Do you have a new house and you’re considering polished concrete floors as an option? Or maybe you’re renovating floors and are searching for other options for traditional floors?
If so, this guide is for you. Polished concrete floors are stunning and can look like expensive marble floors if done correctly. You can stain the concrete floor after polishing or just use a sealer on it to give a protective layer.
So how to make polished concrete floors? The process is rather simple, to be honest. The surface of the concrete floor is polished until it’s as smooth as you want.
To know more about how is polished concrete done, read further.
Residential polished concrete floors
You might have seen polished concrete floors at hotels and other buildings that suffers from lots of foot traffic.
There’s no reason for not having a concrete floor in the house as well. If it’s good for a hotel lobby, it’s good for your hallway as well. Or any other room really, the polished look is really nice decoration after all.
When it comes to residential concrete floors, you need to remember that they have the attributes of concrete. It will be different to feet when you compare it to carpet or laminates.
For more concrete floors pros and cons, read this guide on stained concrete floors which are essentially the same.
The important question here is also are polished concrete floors expensive? If you buy the work, it can be from $3 to $15 per square foot, depending on how complex the work is. It’s good to remember that all the floorings are like this, the more you want the more you have to pay.
For us DIY guys and girls, it also means opportunity. If you’re an able worker, you can do this kind of work as well. If you’re capable of doing a fine finish, it will bring the value of your property up. So you will be working on your own gain.
Polishing concrete with floor buffer
Polishing concrete floors is a process where you start grinding the top layer of concrete. That is the cream that is left on the surface after floating it after pouring concrete. Here we will be talking about dry polishing.
If you have old floor surfaces or cracks in the surface, those should be removed and fixed. You can fix the surface and use the floor buffer with a rougher disc first. If your floor is heavily cracked, a new surface might be needed.
Using floor buffer to polish
I will start by saying that this machine can be tricky for total beginners as it can pull to the sides quite fast. It’s not a tool to be used with strength, but balance. A skilled worker can do it with one hand just to prove my point.
You should balance it so that it swings from side to side, making slow half-circles while you move back or forth. It’s quite relaxing after you get hang of it. Just remember not to remove all of the top layers while you’re at it.
That being said, the top cream is not an endless layer that can be ground, but you have to be careful not to overdo it. We all know floors can be quite big surfaces so polishing jobs like these are good done with big rotating machines like floor buffers.
Concrete polishing steps
Step 1: Pick your grits and grind.
Floor buffer should come with many grits and you should move from rough to fine grit. If it’s new rough concrete, you might start with 80 grit and move to grit 100, 200, 400, 800, and to 1500. For smooth floors you could do the first round with 200, not grinding one spot too long.
For how to grind, refer to using floor buffer.
Step 2: Use densifier on vacuumed floor.
Between changing grids and at least before the final one, you should use a densifier on the floor. You can spread it with a microfiber mop on the vacuumed floor. It will fill the pores and increase the surface density.
Return to step 1 until you hit finest grid.
Step 3: You should do the final grinding with something like 3000 grit paper. You will notice how the floor is polishing if you do few sweeps with vacuum.
Step 4: Buffing at last.
The final polishing should be done with a burnishing pad, it will buff the concrete. Buffing polished concrete will give it a nice shine and can return the shine to old polished concrete. To use this, you might need to change the rotation speed of your machine to match what the instructions of the pads say.
Step 5: After you are done with buffing, you can seal the floor. Some like to do last round of buffing on top of the sealer to give it more gloss.
Tips for renting floor buffing machine
Now I know how annoying it is to rent construction tools. You will notice when you visit the renters that they have many different tools for this job. I picked the floor buffer as I’ve used it before, if you know other tools, it’s good to stay what you know best.
They should know at the concrete floor buffer rental what machine and pads you need for the job, it’s their job to lend them. You should also ask how many concrete polishing pads for floor buffer you will be needing for the size of the job you have. It will save you time if you don’t have to go back to get more.
Now remember, this is only rough description of concrete floor buffing and polishing process.
Optional: How to polish concrete by hand
I included this as you might have a really small spot and might not want to rent a machine for doing that. Now, the machine does what we don’t want to do by hand, but you can do it as well if you see the trouble.
You need fine grits of paper, maybe grinding stone for rough parts and the densifier. You should sand the floor with circling motions as the floor buffer does. This is heavy work, but you can do it.
If possible, use some hand sanding tool to make it easier for you that rotates. Angle grinder and some wood sanding tools can work, but with bigger surfaces, they are not recommended as the small disc will make the floor uneven.
You should know now how to polish concrete floors with a floor buffer and by hand. The polished concrete process is not very complicated but might need the eyes of a professional so some experience is recommended.
The polished concrete cost will go down the more you can do yourself, naturally. If you want to know more about how to grind and polish concrete, check the link.