How to Polish Concrete

Polished concrete floors with a high-gloss finish give the impression of luxury with its sleek look and ability to transform a room entirely with the amount of light let in. They’re a great way of lowering your electric bill as less artificial light is needed.

Benefits of Polishing Concrete

Polishing concrete also improves the overall condition of the material. Other benefits to polishing concrete are: 

  • It’s affordable: despite it looking highly expensive, polishing concrete surfaces is actually more affordable than most other flooring options. 
  • It’s durable: polished concrete floors are solid and can handle heavy foot traffic and equipment. It’s almost impossible to chip or damage polished concrete floors. Sealed polished concrete floors are also resistant to chemicals that cause corrosion. 
  • Low maintenance: polished concrete floors are easy to maintain. There’s no need for you to periodically strip the surface and apply wax or any other coatings like other flooring types do. They’re also extremely easy to clean as they don’t hold onto dirt and dust. All you need to do for upkeep is mop the surface.
  • Environmentally friendly: polished concrete floors do not require any hazardous chemical coatings, cleaners or adhesive during installation and upkeep, making them a sustainable option. They’re also energy-efficient, further adding to their reputation of being eco-friendly.
  • Non-slip: a lot of people tend to assume that polished concrete floors are more slippery due to its increased smoothness. However, a non-slip epoxy coating can add the right amount of texture and prevent people from slipping, thus making it very safe.

Due to polished concrete’s long list of advantages from being cost-effective to aesthetically pleasing, many people wonder how to polish concrete.

The Basics of How to Polish Concrete

If you are not familiar with how to polish concrete, it’s important to note that polished concrete is not a simple DIY project. It requires heavy equipment, special diamond tooling and plenty of safety precautions that must be followed during the process. This includes dust collection, for those who are allergic. 

We recommend hiring a professional to undertake this project as they will have the most knowledge and experience when it comes to how to polish concrete as well as what it takes to achieve optimal results. 

Despite the learning curve for how to polish concrete being quite steep, the instructions are pretty straightforward. Interested in polishing your concrete for a more sophisticated appearance? Read on to find out the basics of how to polish concrete.

1. Prepare the surface

The first step of how to polish concrete is preparing the area to be polished i.e. cleaning and patching the surface. This is done by scrubbing the area thoroughly with a bristle brush and a mixture of warm water and household cleaner. 

Cleaning the surface allows for an easier scan of any cracks or damage. These must be repaired with concrete filler or patch material before following through with the polishing process. 

2. Test out the hardness of the surface

The second step when learning how to polish concrete is testing out the surface with a pick to measure the hardness of the concrete so you know which set of grinding discs to rent. Rent a grinder, put on protective gear (dust mask, thick gloves, safety goggles, ear plugs) and grind the surface in half-circle motions.

3. Grind with a coarse grit abrasive disc

Start from one corner of the surface and work your way to the other corner with a coarse grit abrasive disc to remove any stains or rough areas. The whole surface should be covered without missing a spot.

4. Grind with a fine grit abrasive disc

Follow up with a fine grit abrasive disc to begin to give your surface that sleek and glossy look. 

5. Spray on a densifier and grind with an extra-fine grit abrasive disc

The next step when learning how to polish concrete is spraying on a densifier, which makes the concrete less permeable and less likely to collect powdery dust. 

Follow that up by using an extra-fine grit abrasive disc. This grinds the surface to ensure all blemishes on the surface are gone, revealing a sleek, smooth concrete surface. 

6. Vacuum with a wet-dry vac

Vacuum up all the dust and debris from the grinding with a wet-dry vac. Some concrete grinders come with an integrated vacuum, which makes it incredibly practical. 

You can vacuum the dust between each grinding process. Although, one thorough vacuuming before buffing the concrete should be sufficient. 

7. Buff the concrete surface

The next step is to buff the concrete surface. This is done by attaching a burnishing pad to where the grinding disc once was on the grinder and beginning to go over the surface using the same half-circle, corner-to-corner technique. You should be able to rent a burnishing pad when you rent the grinder and discs.

8. Apply a concrete sealer onto the surface

Apply a thin layer of water-based or solvent-based concrete sealer with a roller or sprayer to protect the concrete from grease, dirt and other stains. After 2-4 hours, once the surface is dry, apply a second layer of concrete sealer. Make sure the air temperature remains above 10°C during the application and for 24 hours after. 

9. Buff the concrete surface once again 

Once the sealer is completely dry, burnish the surface again to reveal your newly glossy, smooth concrete floors. It is crucial to wait 24-72 hours before using the finished surface. 

Now you’ve learned how to polish concrete. Whilst you can do this without a professional as you have all the information you need in 9 simple steps, renting a grinder for a week only can be quite expensive, which is why some individuals choose to opt for professional work. 

Why Choose Oxcrete for Your Concrete Needs?

At Oxfordshire Concrete, we have years of experience handling and supplying vast amounts of concrete all around the UK. Our experts will listen to the details of your project to give the most flawless and cost-effective service. 

Oxcrete provides a wide range of concrete types, suitable for both construction and residential use. If you have a project that requires concrete, get in touch with us for more information on our services or to receive a quote.