DIY: How to Polish Concrete Floors

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Polishing concrete floors is an important step in getting them even, clean, smooth and ready for use.
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Concrete is one of the most popular types of flooring, especially for homeowners who are interested in an industrial feel for the floors. While most people who have concrete flooring in a living or working space do tend to cover certain areas of the floor with carpets, concrete floor polishing is generally a part of the cleaning and maintenance process. Concrete is a resilient and durable material, but to keep it looking new, there are some critical things you should do.

Why Polish Concrete Floors?

Polishing concrete floors is an important step in getting them even, clean, smooth and ready for use. Concrete floor polishing helps to prepare concrete flooring for residences, offices and other spaces where people live and work.

Think about DIY polished concrete as you'd think about sanding a wood surface. It's necessary to get the wood as smooth as possible, and that's done for concrete using abrasive agents that sand and smooth down the surface.

How to Polish Concrete Floors

Whether you're planning a DIY polished concrete project or to hire general contractors to do the job for you, your concrete polishing must go through a series of steps to remove any imperfections and leave the concrete with a smooth and glossy finish.

There are two ways to polish concrete: wet and dry. The wet version of the process is best for preserving the integrity of the abrasives but otherwise is a very messy and time-consuming method. The wet method produces a gritty slurry that needs to be cleaned up and disposed of in an environmentally sound way. The dry method, by comparison, requires the use of a dust containment system that's hooked up to the floor polisher and sucks up all the dust as it's created, leaving the environment dust-free.

Once you've committed to renting a concrete polishing machine, you'll need to make sure it comes with all of the plates you'll need. The entire surface of the concrete will need to be ground and polished by disks with an increasing level of abrasiveness, akin to a finer and finer grit of sandpaper.

Grinding the Concrete Floors

While there's no official requirement for concrete floor polishing, the use of the polishing machine typically requires cycling from the disc with the largest abrasives to the disc with the smallest abrasives to consider the concrete floor polished.

Before using your concrete polishing rental, make sure you've removed any existing coating from the concrete floor. Then, seal any cracks with epoxy or a filler designed for concrete floors. Once this is dry, you can begin the grinding process.

Grind the concrete floor using a 30- to 40-grit metal bonded diamond. Once you've finished, grind the floor again with an 80-grit metal bonded diamond. Then, move up to a 150-grit bonded diamond or something finer, if necessary. At this point in the process, apply a chemical hardener to the floor's surface to densify the concrete.

Using a Concrete Floor Polishing Machine

Once you've densified the concrete, it's time to polish. Begin by using a 100-grit resin diamond bond, then move up the cycle to a 400-grit bond, then an 800-grit bond and finally finish with very fine grit between 1500- and 3500-level resin bond.

At this point, the concrete floors should look smooth and bright. An important thing to do once the polishing process is complete is to apply a stain guard to the surface of the concrete as a protective measure, which can make it easier to keep clean.

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Ashley Friedman

Ashley Friedman

Ashley Friedman is a freelance writer with experience working in the home, design and interiors space.