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Overview Of Polished Concrete
Polished concrete is fast becoming the ultimate no-wax flooring material. Thanks to recent advances in polishing equipment and techniques, polished-concrete.biz is now grinding concrete floor surfaces, whether new or old to a high-gloss finish that never needs waxes or coatings.
Factor in the superior durability and performance of concrete, and it's no wonder why more retail, warehouse, and office facilities are opting for polished concrete flooring as an alternative to marble, granite, tile, linoleum, or coated concrete. Even homeowners are catching on to the appeal of these smooth, high-luster floors, which can be stained to replicate the look of polished stone.
Simply put, polishing concrete is similar to sanding wood. Heavy-duty polishing machines equipped with progressively finer grits of diamond-impregnated segments or disks (akin to sandpaper) are used to gradually grind down surfaces to the desired degree of shine and smoothness.
The process begins with the use of coarse diamond segments bonded in a metallic matrix. These segments are coarse enough to remove minor pits, blemishes, stains, or light coatings from the floor in preparation for final smoothing. Depending on the condition of the concrete, this initial rough grinding is generally a three- to four-step process.
The next steps involve fine grinding of the concrete surface using diamond abrasives embedded in a plastic or resin matrix. Crews use ever-finer grits of polishing disks (a process called lapping) until the floor has the desired sheen. For an extremely high-gloss finish, a final grit of 1500 or finer may be used. Experienced polishing crews know when to switch to the next-finer grit by observing the floor surface and the amount of material being removed.
Can All Concrete Be Polished?
Almost any structurally sound concrete floor, whether new or old, can be polished. But there are some exceptions.
For new floors, no special mix design is required to achieve good results. However, the floor should be in place at least 28 days before polishing begins to ensure adequate curing. Some retail and warehouse facilities that plan to polish their floors after placement may specify the installation of as smooth a floor as possible to minimize the polishing steps required.
Existing floors typically require some surface preparation prior to polishing to remove dirt, grease, coatings, or blemishes. However, floors that are wavy, need extensive patching, or are extremely porous may not be good candidates for polishing. An experienced contractor can usually determine a floor's suitability.
To help solidify and densify polished concrete surfaces, polished-concrete.biz applies penetrating hardeners to the concrete, normally after the first step of the grinding process. These products, which can be applied to new or existing floors, work by reacting chemically with the concrete to form a hard, crystalline structure. They also prevent dusting of concrete and offer extra protection from water penetration and staining. Penetrating, stain-repellant sealers can be applied to the surface to enhance the shine but in true polished concrete no sealers or waxes are applied to the surface of the floor.
Do Standards For Polished Concrete exist?
There are no published standards for polished concrete, but it is generally agreed that the concrete must be polished through the sequence of disks ending with 1800-3500 grit diamonds to be considered polished concrete. At this level the concrete will exhibit a glossy sheen and high reflectivity without the use of a topical coating. Polished concrete in not simply exposing the rock in the concrete mix then applying a sealer.
During the polishing process polished-concrete.biz will apply an internal impregnating sealer. The sealer sinks into the concrete and is invisible to the naked eye. It not only protects the concrete from the inside out, it also hardens and densifies the concrete. This eliminates the need for a topical coating, which reduces maintenance significantly (versus if you had a coating on it.