It is estimated that the polished concrete installations could make up around 15 percent to 20 percent of the new flooring systems installed each year. Most property owners prefer concrete polishing in flooring upgrades because of their higher slip-resistant ability and the stain-resistant surface. It also helps eliminate dust from efflorescence, among other benefits.
What is the Best Way to Polish Concrete?
There are two ways you can make your concrete shine: You can either polish your concrete using the dry method or use the wet polishing method.
These methods have specific advantages attached to them. The dry method is however more popular since it's not only environmentally friendly but also more convenient and quicker. Besides, most people find the wet method to be a bit labor-intensive since it creates enormous slurry amounts that you must also dispose of well to avoid creating environmental hazards.
The primary difference between these methods is that in the wet polishing method, you will use water to eliminate dust and in cooling diamond abrasives used in sanding the floor. For the dry polishing method, though, you won't need water. Instead, the floor polisher you'll be using here will be connected to a dust containment system designed to vacuum up all the dust resulting from this process.
If the concrete surface you wish to polish has an existing material or underlayment, for example, carpet or epoxy, you will first remove these materials before starting to polish the surface. This is necessary because the adhesives that are used in sticking these materials e.g., the carpet on the concrete, would make the surfaces uneven and difficult to handle.
To make removing the existing materials from the concrete more manageable, you will need a mechanical floor prep machine that's fitted with abrasive metal diamonds. If you wish to expose the aggregate in this concrete too, it is recommendable that you remove the burnish in the original pour as well.
Here is How to Polish Concrete—a Definitive Step by Step guide:
Step 1: Assemble the Right Tools
The tools used in concrete polishing vary in regard to the surface you wish to work on. To ensure that you use the right tool, it is recommendable that you test the hardness of the concrete first.
Now, if the concrete is very hard, you'll need extra soft diamond bonded abrasives to smoothen the surface. If it's very soft too, you will need very hard diamond abrasives to smoothen the surface.
Here are the essential tools that you'll need for concrete polishing;
Clean the surface and check to see if there are any cracks and holes in the concrete. If there any gaps, fill and then ground them to make the surface level.
Check if there are any expansion joints. If there are any, be sure to clean, repair, and then fill them up.
Step 4: Concrete Grinding
Grinding the concrete with a 16-or 20-, 30- or 40-, 60- or 80-, OR 120- grit diamond bonded metals will be required to help if any adhesives were used on the concrete to fix for example carpets. After that, use extra soft diamonds to grind very hard concrete. Use the soft diamonds to grind hard concrete and concrete that has a medium hardness.
If the floor is porous, be sure to grout it first. For a subtle gloss after grouting, you will need to use 120-grit or higher diamonds to grind the concrete
Step 5: Clear Scratches on the Surfaces using 30- or 50-or 100- and 200-grit Resin Pads
Once you're done with the grinding, use 30-or 50-grit resin pads to clear away any scratches that could have been left by the metal abrasives used during grinding. The 30-or 50-grit resin pads will also help give you a smooth transition from the metal diamonds to the resin diamonds.
When you're done with the transition diamonds, use the 50- or 100-grit resin pads to make the surfaces smoother then finish up with the 200-grit resin pads.
Step 6: Applying Densifiers and Stains
You can apply the densifiers and stains after using the final 200-grit resin pads and higher. The essence of adding the densifiers here is to harden the concrete.
Removing the concrete layer that occurs during grinding and honing makes the surface weaker hence it can easily break down. Ideally, you will need to first add the stains, wait for them to dry (if you used concrete stain), and then apply the concrete densifier. You can then add another coat of the densifier if necessary to make the concrete even harder.
Once the densifier and stains have entirely dried out, use 400-grit pads to make the surface smoother. Continue until you see the floor adopting a glossy appearance.
Step 7: Polishing the Surface
This is the final step. After you're done polishing the floor using the 400-resin grit diamond pads, polish the entire surface using 800-, 1500- and 3000- grit resin pads to finish up the polishing process.
If you want a medium gloss, you can just stop the polishing after using the 800-grit resin pads and the 1500-grit resin pads. However, if you wish to achieve a higher gloss, use the 3000-grit resins pads to complete the polishing process. They will give you a considerably high gloss with a mirror-like finish that looks just like glass.
Step 8: Add the Final Touches
This step is optional. It's however, necessary if you want to make the gloss shinier. For this step, you will use your polishing pads on a burnisher to give the concrete the maximum shine.
Get Started With Concrete Polishing
Polished concrete looks more appealing to the eye. Nevertheless, achieving the glossy mirror-like finish isn't a simple feat.
If you use low-quality materials—especially for the finishing part, you risk damaging even the concrete. On the same note, if you gamble on the diamond bonded abrasives, there's the risk of damaging the floor as well. If there's a section that isn't very clear to you, it would be better to hire a reputed contractor to help you with the process.