Traditional Polishing Systems vs. 3-Step “Easy” Polishing Systems
Polished concrete is the processing of a concrete surface by mechanical refinement through the use of multiple abrasives measured in grits. There is a difference between clarity of reflection, sheen, shine, depth, uniformity, and color of reflection.
To properly grind, hone and polish concrete and obtain the maximum “clarity of reflection” and “durability”, a proper grit sequence must be used that allows for full refinement of the concrete surface. To obtain a clean, crisp look of the concrete surface at a 200-, 400- and 800-grit resin, each grit must be performed and refined to its maximum potential.
Not performing full refinement from one progressively finer grit to the next will not allow the floor to reach its maximum durability and will cause the surface to prematurely wear.
Pre-existing Variables Can Affect the End Results
The process of grinding, honing and polishing concrete is more technical than most realize. There are many pre-existing variables that can affect the end results of the process performed. Some of these variables are within the contractor’s control, such as the quality of the equipment and abrasives and the motion and speed at which the equipment is operated. Other variables are beyond a contractor’s control, such as levelness and flatness of the floor or the concrete mix design used.
Knowing how to contend with these variables is the difference between a craftsman who is detailed and results-oriented and a contractor who cuts corners.
Variables within the concrete polisher’s control
- Weight, RPMs, speed at which the machine is moving over the surface in a linear motion
- Planetary movement – active or passive
- Direction of planetary movement
- Configuration of the diamonds’ face/tread
- Saturation of diamond grit in the bonding
- Hardness of diamond bonding
- Point at which you switch abrasives
- When you apply
- What type you use
Physical grinding, honing and polishing
- The degree to which the concrete surface is cut
- The level of clarity of the cut surface
- The refinement of the concrete from one grit to the next
- How well the floor is cleaned between each grit abrasive
Variables NOT within the concrete polisher’s control
The concrete surface
- Imperfections that need to be removed
- Surface flatness and levelness
- Finish – hand troweled or mechanically trowel
- Presence of coatings, glues or mastics
The concrete mix design
- Types of admixtures used
- Fibers and polymers used
- Vibrated for air removal or not
Source: For Construction Pros
Side-by-Side Comparison of Traditional vs “Easy” Polishing Systems
Traditional Polishing Systems
Process Complexity: Medium to High – Requires experience with many types of concrete flooring profiles to properly analyze a project. There is no guesswork in diamond selection process. Diamond levels are pre-determined before the project begins.
Skill Level: Medium to High – Dependent upon the type of application (levels of polished concrete).
Best Use Case: Any concrete flooring.
Preparation: Medium to High – Dependent upon the state of the existing concrete flooring.
Application Time: Medium to High.
Artistic Range: Wide spectrum of concrete styles.
Results: Excellent if applied by a qualified contractor, with the proper tools and polishing systems.
Application Longevity: Unlimited with proper maintenance.
Labor Required: Medium to High.
3-Step “Easy” Polishing Systems
Process Complexity: Medium – The “Easy” concrete polishing system is a 3-step wet polishing system which always uses the same three tools. A texture meter records and quantifies surface texture at each of the three steps. A specified reading tells the operator to move to the next step.
Skill Level: Low to Medium
Best Use Case: Best used on a near-flawless concrete floor that requires little preparation.
Preparation: The intent of the “Easy” polishing system is reduced time and labor. If a concrete floor requires extensive prep, this will negate the time and operator skill factors.
Application Time: Three tools and the same three chemicals are used to achieve a high-gloss finish about 40% faster than conventional polishing.
Artistic Range: Limited to polish. Difficult to finesse “character” in the polished concrete.
Results: Cream or low aggregate results are acceptable.
Application Longevity: Questionable – There is little validation by end user customers.
Durability: Unknown – No custom testimonials available.
Labor Required: Low to Medium
Case Study – Every Concrete Floor Has Unique Challenges
Custom Concrete Prep and Polish was hired to stain and polish a 40,000 sq ft commercial area to a 400 grit resin. The newly poured concrete floor was severely uneven. The original installers tried to “fix” the surface by applying a topping. This resulted in inconsistent quality and color of the flooring.
Our installers had to remove the topping and the mortar bed, and level the surface. The floor prep phase took several days before any polishing took place. The steps involved included:
- Remove trowled down patch and replace
- Remove and Replace Mortar Bed
- Grind High Areas for Cabinets, Display Stands
- Grind floor with 30, 80 and 120 grit diamonds
- Polish floor with 100, 200 and 400 grit resins
- Hand polish wall edges
- Apply color
- Apply densifier
- Apply 2 coats sealer and burnish floor