This is a 100 SqFt sunroom with a concrete floor that the customer considered having polished.
I explained the process of using Lavina, SASE, or other manufacturers diamond tooling under my Lavina X20 planetary concrete grinder/polishing machine. A 220V power supply would be needed, which usually can come from an electric dryer outlet, but there are other means to get power if this isn’t available. Depending on the concrete’s condition, I will start with 30 grit or 50 grit metal bond diamond tools, to achieve the initial cut of the concrete surface. I should mention that my Lavina X20 holds 9 diamond tools, therefore, I need 9 diamond tools of each grit along the concrete polishing process.
This first step is the most important step of the concrete polishing process, as we are removing the top layer of concrete, thus exposing what will be the pallet for the final outcome of the concrete polishing process. This first step may or may not expose stone that is in the concrete. Generally, the longer you grind the concrete in this initial step will expose more stone. The danger of grinding too much in this first step, is that some of this stone or small sand particles may start popping out, leaving a pitted final surface. You can ‘grout’ the entire concrete surface to fill these holes back in, but this can lead to additional materials & cost. The additional ‘grouting step’ may be inevitable in cases where you are starting with low quality concrete. An experienced concrete polishing contractor should be able to evaluate the quality of concrete at the onset, to determine if the concrete is ‘polishable’. This doesn’t mean that a concrete polishing contractor can determine exactly what the final look will be, as this is determined by how the concrete slab was initially installed & finished. What lays underneath the top layer, which we are removing, is often different from one concrete slab to another.
Once the first cut has been achieved, the concrete polishing process progresses through several more steps of finer grit diamond tooling. Each step removes scratch marks from the previous coarser grit tool, thus refining the concrete with each step. These will include, 70 grit then 120 grit metal bond diamond tools. Metal bond tools for concrete polishing means that the diamonds are encased in a metal matrix that slowly wears away, exposing more diamonds to efficiently cut & refine the concrete. The next step in the concrete polishing process is to use a transitional diamond tool of 100 grit. Transitional diamond tools will often have a ceramic matrix to encase the diamonds & remove any scratches that may be present from the metal bond tools.
When a concrete polishing contractor is satisfied that all scratches have been removed, then the concrete honing & polishing can begin using resin bond diamond tooling. Concrete honing is achieved with 200 grit, then 400 grit resin bond tooling, which, as you guessed, the diamonds are encased in a resin matrix. After the 400 grit step has been finished, the concrete should have a satin type sheen. This is where we will use a liquid silicate concrete densifier, which strengthens the concrete surface by filling in the micropores that exist in all concrete. This will produce a surface with more surface area to polish, thus achieving optimum results. There are several different silicates used in concrete densifiers, which include sodium, potassium, lithium, & collodial silicates. The type of silicate used to densify concrete is based on the specific concrete & the polished concrete contractors preference. In general, we use lithium and/or collodial silicate densifiers from manufactures such as, Ameripolish, Consolideck, Trinic, & others. If a concrete floor is specified to have a final finish of 400 grit (level 1), we will densify the concrete after the 200 grit concrete polishing step.
From here we can progress to the concrete polishing steps & levels. 800 grit (level 2) resin bond diamond tooling will produce a gloss sheen with reflectivity starting to be noticed. 1500 grit (level 3) resin bond diamond tooling will produce a very glossy concrete floor with further clarity of reflective features of the space. 3000 grit (level4) resin bond diamond tooling will produce a mirror like finish to the concrete surface.
A concrete guard product is almost always used such as, Ameripolish SP3 or SR2 or both, to protect the polished concrete surface from wear & staining.
New masonry stone walls, stone stairs, pavers & low voltage lighting project completed December 2018:
The original site had overgrown plantings & stone wall & stairs that had deteriorated over the years.
The first step was to remove all of the existing & start with a new pallet. The original holly on left of stairs was transplanted to the other side of garage door. The holly on right of stairs was left in it’s original spot.
As is important with all stone & paver work, a solid base material is needed. The area was excavated 2 feet down & in some places more, below what the finished grade with materials would be. This subgrade was then compacted using vibratory plate compactor.Crushed stone in 1.5” size, then 3/4” size was installed for a solid base material. The stone work was built on top of this crushed stone base material. The pavers were installed on top of a compacted 3/4” crushed gravel base material.
There is a difference between crushed stone & gravel, although the terms are often confused, it is important to know. The difference is, gravel has fine materials mixed in with the stone. This can be stone dust, clay, silt or sand, that when compacted to 95% Proctor density, binds this matrix together to produce a hard solid base that shouldn’t ‘settle’ over time. Crushed stone when installed has 95% compaction & remains open for drainage & slight movement over time. The open natural of crushed stone also avoids freeze thaw heaving since water won’t collect, freeze and expand.
Under the masonry stairs & platform, a 6” depth concrete footing was poured with rebar reinforcement. Thin wall Connecticut Tan stone from Sansoucy Stone was used to build the stairs, platform, & walls. These were done with in tuck point style, which means that mortar is used to bond the stone together, but without a visible mortar joint. The purpose is to make the wall look like it’s dry laid, but has the strength of mortar. We always use a 2” stone tread, when building stone stairs. 2” treads are available in Bluestone, Brownstone, Sandstone, Limestone, & Granite. This is mostly an aesthetic choice, although there is a slight cost difference. On these stairs, our customer chose Bluestone for the treads.
Low voltage lighting can often be added after a project is complete, but in this case lights were installed under each stair tread & in the wall, so the wiring, connections & placement had to be done during the construction process. A low voltage transformer was installed onto the side of the house, next to their existing power outlet, which was used to plug the transformer into. A low voltage transformer steps down 110 volt power to 12 volts outlets where the wiring is connected for the special low voltage lights. We use lights & transformers from Vista, Kitchler, Case & other manufacturers bought from Site One landscape supply.
The pavers chosen were Genest Grand Katadin with a Riverlin border paver, bought from Lindgren supply. The pavers were set on a 1” layer of bedding sand, which was screeded & pitched to allow proper water runoff. Once the pavers were set & all cuts made, the pavers were compacted into the bedding sand with a vibratory plate compactor. This is when the pavers get interlocked, as bedding sand gets forced into the joints between pavers from underneath. This is where concrete pavers get their strength & durability. L shaped paver restraints are then installed along all paver edges. Edge restraints are spiked into the ground using non galvanized 12” spikes which will not heave from the ground once they are somewhat rusted. Edge restraints keep the pavers from ‘walking out’ sideways over time. Polymeric sand then gets swept into the joints between pavers from above & watered to activate the polymeric sand. When dry, the polymeric sand forms a hard, yet flexible joint to deter insects & weed growth. We use pavers from manufacturers such as Belgard, Unilock, Techo-blok, Genest, Cambridge, Pavestone & others. Which manufacturers paver we select depends on style, price, & availability.
On this project we sealed all the stonework & pavers with Trinic Stampshield sealer. This is further insurance against water intrusion & longevity. These are the completed photos. Further landscaping & plantings will be completed in the spring: