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Beginner Tips to Starting Your DIY Concrete Makeover With Small Grinders

This blog is written for all you Do-It-Yourselfers looking to refurbish concrete. Whether it’s a garage floor, or patio, there are many DIY opportunities to add a fresh new look to your old concrete with a small grinder. In this blog, we’re going to walk you through the basic grinding process, as well as some things to watch out for as you get started. If you are a seasoned pro, this blog isn’t for you, but we have a lot of other more advanced, industry relevant content, on our content hub.

Although grinding is not the only way to prepare a concrete slab, it is generally the best option for DIY users because of rental accessibility, user friendliness and various potential finishing options.

 

WHY ARE YOU GRINDING?

Because you’re reading this blog, we’ll assume that you are either interested in, or wanting to start on a grinding project. Knowing what you want as an end result will be one of the most important aspects to figure out before you start. The reason for this is because you will need to follow a different process depending on what you’re looking to achieve. For example, if you’re wanting to put down a self- leveling coating you’ll need to know the exact specifications of how the concrete needs to be prepared so that the coating can adhere properly.

Or say you already have a coating on the concrete and are looking for a polished concrete finish; removing the coating first is obviously necessary but if you use tooling that is too aggressive, you may leave marks in the concrete that are very difficult to get out, which will wreck the look of the polished concrete.

 

COATING PROFILES

Majority of coatings available need some sort of profile to adhere properly to the concrete. “Profile” refers to the texture or roughness of the concrete. Some coatings need a mild texture or roughness, while others require a more aggressive one. If you are planning on using a coating to achieve the finished look you want, the coating manufacturer will state what kind of profile you will need before applying the coating. Depending on where you live, the profile classifications will be different. Once you know what kind of profile is required for your coating of choice, it’s a good idea to do some research and see what kind of grinder tooling you’ll need to achieve that specific profile. A grinder will have many different tooling types available in order to get different profiles. We’d suggest asking the rental house you get your grinder from about which tooling you’ll need. They will most likely have the applicable tooling available, and will understand which tooling is best for the grinder you’re using, to achieve various profiles.

 

POLISHED CONCRETE

Polished concrete is a great way to update the look of a concrete slab, but for those without any grinding or polishing experience it can be a bit of a project. Before you commit to polishing your slab, make sure you look into what the process actually demands. For a beginner, it can be daunting and easy to make mistakes as there are multiple steps of grinding and chemical application, to achieve the proper polished finish.

There are some floor systems that make it easier. Bartell Global has created a professional floor system called the iShine Floor system if you want to check it out to get the basic idea of how they work. You’ll see that polishing concrete requires a little more background knowledge and is a process that is a bit more complex than some epoxy paints or other finishing coatings.

 

RENTING YOUR GRINDER & TOOLING

Once you know what you want to do with your concrete you can begin shopping. Most rental houses will have single-head or multi-head grinders available for you to choose from. If you are doing a smaller DIY project or prepping the surface for a coating, a single-head grinder should suit your needs. If you are doing a bigger slab and/or polishing concrete, you’ll want a mulit-head planetary grinder, to ensure the right finish. 

When it comes to tooling, you should understand what profile you’re looking for, or what material you are looking to remove before picking the tooling. Talk with the rental house get your grinder from, they should be able to suggest the right tooling for your job. Make sure to tell them exactly what the current situation of your concrete is (pictures can be helpful) and what your end goal is. Many different companies will carry different tooling used for the same purpose, so it’s important to do a little research of what they are suggesting as well. Look online for user ratings or reviews if you feel like you need to.

 

GRINDING CONCRETE

The process of grinding is a lot easier than polishing. The main thing to keep in mind is to make sure that you are achieving an even look as you grind along the concrete. To grind, keep a consistent “swinging” motion with the grinder, from left and right across the slab as you move forward. You would do this for coating removal, creating a profile, or beginning the polishing process. Just like sanding paint off a piece of old furniture, once the concrete looks “cleaned” you can move forward.

Don’t go over a certain area of the floor for too long. Less is more, to start. Once you grind too much, there is no going back. You can always come back and grind down a bit more after if needed. 

If you were just grinding the floor to remove a coating to put another down, your grinding process is done once you have achieved the profile needed for the new coating. Follow the instructions from the manufacturer and you will end up with a beautiful new floor!

If you’re polishing, continue following the floor system instructions and grinding steps. In no time, you will have a polished concrete slab that gives the space a whole new look.

 

Hopefully this quick overview of grinding will help you get started on your project.

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