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Three steps to polishing concrete:
Grinding. This is exactly what it seems. Using aggressive grits of metal or resin bonded diamonds, we 'cut' the floor, removing the cream and exposing aggregate. Grinding is accomplished using 15/20 - 30/40 - 70/80 metal bond tooling.
Honing. The floor now has heavy scratches created while grinding. Honing is the process of removing or refining those scratches with transitional diamonds. This process uses 100/120 - 200 - 400 grit resin bond tooling.
Polishing. This is the process of creating a reflective glossy surface with the refined concrete. This is accomplished using different resin bond tooling starting at 400 grit.
Is polished concrete consistent like tile?
The short answer is no, but that is what draws so many people to the beauty of dyed floors. They are consistently inconsistent, creating subtle movements of color and aggregate that create a stunning look!
Like the photo above this text, too many variables such as aggregate, color variations, contaminates, cracks, ghosting from previous floor coverings, existing stains, nail holes from previous walls, patched areas, flatness and defects in finishing have cause ghosting and patches. While it reveals its past lives, it functions the way it is supposed to. Exceptionally wear resistant, easy to clean and contributes to brightening the room.
A new concrete floor will be much more consistent than an old floor.
What about color?
Coloring polished floors is accomplished using acetone dyes. The colors can be mild or wild. We can mute the color or keep it bold depending on the process we use. A general rule of thumb is, the more aggregate you have exposed, the less finished cement paste remains to hold the color.
A Hybrid Polish will create the most vibrant bold colors. Many clients, especially in retail, opt for no color which allows the floor to be used to create a brighter room by reflecting back all the light in the room.
Click on the link below to download the Ameripolish Classic Dye Color Chart.
HYBRID AGGREGATE EXPOSURE
The surface, often called cream or butter is the very top layer of the concrete that is made up of the troweled / finished cement paste.
This layer contains the cement fines of the mix. The goal in polishing this layer is to stay primarily within the cement paste, resulting in little to no aggregate exposure. There can be many variances in color in this layer which add character when dyed. Approximately 1/32" is removed from the surface using this process.
SALT & PEPPER AGGREGATE
The layer just below the cream is made of the fines, primarily sand and very small stone of various types that lend themselves to a "salt and pepper" look.
To reach this layer, the cream-cement fine layer is cut by grinding the surface. This layer is the purest, the most consistent in color, and has the fewest imperfections. 1/16" - 1/8" is removed from the surface. Small amounts of medium aggregate may appear at random locations.
COARSE AGGREGATE EXPOSURE
The layer below the cream and fine aggregate layer is made of the coarse aggregate within the concrete mix. To reach this layer, the cream-cement fine and the fine aggregate layer is removed by grinding the surface.
These aggregates may be the aggregate used in the concrete mix, or decorative aggregates seeded into the surface at the time of the pour, such as recycled glass, landscaping stone, nails, nuts, bolts, sea shells, etc. There are three degrees of Coarse Aggregate: Small, Medium and Large. 1/8" -3/16" is removed from the surface
Honed floors and the Grind and Seal floor should have a refined and even appearance; the finish will have a muffled but crisp shine that lacks defined clarity of reflection. A honed finish stops at 200 or 400 grit. A 200 grit honed finish would be considered a matte finish and a 400 grit would be considered a sheen finish with higher clarity of reflection than a 200 grit finish.
Floors polished to 400/800 grits will have greater reflection with a crisp appearance. A medium polished finish stops at 800 grit.
Highly polished concrete will have depth and clarity of reflection, beginning to have a mirror like reflection.
Highly refined concrete floors will have depth and clarity of reflection closer to a mirror. A highly polished finish stops at 1,500 grit. If a floor has been properly processed, there's no need for higher grits.
Grind N Seal or Hybrid Polish