Are there Standards for Polishing Concrete, and what is the process?
There are no published standards for polished concrete, but it is generally agreed that the concrete must be polished through the sequence of disks ending with 1800-3500 grit diamonds to be considered polished concrete. At this level the concrete will exhibit a glossy sheen and high reflectivity without the use of a topical coating. Polished concrete is not simply exposing the rock in the concrete mix then applying a sealer.
During the polishing process an internal impregnating sealer is applied. The sealer sinks into the concrete and is invisible to the naked eye. It not only protects the concrete from the inside out, it also hardens and densifies the concrete. This eliminates the need for a topical coating, which reduces the maintenance significantly (versus if you had a coating on it). Waxing the surface would be defeating the purpose of a fully polished floor. The concrete floor itself is already shining, so there is no need to put something on the floor that would then need to be maintained.
If the decision is made to polish concrete in advance of the concrete being poured, there is a stunning array of available options;
• Colored aggregate can be applied to the concrete mix or seeded into the top layer of the mix. The polishing process will reveal these aggregate.
• Integrally colored concrete can be used.
• Glass can be seeded into the mix. The polishing process will reveal the glass pieces.
• Nails, bolts, computer chips or other objects can be seeded into the mix and then polished smooth.
• Of course, any of these options can be combined together or into a pattern.
As noted earlier, polishing concrete required a series of polishing steps culminating with the use of 1800-3500 grit diamonds. Each step in the process increases the shine and reflectivity of the concrete. There are other options, which though stop short of 1800-3500 grit diamonds, are still beautiful.