Concrete & Terrazzo Polishing
Concrete & Terrazzo polishing is a process which enhances the natural beauty of the existing concrete or Terrazzo surface by honing and hardening until the pours are closed so tightly it creates a sheen. There are two primary methods to produce this sheen: Topical or Mechanical. While both methods will provide a sealed floor, the mechanical polished method is preferred in most applications due to its extended longevity, low maintenance, sustainability, and stunning aesthetics. Just as every slab of marble or granite is unique, each polished concrete or Terrazzo floor contains its own characteristics. These stone-like appearances are very appealing and add character not only to the floor but the entire space.
The Mechanical Process
Concrete & Terrazzo polishing is a process that takes abrasives (diamonds) and mechanically places scratches in the concrete. This scratching process continues, using finer grit abrasives to remove and replace the scratches with smaller and smaller micro scratches.
The objective is to refine the floor and take away the small scratches creating a natural shine so that you see a reflection in the floor. This process is used with a chemical that helps densify the floor to its maximum hardness. This process can be achieved with older concrete, new concrete and/or coated concrete. The process is always the same in terms of scratches to the floor and refining the concrete into a harder, denser product.
The mechanically polished concrete process is considered to be the maximum refinement method and is the best long-term solution of polished concrete.
With the floor at its maximum refinement, the peaks of the scratches cannot break off and distort the finish of the slab. The process will also reduce dirt and debris from getting trapped between scratches, and makes it much easier to clean the floor – and keep it clean.
A mechanical grinding & polishing process utilizes industrial diamonds & impregnating hardeners and sealers to level, densify, polish, and finally seal the floor from within the interior of the floor surface.
- Wet Polish: Extends the life of diamond tooling by using water to cool, however, creates a slurry which must be disposed of.
- Dry Polish: A preferred polishing method as it does not create a slurry, and can be performed with no production down time.
Sheen Level/Finish Options
- Level 1: Matte Finish: 100 grit
- Level 2: Low Sheen: 400 grit
- Level 3: High Sheen: 800 grit
- Level 4: Gloss Shine: 3000 grit
The Topical Process
The method is relatively the same as the mechanically polished floor, but the course of action is shorter and it leaves the floor at less than maximum refinement.
Most of the time a topical process will end at 200 or 400 grit step. These grits leave peaks on the top of the scratches that have zero lateral support. A topical sealer is added and rushes into the gaps left by the scratching process. As the sealer settles and dries, it gives the appearance of a full process slab and is referred to as “polished concrete.”
However, as the floor is used and ages, the sealer does not possess the strength of the concrete and will fail at the micro-scale level. As a result, this distorts the finish and the floor develops traffic patterns and will start to dust.
Often times this type of floor has to be recoated with a sealer, which results in build coats along edges and a distortion in shine, due to the different levels and angles of reflection.
Topical concrete & terrazzo polishing is a product treatment to the surface to seal it. Examples of this are wax coatings and buffed hardeners. If a higher sheen is preferred, many applications require buffing or burnishing steps to create a shine. While the concrete or Terrazzo will have a coated, sealed appearance, it will retain its texture, and any inconsistencies in the surface will remain visible.
Sheen Level/Finish Options
- Topical-Sheen Level 1: Matte finish: Scrub and Seal
- Topical-Sheen Level 2: Low Sheen: Scrub, Buff, and Seal
- Topical-Sheen Level 3: High Sheen: 4-Step Resin Polish
Why Opt For A Mechanical Polish?
Many people in the industry are selling a topical finish to concrete as “polished concrete.” The definition alone gives false expectations.