If you’re wondering how to polish concrete, Glossy Floors has created (And will continue to update) our comprehensive concrete polishing guide so you can better understand what it takes to polish concrete floors. Be sure to check out our Facebook Page.
The step-by-step process for polishing concrete will vary with each company. The overall concrete polishing process is about the same. In the last few of years (2015 – 2018) systems utilizing a 3 tool polishing process have emerged. While the process itself is quickly gaining popularity, it has yet to be tested with time. Until such time, Glossy Floors uses a predictable, historically proven technique of concrete polishing.
Concrete that has an existing material (Epoxy or carpet for instance) will need to be removed and once removed, there will usually be an adhesive (Carpet, black mastic, adhesive, etc.) present that will need to be removed using a mechanical floor prep machine that uses metal abrasive diamonds. If the aggregate in the concrete is to be exposed, the burnish that exists from the original pour will need to be removed as well. This is how to polish concrete. It’s a little more complex than most people realize.
There are many different types of polished concrete finishes, but we will focus on the main (Most widely used) polishing process in this article. The polishing process includes five specific steps.
The Right Tooling
Before the concrete polishing process begins, Glossy Floors conducts a floor hardness test to determine which diamond tooling we should start with. In learning how to polish concrete, this is an important step that shouldn’t be overlooked. Once the proper tooling has been determined, we begin the concrete polishing process by placing the appropriate diamond tooling on our grinder.
Metal diamonds come in varying hardnesses. That means if the concrete is super hard (5-7,000 psi) then an extra soft diamond is used to start the process. For concrete that is extremely soft, it would require an extra hard metal diamond.
If you were to use an extra soft diamond on extremely soft concrete, you wouldn’t get very far. The diamond would simply be too aggressive for the concrete and wear down.
If you used a hard diamond on extremely hard concrete, it would not be aggressive enough to remove any of the concrete.
If any concrete repairs are needed, this is the best time to get them completed. Once they have been cleaned out, the holes are filled and ground down level, tack strip holes from carpet are filled and ground level with the existing concrete, cracks are managed, etc.
If needed, this is where we would clean out, repair and fill any expansion joints.
If there is an epoxy or glue on the floor, the process becomes a little more involved, but for the sake of this article, the first step of the concrete polishing process involves grinding the concrete with one of the following grits: 6 ~ 18/20 ~ 30/40 ~ 60/80 ~ 120. PCD’s would be used to aide in glue removal, but we’ll save that for a different article. Right now we’re just concentrating on the very basics of how to polish concrete.
Depending on how hard the concrete is, we will choose diamonds that are Extra Soft (for extremely hard concrete), Soft (for hard concrete), Medium or Hard (for concrete that’s a little softer). Trying to figure out how to polish concrete can be a little overwhelming, but with experience, it gets easier to understand.
No matter which diamond Glossy Floors starts with, we always end using our 60/80 metal diamonds. It’s the last of the metal diamonds unless we plan to grout the floor. If the concrete is porous, we’ll never get the gloss we want, so that’s a good indication the floor needs to be grouted. Our last metal diamond would then be 120 or higher.
After we complete the initial grinding process using our metal diamonds, we use a 30 or 50 grit transitional diamond pad. This pad helps in the transition between the metal diamonds and the resin diamonds. It also helps remove any remaining scratches.
Once the transitional diamonds are completed, we begin using either our 50 or 100 grit transitionals and continue using the 200 grit.
Apply Stains and Densifier
If applying stains, we apply them after we complete the 200 grit resin step. We’ve been known to stain and densify after our 400 grit as well. Densifying and staining is part of knowing how to polish concrete and, while not hard, can be disastrous if not done correctly.
After removing a thin layer of concrete, the concrete itself becomes weak and soft. Applying a concrete densifier will help harden the concrete once again. After the stain has dried (If using concrete stain) we apply the concrete densifier, keeping the slab wet anywhere from 20-30 minutes. Sometimes a second coat of concrete densifier is used. While this is how to polish concrete, everyone does it a little differently.
Honing The Concrete
After our concrete stain and densifier have completely dried, (It’s important for the concrete to be completely dry!) we continue the concrete polishing process using our 400 grit diamond pads. It’s usually during this step of the concrete polishing process that you will begin to see a glossy floor. When learning how to polish concrete, this is trial and error.
Polishing The Concrete
Once we complete the 400 grit process, we continue and finish the polishing process using the remainder of our resin grit diamond pads which are 800, 1,500 and 3,000.
The final 2 steps are completely optional. Depending on the amount of gloss our customer wants, we can stop after 800, 1,500 or go all the way to 3,000. If our customer decides to continue through the 3,000 grit resin, the concrete will have a mirror-like finish that resembles the look of glass. This is how to polish concrete!
We end the concrete polishing process with polishing pads on a burnisher. This will give the concrete its ultimate shine. By now you should know how to polish concrete. We plan on making a video in the future so you can visualize how to polish concrete instead of reading how to polish concrete. Visuals are the best!
How to Polish Concrete
- Complete hardness test.
- Repair any cracks and holes.
- Fill expansion joints.
- Grind the concrete using 16/20 ~ 30/40 ~ 60/80 or 120/140 grit diamonds.
- Complete the grinding process using 50 ~ 100 and 200 grit resin pads.
- Apply stains and densifiers.
- Continue polishing with 400 ~ 800 ~ 1,500 and 3,000 grit resin pads.
- Complete the concrete polishing process using polishing pads. This is how to polish concrete.
That’s the basic step by step process for polishing concrete floors. If the steps outlined above are followed, you should end up with the perfect polished concrete floor. This is how to polish concrete the Glossy Floors way.
For more information on our polished concrete flooring services, please feel free to contact us at any time. For your added convenience, we have an online appointment scheduling system so you can have one of our owners call or come by on a day and time that works best for you.
If you would like to see how your floor would look with polished concrete, visualize your polished concrete with our polished concrete visualization tool. Call us to find out more about how to polish concrete.
Glossy Floors has been in the concrete industry since 1987
Our services include:
Polished Concrete Floors
Stained Polished Concrete Floors
We service commercial, industrial and residential customers in Missouri, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kansas and Texas.
Some of our happy customers include: Ashley Furniture, Price Cutter, Sav A Lot, U-Haul, Walmart, Sam’s Club, University of Arkansas, Sunbelt Rentals, Kerusso, John Brown University, Lyon College, Holiday Inn, Allstate, Starbucks, PODS, Lewis and Clark, Subway, the United States Military and literally hundreds of other customers turned friends. Let Glossy Floors be your polished concrete floors company and get the most durable floor on the planet. Call us to get learn how to polished concrete.
Glossy Floors offers a 100% Price Match Guarantee. If one of our competitors is offering their services at a lower price for the same services, Glossy Floors will match that price. Just show us a written bid! Hopefully, you have a better understanding of how to polish concrete.