Is your concrete really polished or just temporarily shiny?
There are many floors sold as polished concrete that will dull/wear out quickly because they were not installed correctly. They look good when the job is turned over but they just don’t last. You get what you pay for so buyer beware!
You can shine a floor up very inexpensively but if not done correctly, it will not last very long. In a low-price bid world this can leave many people regretting their decision to use polished concrete which is disappointing since it is such an amazing floor finish when installed properly.
True polished concrete uses a multi-step process to “refine” the floor. The concrete becomes flatter and glossy at a microscopic level as heavy equipment grinds, hones and polishes the floor using progressively finer grit diamond impregnated pads. The result is not just a shiny floor, but a truly polished floor that will be beautiful and durable.
Did your flooring contractor do a good job with your polished concrete install?
There are 2 important ways to tell if the contractor did a good job:
- Distinction of image (DOI): A measure of how clearly an image will appear in a reflective surface. If the contractor takes a short cut in the process, he will not achieve a high DOI measurement. The images reflected will be distorted and mis-shaped.
Measurement is obtained using an Image Clarity Meter. Distinction of image should increase as the floor is polished from a low grit (lower than 400 grit) to a medium (400 grit) to a polished finish (800 grit) to a highly polished finish (1500 grit +).
- Haze: cloudiness or milky appearance of the reflection of images in the floor caused by scratch patterns, and residue from densifiers or guards. Measurement of haze is obtained using a gloss meter.
Test standards should be included in the specifications to provide quantifiable expectations for a polished concrete floor. For reference, see the Polished Concrete Appearance Chart (Appearance Chart_10-25-2017.pdf (ascconline.org) ) from the Concrete Polishing Council. If the floor doesn’t test to meet these standards then it was not done correctly and you should not accept it!
Do you have a low bid on your polished concrete project?
Polishing is a technical process with a bit of artistry. Anyone can be taught to stand behind a machine and move across a floor, but it takes a technical artist to do it right. The polisher needs to understand concrete and know how to read the floor and feel his machine. There is no set doctrine as to what it takes to polish concrete. Every slab is different and every bit of every slab is different. The polisher must know how to finesse the tools and work with the concrete to create art from the earth.”
Other factors that affect the quality and longevity of the floor:
It takes time and patience to make several passes over the floor and achieve max refinement.
Use of a Guard/Sealer
Installers can cut corners by polishing a floor with 800 grit, then adding a guard/sealer to make it look like a 3000 grit. That shine wears off, though, and you are stuck with a less durable floor.
Densifiers increase the hardness of the floor during the polishing process. They need time to dry. Otherwise, the floor will be more prone to wear and tear.
Experienced artisans go through several steps to help resist acidic or oily spills. If you miss a step, then it’s inevitable you will inherit that mess long-term.
Certainly low bidders may have the best intentions in their choice of products and procedures, but with the competitiveness of the bid process it is vital that you reviewed the details and vet the actual installer.
How long will polished concrete floors last?
A quality polished concrete job can last over 20 years. Why? It doesn’t sustain the same damage that softer flooring does and can stand up to heavy traffic.
Extend the life of your floor with proper maintenance, including a quick clean-up of acidic liquid spills or old batteries. Have a generous supply of absorbents handy. In warehouses and other industrial spaces, managing spills is built into their safety guidelines for workers.