How To Restore & Prepare Concrete Floors

Here are some important things to consider and keep in mind when restoring and preparing concrete floors:

Typically, customers will want their concrete flooring restored when it starts looking dull, scratched up, and worn out. When taking on a concrete floor polishing job, the 3 most important things to ask yourself are:

  1. Does the floor have a TOPICAL COATING (such as wax, or a topical sealant)?

    If a floor does have a coating, the best way to regain some luster is to clean (with a mop and bucket, or an auto scrubber) and buff the floor. Be sure not to use anything too abrasive, as it will scratch the topical coating and not give you the desired shine.

    If a floor doesn’t have a topical coating, you can use ASTRO diamond pads on an auto scrubber or swing machine to restore the shine.

    NOTE: Typically, an 800-1500 grit pad will give you a matte/honed finish, and a 3,000-6,000 grit pad will give you a more polished finish (Picking the right one for the job depends on what level of shine your customer wants!)

  2. What is the CONDITION of the floor?

    If the floor you are working with, is scratched or has gouges, you may need to patch up the holes before your start the restoration process.

    With floors that are scratched, you will need to use metal or resin-bonded diamond pucks (that come in a variety of grit levels) to get a good polish.

    TIP: When polishing floors, the first principle is that you start off with a lower grit (50 – 200 grit), and end at a higher grit level (800 – 6,000 grit). Once you understand the condition of the floor you are working with, you can then determine the start and end grit levels.

    Once you have determined the start and end grit levels, each step needs to be completed to its fullest to achieve the best results before you can finally clean and buff the surface.

    (For example, if you start at 100 and end at 1,500, you will have to go through 5 steps (100 -200 – 400 – 800 – 1,500) before cleaning and buffing the floor.)

  3. What is your customer’s BUDGET?

    Once you know the budget you are working with, you have more room to give your customer the different restoration options that will manage their budget expectations.

How do you prepare a concrete floor for a topical coating?

There are 2 different scenarios when looking to prepare a concrete floor for a topical coating:

  1. You need to remove and replace the EXISTING coating…

    Removal of different kinds of coating require different tools. Wax coatings can be removed using a solvent (like a stripper) to dissolve the wax before removing it with a pad.

    On the other hand, epoxy and other water-based sealers require a little more force to be removed. This can be achieved by using carbide or diamond tools to break off the coating or grind it down.

  2. You need to prepare a floor for its FIRST coating…

    If you are preparing a floor for its first coating, you may need to introduce some roughness to the surface to allow for proper bonding of the coating. This can be done by using low-grit metal-bonded diamonds and running them evenly across the entire floor area.

NOTE: In either of these two scenarios, you should first understand the requirements of the coating you wish to apply. Some coatings (like epoxy), require a rough finished surface to allow for proper bonding; others may require a finer finish for best results. Once you understand these requirements, you can be in a better position to select the right tools.

Pro Tips:

  1. Be patient, follow the process and learn from your experience. With practice, you can improve the process and make it work for you!
  2. Get the right tools for the job. Cutting corners will most likely be less efficient and result in more risk.
  3. Take the time to understand the material you are working with. This will allow you to give better quotes, select the best tools and will end up giving you the best outcome.

It’s important to note that there isn’t only one solution to making concrete “look good”. In fact, we consider concrete restoration to be more of an ART than a SCIENCE.

Sure, there is a lot of science that goes into developing the equipment, tools and chemicals used on concrete, but how you use them, which tools you use, and when you choose to use them is the ART.

With experience, you will be able to figure out your own artistic practice when it comes to making concrete floors “look great”.

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