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The Correct Way to Grind a Concrete Sidewalk

In 2016 alone, close to 10 million American’s visited a hospital after a fall. Hazards like a cluttered floor and cracked sidewalks can spell disaster for your youngest and oldest family members.

If you have an uneven walkway or driveway outside your home, don’t wait until it’s too late.

You could replace your uneven concrete pavement with a new slab or level it using a leveling compound. But a more straightforward solution is grinding concrete floor. You’ll end up with a pavement that lasts longer and looks like new.

If you’re unsure how to grind a concrete sidewalk, we’re here to help you get started. Keep browsing for our quick-read guide.




When Do You Need to Grind a Concrete Sidewalk?

Outdoor concrete flooring is prone to damage from the weather, natural disasters, plant growth, vehicles, and garden or household machinery.

The roots of trees planted too close to a driveway can buckle the concrete. Concrete pathways can also become stained over time from moss, fallen leaves, and colored garden mulch. If a property has inadequate drainage, rainfall can turn a sidewalk into a waterfall–over time, this causes wear on the concrete.

Everything from shoes and bicycles to cars and trucks will wear down a concrete driveway or pathway over time. And, of course, there’s always the possibility that the service professional who installed the original sidewalk just didn’t do a good job.

Thankfully, all of these common property issues are nothing a premium quality resurfacing grinder and sander can’t fix.





Preparing a Sidewalk for Grinding

First, the grinding surface should be cleaned of all moss, dirt, and other debris. If the concrete is moldy or stained with car grease, it’s worth giving it a once-over with a degreaser or concrete cleaner. 

If you want to grind a concrete floor that has cracked or buckled, measure the depth of the bend. This will help you determine the best grinder to use for the job at hand.

The grinding works best with a vertical displacement of between one-quarter of an inch to 2 inches. Over 2 inches, and you’ll need to consider a replacement.

Grinders are high-speed machines. They’re loud, and they have the potential to kick up rubble and dust from the concrete. Even though you’re working outside, don’t forget to prepare some safety essentials.

Don a pair of gloves, an N95 respirator, earmuffs, and eye protection. Wear sturdy work boots to protect your feet.


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Grinding Concrete Floor: Which Grinder?

If you’re refinishing a large area, such as a concrete patio or driveway, you’ll save time using a more robust tool. There are two main options when it comes to floor grinders for substantial outdoor stretches: single and dual disc grinders and planetary grinders.

Dual disc grinders feature two separately spinning discs. Since they’re larger than a single-disc concrete grinder, the operator can work over a wide area quickly. Consider a dual-disc option if you’re dealing with an outdoor space larger than 1,500 feet.

When it comes to more minor spots, such as a cracked walkway in the front yard, choose a single-disc concrete grinder. These lightweight 15 amp machines can be plugged into a residential outlet–there’s no need for propane or gas power like a dual-disc grinder.

Do you need to get a job done fast? It’s time to bring out the big guns! And by that, we mean a planetary concrete grinder.

Each disc on this industrial-sized grinder spins separately around a central point. Though they can be used for large outdoor areas, they are typically best when you need to polish a floor. If you need to refine the surface of an outdoor sidewalk, work your way through the grit levels of your discs: from 18 grit right up to 120 grit.

Any of these large grinders can be paired with an edge grinder to get into those tight spaces.

Since every grinding job is different, it’s best to have an arsenal of grinders at your disposal. Then you’ll be prepared to take on any customer request that comes your way.




What to Expect When You Start Grinding

Since concrete is a natural, porous material, it’s vulnerable to wear and tear over time. When you’re planning to grind a concrete sidewalk, the first step is to make sure the customer knows this fact. They need to know that concrete needs resurfacing often–anywhere between eight to fifteen years in a typical environment.

If the edge or surface you’re grinding is really rough, then you can choose to use a scarifier or saw to level it. Use a machine with a vacuum attached to catch the large volume of dust.

As a standard, concrete grinders remove about 1/16 of an inch of the floor or pavement in a single pass. Keep this in mind when deciding how deep to make your initial trim.

Slightly slope the concrete back from the lip or edge of the crack to create a smooth surface. Finish off to a smooth surface using a dry hand grinder. Again, you can attach a vacuum to collect the harmful silica dust if you want, though this isn’t always necessary when you’re working outside.

Once you’ve finished grinding the concrete pathway down to the necessary level, the concrete in the worked area will appear lighter in color and have more aggregate showing through than the older concrete surrounding it.

One of the grinding techniques used by experienced concrete professionals is to square off the area. So long as the un-ground concrete nearby is left untouched, this will create an aesthetically pleasing finish.




Pride in the Finished Product

Grinding a sidewalk is the fastest and cheapest way to repair an unsafe outdoor trip hazard. By using the right machinery and tools for grinding concrete floor, you’ll end up with a sidewalk that’s durable and has a smooth, non-slip surface, not to mention a happy client that will keep coming back to you again and again.

Are you ready to upgrade your concrete grinding tools? Onfloor has a wide selection of grinders suitable for outdoor and indoor use, all proudly made right here in America. Request a demo today.

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