The humble concrete that has always played second fiddle to other glamorous flooring options like marble, granite and the traditional kota stone is finding itself in demand after the various selections it offers through polished concrete floorings. The grinding and polishing with special diamond tools converts an ordinary concrete floor into polished concrete floor. The resulting dense and hard floor is extremely resistant, repellent to dust and very easy to clean. Most modern buildings are built on concrete slabs and polishing the exposed concrete floor instead of coating it with harmful chemicals or floor coverings, makes it the ultimate sustainable choice in floorings. It is also very aesthetically appealing, cheap and the resulting gloss and reflectivity the polished floor provide help in illuminating the facility with lower energy costs.
To have a perfect polished concrete floor, care has to be taken right from the laying of the concrete floor to its polishing. Right technique and workmanship in laying the concrete is necessary to eliminate undulations of the surface as the floors are never usually flat or smooth.
The polished concrete comes in a variety of choices that can be molded for any number of specifications. The exposed aggregate floor that is usually found in old floors is the result of grinding off the whole top layer of the concrete to make the big aggregates visible. There is also the salt and pepper selection that has small black and white aggregates; it is the result of mild grinding. The Lampato finish has an unusual textured feel that is the outcome of removing the sand and the cement for keeping its aggregates on top. The most exciting selection of concrete flooring is the coloured concrete where the colour is added while the concrete is being mixed. It can effectively replace other coloured floorings like the traditionally favored kota stones.
The machines used for polishing concrete are various and each of it deals with a specific aspect of polishing. A concrete grinding machine grinds the floor for polishing. Then there are scrubbers and driers and burnishers for maintaining that polished floor. The diamond dot pad that contains diamond powder on the dots is used to maintain the shine and gloss level of the floor after polishing. A stain protector also known as a guard product is a thin film, high shine coating that protects the concrete against stains and is typically applied to a microfibre mop and is burnished with a diamond buffing pad at a high speed. This is particularly helpful in industries as the liquids coming into contact with the floor can be easily cleaned before it penetrates the flooring.
There are some basics that have to be adhered to while maintaining a polished concrete floor. Using alkaline or acidic heavy duty cleaners with hard bristles for faster cleaning damages the floor causing abrasions, so soft bristle brushes and red and white scrubbing pads have to be used for proper cleaning of the floor. Neutral floor cleaners that have a ph of 7+/-1 are best for polished floors. The cleaners have sufficient cleaning power, surfactants and enough sequestering agents to clean the floor without ruining the polish.
There is also the Super Concrete polishing system developed by Klindex that turns every type of concrete into a smooth, highly resistant and beautiful glossy surface. The system offers different procedures to achieve three different finishes. The Super Concrete Premium for coloured and decorative floors is achieved by grinding, polishing and dying in colour coating that penetrates the concrete and is almost permanent. The Super Concrete fast for easily maintained floor without the use of detergents. And the Super Concrete Terrazzo Effect has a decorative finish that is long lasting and has a super flat surface.
The floor has to be analyzed properly to figure out the method that has to be used for polishing the surface. There is a need to consolidate the concrete with special hardeners that have to be based on the type of the concrete present, as the batches of concrete may differ from floor to floor. The inherent defects of the concrete, with it being hard and soft in some places have to also be taken into account. The defects occur as there is scant regard for surface preparation. The cement and water ratio, the hardness of water, the size of the aggregate, the availability of good quality sand, all these have to be taken into consideration before the concrete is mixed. These factors are necessary, as 90% of the concrete laid, breaks at its joints in less than 48 hours. The laying of the concrete in a long line method is beneficial than the checker board method as the joints can be used for shrinking the cracks and laser leveler can be used to get a long lasting super flat floors.
While analyzing the floor the previous condition of the floor has to be considered as well as the traffic the floor will be facing on a day to day basis and the kind of products that will come into contact with the floor. The stain guard can be analyzed by splashing few drops of oil or water and if they start beading up; it shows that the stain guard is still working. The floor then can be classified according to the maintenance it requires. A slightly dull floor still has its shine with few dull spots and some scratches. The moderately dull floor has fine scratches with the stain guard worn off. The very dull floor has lots of scratches, and there may be a need to re polish the floor.
There are some tips that have to be remembered while maintaining a polished concrete floor. The floor should be cared for by proper dewatering of the surface using a microfibre and avoiding over vacuuming. Avoid Fiber Reinforced Concrete for flooring and as well as avoid level pegs as it shows up after the polish. Using of vapor barriers below the floor as they wear off much faster above the floor.
The frequency of maintenance has to be worked out by the management and the service contractor. It depends upon the usage, the type of traffic the floor faces, the shine expectation of the customer and the budget. The periodicity of the work for the maintenance also has to be decided by the customer. The customer expectation is something a service provider has to bear in mind while preparing the mode of service execution.
Polished concrete floors are primarily used in industries, warehouses, automobile workshops and showrooms, retail stores, hotel and restaurants, office buildings as well as private residences. The FDI in the retail sector has opened the door for global brands in India and they are more likely to choose polished concrete floorings over other floorings. The present automobile industry already has polished concrete floors as it provides them with super flat surfaces that help the automatic robotic systems prevalent in the industry to move with ease.Based on the presentations by Deepak Baluja, Managing Director, Final Technologies Pvt Ltd and Sachin Surie, Director, Surie Polex at the seminar on Concrete floor polishing and maintenance during the 9th edition of the Clean India Show, 2012.