In the following article, you will learn how to polish a concrete floor without prior experience. The content includes a list of supplies needed for the project, how to prepare the floor and which techniques work best.
How To Grind And Polish A Concrete Floor
Concrete floors are extremely popular, because they are durable, versatile, look amazing over years of use, and provide a spectacular finish. With that being, it does take work and maintenance to make sure that your floor always looks its best.
Cleaning and polishing are two common practices that can keep your concrete floor looking great over the years. Not only this, but proper polishing can even increase the longevity of your floor.
So, how do you approach such a project? You will find out exactly how to do that from the information provided below.
Where Can You Find Polished Concrete Floors?
In the past decade polished concrete floors have evolved and grown extremely popular. In that time period, polished concrete floors were only found in public facilities, such as malls, hospitals, motels and bus stations. Today, it is not unusual to find such a floor in a private residence.
However, the key to ensuring the polished concrete floor will continue to hold significant value in your home is routine maintenance. Of course, the floor will most likely not be exposed to a high volume of traffic, like those found in public facilities, but routine maintenance will still be a requirement.
Supplies Needed To Polish Concrete Floors
Before you begin to tackle your polished concrete floor, you will need to gather the needed materials for the project. You can find these materials at any hardware or big box store for an affordable price. The supplies needed for this project include:
- Grinding discs (a variety of grits)
- Polishing pads
- Concrete grinder
- Burnishing pads
- Skirt and a vacuum, with liquid dispenser
- Edging machine
- Concrete densifier or hardener
If you want to save money, you can always rent the concrete grinder and edging machine from your local home centre.
Step 1- Deciding On A Method (Wet vs Dry)
Before you run out, buy tools, materials, and start polishing your concrete floor, you need to decide on the method in which you are going to complete the task.
There are primarily two different types of methods and each come with their own advantages and disadvantages. With a little bit of research you will find that most individuals prefer the dry method, because it is easier, faster, and more environmentally friendly.
The wet method takes much more of an aggressive approach, as you have to utilize a diamond abrasive grinding wheel and water to really grind down the floor’s surface. While this method is extremely effective, it does create a lot of slush and slurry from the combination of water and cement dust.
Step 2 – Assess The Concrete
Regardless, if the concrete is new or existing, you will need to take the time to assess it carefully. There are several things that you should look for during this assessment, including:
- Low and high spots
- Spalling near joints
- Minor blemishes and cracks
- Existing epoxy, paint and sealer coatings
- Mastics or adhesive remnants
Most imperfections and coatings will be removed during the diamond grinding, which is included in Step 3. Major cracks and joint spalling may require a more drastic remedial process. If these issues are detected, the concrete will need to undergo a major repair process.
Step 3- Concrete Preparation
Now that you have properly assessed your floor, you are ready to start the preparation process. This method in which you tackle this step is really going to depend on the types of sealers and coatings that you have used in the past.
For instance, for thick elastomeric membranes, epoxies, urethanes, and mastics, you are going to have to utilise a 16 to 20-grit diamond grinding head.
The diamond grinding head is a tool that was specifically designed to remove heavy coatings at extremely high rates. In fact, it usually only takes one pass with a tool of this magnitude, and you will have achieved exactly what you are looking for.
Also, during this step it is imperative to make sure that all cracks and joints are filled in with epoxy or joint filler. The whole goal of this process is to ensure that the surface is completely level, so that the polishing head will be able to easily grind over the surface evenly.
Step 4 – Beginning The Polishing Process (Rough Grinding)
Now, you are ready to being the rough grinding process. This is usually done in three or four different steps, but the main purpose of this process is to prepare the concrete floor for the final smoothing.
You want to being grinding the floor with a coarse 40-grit diamond segment bonded metallic matrix grinding head. Make a few passes over the area and if cracks are exposed go to step 5. Then switch to a finer grinding head. Anywhere between 80-grit to 150-grit should be suitable for this step.
Keep in mind that if your floor is already fairly level, clean, and blemish free, it is possible that you can begin this process with the 80 or 150-grit grinding head.
Step 5 – Fill Surface Cracks To Make Less Noticeable
If you have any noticeable cracks you don’t want on your concrete floor now is the time to try repair them. There are many different ways to repair cracks.
Probably the most common and easiest is to use a epoxy injection. After filling the cracks be sure to go to step 4 and continue the grinding process blend the epoxy in to the slab to make it seamless.
Step 6 – Applying A Densifier/Hardener To The Concrete Floor
Once the initial grinding stage is complete, most individuals find it extremely beneficial to apply a chemical hardener to the floor.
The reason for this is because the concrete gets weak after grinding off the top layers, and the hardener helps make the surface stronger.
In addition to this, the harder the surface is the better the end result is going to be.
To apply the hardener you are going to need a few materials, which will include, the harder, a soft-bristled broom, water, and a squeegee. Simply start by applying the chemical hardener to the concrete floor, and use the broom to spread it out.
During this process make sure that you are keeping the surface saturated in order to achieve maximum results. Allow the hardener to sink into the surface for about 30 minutes before removing the excess with your squeegee.
Once you have completed this step over the entirety of the surface, it is advisable to let the hardener cure for 12 to 24 hours before moving onto the next step.
Step 7 – Grinding The Floor With A Less Aggressive Grinder
You are now ready to start in on the final grinding/polishing stages. You want to start grinding the surface with a 100-grit resin bond grinding head, make a few passes over the area, and then switch to a finer grit until you get that desired sheen that you are looking for.
Most professionals will prefer to go from 100-grit to 200-grit to 400-girt to 800-grit. If you are looking to achieve an extremely high-gloss finish you can even work your way all the way up to a 3000-grit.
Step 8 – Protecting Your Final Look
By this point you will probably have finally achieve that desired look that you have been aiming for. Now, what you want to do is ensure that the floor keeps this look over the following months and years. In order to do this you need to apply a stain-guard product.
This is a commercial type product that will penetrate the floor and make it more resistant to stains and dirt. These products are usually applied with the assistance of a pump sprayer or a wax applicator, which can be purchase or rented at your local hardware store.