4 Dec 2012
After grinding down the original concrete floors, we decided the best finish would be the simplest … just not the easiest. This is the “Part 2″ version of refinishing concrete floors – go here for part one “Refinishing Concrete Floors” – and in this post we will take a look at the polishing process. Considering that I have 3 different sections of concrete, I had some concerns about going back into these areas with a stain … the swirly-twirly finish as you recall was actually something that I was trying to stay away from creating.
The finish goal for these floors was to achieve some sort of consistency and to keep the floors looking natural. Originally I was going to stain the floors dark, partly because I like dark floors but also because I was anticipating some variations from section to section and I thought going dark would help mask the differences. Once the original color had been removed, the lighter natural color of the concrete really helped brighten up the house – something that my wife and I both responded to favorably. As a result, we decided that we would keep the floors light which meant that we were not going to add any color, just a simple carnauba wax finish – something simple.
The picture above is one of the test sections … you can see that the clear paste wax actually darkens up the floor quite a bit from its dry-looking state. While the sections above look wet, they are not – this is just the visual combination of the paste wax darkening the floor and the sheen that comes from polishing the wax on. (It would be really easy to throw a Mr. Miyagi/ Ralph Macchio reference in here, feel free to make your own joke.)
This is a close up look at the brushes that are used to work the paste wax into the concrete. The bristles are a lot stiffer than they look and the floors were covered in little broken off pieces of these brushes.
This is a very labor intensive process – I was amazed at just how hands on the process was. Here is something to consider … see all those score lines in the concrete? If these guys just slopped some wax down on the floor, as soon as they ran the polishing machine through the wax and over one of those score lines, all the wax would end up in the crack.
Mr. Miyagi would definitely not approve of a sloppy crack.
So the guys from FloorRescue spread the wax on by hand one square at a time before buffing it in with the machine.
Let me repeat that for effect (and knowledge, I’m all about the knowledge) …
Like I said – this was a labor intensive process and despite the fact that day turned into night AND it was now Saturday, these guys worked late into the night to get the job finished. There are two things that I find interesting in the picture above 1) you can see how it is late at night because that a giant window in the background and there is currently no light coming in, and 2) that guy working the polisher is the actual owner of FloorRescue.
as a reminder – here is the before:
… and here is the after:
Looks really good to me, I am really happy with how the finished product turned out. The technical specifications are:
The existing stained concrete floors were first dressed with 40-grit metal-bonded diamonds beneath two HTC 500′s, which removed the sealer, most of the stain, and exposed aggregate. Afterwards, they went up to 80-grit metals, followed by 150-grit metals. They grinded the edges and the step with hand machines using cupwheels, and coarse and medium hybrid diamonds. The existing score lines were crack-chased by hand and then the entire floor received a final grind/polish using 200-grit resin-bonded diamonds, which enhanced the sheen of the top coat product. Finally, a carnauba paste wax product as the top-coat was burnished in with a low-speed buffer that was holding Bassine brushes.
Here is a look at the 3 different sections of concrete after the grinding, waxing, and polishing. I debated putting this picture in because in person, the color variation isn’t as pronounced. They are a little different but now that we have all our furniture moved back in, you really don’t notice it (and I am exactly the sort of person who notices things like this).
I thought I would wrap this post up by wrapping up the Life of an Architect World Headquarters Renovation. The pendant lights I put in are the FL/Y from Kartell. I went with these because they were large enough (22 1/2″ across) to cover the table we selected (104″ long) and they throw light down but also radiate the light out – which is nice because I wanted to illuminate the ceiling. Remember ‘Architects don’t always get it right‘? Well, the trash bag study and the relocated J-Boxes worked out right this time around.
I mounted these pendants a little higher than normal – at 74″ above the finished floor. I did this because while I like the look at them, I didn’t want to have to look through them when looking out the new window I just put in. I also set them high so that if the table gets pulled out, we can use this room as a performance stage – sort of a “Back-of-house” area (don’t ask). I can still walk underneath them without hitting my head. I can just imagine what that sounds like but believe me when I say it was important.
So I didn’t really have a finished photo to show so I took these “very professional” photos about 30 minutes ago. (Yes, we put up our Christmas trees this weekend).