Like all flooring materials, diamond polished concrete has many benefits that have made it an extremely favored flooring choice for commercial and manufacturing facilities, shop and production floors, processing plants, communal areas in these facilities, and other high-traffic environments.
Diamond polished concrete offers superior performance in heavy traffic areas and fits equally well in commercial, warehouse, and office facilities. The use of diamond polished concrete in residential homes has also grown in popularity. As with any other specialized technique, polishing concrete is a multi-step process requiring the proper tools and equipment to achieve top-quality results. Each job presents different conditions and unique challenges.
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According to the Concrete Polishing Council (the industry's association), "Polished concrete is a progressive grinding, honing, densifying, and polishing process that refines a concrete surface into an aesthetically pleasing, highly durable, light reflective, dustproof, safe and functional floor finish." Industry estimates indicate polished concrete accounts for 15 to 20 percent of all new flooring installations.
Polishing concrete is similar to sanding wood. Machines with diamond-segmented abrasives grind down concrete surfaces to the desired smoothness and shine. Like sanding wood, coarse-grit abrasives (akin to sandpaper) are gradually replaced with finer-grit abrasives (In this instance, grit is the particle size of the diamond), resulting in a glossy, mirror-like finish.
It's important to note that concrete and cement are not the same; cement is merely a concrete component. Concrete comprises three essential components: water, aggregate (rock, sand, or gravel), and Portland cement. Cement serves as a binding agent when mixed with water and aggregates. This concrete mix is poured and hardened into the durable material we are familiar with.
Diamond polished concrete floors can last a lifetime with minimal maintenance. Its durability also makes it one of the most cost-effective flooring options. With this type of flooring, you would not need to worry about cleaning, repair, or replacement costs.
Along with their high durability, diamond polished concrete floors are also highly aesthetic. Many prefer this flooring type because of its ability to brighten up spaces with its reflective surface. You can apply nearly any vibrant color to the concrete to enhance your facility's interior design.
How are concrete floors polished? Here is how:
Polishing concrete floors are similar to painting walls. You want to have a smooth and clean surface for optimal polishing. Whether it is glue, carpet tack strips, or any adhesive and coating, for that matter, it needs to be removed before polishing concrete floors.
Doing so will require concrete grinding equipment. But if the adhesive or coating is more stubborn, a highly abrasive tool or product may be needed. Remove any grease, stain, and dirt as well.
Once all the adhesives are removed, you must repair the cracks and joints on the concrete to achieve a smooth polish. There are several ways to do this; however, the most common and effective is using Epoxy injections or grout.
When repairing cracks and joints, apply the Epoxy injection with low pressure and increase it gradually. Then, let it cure.
Grinding concrete is similar to sanding pieces of wood. It requires a concrete grinder and diamond tooling. The diamond tooling and its various segment sizes are comparable to sandpaper. They are coarse enough to remove pits, blemishes, and stains from the concrete floor to prepare for final smoothing.
Diamond tooling is attached at the bottom of the grinding machine. These are ideal because of their hardness and tolerance to the high heat generated by friction. It is recommended to start the grinding with a 30- to 40-grit diamond, 80-grit diamond, and so on.
Experienced concrete floor polishing companies like us at Floor Doctor know when is the right time to switch to the next-finer grit diamond just by observing your surface.
To smoothen the appearance of your concrete floor, densifying it is crucial. Once the floor is ground to your desired level, a chemical hardener will be used to densify the concrete floors.
Polishing is done using the same concrete grinder but with a higher-grit diamond bit attached. Polishing concrete floors typically starts with around 100- to 200-grit diamonds. But a 1500- to 3000-grit resin bond diamond may be used for those who prefer a high-gloss finish.
The floor experts would apply a stain guard to your concrete floors to protect their polish and make them easier to maintain.
Diamond polished concrete has many benefits, making it an extremely popular flooring choice for manufacturing and commercial facilities, processing plants, shop and production floors, and other high-traffic environments.
The benefits of diamond polished concrete include the following:
The porous nature of concrete is one of its most significant challenges, resulting in a substantial part of its lifetime maintenance costs. Polishing the concrete seals the surface and makes it denser. This enables it to naturally repel water, oil, and other surface contamination without special protection.
Extensive research shows diamond polished concrete is among the safest of floors, no matter the shine level or aggregate exposure level. Due to their high coefficient of friction, diamond polished concrete floors are 20%-50% more slip-resistant than the set national standard for a low-slip floor. Polished Concrete offers significantly higher slip resistance than tile or wood floors, reducing slip and fall liabilities and insurance costs for business owners.
A diamond polished concrete floor increases light reflectivity, projecting a professional image and reducing lighting costs. Diamond polished concrete will add more light to the area without the cost of adding fixtures by reflecting light from windows and current lights.
Diamond polished concrete floors are easy to maintain. They don't require you to periodically strip the surface and apply wax or other coatings like many other flooring types. They're even easy to clean. They don't hold onto dirt or dust like other floors and only require occasional mopping.
Concrete has a high-thermal mass providing inertia against temperature fluctuations. Its ingredients are chemically inert and virtually non-combustible. It also doesn't emit VOCs during any part of its life cycle, and there's no "new polished concrete" smell.
One of the biggest reasons for polishing concrete is to extend the service life of the underlying slab. Concrete polishing increases slab longevity. Diamond polished concrete has excellent compressive strength and fights erosion from various sources. A mechanical polishing process can grind the top layer to refresh it.
Diamond polished concrete is one of the best possible flooring investments for high foot and vehicle traffic. It stands up to large equipment like forklifts and resists skid marks and staining from smaller vehicles. Combined with a high traction sealant, polished concrete can perform reliably for years.
Every floor coating and treatment process has its requirements. For example, some paints require a primer layer and curing time after application. Although the time needed to polish concrete varies, a dry, mechanically polished concrete floor may return to service immediately.
With so many benefits, it's easy to see why diamond polished concrete is becoming increasingly popular. Whether you want warehouse polished concrete for its ability to hold up to heavy equipment or a commercial diamond polished concrete floor for its unique affordability and aesthetics, this versatile flooring option is a great choice.
The durability and strength of this material could also be a drawback as it has an extremely hard surface, so it won't cushion or "provide" under feet, making it uncomfortable to stand on for extended periods. To overcome this, you could add anti-fatigue mats to areas where employees have hours on their feet daily.
One more drawback of concrete floors is that they tend to retain heat poorly. That means that in the winter, the floor's surface will feel cool, but no more so than natural stone flooring or ceramic tile. To overcome this, you could embed radiant heating cables in concrete floors to lessen heat loss. Best of all, you'll typically pay lower utility costs than a forced-air system because concrete floor radiant heating uses less energy to attain the same level of comfort.
If concrete flooring isn't properly finished and sealed, it'll be very susceptible to penetration by moisture. If liquid does make its way into a concrete floor's pores, it can sit there and lead to mold or mildew growth. If you have a trusted professional installing the polished concrete flooring, you don't need to worry about this.
Polished concrete floors like ceramic tile, natural stone flooring, and some hardwood or bamboo floors can be loud. To reduce the noise, you could furnish the space with rugs, acoustic wall panels, heavy drapes, and other elements that absorb or block sound.
Polishing concrete is a challenging DIY project, requiring heavy equipment and special diamond tooling. A professional concrete polishing contractor like us at Floor Doctor understands what it takes to achieve the best results. And while concrete polishing machine rentals are available at local supply stores, the learning curve is steep.
If you need to have high-quality diamond polished concrete floors on your property, leave it to the experts and call us today!