Polishing your own concrete floor is possible for most handyman types, you can hire the machinery necessary to do so and search the internet on the right way to do it, but like many do it yourself jobs it is a good idea to think seriously about having a specialist to do the job for you to avoid being disappointed with the finished job. A polished concrete floor is a large investment and also a focal point of your home or building and once done it will become a permanent fixture. Polished concrete floors with normal use are expected to last for 100 years or more. There is a lot of work involved in making and then polishing a concrete floor and although they are not cheap to do, they are very cost effective especially compared to other flooring options that have a very limited lifespan.
If you are starting with an old existing cement floor that was not originally poured with the intention of being polished, it may not be so suitable without modifications. For this reason it is advisable to first get some expert advice on the condition of the floor and any necessary modifications or repairs that may be needed to be done before the polishing work can begin.
Most quality concrete polishing companies are more than happy to give you a quote on the cost and time it would take to do the job, as with most things it is worth trying to get a few quotes and find out what guarantees they offer.
Sometimes, if you have an old floor it is a good idea to pour a new concrete overlay, especially if you want a particular color or design on the floor as the finished color and overall look of the floor will be determined by the color of the cement and aggregates that were used in the original mixture.
This means, although you have no control over the color and the design of the floor you would probably be able to save money and have a very durable and original floor.
When building a new building, whether it will be your home, workspace or any other type of area a lot of thought normally goes into all the areas of construction, sadly most people do not really think of the floor as an area that needs consideration at the conception stage apart from its structural importance. If you involve a professional floor specialist right from the start you can be assured of the best finished results.
With many modern building techniques, the main contractor will install the structural subfloor with the necessary insulation reinforcing and then if needed the heating contractor will install any heating, wiring or solar heating pipe work to have everything ready for the specialist polished cement flooring contractor to install the right type and mixture of concrete floor necessary for polishing to give you the best finish.
The average cement floor uses a high ratio of water to cement and aggregate, so that it will flow and then settle, the problem with this is that it is likely to have very small cracks when the water evaporates while the cement is curing. Most people are under the impression that cement dries, but this is in fact wrong. Concrete needs to set or cure, it is a chemical reaction between all parts of the mixture that gives it strength. The best cement and strongest is kept damp after the initial curing so that it does not dry out and become brittle, but cures over time. Full curing takes between 2 weeks and 4 weeks depending on the temperature.
Pourable, cementitious flooring that is pumped into the floor are and then left to settle, contains no aggregate and is not concrete and definitely not suitable for polishing.
When a polished flooring contractor pours the correct concrete floor, they do this using a dry mixture that requires power floating (smoothing and leveling using a powered device) to ensure that a smooth level surface especially at the sides and corners.
The more care taken doing the concreting, the smoother and better the surface will, so there will be less grinding and polishing required. This will result in a better finish.
Grinding and then polishing a concrete floor can be a real challenge to the novice home handyman. It is very different to sanding a wooden or composer floor.
The process of concrete polishing is very similar whether you are starting on a new or existing floor. It is done by grinding the floor using a diamond tipped polishing machine to cut through the concrete. There are machines that do this dry and others that use water depending on the type of building and the conditions. Many people prefer the dry method because it is less messy as all the dust is removed with high powered suction devices on the machine. The wet method produces no dust, but it does produce a wet slurry that is hard to get rid of in many situations.
One of the challenges of polishing concrete floors in small areas and rooms found in many domestic situations and offices is the ability of the operator to control the small grinding machines effectively and competently as they take quite a lot of expertise to use safely and effectively when trying to grind the surface to give the best effect.
During the polishing at different stages a densifier that is usually made of solid lithium silicate, sodium or potassium silicates is used to harden the concrete surface and makes it easier to polish to the degree of gloss required.
All of this takes a long time, even when done by experienced professionals and mistakes are very hard to correct, although when making a patterned floor it is easier to camouflage mistakes. These types of high speed floor grinders can be hard to use and dangerous in inexperienced hands and it is sometimes difficult to know when to use the densifiers for the best result.
A floor that is polished to 3000 grit has a natural high gloss that can then be sealed with an impregnating seal that does not change that floors appearance and results in a floor looking like polished stone that needs little maintenance.
As your polished concrete floor is a major feature of your building and is likely to be there for a whole lifetime, the cost involved in having it done by an experienced specialist polished flooring contractor becomes well worthwhile, especially as a “she’ll be right mate job” done with a few mates on the weekend is more than likely to result in an unsatisfactory job.
Floor polishing costs from $2 to $10 a sqft, which can be much less than a good quality carpet and a comparable cost to installing a vinyl floor covering. Apart from the extremely long life of polished concrete floors and their low maintenance issues they are environmentally friendly and do not give off toxic chemicals such as those found in carpets, synthetic floor coverings and the adhesives used to lay them. So anyone thinking of having a concrete floor polished would be well advised to do an overall feasibility study and take into account just how much time it would take, This not only to do the job, but the physical effort and the cleanup afterwards, which with either dry (dust) or the wet method (slurry or sludge) can pose a disposal problem.