Most people do not realize when they are walking on is polished concrete. They can be forgiven for thinking it is tile or stone. The colors, reflectivity, and smooth texture all give the unmistakable impression that it is a natural, quarried product rather than concrete. Here is an overview of the process for polishing concrete floors:
What is it?
Simply put, it is concrete just like your driveway or your patio. However, it has been treated according to a concrete polishing system that includes eco-friendly chemicals and physical grinding with diamond abrasives. The result is a reflective concrete surface that looks similar to tile.
While polishing the concrete, dyes can be infused to impart colors to the final polished concrete floor. The result is a polished surface with the color incorporated into the floor, rather than applied to the surface.
Where is it used?
Polished concrete floors can be found in both residential and commercial buildings. Any floor can be polished concrete. However, keep in mind that polished concrete is still concrete. Glass will shatter if dropped on polished concrete and it may be slow to warm during the winter. However, it is easy to clean and maintain. Thus, in residences, polished concrete floors may be found in:
- Living rooms
- Pool decks
- Outdoor walkways
Polished concrete can also be found in commercial buildings anywhere a concrete floor may be used. For example, in commercial buildings, you may find polished concrete floors in:
- Retail stores
- Auto dealerships
- Warehouses and storage facilities
- Restaurants and restaurant kitchens
- Medical facilities and hospitals
What are its benefits?
Structural concrete has many benefits. It is strong and inexpensive. It can be used to create large floors easily. If poured properly, it requires little maintenance, is durable, resists cracking or chipping, and resists wear due to vehicle or foot traffic.
Once the concrete has been polished and a protective finish for polished concrete has been applied, it is resistant to stains, oil, and liquids. The smooth surface is easy to clean of dust, allergens, and spills. The polished concrete has an attractive appearance with a highly reflective surface and can be dyed any color. Polished concrete may even include textures or patterns.
When polished using EcoGuard’s concrete polishing system, the polished concrete floor requires no dangerous materials or toxic chemicals that are hazardous to residents or installers. Moreover, the concrete polishing system can be applied to new concrete floors or existing concrete floors.
New polished concrete floors begin by pouring an ordinary concrete floor. A concrete floor takes about 28 days to fully cure. After the concrete floor is cured, grinding and polishing can occur.
At this point, the concrete floor can be cleaned using a pre-grind compound that de-greases the surface and emulsifies any surface oils. Grinding begins after application of the pre-grind compound along with water. Grinding utilizes high grade, industrial diamond tools. As grinding continues with the pre-grind compound, the concrete floor is etched. Eventually, the grinding causes the water to evaporate, facilitating the next step.
A polished concrete filler is applied to the concrete floor. The polished concrete filler fills in pores within the concrete, causing it to densify. After application of the polished concrete filler, along with any dyes, grinding resumes until the concrete floor reaches the desired level of polish. A shield or sealer can be applied to the polished floor to reduce staining and maintain the reflective surface.
Existing concrete floors are polished similar to new concrete floors. However, any cracks, holes, or chips are repaired first with a concrete crack repair kit before the polished concrete filler is applied. The concrete crack repair kit is a two-part compound that patches the surface damage with polyurethane reinforced with microfibers and concrete dust.
Once the existing concrete floor is repaired, the concrete floor is cleaned in preparation for grinding and polishing. Typically, a pre-grind compound is applied to clean the surface, de-grease and remove oil from the surface, and etch the surface so grinding can begin.
After cleaning and etching, the concrete floor can be polished in the same manner as a new concrete floor by grinding, applying a polished concrete filler along with any dyes, and continuing to grind until the floor is polished.
Polished concrete floors have many uses and benefits. While the concept is straightforward, the polishing system usually requires a professional installer.