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The Best Specialty Tools for Concrete Grinding

Builder worker with grinder machine cutting finishing concrete wall at construction site. Clip. Worker grinds concrete wall.

Wondering how to boost your concrete finishing game?

You need the right specialty tools to get the job done, no matter what the job is. With a good arsenal of tools at your disposal, you’ll never have to turn down concrete finishing work opportunities.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through what you need to learn about concrete grinding and the best tools for the job. Keep reading to learn what tools you need to keep on hand for your concrete finishing needs.

What is Concrete Grinding?

The concrete grinding industry is still relatively new, so you may not be familiar with it yet. Before we get into the best tools to have on hand, let’s take a look at what you’ll be using those tools for.

This industry is growing fast, thanks to the attention of architects, property owners, engineers, and other influencers. If you haven’t added concrete grinding to your repertoire yet, you should – this industry is sure to grow even more.

Industry Growth

If you’re new to the business, you may think that grinding or polishing is as simple as applying abrasives to the bottom of a machine. However, you’ll quickly learn that it’s much more complex than that.

This process is actually quite technical, and there are a number of variables you’ll need to keep in mind while you work. If you’re not experienced with the equipment and methods, and don’t know how to factor in the variables, you could run into problems quickly.

Some variables will be outside your range of control, while there are others you’ll need to learn to control while you’re working with concrete grinding.

One more thing to keep in mind while building your business is to price things appropriately. With a new, popular service like concrete polishing, it’s tempting to base prices on what other contractors are charging. However, you should actually price based on your expenses plus the profit you need to make.

You’ll have even more success in the industry if you know how to impact your knowledge to the customer, so they know exactly what you’re doing every step of the way.

Grinding, Polishing, or Processing?

Concrete grinding is slightly mislabeled: it’s actually concrete processing. You’re not exactly polishing or grinding the surface with your tools, so much as you are processing it the same way an optical lens would be processed.

In concrete processing or “grinding,” what you’re really doing is changing the current surface of the concrete by a mechanical process that cuts or otherwise refines the surface until it has the right finish.

Polished concrete is a common end goal of this process, but it’s not the only one. Abrasives can be used to get a variety of different textures, hence the term “grinding.”

For the most part, people talk about either grinding or polishing as separate processes. However, if you get the right specialty equipment and training, you’ll easily be able to tackle both jobs.

If the end goal is polished concrete, the process will involve first grinding, then honing, then polishing the surface. You’ll need to invest in the correct equipment for each step.

And, of course, within each step, there are really multiple steps. You can’t hone a concrete surface all at once, for example. Instead, you’ll need to work through a series of abrasives with a consecutively finer grit, leading you to the finish you want.

While in this process, you also need to know the correct times to apply a densifier or hardener to make the concrete more hard or dense using a chemical reaction.

Although there are similarities between grinding, polishing, and processing, they aren’t quite the same. Using just grinding and honing, you can get a finish of a high, medium, or low sheen, without ever going through the polishing process.

A Closer Look at the Steps

Since it’s important to understand the steps involved in this processing when choosing your equipment, let’s take a closer look.

1. Ground Concrete

This is the lowest category of processing steps. A grinding step uses grit abrasives of about 50-grit resin and below. These surfaces have dull, flat appearances with minimal or no sheen.

2. Honed Concrete

This is the next-highest category of steps. Honing steps use abrasives that run from 100-grit resin to 400-grit resin, give or take. These honed surfaces are generally matte in appearance, but may also have a slight, medium, or even high sheen to them.

3. Polished Concrete

Finally, polishing is the highest category in the concrete processing steps. For polishing, you’ll need abrasives of 800-grit resin to about 1000-grit or even 1500-grit. Polished concrete has a very reflective, shiny, mirror-like surface.

Variables in the Process

This process may sound simple, but it’s actually fairly technical, which is why having the right equipment is so important. Now, let’s look at the variables that can influence your results.

First, things like equipment and abrasive quality are easy for you to control. Other variables are outside of your control, though, like how flat or level the surface is, and the design of the concrete mix.

You’ll need to learn to work with your equipment through all of the variables you may encounter.

Specialty Tools to Use

Photo credit: Fortis Adhesives

Which specialty tools are best for concrete grinding?

For small jobs, a hand-held grinder is a great choice. These are also great for detail work.

Angle grinders allow you to reach every corner easily.

If you want to polish your concrete floor slab, you probably want to use a large grinder that can cover surfaces fast. If you’re not a concreter by trade, you are probably best to hire a machine out or look for a professional.

In addition to grinders, you’ll probably want polishers to round out your capabilities. Don’t forget diamond tools to get the job done effectively.

The whole process creates a lot of toxic concrete dust, so don’t forget to invest in an industrial floor vacuum for safe cleanup.

Compacting and hardening agents are crucial for making the concrete polishable. Finally, you may want to have stains or dyes on hand to finish the floor or surface and make it beautiful.

How to Select a Diamond Grinding Wheel for Concrete?

Are you looking for the right concrete grinding wheel but you don’t know where to start?

Knowing the info in picking the right type of grinding wheel could assure you of both getting the right tool for the job and staying safe in the process.

We have some pointers for you to help you understand everything that you need to know about concrete grinding wheels; and what to look for.

What Is the Concrete Grinding Wheel Made Of?

