Polished concrete has many advantages: it is probably the most durable type of floor, as well as one of teh most cost-effective; it is easy to maintain, dust proof, LEED-friendly, stain- and slip-resistant, and it has increased light reflectivity.
We recommend a complete surface preparation system including: a floor grinding and polishing machine(s), concrete dust extractor(s), equipped with Hepa filter(s), diamond tooling, chemicals (densifier, sealer, dyes – optional). It is also important to receive proper training to ensure that your projects are completed in a professional, timely and cost effective manner.
Superabrasive’s LAVINA distributors offer floor grinding and polishing training classes at various locations many times throughout the year. See SCHEDULED TRAININGS / DEMOS or contact Superabrasive for details at (800) 987-8403. Typically, LAVINA trainings are two day, hands on classes, and cover topics such as: concrete floor prep, polishing process steps, chemical applications, diamond tooling options, burnishing, etc.
Choosing the proper floor grinding and polishing machine and diamond tooling is critical for the success of the job, and the following questions should be addressed first:
Understanding how diamond tools work is a must to anyone who wants to be successful in this industry. Diamonds are not all the same. The two terms most often used when speaking of diamond tools are diamond grit and bond. Most diamond tools are made of synthetic diamond powder, measured in microns and called grit, and a bonding material, usually metal or resin, or a combination of bonding materials (hybrid tools). They are bonded together through injection molding, hot and cold pressing, electroplating, and vacuum brazing.
The two most common problems that you can run into are:
Each grit is designed to refine the scratch pattern, and the rule of thumb is each consecutive grit is to be approximately doubled in size, so it can remove the scratches of the previous step. For example, if you start with 30 grit, the next grit is 50 or 70, then 100 or 120, 200 or 220, 400, 800, etc. Following proper grit sequence is a fundamental principle in concrete processing. Skipping a grit step will put you up against some serious scratched floor challenges. The grits steps are usually divided into three stages — grinding, honing and polishing.
Grinding includes the steps from the lowest starting grit (it depends on the floor and application and could be as low as six grit but typically 30 or 50 grit) up to 120 grit. The tools used here are usually metal-bond tools, brazed tools for lippage removal and floor leveling, or pcd tools for coating and glue removal. There are many shapes and designs on the market — round button segments, rectangular segments, single, double or multiple, plugs, etc. But what is more important, especially in the initial cutting steps, is the bond or hardness of the tools. Many contractors have trouble understanding how bonds work relative to different kinds of concrete. Depending on the bonding material, abrasives have different hardness which determines how diamonds are exposed. Hard concrete requires a softer bond to prevent glazing and to allow new diamonds to get easily exposed for maximum cutting. Soft concrete requires a harder bond, so it can last longer (soft bond will cut but it will wear out too fast on soft concrete).
Honing includes the steps between 100 to 400 grit, the tools used in this stage are usually hybrids and/or resins. The hybrids, made of a combination of bonding materials — metals, resins, or ceramics (such as Superabrasive’s Calibra discs or HD discs), are especially useful for removing scratches left by the metal bond tools.
Polishing is from 800 grit up to 3,500 grit. The most popular choice for concrete polishing are resin pads/pucks, which are made of poly-phenolic and ester-phenolic. Another thing to consider when choosing tools is there are bonds/tools designed for wet use only, dry use only or wet/dry use. Improper use can cause problems like glazing, sticky residue on the floor, and so on.
“Following all the grits may seem like a lot of steps, but well-trained contractors know that this is crucial for proper floor refinement and achieving a good wear-resistant floor finish,” says Elliott. “It is tempting to buy the cheapest diamonds but concrete grinding and polishing is a very labor-intensive business and lost productivity and time spent redoing a floor is much more costly.”
The point made is that not all diamond tools are created equal, and diamond tools should be always chosen relative to a specific project. Knowing what kind of concrete you are dealing with is important for finding the right combination of bonds and grits which will increase your productivity and ROI, and produce the best floor finish.
With proper maintenance, facility managers can keep their polished floors looking good at a comparatively lower cost than alternative flooring options. Traditional daily maintenance includes mopping and auto scrubbing, using only water or non-reactive cleaning agents when necessary, and cleaning spills and stains promptly. However, in order to maintain their shine and light reflectivity, polished floors require more than that. They require a maintenance program which includes periodic mechanical maintenance with diamond impregnated pads and periodic treatments with chemical cleaners. Furthermore, the maintenance program or schedule has to be designed for a specific floor (not for concrete floors in general), and it will be different from one facility to another, depending on the type of facility, foot traffic, etc. Without proper maintenance schedule in place, the floor shine quickly deteriorates and facility managers end up with a “failed” polished concrete floor.
Diamond impregnated pads are usually the tool of choice for mechanical maintenance of polished concrete floors. How often to do periodic maintenance is largely determined by the facility foot traffic. Superabrasive has developed a new maintenance program for polished concrete that equips youwith the right tools for the right job – ONE FLOOR Maintenance program.
There are many variables a contractor needs to consider — labor, abrasives, the floor itself, just to name a few …
Part of the CPC’s mission is to establish a clear, concise, and technical foundation for the concrete polishing industry. The CPC has worked closely with polishing contractors, manufacturers, architects, and general contractors to compile the specifications, guidelines, and position statements listed here – https://www.ascconline.org/concrete-polishing-council/technical-documents.