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  • The new owners of this modern steel-and-glass framed home loved the concrete floors throughout, but wanted to remove the rough-troweled finish so they would be easier to maintain.
  • The polishing crew made four passes over the floor with various grits to smooth out the trowel marks without marring the surface.
  • Polishing along the floor edges and around existing obstacles entailed a lot of labor-intensive hand detailing.
  • The newly polished floors have a beautiful salt-and-pepper finish and light-reflective sheen.
  • The polished floors were left a natural gray to provide a neutral backdrop to the red accent walls.
  • After polishing, the floors were protected with a clear stain guard to make them easier to clean and to enhance the sheen.
  • All the home’s occupants are pleased with the results.

This modern steel-and-glass framed home in New Buffalo, Mich., just a few miles south of Lake Michigan, was originally built by a Chicago couple who wanted to embrace the outdoors with a simple design and streamlined materials, including concrete floors throughout. New owners had acquired the home and loved the concrete floors. But they didn’t like the rough-troweled finish, which was hard to clean, abrasive on bare feet and stained easily.

“The clients wanted to enhance the concrete surface but not take away from the current look and design in the space,” says Nick Dancer of Dancer Concrete Design, a company that specializes in stained and polished concrete and epoxy coatings. “A full concrete polishing process was selected for the floor to remove the rough trowel lippage, harden and dustproof the concrete, increase the light reflectivity in the space, and make the floor much easier to keep clean.”

The 1,500-square-foot project took Dancer and his crew (John Marcey, John Campbell and Dave Habeger) three days to complete, with their progress impeded by having to work in enclosed spaces and around existing obstacles. Because the floors went right up against the walls, a lot of edge work was required. Even the floors in the closets and bathrooms had to be polished.

“The details in these hard-to-reach areas really defined how the final product looked and how well it met the client’s expectations. We handled this work by having two of our team members dedicated to the details and edge work. This was a tough job and involved a lot of hours and attention to detail to make sure things looked just right,” says Dancer. An array of tools was needed as well, including a stand-up edger, 5- and 7-inch hand-held electric polishers, and a multi-tool for corners.

Dancer and his crew began polishing the floors using a three-head planetary grinder equipped with 120-grit metal-resin diamonds to remove the trowel marks on the surface while taking care not to cut into the concrete. “The final aggregate exposure was for a cream to light salt-and-pepper finish. We made four passes with various grits and finished with a 400-grit final polish. At this level, we started to develop a nice reflection in the floor.

The crew finished the floor with a clear stain guard to protect it from food-based stains and to enhance the natural gray color. “We like how this otherwise warm space with its red wall accents is complemented by the cool gray color of the floor,” says Dancer.

The floor can now be maintained by simply going over it with warm water and a microfiber pad. A stain guard may need to be applied every couple of years, depending on use.

Materials and equipment used: Planetary grinder: Lavina 20N Pro
Diamond tooling: Polished Concrete Solutions
Hand-held concrete polishers: Joe Dude Blades
Concrete densifier: Reactive colloidal silica densifier, from Lythic
Stain guard: RetroGuard, from Advanced Floor Products

Polishing contractor Nick Dancer
Dancer Concrete Design, Ft. Wayne, Ind.
www.nickdancerconcrete.com

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