Concrete Coatings Articles

Top Tips for Concrete Flooring Preparation

Photo courtesy of National Flooring Equipment

Though contractors have used concrete as a construction material since Roman times, it has mainly been used for structural integrity, rather than aesthetics. This is particularly true in flooring, where wood, carpet, and tile have long been a flooring staple for residential and commercial buildings.

However, more recently, many customers are requesting polished concrete floors to achieve a minimalist and contemporary appearance. The substrate’s durability can make concrete an effective, low-maintenance flooring choice for high-traffic environments, such as commercial and industrial spaces.

Concrete floors also offer additional benefits, such as creating a reflective floor surface that increases natural light in a building while reducing its energy usage.

Get to the Substrate

Every concrete floor is different. Thus, when approaching a new job, contractors should take the time to understand the customer’s individual requirements and desired finish.

Visiting the site before work begins enables contractors to review the existing floor to see the type and condition of the current covering, the adhesive that is bonding the covering to the substrate, and the quality of concrete underneath.

This initial jobsite visit also gives contractors an opportunity to remove a small area of floor covering to understand the work they will need to complete to help them manage the customer’s expectations. The finish of polished concrete is heavily dependent on the original condition of the concrete. As a result, contractors should highlight any potential issues, such as cracking, at an early stage.

Once a contractor has determined the size of the project and the floor’s condition, they can begin removal of the existing covering. Floor scrapers will remove material and adhesive quickly and efficiently, with the job’s size and requirements determining which machines and blades are best to use. Ride-on floor scrapers are suitable for large-scale heavy goods removal. Meanwhile, walk-behind options are more suited to smaller rooms or confined spaces to remove soft goods, such as carpet.

Concrete Surface Profile

Once contractors reveal the substrate, they can determine the condition of the concrete and its surface profile to determine how to prepare and polish the material.

Depending on its surface profile, concrete may require a simple polishing of the top surface, or a deeper grinding that reveals the aggregate stones. Hand grinding a small sample area early into the job will give a good indication of the finished result. Evident cracks can be left and stabilized, or they can be filled and color-matched for a more uniform result.

When choosing a machine for concrete profiling, scarifiers are a viable option. Once a scarifier is switched on, the drum rotates to generate centrifugal force. This throws the cutter at the surface, causing a mechanical cutting action. Dust and contaminants are moved to a dust collector, and only heavier debris might remain on the floor.

Grinding and Polishing

After profiling the concrete, contractors can move on to grinding and polishing to achieve their desired finish. Depending on the job, contractors can pick from a single-headed disc or planetary grinder. Then, once they’ve selected a machine, they can choose from a range of diamond tooling, ranging from coarse to fine.

Untreated concrete acts like a sponge and stains easily. To prevent this, it is important that contractors densify the top layer of the concrete once polished.

Ultimately, concrete’s strong durability is what enables many legacy structures to remain standing today. But by carefully removing existing floor coverings and profiling the substrate, contractors can also showcase the beauty of this versatile material.

About the Author:

Dave Bigham has worked with National Flooring Equipment for more than 12 years. With dozens of patents, National designs equipment based on finding solutions to industry inefficiencies. Increasing production, reducing labor, and enhancing the standard of quality are the technical benchmarks from which the company designs, builds, and services. Since its founding in 1968, National’s commitment goes beyond expectations and is shown in its technology, innovation, and customer service. The company regularly shows this by working closely with its most valuable asset — the customer.

For further information, contact: National Flooring Equipment,

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