WHAT IS CONCRETE AS IT RELATES TO INTERIOR CONCRETE FLOORING?
Simply put, concrete is one of the most renowned and well known building materials of our modern world however, concrete is not a great finish……..Especially when it comes to interior concrete floors it is well known that concrete is porous, that it dusts and powders, stains easily, and is hard to clean as well concrete in and of itself does not have the aesthetics that most people desire for their interior floor environments. Concrete Polishing can address this concern and provide an aesthetically pleasing finish when desired.
Hence most interior concrete floors are resurfaced with some sort of floor covering…..whether epoxy or urethane coatings, carpet, vct (vinyl composite tile), sheet goods, ceramic or porcelain tile, terrazzo, etc
How Can Concrete Polishing Address Interior Concrete Floor Aesthetics?
Concrete Floor Polishing, simply put is a process whereby we transform the concrete floor (building material) into a final finish. We refabricate the surface into a final finish. The cement in turn becomes harder, denser, dustproof, reflective and super easy to clean.
This process of re fabricating the surface into a final finish has some similarities to the process of taking rocks such as marble or granite and transforming these natural materials into a final finish (counter tops, flooring materials, etc).
The Process of Concrete Floor Polishing – 3 Critical Steps
Step 1 – Concrete Grinding
The grinding process involves cutting/grinding the concrete with an aggressive metal bond diamond. The aggressiveness of the first grit is decided by the hardness of the surface, whether removals are required (i.e. old glues and adhesives, dirt, wear & tear, etc) or if aggregate is to be uncovered to provide a specific look.
Most new concrete floors are cut with at least one metal bond diamond. Many restoration projects require cutting and grinding the surface area in question with up to 4 or even 6 different diamonds (especially when tough removals are part of the process).
After the first aggressive metal bond diamond cuts the floor; then the concrete is ground and honed with successively finer diamond grits. Each successive grit takes out the scratches/profile of the previous more aggressive diamond. This is not unlike the process of sanding wood with progressively finer sandpaper.
Once the cutting/grinding/honing with the metal bond diamonds is complete then it is time to move to the next step.
Step 2 – Densification
Densification is the process of applying a penetrating liquid hardener. This liquid hardener penetrates into the surface of the concrete and chemically reacts with the cement. This chemical reaction is ongoing and is a key component to the polishing process.
A word of caution – it should be noted that it is possible to polish a concrete floor without the use of these liquid hardeners/densifiers….and some contractors may skip this step/or skimp on the material. Upon completion of the work, it is impossible to know whether the densifier was installed, or adequately installed as per the manufacturers specifications. Without the densification step, the polished concrete floor will never be as dense/tight/hard as it could be, not to mention that the durability and longevity of the polish will not be the same.
Step 3 – Concrete Polishing
This final step in the process involves the use of resin bond diamonds. The floor is successively honed and polished with finer grits of resin bonds. The purpose here is two fold. The finish gets tighter and smoother which means that the concrete gets easier to clean. Secondly the floor will become reflective as it is honed with higher less aggressive grits.
A note of caution – some contractors may do the metal bond diamonds and then densify the floor; and they will call this a polished floor. This is incorrect. While there may sometimes be a place for this system…..it is generally agreed that at least 2 resin bond diamonds must be run on the concrete before one can call it a polished finish.
It also should be clarified that the least expensive part of the process is the polishing process…..however it is this this last stage or step that provides the aesthetics.
To help you the client understand the polishing process it is best to explain the resin bond diamond grits. After densifying we generally run the following grits….100/200/400/800/1800. See the explanations below as they relate to gloss.
Level 0/Very Low gloss – stop at 200 grit resin bond diamond
Level 1/Low gloss – stop at 400 grit resin bond diamond
Level 2/Medium gloss – stop at 800 grit resin bond diamond
Level 3/High gloss – stop at 1800 grit resin bond diamond
The client must decide how much shine they want and what is safe for their environment. The higher the grit/the higher the shine; the lower the coefficient of friction. Generally speaking polished concrete floors are not slippery (even with water). Our level 1 and level 2 sheen finish is comparable to a new concrete floor. Housekeeping and the removal of surface dirt is required to maximize the coefficient of friction.
It should also be noted that all concrete floors are not created equally; and hence they do not all polish the same. If you have any other questions or concerns regarding Concrete Polishing, we are happy to clarify any ambiguities. Give us a call today!