Too Many Concrete Grinders!!! Which One Is Right For Me?



Are you a contractor thinking about getting into the concrete grinding and polishing market?  Then my advice to you is... stay away from the “WORLD OF CONCRETE” (WOC) show held yearly in Vegas!  I'm joking of course (sort of).....

WOC Tradeshow


Where do you start when you don't have a clue?

Years ago, when I was contracting, my brother and I were talking about getting into concrete polishing. Not knowing anything about the industry we thought that the WOC was a good place to start.

We went to WOC with the intention of looking at the different systems available — and then we'd buy the one we liked best. What we didn't account for was how confusing this process was going to be for us!

Wading through the sea of options

There were so many different types of concrete grinders, by so many different manufacturers, offering so many opinions, that we were totally overwhelmed. It was confusing! And it wasn't 'cheap' to invest in any of the systems we researched.

We spent the entire day looking at endless grinders and getting endless sales pitches — our heads were SPINNING! But!... We narrowed down our choice anyway and prepared to buy a system. 

Just as we were ready to buy, we bumped into an old friend who just happened to be a PRO in the concrete grinding and polishing industry. We told him about the system we were about to buy and asked him for his feedback.

Even great equipment might be the wrong option

Before giving his opinion, he asked us a few questions about our future business and HOW we intended to use this system, and WHAT we expected to get from it? So we told him. He raised his eyebrows and said, in his opinion, we were making a huge mistake in choosing this particular system.

To be clear — it was a good system — but NOT THE RIGHT CHOICE for the work we wanted to do, or how we wanted to do it! And we would most likely outgrow it pretty fast, especially if we were going to be successful in growing our business into this new service area. 

But how were we to know that we were making the wrong choice?

You need a plan - and you need to ask yourself the right questions

My point in sharing this story with you is this... there are A LOT of equipment manufacturers who make concrete grinders and polishers. All of them have many different styles, each designed for a specific purpose. And every one of them (including us 😉) is vying for your business. We all want to provide the machines you need to get your job done.

BUT!!!...  it is in your best interest to have an idea of what you want to accomplish with your purchase (both from the machine - and from the marketplace where you do business), and THEN decide what TYPE of machine will match the work and will provide the expected performance level you need...

what to ask yourself when CHOOSING THE right grinder

Here are just a few important questions that you should be asking yourself when trying to determine the best machine for your type of desired work. 

  1. Are my jobs only concrete surface removal?
    Am I only profiling concrete to the correct CSP for coatings, prep for flooring installs, and moisture mitigation systems? Or do I intend to polish concrete as well? Or will I want the option to do it in the future? Answering this question
    will help determine the design of the machine you need. Then you can focus your attention on machines that do both types of work in a timely and efficient way.  

  2. What size is my typical job?
    This will determine the size of machine you need. You would not want to use an 18" machine on a 40,000 sq. ft. project — it would take way too long! And you would not use a big 32" machine on a garage floor. Not only would that be overkill — it would be highly impractical!

  3. What challenges do I have accessing power?
    This will help you choose between 110, 220, 220 3-phase or 480 3-phase. Even possibly propane-powered equipment. There are a lot of power options out there. If power is a potential issue, then choose your grinder type carefully.

  4. Will I be the only operator? 
    Will you be the person doing the operating? Or will the machine have multiple users? Will you have a crew that will be running the equipment for you? Answering this question can help to decide on how complicated a machine you may want. The more options a machine has, often the more knowledgeable the operators must be. You may be confident using the machine, but others will need training and practice.

  5. Will this machine be able to support my projects when I grow?
    Consider the types and size of the projects you see your company bidding on in the future and make sure the size and type of machine is capable of doing potentially bigger projects, and durable enough to be used more frequently.

  6. What is most important to me... Spending less money on purchasing equipment? Or spending less time on the job?
    Yes, your budget is an important consideration, especially when you are just starting out. So it may be necessary to start with a smaller machine that will take a little longer to complete a project — it might be the wiser business choice. If you do choose a smaller machine over a larger one in order to fit your current budget, then just be sure to get a GOOD QUALITY MACHINE. And as your business grows you can always upgrade to a larger machine when the time is right.

  7. Where can I go for advice?
    This question is an important one! Be sure to talk with other contractors in the industry regarding the equipment they use. Discuss what their experience has been and what they may have done differently. First-hand feedback is invaluable.
    And of course, you can also search the internet. There are many contractors who post videos on their projects and the equipment they use. These are really helpful in discerning actual on-the-job application and effectiveness. There are also many blogs that can help you narrow down your choices and help you choose the correct machine (just a word of caution — be careful to read blogs from a reputable and trustworthy source).

One last thought regarding Equipment advice...
Lastly, I would recommend that you find a TRUSTED Sales Representative that knows both the equipment and the industry you are working in. There are many great Sales Reps out there to help you make the best choice. Knowledgeable Sales Reps can give you "informed direction" and can help you match your needs with the machine best suited for you.

Yes, Sales Reps will often be 'biased' to the machines they sell — that is their job after all — but the good ones will also acknowledge good competitor machines when asked. And remember, you can call upon any of the Bartell Sales Specialists when you need expertise and feedback.

Yes, it can be confusing and intimidating when looking for the right concrete grinder. And it's probably safe to say that you won't have a 'chance' meeting by a seasoned PRO right before you purchase. But you can get the same result just by asking yourself these simple — but telltale -— questions to help guide you.

All the best in your equipment research!

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