Polished concrete dates back 7,000 BC in the city of Jericho. It was discovered when a bulldozer was digging up the ground to add a motor speedway. An Israeli archeologist took a sample of the concrete in 1886 and 1887 to his laboratory to be analyzed. He determined is was a lime concrete that was a light brown and polished.
In 2011, Virgil Visuco founded The Global Concrete Polishing Institute. He has his own company that has installed and polished decorative concrete globally. With over twenty-seven years of experience he has worked nearly every position possible regarding concrete polishing.
He found that classes were not productive because the presenters were selling goods and services. The other thing he realized was concrete is different in different countries and climates. The Global Concrete Polishing Institute actually goes to the business to train the installers in a five-day course and they will become certified in concrete polishing.
There is also The Decorative Concrete Institute that was founded by Bob Harris. They can provide the education, consulting, training and installation for decorative concrete for General Contractors, Architects, Concrete Finishers, Interior Designers and more.
The art of decorative concrete is growing and can be very beautiful. From putting in a logo to a company or the mascot of a favorite sporting team, many people have found that it is creative and very easy to clean.
Most installers who do decorative concrete will use an apply dye. This dye is more predictable and let mottled that other dyes and are better to control during application. It is recommended by most manufactures that the dye is applied just before the final polishing step. Once that is done, the densifier is applied. Always go by the recommendations of the dye manufacturer.
Amazingly, the process of dry polishing concrete was not discovered until the 1990’s. Polishing granite and marble were commonplace for decades. A contractor hired a team of workers to polish a concrete floor. He left them to do their work and was shocked when he returned to see they were dry polishing the concrete. After they removed the dust, he was shocked to see how beautiful the floor turned out.
Today, wet polishing and dry polishing can both be used when doing concrete polishing. The process requires several passes over the concrete using different grit metal-bonded diamond each time. Wet polishing causes a lot of slurry that has to be collected and disposed of environmentally. Dry polishing is much easier to clean as there is a vacuum that is attached to the floor polisher that cleans as it goes.
While concrete polishing can be done on concrete slab, it is best to have it done when the concrete is new. When done on newer floors, the cost is less because there is less work. It is recommended the concrete is mixed to 3500 psi or higher. Pouring the concrete to its full depth takes advantage of its structural strength and can prevent cracks. The concrete must dry for at least twenty-eight days before it is considered completely cured.
Concrete polishing older floors can be a bit trickier. The condition of the floor may determine if it can be sanded or a two-inch topping on the existing slab needs to be installed.
It is not recommended an individual who has no experience in concrete polishing do it on their own. For one thing, the process can be very time consuming because it can take six to twelve steps to get the desired finish. Plus, the cost of the equipment needed would make it too expensive.
Typically, the first grind would start with a course 30/60-grit.
Diamond then move up from there ending with a 1600- or 3000+ grid diamond. The process will eventually get the level of gloss and aggregate desired. A densifier is added throughout the process to harden the concrete which allows it to be polished. A grouting chemical may be used to fill any imperfections, cracks or holes that were exposed while grinding. The last thing to do would to put on a layer of an impregnating polish guard. This will penetrate the pores of the concrete about 2-5mm and helps to prevent staining from spills and oils.
Benefits of Concrete Polishing in Retail and Commercial Use:
- Maintenance is lower as well as the installation is more cost effective than other surfaces.
- Because the surface is so resilient, high traffic areas last longer than most surfaces. The surface is so tough it can resist tire marks from forklifts and staining from chemical and oil spills.
- Concrete polished floors only need to be mopped with a damp cloth. They do not need to be polished with messy coatings or waxes.
- The surface reflects lighting which makes it perfect for public facilities, hotels, office buildings and hotels. It can also save energy because artificial lighting is reduced.
- The flooring does not need to have hazardous coatings or cleaned by harsh chemicals.
Benefits of Concrete Polishing in Residential Buildings:
- When a slab is installed there is no need for other floor coverings such as wood or vinyl.
- They are hard to damage and do not need to be replaced after a period of time.
- Polished floors do not harbor allergens, dirt and dust.
- It can be designed to custom colors and images.
Concrete polishing is starting to gain in popularity as it is the ultimate no-wax flooring. Using professional installers is highly recommended as the process can be time consuming and the equipment is heavy. The durability of the flooring can take heavy use and never needs to be waxed or coated with harmful chemicals.
For the most part, any concrete that is structurally sound can be polished. It takes less time for new concrete as there is not special mix design required to get good results. Existing floors will need more work because coatings, grease, dirt and blemishes need to be removed. There may also be patching and fixing of cracks. If the concrete is extremely porous and is severely damaged, then it is not a good candidate for concrete polishing.
All Around Surfaces has been installing polished concrete in the Sioux Falls, South Dakota area for years. They have put it in commercial buildings, restaurant and commercial kitchens, auto show room floors, residential garages and more. They have technicians that have been professionally trained in concrete polishing.