
Diamond Polishing Pads
Besides the concrete machine, you will also need diamond polishing pads. These pads use diamond particles as an abrasive to grind away the top layer of concrete in preparation for your polisher. Manual sanding your floors would also work but it will be time-consuming. To purchase these diamond polishing pads will cost you around $100-$200 depending on how many you need.
Vacuum and Dust Filtration System
Finally, you will require additional tools to deal with the dust, a by-product of the polishing process. Professionals would go for a vacuum and a dust filtration system. The systems will easily run you around $1500 or more.
The Process of Polishing Concrete
Polishing concrete is similar to sanding wood. Machines equipped with diamond-segmented abrasives grind down concrete surfaces to the preferred degree of gloss and smoothness.
The segments are coarse enough to eliminate minor pits, stains, blemishes, or light coatings from the floor, preparing for final smoothing. Depending on the condition of the concrete, the initial rough grinding generally comes in the following steps.
The Initial Grinding
The initial grinding informs how well you’ll do in the rest of the processes. This process works to remove blemishes and minor pits that may have developed on the floor. The end game will be to ensure the concrete is as flat as possible. Therefore, work on it until you are satisfied that all the raised ground is back in its place and all the deeps are raised accordingly.
The next step you need to take is to do some fine grinding of the concrete floor. Put your diamond abrasives to work and improve on the work of the first stage. Using heavy-duty polishing machines, you need finer grits of the polishing disk to get the floor to the preferred gleam. Professional call the process lapping. Once you are through, use rags to remove all the dust and remain with a clean, smooth floor. You can test the finished surface with your hand; it should be smooth.
Applying Polishing Compound
Apply a polishing compound on your smooth concrete floor to get an even smoother surface. The simple step allows your floor to get more sheen than just any traditional polishing you get from machines. This process adds to the professional look. Also, the process profits you by cleaning off undesirable debris from the polishing process.
Once you are through with applying your polishing compound, you may need to move up to an even higher grit of polishing disc. For example, for a high-gloss finish, consider a grit disc as high as 1500 or finer. The ending grit disc that you use will highly depend on your finished desired look.
You can compare your grinder pads with sandpaper working on wood. Grinding using your coarsest polish pad peels away the concrete’s top layers and eliminate any existing finishes on the area. Therefore, once you are satisfied with the surface grinding, check for any holes, cracks, or other concrete damage.
You can opt to use an epoxy or other fillers to repair the cracks and cover the gaps.
Methods of Polishing Concrete
Polishing concrete can happen using these two methods; wet polishing and dry polishing. Each of the methods comes with its set of advantages and disadvantages. You should consider these pros and cons before deciding which method suits you.
As the name suggests, wet polishing uses water to assist in controlling the amount of grinding dust that is lifted into the air. Also, the water cools the diamond abrasive discs to minimize friction. Besides, water acts as a lubricant to help the polishing disc last longer compared to dry polishing.
However, despite wet polishing being great for an extended-lasting polishing disc and reducing the grinding dust in the air, it will give you a hard time to clean up after you are through. This is because wet polishing creates a significant amount of slurry.
Most concrete polishers use the dry polishing method for their projects. As the name suggests, the process doesn’t require water. It uses a machine that is equipped with a dust-containment system so that the air doesn’t fill with dust. The system vacuums up the entire grinding process mess to prevent air and the room contamination once the polishing is done.
Despite dry polish being the most commonly used, professional polishers will use both polishing methods to get the best results. The experts mostly use the dry polishing method during the initial grinding process to assist in removing debris on the floor. Then, the pros use wet polishing when the time comes to do the finishing coat since there is less debris to worry about when cleaning.
It is essential to note that when working on a block of existing concrete, you have first to remove the existing coating. You can do this by using a grit diamond abrasive disc where you may need to go up to 20 thick grit coatings.
Once your concrete has reached your desired polish, an optional final step is to add a sealer guard or other protective layers to protect your concrete.
Get Professional Concrete Polishing for Better Results
Polishing concrete floors has many advantages that both businesses and homeowners can enjoy. Choosing to do the polishing process on your own is an expensive and time-consuming endeavor. Our team comes with all the appropriate tools and the experience needed for a job well done. Contact Armor Coatings to get the help you need.