AusKut-Cup-Wheels-Stones-Grinding-CDBS-Canberra

First off, we start with the composition of the diamond grinding wheel. This metal-bonded diamond tool has segments that are either welded or cold-pressed on a metal body (often steel or other metals like aluminum).

Each grinding wheel has different designs that would work on the type of work done and the surface they will be on. With this in mind, put these features into mind when looking and shopping for a diamond grinding wheel.

Surface Area

Consider the surface area that the grinding wheel segment covers. This particular factor has to bear on how fast and aggressive the cup grinding wheel will be.

Larger surface areas would mean lesser aggression levels, making the grinding wheel yield slower spinning speeds. This level is perfect for removal jobs as it leaves a smooth finish.

The inverse is true, where smaller surface areas yield faster speeds and higher aggression levels. For grinding wheels of this make, the tendency is that scratching becomes evident. It also means that the surface will be less polished.

Wheel Shape

Diamond grinding wheels come in varying shapes and sizes to fit the type of function that they will undertake. The straight wheel is the first instance in mind, noted for its grinding face being on its periphery.

There are others like the cup wheel, the dish wheel, and the cylinder wheel. These are notably used for polishing and other forms of grinding work. There are also grinding discs, noted for their thinness designed for cutting.

The design of the grinding wheel comes to play for the exact job required of them.

There are also concrete grinding shoes, or redi-lock segments. They aren’t a wheel – but still grind concrete in a similar way.

Grain, Grit, and Bond

Grinding wheels are, by nature, abrasive tools. With that said, grit gauges and measures the coarse surfaces of each segment. A lower grit value would mean a larger diamond size, delivering a coarser finish. While a higher grit value meant a smaller diamond size on the surface, delivering a smoother finish.

While grit measures the coarseness of the segment surface, these two components that come after will help in determining what one does compare to the other.

There’s the grain of the segment, which holds the specific material utilised on its surface. The other would be the bond which holds the abrasive grain together.

Each abrasive grain has unique properties that it provides in terms of strength, hardness, impact resistance, and toughness.

Aluminum Oxide is the most common abrasive material used for grinding wheels. Professionals utilize it when grinding carbon, alloys, and other metals. Always wear safety gear around it because it is toxic.

There are other abrasive materials utilised for the segment’s grain. For example, zirconia alumina (a mix of aluminum oxide and zirconium oxide) works perfectly well in rough-grinding. Silicon carbide also works on chilled iron, grey iron, brass, soft bronze, and aluminum.

Now, what works efficiently with the grain is the bond that will hold it together. While the grinding wheel is being used, the bond breaks down and exposes more of the diamond grain to ensure its sharpness.

A soft bond is perfect for grinding hard surfaces like hard concrete. However, this also increases the rate of wear. In reverse, using a soft bond on a soft surface will cause it to wear due to how abrasive the dust is to the bond. Thus, a hard bond works well with softer surfaces to ensure a maximum lifespan.

What Are Concrete Grinding Wheels Used For?

We have laid out the design and components, but what are they used for? Each grinding wheel has its specialisation depending on the grade and type. The following are among its general uses.

Removal of Material

Diamond grinding wheels are best used in removing materials off surfaces. This can range from removing paint from surfaces to removing excess concrete.

Levelling

Grinding wheels are also used in levelling surfaces, allowing the removal of excess material to ensure a defined cut on it. Grinding wheels of smaller size may allow for room to follow undulations. While larger wheels cover a greater surface span at the expense of aggression level.

Pre-Polish

Grinding wheels are also perfect in prep work in having the surface primed and ready to polish. Perfect for these are wheels that allow for a smooth finish when used.

How to Maintain Them?

With these tools to help in getting the job done, it is also important to know how to care for them. Handle the diamond grinding wheels with utmost care and with the right amount of precaution and protection.

Ensure their storage area protects them from gouging and banging. Also, ensure that these are not subject to extreme weather conditions and temperature variance to maintain integrity on the bonds.

Also, inspect the grinding wheels after unpacking to ensure that they are in pristine condition and there are no defects or damages during transport. Also, inspect before returning them to storage.

In terms of handling, do not roll them. Instead, carry them by hand. In the event that these are too heavy, use a wagon or a forklift with cushioning to carry them.

Do not use a cracked wheel. Doing so is a risk to your safety.

Also, take precautions in using the grinding wheel. Ensure that it fits snugly with the spindle and the guards are in place. Do not exceed the maximum safe speed of the grinding wheel.

If a wheel breaks while on the job, take time to inspect the machine to verify that the protective hoods and guards are not damaged. Check the mounting nuts, flanges, and spindle to know that they are neither bent, sprung, nor damaged.

Ready to Get a Diamond Grinding Wheel? Start Today!

Don’t buy the first option in the market because each concrete grinding wheel has a different purpose. There are wheel shapes and grit rate meant for each surface, perfect for polishing or whichever task fits. Safety goes hand in hand in selecting the right type of grinding wheel, as well.

Now that you have all the information you need to pick the right grinding wheel, we have the right tools for you to check out along with your other construction needs. Contact us to get started.

Looking for Concrete Grinding Equipment?

Want to get started in the concrete processing industry – or just grow your current capabilities?

We have what you need. Check out our selection of Grinders and our Grinding wheels and segments.