Understanding Polished Concrete:
Polished-Concrete-1Concrete polishing is a relatively new and innovative eco-friendly flooring processing option that has been in use for a slightly more than a decade. It uses a bare concrete slab, typically the building’s foundation, and transforms it to a decorative floor. It was first used as a matter of function in warehouses to eliminate dusting, increase lighting, reduce ware on equipment, and to create a permanent, low maintenance, coating free flooring solution.

When “properly” processing concrete to achieve a fully polished finish, the final product looks similar to a polished stone such as granite or slate. All products added to the concrete during the polishing process are intended to enhance the natural concrete, not cover or alter it, keeping all the natural benefits of the original concrete slab, only it’s stronger and more resistant to staining. Just keep in mind, concrete polishing is not a method for protecting concrete as much as it is a process for turning the concrete itself into an incredibly dense, highly abrasion resistant surface, guaranteeing a floor that can withstand even the toughest traffic, yet stay beautiful for years and years to come.

Color and Designs
Advances in concrete polishing technology have allowed us the ability to add color, decorative saw cuts, specialty aggregate that later gets exposed by grinding, and then there is the engraving, sand blasting and etching of the concrete surface. As a result of these advances, the process of polishing is now being promoted as a flooring solution to include retail, restaurants, schools and office buildings. Once we are finished we have a beautiful, durable and efficient floor surface that eliminates the need for carpets, wood, tile and other flooring materials that require expensive replacement, maintenance and use of harsh cleaning chemicals. The natural concrete floor provides long-lasting beauty and ease of maintenance as well as additional environmental benefits.

As one of the most innovative, economical and environmentally friendly flooring options available today, polished concrete is leading the market in factories, warehouses, big box stores, auto dealerships, auto parts stores, chain restaurants and private homes. From showrooms to industrial plants, government buildings to major airports, malls to hospitals, polished concrete floors are the fastest growing segment of the flooring industry today throughout the nation.

Preparing new and old concrete
When properly placed, new concrete is relatively smooth, flat, and sound, and generally requires less preparation than most existing concrete being considered for rehabilitation. Depending on the condition of existing concrete, costs may be affected by the need for additional coarse grinding steps or for patching and repairing of rough and/or deteriorated sections. The removal of old sealers, mastic residue, dirt, or other surface contaminants also adds time and cost to the overall process.  As such, an on-site mock-up is always recommended to determine the acceptability of the final aesthetic and avoid having an unsatisfied client. Adhering to flatness specifications and proper hard-troweling steps will also greatly affect the floor’s final appearance. In the case of a new floor project, the polishing process can be completed with a minimum of interference with the ongoing operations of an existing facility or with other work trades. The chemical treatment applied after polishing is completely odorless and dries quickly, allowing treated floor sections to be opened as soon as they are completed.

The cost of polishing a new concrete surface is approximately the same as installing vinyl composition tile (VCT) or epoxy sealers, exclusive of the cost of ready-mixed concrete or coloring materials. Even so, it is considerably less costly than epoxy terrazzo floors and ceramic tile. Factors affecting the price include original condition of the concrete and size of the project. However, a limited budget does not restrict the creative possibilities of colored, polished concrete as a floor finish preparation.

Polishing to a glossy finish – Wet and Dry
The basic piece of equipment used in the polishing process is a walk-behind, diamond disc grinder for working large floor areas. The final grit level is generally referred to as either a medium, high, or very high gloss. These terms are relatively subjective and dependent on concrete properties. This process is similar to the fine sanding of wood. Grinding and polishing are generally done either wet or dry. Testing indicates finer grit levels and higher gloss actually provide a very safe floor for foot traffic.

Coloring and protecting polished surfaces
While gray concrete is the norm, color can add significant dimension to a polished floor. With new installations, integral color can be added to the fresh concrete mix, or for a more intense effect, installed by the concrete contractor as a shake-on color hardener. This is ideal for auto dealership showrooms, office building lobbies, restaurants, department stores and grocery stores, to name a few.

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