WHAT IS CONCRETE AS IT RELATES TO INTERIOR FLOORING?
Simply put, concrete is one of the most renowned and well known building materials of our modern world however, it is not normally a great finish. This is especially the case when it comes to interior floors. It is well known that concrete is porous, that it dusts and powders, stains easily and is hard to clean as well as the fact that it is generally not very aestheticly pleasing to the eye and what most people desire for their interior floor environment. Concrete Polishing can address this concern and provide an aesthetically pleasing finish when desired.
Hence most interior floors are resurfaced with some sort of floor covering. This is true whether that covering by epoxy or urethane coatings, carpet, vct (vinyl composite tile), sheet goods, ceramic or porcelain tile, terrazzo, etc.
How Can Concrete Polishing Address Interior Floor Aesthetics?
Simply put, it is a process whereby we transform the floor into a final finish that is pristine. We work the surface into a final finish using a very specific process. The cement in turn becomes harder, denser, dustproof, reflective and extermely simple to clean and maintain.
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 Entire Process Explained in 3 Critical Steps
Step 1 – Grinding
The grinding process involves cutting/grinding the cement floor 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 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 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 floor without the use of these liquid hardeners/densifiers. 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 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 floor surface 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 floors are not slippery (even with water). Our level 1 and level 2 sheen finish is comparable to a brand new 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!