The concrete polishing sector is still fairly new, however it is expanding quickly. While concrete procedures like concrete polishing have been carried out for roughly a decade, it is only during the past two or three years that engineers, architects, home owners, general contractors and interior designers have started to take notice. The contractors who enter the sector now, and spend time understanding the variables and technicalities of the procedure, will reap the rewards once market demand rises.
Just like other new and expanding sectors, there are obstacles that contractors have to overcome. Many contractors who enter the processing business believe that concrete polishing is just slapping abrasives onto a machine, then removing them again. Actually, the procedure is fairly complex and, when combined with other variables outside the control of contractors, results often suffer considerably. This is particularly true if the contractor lacks the correct knowledge and experience to face these challenges. In addition, there are a range of variables that contractors can control, which they should learn to handle.
Further issues in the sector include contractors who price their work on the basis of what other contractors charge, rather than calculating it based on profit minus expenses. Frequently, I notice a dearth of technical education for contractors, along with a misunderstanding among customers about what concrete polishing involves.
To steer the sector in the right direction, it is the contractors’ job to obtain the correct training, learn as much about concrete processing as possible, and inform their customers about what correct processing is, the time scale involved, and how a quality job should be priced.
It is Definitely ‘Processing Concrete’
Because the concrete polishing sector is still new, many of the technical terms are used inaccurately. The phrase “concrete polishing” is often used in the wrong context; typically the proper phrase would be “concrete processing”, which refers to a procedure similar to other sectors – putting materials like metal, optical lenses and stone through a certain process.
Processing concrete involves altering a current concrete surface, via a mechanical procedure that features refining and cutting the surface to the preferred finish. A polished concrete surface is just one of several results that fall under the umbrella of concrete processing, via mechanical refinement and numerous abrasives with grit measurements.
Presently, the sector divides the concrete polishing process into polishing and grinding. Some people in the sector just say “polishing” to refer to the whole process. Notwithstanding, the concrete polishing process involves three different steps: polishing, honing and grinding. Then, each step is divided into further stages, made up of a series of grit abrasives. Throughout this procedure, a hardener or densifier is applied, which soaks into the concrete producing a chemical reaction which causes the concrete to become harder and denser.
Processed concrete does not always have to be polished. For instance, the honing and grinding steps result in a high, low or medium sheen appearance, and it does not involve polishing at all.
Describing the Steps and Categories
The lowest processed concrete surface category is ground concrete. All grit abrasives (assuming the abrasive is classed based on grit) from a fifty grit resin and under are regarded as concrete grinding steps. Ground concrete surfaces appear flat, with little reflection, and might occasionally have a subtle sheen.
The next category in the processing system, above ground concrete, is honed concrete. All grit abrasives, from a grit resin of 100 to a grit resin of 400, are regarded as honing steps. Honed concrete surfaces have a matte appearance and a reflection clarity with a medium, high or low sheen.
The top processed concrete category is polished concrete. All grit abrasives from a grit resin of 800 and over, usually up to 3000 or 1500 grit, are regarded as polishing steps. Polished concrete surfaces have the reflection clarity of a mirror, along with a glass like texture.
The Different Variables Involved
The concrete grinding, polishing and honing process is more complex than many people realize. There are lots of variables that can influence the final result of the process carried out. Many of these variables can be controlled by the contractor, like the abrasive quality, the equipment quality and the speed and motion with which you use your tools. Other variables are outside the control of contractors, like the concrete mix used, or the flatness and levelness of the floor. Understanding how to deal with these things is what separates a detailed, results driven craftsman from a contractor who is content with mediocrity.