Five tips on how to choose a concrete polisher

I’ve just come back from a job where I was called in to quote on fixing the work of two previous polishers who both managed to botch the floor in a luxury residential home (a big one, 300 square metres).

It got me thinking: what should people look for when they’re selecting a concrete polisher? How do you get a good one who really knows what they’re doing?

Here are my five tips to help you make the best choice.

1. What type of concrete polishing does the tradesman do?

There are two techniques that fall under the term ‘polished concrete’: ‘grind and seal’ and mechanically polished concrete.

‘Grind and seal’ involves maybe two light grinding passes over the floor then the application of a topical sealer, usually an epoxy polyurethane. The sealer, which does not penetrate the concrete, is then polished to give the floor a smooth, shiny look.

‘Grind and seal’ is much cheaper and quicker than mechanically polished concrete, but gives next to none of the benefits. Some people choose this technique simply because they can’t afford mechanically polish concrete.

Mechanically polished concrete is what I called true polished concrete and is the technique that Geocrete uses. We use a two-stage grinding and polishing process that involves up to 15 passes over the floor, premium surface densifiers to make the concrete much more durable, and penetrating sealer as a final layer of protection. (Read about our GeoshineTM polishing system.)

Both techniques are legitimate, but know what you are buying. It costs a lot of money, time and effort to turn a ‘grind and seal’ floor into a mechanically polished concrete floor.

2. Go and have a look at the concrete polisher’s work.

The pictures on the concrete polishing company’s website might look great, but you need to see their work over a whole house or business premises to assess if it has been done to a consistently high standard throughout.

Sometimes the rooms in the photos look great, but the rest of the home or office does not match the same quality. If possible, ask to inspect two examples of recent work.

3. Get some current references from builders, architects, concrete supply companies or satisfied clients.

Ask to speak with a few of the people who the polisher has worked for in recent months. It could be a builder, architect, office manager or home owner who’s had floors polished.

Premix concrete suppliers often have relationships with concrete polishers, as a meticulous concrete polisher tries to be involved from the beginning, when the concrete slab is being specified and laid. For example, Geocrete (we’re in Victoria) works with Vic Mix, Hanson and Metromix.

4. Ask what training they have had and how long they have been polishing concrete.

There is no independent trade training for concrete polishers. There are no TAFE courses, apprenticeships or traineeships. The only training available is offered by the manufacturers of the grinding equipment, and this is only of a few days’ duration.

Concrete polishing is basically a learn-by-doing trade, so you want someone who has had training in a concrete polishing system. I use my own proprietary system, Geoshine,TM now, but I originally had training in the Hiperfloor and Superfloor systems.

You also want a polisher who has at least 4-6 years’ of experience, a track record of successfully completed floors, and a lot of satisfied customers. Good knowledge and experience in concrete and the chemicals used in polishing are a worthwhile bonus.

5. Is a warranty provided on the polished concrete floor?

Geocrete provides a 10-year warranty on its GeoshineTM residential floors and seven years on commercial premises. If a concrete polisher will not provide a written warranty, then be wary.

You could also take a look at the quality of equipment the polisher uses (HTC, Trax, Lavina, Scanmaskin and CPS are all good commercial brands), and some of the intangibles, such as whether the polisher takes the time to understand your expectations, has good listening and communication skills, and an attention-to-detail attitude.

A good concrete polisher won’t begrudge your research, because a mechanically polished floor is a big investment. Remember, it costs double the price to fix a floor that has been botched by the first (or second!) polisher.

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