Why polish concrete?
Polished concrete has many advantages: it is durable, easy to maintain, cost effective, dust proof, LEED friendly, has increased light reflectivity, and is slip resistant, among other benefits.
- The life expectancy of a concrete floor will far surpass that of most other flooring surfaces, making it a common choice for warehouses, manufacturing facilities, large stores, schools, hospitals, and government buildings. Polished concrete floors are also becoming more popular in residential homes.
- Durable enough for heavy machinery, forklift activity, and extensive foot traffic, polished concrete is easy to clean, requiring only occasional mopping.
- These floors also eliminate the need for special waxes or coatings, as well as the associated labor, time, and expense to apply them.
- Polished concrete floors are generally no slicker than untreated concrete surfaces and are about 40% less slippery than a hardwood floor, waxed linoleum or polished marble.
- The high light reflectivity of polished concrete is another important aesthetic benefit, especially for office buildings, hotels, restaurants, and other public facilities that want to project a bright, clean, professional image.
- Furthermore, polished concrete may be stained, stenciled or engraved to add character and further improve its appearance. The available options for coloring concrete have never been greater, and there is also an endless array of other decorative effects. In short, polished concrete is a popular flooring solution because of its practical advantages, as well as its decorative appeal.
What do I need to get started?
We recommend a complete surface preparation system including: a floor machine(s), vacuum system(s), diamond tooling, chemicals (densifier and sealer) and 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.
Where can I get trained and certified?
Superabrasive's distributors offer training and certification classes at various locations many times throughout the year. See SCHEDULED TRAININGS / DEMOS or contact Superabrasive for details at (800) 987-8403.
Which machine and tooling should I select?
Choosing the proper machine and tooling is critical for the success of the job, and the following questions should be addressed first:
• How big is your project, and how much time do you have to complete it? This will determine the size of the machine and vacuum needed, as well as how much tooling will be required. For example, a LAVINA 20® PRO is appropriate
for small residential projects, like garages or patios, whereas larger residential or commercial projects will require a larger, more powerful machine such as LAVINA 25® PRO, LAVINA 32® PRO, or LAVINA 30G PRO.
• How old is the concrete? Freshly poured concrete floors require at least 28 days to cure. Conversely, older concrete should be inspected for pits and cracks, which may be treated by a product such as Quick Mender®.
• What condition is the concrete in? The condition of the concrete will determine the initial grinding steps needed to prepare the floor for polishing which include coatings or epoxy removal, etc. If the floor is in optimal shape, you may
begin with 120 grit metals, but if the floor is uneven and blemished, you should begin with a coarser grit, such as 30.
• How much aggregate would you like to expose? If you want to show aggregate, you must grind the concrete more aggressively (longer and deeper) than if you simply want to polish only the cream.
• How hard is the concrete? Medium to hard concrete requires soft bond diamond tooling such as metal bond, or MC to HC QuickChange tooling. Conversely, soft concrete requires a harder bond such as terrazzo, or SC QuickChange tooling. All tooling featured in this catalog clearly indicates its appropriate application.
• How much shine do you want? If a honed finish with less shine is desired, you may stop polishing after grit 220 or 400. However, a shiny mirror-like finish, will require the complete system up to 3500 or 8500 grit and possibly a sealer.
• Grinding wet or dry? This will sometimes depend on the job and job site. Most operators prefer the dry process, as it requires less clean up; however, wet grinding is best for some applications. Keep in mind that dry grinding will always require a vacuum for dust removal.
• Is your project indoors or outdoors? This will determine which sealer and dyes are needed. Some guards and sealers are appropriate for indoor applications only. Water- and acetone-based dyes are also for interiors only because they are not UV stable. Others such as ColorJuice™, however, is UV stable and ideal for concrete porches, patios, driveways, sidewalks and pool decks. Contact us for additional information about your specific job and the appropriate chemicals to use.
How to estimate my cost and bid for jobs?
Here is an excerpt from a great article from www.forconstructionpros.com - 12 Tips for Bidding Concrete Polishing Jobs (by Rebecca Wasieleski, March 5, 2012)
"A polished concrete floor project can be a tough job to bid because of the many variables a contractor needs to consider — labor, abrasives, the floor itself, just to name a few ...This list of tips will help you better determine costs before you turn in your bid to a general contractor or home owner.
- Repairs. Planning for repairs can be one of the most challenging issues a contractor will face when bidding an existing floor project...One thing to remember is sometimes toppings like carpeting and tile were put on a floor because the concrete was bad in the first place. Contractors usually specify spalls per square foot and cover them in the bid. Spall repairs required beyond the allowance in the bid are priced out in an addendum to the bid, as are necessary crack repairs and spalling along joints.
- Utilities. You need to make sure power in the correct voltage will be available to you on site. If it is not, the power for your equipment will need to come from portable generators.
- Construction schedule. Find out how much time you have to perform your work and during what times of the day you can do it. If you are working under a tight schedule, or working a job on an existing building still being used for business, you may find yourself confined to do your work nights and weekends. If that is the case, you will need to pay your employees a premium and consider those extra labor costs in your bid.
- Job schedule. A job schedule, i.e., a plan that lays out when certain trades will be in a building and who they will be working around, is typically not accurate at bid time, so be prepared to be flexible when it comes time for your crew to get on site. What is especially important to pay attention to in that job schedule, however , is mainly two things: floor protection and walls. You may have to arrange for floor protection before and/or after your polishing job. Be sure it is clear in the bid who is responsible for installing floor protection and who will pay for it. You will also need to know if you will be polishing before or after the walls are built. If you get the floor before walls are up, you will have minimal edge work. But if walls are in you will have to consider the extra edge work in your bid.
- Edges and handwork. This is where all the hard work is. Edges could double your price if you have a lot of small rooms on a project.
- Samples. Samples and mock-ups take time and resources, and you may want to charge for them. If you get the job, the price the client paid for a mock-up can be deducted out of the contract.
- Abrasives. There are several factors that will affect your abrasives costs, including hardness of concrete and the number of steps you are required to perform throughout the grinding and polishing process.
- Cut. Cream, salt and pepper, or aggregate – if the desired cut of the floor is not clear in the specifications, make sure it is before you submit your final numbers on the job. You will see your profit disappear if you bid for a cream cut and have to spend on abrasives to handle an aggregate cut.
- Joints. Most specifications will require the polisher to do joint work on the floor. While a saw cut control joint might be 1/8-inch wide, a construction joint can be ½ inch wide. Your joint filler material needs will vary depending on the types of joints in your floor. That material isn't free; plan for that amount in your bid. If you find out on the job you are running short, you might have to pay high costs for shipping in extra to the jobsite – costs that will come out of your pocket.
- Mix design. Find out the mix design of the concrete. It will tell you the psi of the concrete, which is one factor in determining your diamond usage for a project.
- Disposal. Take a look at you job and decide if it will be a wet grind or dry grind. You will need to factor into your bid equipment and costs for dust control or slurry disposal."