Concrete Grinding Honing & Polishing Process

Polished concrete has been a popular choice among architects, engineers, property owners, interior designers, and general contractors for over a decade. The entire design process is a mix of technical know-how, industry experience, and artistic expression that can make or break the result, depending on the skill level of the polisher and crew. 

A good polisher will not only complete the technical training for concrete honing and polishing but will educate the customer on the type of processing, the total time, and the cost of completing the job successfully.

What Is Honing Concrete?

Honing is the middle stage in the concrete finishing process, involving finer grits to smooth and refine the surface after initial grinding but before the final polishing. It aids in achieving clarity of reflection and enhancing the concrete’s aesthetic qualities.

What is the difference between honing and polishing concrete? 

Honing concrete involves smoothing and refining the surface to improve its texture and clarity, but it still needs to achieve the high-gloss finish of the polishing stage. 

Polishing provides the final sheen and gloss, revealing the concrete’s full aesthetic and functional potential.

The 3-Stage Process

Grinding Concrete

This process starts with grinding. Grinding concrete involves using coarse grits to eliminate imperfections and prepare the surface for subsequent refining. It aims at removing the top layer, ensuring a flat surface, and initiating the first steps toward the final clarity and shine. 

This initial phase employs specialized machinery with diamond-segmented abrasives that efficiently strip away surface irregularities and expose the underlying concrete layer, ready for honing.

Honing Concrete

After grinding, the honing stage follows. It involves a series of steps that use consecutively finer grit abrasives to work the concrete, enhancing its aesthetic beauty. 

During this phase, the surface becomes smoother, and the clarity of reflection improves. Honing concrete strikes a balance, offering refined beauty without an excessively glossy finish. This middle stage is crucial for achieving the optimal texture and foundational shine that polishing will enhance.

Polishing Concrete

Each stage of this progressive process, culminating in polishing, uses finer grit abrasives. The polishing stage produces the maximum “clarity of reflection” and achieves a high-gloss, mirror-like finish.

This final touch reveals the concrete’s full aesthetic and functional potential, ensuring a durable and visually appealing surface that meets the highest standards of quality and beauty.

Three Types of Densifiers

  • Sodium
  • Potassium
  • Lithium

Meanwhile, a polisher must take into account variables he can control – and variables he can’t – that can affect the success of the polishing process, especially with an existing concrete slab. 

If it’s known that the concrete is to be polished before it is poured, use a polishing-friendly mix design and floor flatness rating for a better result.

Controllable Variables

    • Equipment
      • Weight, RPMs, Speed
      • Planetary movement – active or passive, direction
    • Abrasives
      • Configuration of the diamonds’ face/tread
      • Saturation of diamond grit
      • Hardness of diamond bonding
      • Time to switch abrasives
    • Densifiers
      • Type
      • Application time
  • Physical Grinding, Honing, and Polishing
    • How the concrete surface is cut
    • Clarity of the cut surface
    • Refinement of the concrete from one grit to the next

Uncontrollable Variables

  • Condition of concrete surface
  • PSI
  • Surface flatness and levelness
  • The concrete mix design
  • Presence of coatings, glues, or mastics

Grit Sequence

Polishers look for a number of conditions during the grinding, honing concrete, and polishing process:

  • Clarity of reflection
  • Sheen
  • Shine
  • Depth
  • Uniformity and color of reflection

To grind, hone, and polish a concrete surface to the maximum “clarity of reflection,” use a sequence of grit abrasives, moving on to the next finer grit only when the previous one has done its job.

This will ensure a clean, crisp look of the concrete surface at a 200-, 400-, and 800-grit resin while achieving maximum surface durability.

Different Levels of Processed Concrete

  1. Grinding Level
    • Cream
    • Salt & Pepper
    • Exposed Aggregate
  2. Honing Concrete
    • Honed surface stops at 200- or 400-grit resin
  3. Polishing
    • Semi-polished surface stops at 400- or 800-grit resin
    • Highly polished surface stops at 1,500- or 3,000-grit resin

Bonus Level: Decorative Enhancements

  • Coloring with integral, acid-stained, and water- or solvent-based stains and dyes
  • Saw cut patterns
  • Engraving

Runyon Surface Prep is considered a “polisher’s paradise” because of the depth and breadth of equipment and products available, including Husqvarna, HTC, STI tooling and grinders, Ameripolish, PROSOCO, Convergent, Dayton Superior, and more. 

If you have any questions about what to choose, pricing, or how-tos, don’t hesitate to contact us.