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Easily Achieve the Perfect Polished Floor Finish with a Concrete Overlay | LATICRETE Conversations

Posted 12/12/2023 by Sharon La Riviere

 

Introduction 

Polished concrete floors have gained immense popularity in both residential and commercial spaces for their durability and aesthetic appeal. However, when faced with imperfect concrete substrates with inconsistent aggregate, stains, or cracks, the path to achieving a polished concrete finish can be fraught with challenges. The answer to this conundrum? Polishable self-leveling overlays – a game-changing alternative to traditional concrete polishing. 

In this blog post, we'll explore why and how these concrete overlays are an alternative solution for those who prefer to have a more uniform, consistent polished concrete look – and we’ll also do a deep dive into the polishing process as well as suggested maintenance.  

Why Cement-Based Self-Leveling Overlays? 

When faced with concrete floors that have repair needs, staining, or inconsistent aggregate, self-leveling overlays are a pragmatic and aesthetically pleasing choice to achieve a polished concrete look. Attempting to repair or patch a concrete surface can be challenging. Repaired areas often display a noticeable contrast, which, when polished, can emphasize imperfections and patchwork rather than conceal them. In the case of inconsistent aggregate, polishing concrete with irregular aggregate distribution can result in an uneven finish, where certain areas receive a higher polish than others, creating a patchwork effect.  Any existing imperfections, stains, or repairs are often further highlighted during the polishing process. 

However, cement-based self-leveling overlays offer a versatile alternative to the traditional approach with concrete floors. They provide a fresh, uniform surface and offer a durable, long-lasting flooring option. Designed to be a finished wear surface, their installation is relatively simple and user-friendly, as they are both pourable and pumpable, self-leveling, and can be installed in as little as 3/8" depth, making them an appealing choice for those seeking an update to their existing concrete surfaces. LATICRETE concrete overlays have been engineered for enduring high-traffic environments, ensuring that they can withstand the test of time. 

Polishing Process 

After the LATICRETE polishable self-leveling overlay has been installed, it must dry completely before being polished. Timing of this depends on the product used, depth poured, and environmental conditions (learn more about our NXT concrete overlay products and refer to product data sheets for product-specific details). 

Before starting the polishing process, we recommend reviewing tool manufacturers’ recommendations, as they often have different tool and equipment offerings to help achieve particular looks. LATICRETE has worked directly with a few manufacturers and compiled their recommendations. Click the links below and refer to these documents when using their specific diamond tooling and equipment:

When ready to polish your concrete overlay, follow these steps: 

  1. Grinding: Begin with coarse diamond pads to remove any surface irregularities, exposing the aggregate. 
  2. Honing: Progress to finer grit pads for a smoother finish and enhanced clarity. 
  3. Polishing: Achieve a high-gloss shine by continuing the process with even finer grit pads. 
  4. Densifying: Apply L&M® LION HARD® to densify and harden the surface while also improving resistance to wear and staining. 
  5. Final Polishing: Complete the process with a final pass of fine diamond pads to achieve the desired level of sheen. 
  6. Seal & Protect: Protect the finished overlay from stains with a penetrating sealer or guard such as STONETECH® BulletProof® Sealer or L&M® PERMAGUARD SPS, which penetrates into the substrate and won’t create a film or affect the finish.   

Ongoing Maintenance & Restoration 

To maintain the beauty and longevity of your concrete overlay flooring, regular care and maintenance is essential. The frequency and kind of maintenance will depend on the type of traffic and exposure of the floor. Routine cleaning can be done as needed, daily, weekly, or monthly and functions as preventative maintenance; this helps clean up grit and dirt, which can create micro scratches over time, and prevent issues with staining from spills or chemical exposure. Use preventative measures like walk-off mats around the entry and exit areas or vestibules to help protect your interior floor finish and make cleanup and maintenance even easier. 

Polished concrete overlays and concrete toppings can become soiled over time. Restorative cleaning and resealing can help return these surfaces to a better appearance. This process should not damage the surface, however, this type of heavy-duty cleaning may degrade or strip sealers. 

For a detailed guide on how to maintain polished self-leveling overlayments, refer to our TDS-184 “Maintenance Guide for LATICRETE Polished Self-Leveling Overlayments" . We recommend to always follow the maintenance guide provided by the manufacturer of the sealer used. Additionally, periodic re-polishing may be necessary in high-traffic areas to restore the shine and appearance. 

Conclusion 

Using the tips shared in this blog and TDS238 - “Guide For Polishing LATICRETE Self-Leveling Overlayment” you can easily achieve perfectly polished concrete overlay flooring. This will allow you to achieve stunning, durable, and low-maintenance surfaces. By following the step-by-step process and utilizing the recommended tools and equipment, you can transform your concrete floors into elegant, polished masterpieces. Remember that proper surface preparation, careful tool selection, and ongoing maintenance are key to ensuring your polished concrete overlay remains a source of pride for years to come. 

For more information, refer to TDS230 for additional substrate preparation and primer information.  


Have additional questions or want to discuss an upcoming project? Contact usFor more information, refer to additional substrate preparation and primer information. 

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