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Concrete Polishing Equipment
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Concrete Densifiers: An introduction to chemical hardeners and how they work to improve polished concrete
Buying Tips for Polishing Equipment: Before you invest in a grinder, be sure to listen, learn and ask the right questions

HTC-America in Knoxville, TN

Floor polisherThis is the indispensable workhorse on any polishing project. Look for a machine with a planetary drive system -- a large primary polishing head (ranging from 17 to 36 inches in diameter) fitted with three or four smaller satellite heads that hold the diamond abrasives. When the machine is operating, the satellite heads rotate in the opposite direction of the primary head to eliminate linear grinding marks in the floor.

Buying tips: Floor polishers can weigh anywhere from 250 to 1,250 pounds. Heavier machines produce greater friction levels, resulting in a better polish. If you're polishing dry, be sure your machine is equipped with a built-in vacuum port to collect the dust.

Handheld polisher or walk-behind edging tool7 inches in diameter or smaller to work along edges or in tight spots where a large walk-behind floor polisher can't maneuver.

Set of diamond-segmented abrasivesGet various grit levels, ranging from about 16 to 3000 (the higher the number, the finer the abrasive level). You'll need two basic types of abrasives: Coarse diamond segments bonded in a metallic matrix for surface preparation and initial grinding (from 16 to 300 grit) and finer diamond segments embedded in a resin matrix for honing and final polishing (from 100 to 3000 grit). See summary of the Basic Polishing Steps.

If the job requires removing thick elastomeric membranes, coatings, or mastics from an existing floor, it may be necessary to purchase a more aggressive grinding head specifically designed for removing heavy coatings and mastics, such as the T-Rex from HTC Professional Floor Systems or the Terrco Model 6200. This tool achieve high removal rates, often completing the job after one pass.

Buying tips: The choice of polishing abrasives depends on the condition of the surface and the hardness or softness of the material being polished. Consult with your supplier to determine the right diamond tooling to use for a particular application. A basic starter's kit should include at least three abrasives at each grit level. (Most suppliers color-code their diamond abrasives by grit level for easy identification.) Be sure the diamond tooling is sized to fit the satellite heads of your polisher.

Dust-collection equipmentThis is used to capture the dust generated from grinding of the concrete surface. Look for a machine capable of extracting about 99% of the dust from polishing (many of today's models do). For large scale jobs and ease of operation HTC Professional Floor Sytems has different size dust extractors for grinding and polishing.

Penetrating chemical hardenerAfter performing initial coarse grinding with the metal-bonded diamond abrasives, it's often beneficial to apply a liquid chemical hardener to the concrete to help solidify and densify the surface and provide extra protection from water penetration and staining. Hard concrete also produces a better polish. These products, which can be applied to new or existing floors, work by reacting chemically with the calcium hydroxide in the concrete to form a hard, crystalline structure. They are sold under different trade names, but are usually made of sodium-, potassium-, or lithium-based silicates.

Repair fillerThis is used for patching any cracks in existing floors during the surface preparation stage.

Buying tip: Use an epoxy or other semi-rigid crack filler, making sure to level the filler at the surface. This will enable the polishing heads to move more easily over the floor.

Topical stain-guard treatmentOnce you obtain the look and polish you're striving for, you may want to protect the surface by applying a commercial stain-guard product, especially if the floor will be exposed to grease, oil, or chemicals. Similar to Scotchgard for fabric, these solutions penetrate the surface to make the floor more resistant to stain absorption and dirt. They are usually applied by pump sprayer or wax applicator, but must be reapplied every few months or so to maintain their effectiveness.

Supplemental power and lightingFloor polishing machines consume a lot of juice (from 220 to 460 volts and up to 40 amps). Make sure the facility you're working in has the right electrical outlets and enough power to operate your equipment. Consider investing in a portable generator to eliminate downtime due to insufficient power. Also check the lighting: Is it bright enough to clearly illuminate the surface you're working on? If not, you'll need to bring in portable halogen lights.

Optional decorative enhancementsYou can enhance the lustrous beauty of polished concrete by using various coloring products and specialty treatments. To add color, you can apply chemical stains or dyes to the concrete during the polishing process. For new concrete floors, colored aggregate, glass pieces, or bits of metal can be seeded into the freshly placed concrete before it sets. The polishing process will reveal these decorative embellishments.

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