Polished concrete is the process of grinding a cement floor with coarse diamond blades using subsequent levels of finer blades to achieve a durable, shiny surface almost like marble or terrazzo. The equipment used are heavy upright, walk behind machines like pictured above at The Husqvarna booth at the World of Concrete.
The process creates surface dust which is removed while grinding the floor with high torque vacuums. They eliminate airborne dust.
During the process which can include 7-8 various levels, a liquid densifyer is added to the surface. This liquid creates a chemical reaction with concrete tightening the pores, increasing the surface strength, providing more surface area to polish. The end result is a durable, easy to clean shiny floor.
There are variations of the shine. The process starts out with diamond blades ranging from 25-80 grit, followed by 100,200,400,800, 1500 and 3,000 grit levels. A matte finish might stop at 400 grit to the highest level shine at 3,000 grit.
As you can see in the photos above, a polished floor can be colored with stains and dyes. In some cases a floor will be sealed with a concrete sealer.
Overlays are not polished concrete though they are frequently considered part of the polished concrete family. Some overlays provide a similar look, but to the true polishing industry experts they are a completely different application. To view an overlay application click here.