If you’re interested in learning how to polish concrete with a power trowel, we can help. The concrete flooring experts at Runyon Surface Prep have been big proponents of this method for years—in fact, we even developed an innovative magnetic preload system to streamline the process and transform your power trowel from a concrete finishing tool to a highly efficient concrete polishing machine. 

But how does this polishing method work? Here’s a brief overview of power troweling and the steps you’ll need to take to polish concrete with a power trowel.

Why Should I Polish with a Power Trowel?

By now, you’ve probably heard fellow contractors or even larger businesses extol the many benefits of polishing concrete with a power trowel. But how much truth is there to what you’ve heard?

Quite a bit, in fact. Power trowel polishing offers a significant reduction in both labor and tooling costs. At the same time, it speeds up projects, allowing contractors to cover more ground and tackle larger jobs which they might otherwise have had to pass on. It also makes polished concrete a cost-effective choice for massive venues, further extending the reach of this beneficial flooring option.

How much more efficient can this process really be, you ask? A ride-on power trowel can be used to polish up to 10,000 square feet per hour, whereas an electric planetary grinder can only tackle 300 to 800 square feet per hour. Clearly, the savings in both time and labor are significant—so if you’re on the fence about incorporating power trowel polishing into your service offerings, you should consider giving it a try.

The Power Trowel Process

Evaluate the Quality of Your Concrete Floor

The first, most important, and unfortunately most often-overlooked step in the power trowel polishing process is to evaluate the integrity of the existing surface. Small imperfections are an inherent characteristic of concrete, but structural damage will require remediation before you can safely polish. Be sure to identify any problem areas that may need to be resurfaced first. Look out for spalling, blisters, and other signs of concrete damage.

Additionally, you’ll need to evaluate the hardness of the floor you’re working on in order to determine the correct type of diamond tooling to use with your power trowel. You can easily accomplish this with a Mohs hardness tester. For trowel polishing, we recommend Turbo Tulips, Copper Transitionals, Wet Slicks, and SP3 diamond polishing pads. You may also want to utilize burnishing pads to help finish a floor.

Ready Your Magnetic Preload System

Many of the methods used to attach diamond tooling to a trowel machine are clunky, inefficient, and time-consuming. To make switching out spent diamond tooling and changing between grits easier and more efficient, we recommend using the RSP Magnetic Preload System

We developed this revolutionary tool holding system to make changing out velcro-backed tooling simple and quick. A stainless steel ring bolts to the pad driver, and a high-density polymer tool holder ring attaches magnetically. Having extra rings on hand will enable you to preload your tools. With the next step in the polishing process ready to go beforehand, you’ll be able to seamlessly switch to the next grit, reducing downtime and maximizing the efficiency of power trowel polishing.

Polish to the Desired Finish

You know the drill from here! Starting with metal or transitional tooling, work your way up to the highest grit needed to achieve your desired finish. While power troweling can’t quite create the same variety of finishes as traditional grinding, you can easily achieve a cream finish or other polish that doesn’t require extensive aggregate exposure or high gloss. 

If you would like to achieve a large aggregate exposure, you can streamline the process by first using your grinding equipment to get the aggregate to the desired exposure. Next, use your power trowel to finish the floor. As long as you use the appropriate tooling, your power trowel will give you that desirable high polish.

Manage Slurry Production

Because power trowel polishing is a wet process, you’ll have quite a bit of slurry on your hands to remove throughout the project. This messy substance is considered hazardous waste, so it’s critical to make yourself aware of any local or regional disposal requirements. If you simply dump the mess into a sanitary sewer, you’re likely to find yourself facing hefty fines. That’s why an efficient slurry management process is so critical. 

With the help of several slurry agents, you’ll separate the slurry back into its two primary components: water and cement. From there, the water can be pumped back onto the floor for reuse, reducing the total water usage for your project, and the residual slurry can be condensed and dried into a solid. We’ve put together an entire guide to managing slurry production on your job site, so be sure to take a look.

Get the Most Out of Your Power Trowel with Runyon Surface Prep

Has this look at power trowel polishing piqued your interest? We’d love to help you incorporate this efficient polishing process into your service offerings! At Runyon Surface Prep, we treat our customers and industry partners like family. We’re dedicated to equipping you with the tools, concrete polishing machinery, and technical knowledge you need to complete projects both large and small. Give us a call today to learn more about how we can meet your needs.