What is Polished Concrete?

The term "Polished Concrete" is a generic, general term that can mean many things to many people. The term Diamond Polished Concrete refers to a process or system of polishing the surface of an existing concrete slab with specially engineered floor grinding machines fitted with diamond tipped abrasives. The concrete slab is polished, using ever finer grits of diamond blades, until the floor is smooth as a granite counter top. During the polishing process, the concrete is typically impregnated with a sealer that densifies and hardens the concrete surface. The end product is a rock hard, near mirror finish.

There are many methods to polish concrete, many different types of equipment used and many different types of sealer that can be burnished into the concrete. Due to the various techniques, machines, and sealers that could be used in a typical concrete polishing project, the term "Polished Concrete" can refer to wide variety of quality levels of "polished concrete." When considering installing or pricing polished concrete, it is very important to understand and specify the quality of polish desired.

How do I ensure a high quality concrete polish?

There are three primary factors that contribute to the quality of the end result of a polished concrete project, namely:

1. The condition of the existing concrete that is to be polished. Large grease or oil stains can be greatly enhanced, but some discoloration will remain. Severely oil stained concrete may be difficult to achieve a very high quality polished floor. Concrete floor flatness and levelness will have an impact on the cost of the project as well as the quality. The density of the concrete will also impact price and quality. Concrete with air entrained will require corrective measures. Holes requiring patching can also impact the quality of shine of polished concrete.

2. The type of polishing equipment to be used. There are two types of methods to achieve a diamond polished concrete floor - Mechanical Polishing, relying on heavy specialized diamond grinders, and Topical Polishing, relying mostly on chemicals followed by a very topical polish with janitorial service type of equipment.

• The first type of equipment are heavy planetary grinders that put over 800lbs of down force and have 3 or 4 individual polishing heads that rotate in a "planetary" motion. The large planetary grinders use 3 phase 480 volt electrical power and typically grind the floor dry, using sophisticated dust containment. The large planetary grinders start by grinding the floor with metal bonded diamonds and finish with resin bonded diamonds. The initial grinds with metal bonded diamonds, typically starting at 40 grit in Northern California, are required to achieve a high quality concrete polish.

• Some contractors and janitorial service companies scrub chemical sealers and densifiers into concrete using janitorial service type of equipment. The process of polishing concrete by relying on chemical densities, then polishing the surface of the concrete is known as a Topical Polish. Topical Polishing has benefits and is a good fit for some projects, but the end result typically yields a very low quality diamond polish, versus a mechanical polish with heavy diamond grinders.

• At Pacific Decorative Concrete, Inc., we install both types of polished concrete floors depending upon the needs and desires of the project owners. Neither process is good or bad, by nature. However, to obtain a high quality concrete polish, it is necessary that the concrete be polished with a heavy 3 or 4 head Planetary Grinder.

3. Skill and training of the contractor. Polishing concrete is a relatively new science that continues to develop and evolve. To achieve a high quality shine, it is important to select a contractor who has been properly trained in the use of the equipment and chemicals necessary to polish concrete, and to ensure the contractor follows architectural and system specifications.

• The concrete polishing contractor should provide written verification from the equipment and chemical manufacturer that he is approved to use the equipment and chemicals.

• If architectural plans specify a particular system, such as the HTC-Superfloor or Retroplate 99, the contractor should have factory representation from HTC or Retroplate to verify installation specifications.

• Samples areas should be polished on the project site to demonstrate the polishing quality available on the subject concrete.

What is an HTC-Superfloor?

HTC is an international company headquartered in Sweden and is the industry leader in concrete polishing equipment. HTC has developed a process to achieve the highest quality polished concrete floor possible. HTC has specified the process and procedures for contractors to follow to qualify as HTC-Superfloor installers. The HTC-Superfloor will flatten concrete floors and create a near mirror sheen.

The HTC-Superfloor involves polishing the entire floor a minimum of 9 times, using progressively finer grits of metal and resin bonded diamonds. During the polishing process, a sodium silicate sealer is applied to the concrete and burnished into the concrete.

The result of the HTC-Superfloor process is that it brings out the natural beauty of concrete and produces a highly reflective surface finish that reduces maintenance and increases durability.

What is Retroplate?

Retroplate is an impregnating sealer manufactured by Advanced Floor Products, based in Salt Lake City, UT. Retroplate impregnating sealer is used during the concrete polishing process. Retroplate has developed a concrete polishing specification referred to by some architects and designers as Retroplate 99. Pacific Decorative Concrete has been certified by Advanced Flooring Products as a qualified contractor on the proper use of the Retroplate chemical and understanding of the Retroplate 99 specification. Retroplate is recognized for advancing concrete polishing chemical technology, and Advanced Flooring Products are continuously updating the concrete polishing body of knowledge in the industry. As a result of the contributions to concrete polishing made by the makers of Retroplate -Architects, Designers, Specifiers and members of the construction industry use the term "Retroplate" interchangeably with "Concrete Polishing."

Retroplate penetrates the surface of the concrete, reacts with minerals in the concrete to fill naturally occurring air voids in the concrete, thus dandifying and hardening the surface of the concrete. Retroplate is the impregnating sealer, only, and does not refer to a process or equipment for polishing concrete. Retroplate can be used in conjunction with the HTC-Superfloor specification. Pacific Decorative Concrete, Inc. is a certified installer of Retroplate and meets the Retroplate 99 specification.

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Can you polish my residential concrete?

Any concrete slab can be polished, including interior living spaces and residential garages. However, given the logistics of the equipment required, the need to provide special electrical power requiring a commercial generator and the hand detail work along interior edges, polishing small spaces can be cost prohibitive when compared to other residential floor finishes, except for the most discerning homeowners desiring a truly unique floor finish. Pricing for concrete polishing depends upon a large number of variables. However, I would expect the price to polish interior residential living spaces, to be $7.00 to $15.00 per square foot, which would include decorative staining and decorative borders and have a $8.50 minimum charge.

What are the benefits of Polished Concrete over other Commercial Floors?

Please see our Benefits page.


What is Diamond Polished Concrete?

Why Diamond Polished Concrete?

Benefits of Diamond Polished Concrete

Polished Concrete Specifications

Color Charts

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