How Do I Prepare My Floor For Laying Timber?

If you’re laying a new timber floor, you need to prepare the substrate properly otherwise you run the risk of having to redo the whole project entirely.

This would be enormously frustrating and time-consuming but worse still, it could be extremely costly - so it is really worthwhile putting in the effort to make sure the surface is prepared correctly so that the end result will be perfect.

There are several ways of preparing a concrete substrate before you lay a new timber covering on top, but the most effective and easiest way is to use a concrete grinder.  In fact, a concrete grinder is a good choice for preparing a surface for laying ceramics, vinyl, tiles and carpets as well as timber floors because it’s not only likely to produce the best results, it’s also likely to be the most cost-effective option.  

Hiring a concrete grinder is certainly a more economical option that using a floor levelling compound or a filler to smooth over the entire floor, and the results are excellent.  What’s more, concrete equipment hire isn’t expensive and with the right tools and know-how, you can achieve a professional result with your DIY project. 

How does a concrete grinder work?

In simple terms, a concrete grinder works by using rotating discs embedded with diamond grit of varying roughness to grind down the surface until it’s completely level, smooth and clean. 

Depending on the scale of your project, you can hire concrete equipment of all different sizes and capabilities - from lightweight grinders for small residential floor grinding and preparation jobs to high-speed heavy duty ones for large commercial projects - but they all fulfil the same purpose, and that is to remove glues, coatings, paint, wax, sealers, membranes and other debris and to grind down high spots in preparation for the new floor coverings.

Let’s look at how you prepare your floor for laying timber.

The first thing to note is that the floor has to be dry, flat, even, smooth and clean so that the new floor covering will be able to bond tightly onto it. 

Any adhesive or residue between the old surface and the new covering (such as tile debris, mortar-based tile glue etc) will compromise the quality and longevity of the new flooring, so it is essential that all residual material is removed completely. 

Another very important thing to note about laying timber floors is that the substrate has to be completely dry.    Wood absolutely hates moisture and if the slab isn’t completely dry, it may cause the timber to warp, twist and expand.  

This is an important consideration, especially if you are going to be using the wet concrete grinding method as opposed to the dry one.  Wet concrete grinders use water so it is imperative to wait at least 5- 7 days 24 hours (depending on environmental conditions) for the floor to dry out before installing the new floor.

*don’t forget to speak with your Floor Layer about waterproof membranes to stop any moisture further down the track

Whilst the wet method produces a slurry from the mix of concrete dust and water, the dry method produces volumes of silica dust.  Collecting this dust and mitigating its negative effects on health and environment is a key consideration when you use a concrete grinder, and you should ensure that any equipment that you hire has the right kind of vacuum attachment with the appropriate filtration capabilities.  Household models should not be used as they are not sufficient for this type of dust, and could be damaged irreparably.  You must also ensure that you have the appropriate safety gear such as protective goggles and dust mask.

Smooth and level

As mentioned, a concrete grinder uses circular discs of varying grit to remove coatings and smooth over any small ridges or high spots, such as those found along expansion joints.  You will also need to fill any dips or chips with patching compounds to ensure that the surface is completely level. 

As every flooring project is unique, it is important to choose a concrete equipment hire company that is happy to spend some time with you discussing your requirements and your desired outcomes and finding the best and most cost-effective solution.  The quality of the floor preparation will have a direct impact on the quality and durability of your new timber flooring, so it’s really important to choose the right equipment to get the job done properly.

An excellent option for hiring concrete equipment in Perth is Concrete Hire, a family owned WA business with a highly experienced team of professionals on board.   Concrete Hire’s core business is the hire of specialised concrete equipment relating to concrete grinding, polishing, pumping, cleaning, repair and demolition and they have the equipment, the expertise and the desire to get your job done properly, on time and on budget.  To speak to one of their friendly team about your concrete preparation job, give them a call on 0418 222 273 or get in touch via their website, www.concretehire.com.au.

Concrete Grinders Versus Polishers

The terms ‘concrete grinder’ and ‘concrete polisher’ are used interchangeably but they actually perform different functions.

You could call both concrete grinding and concrete polishing part of a ‘concrete processing’ procedure whereby the existing surface is changed by using machines with multiple abrasives to refine the surface in stages to achieve a desired finish.

‘Concrete processing’ involves three consecutive categories, namely grinding, honing and polishing with different machines used for each stage.

Polishing concrete comprises all three stages with each stage broken down into multiple steps.   It can be time-consuming and labour-intensive because it can take at least 10 to 15 steps to be done properly.

A concrete polisher is used to mechanically grind the surface to first expose the aggregate, with progressively finer diamond abrasives used to further grind the surface down.  After all the stages, the concrete is finally sealed with a penetrating densifier to harden the surface and give it a satin or gloss finish.  The end result of polished concrete surface is totally smooth and virtually glass-like.

Honed concrete is generally a faster and cheaper alternative to polished concrete with the number of processes reduced by up to 60%.  A concrete grinder is used to grind the surface to remove as many scratches and uneven areas as possible and to get the desired exposure.  A clear coat of penetrating sealer is then applied for a more natural look.  In industry terms, this process is called ‘grind and seal’.

So, it’s not a case of one type of machine versus the other.  A concrete polisher isn’t ‘better’ than a concrete grinder - they simply do different things.

The trick is to get the right machine for the particular job that needs to be done.

It’s also easy to get confused between the two machines, especially as there are so many different names for the various finishes and looks.   Two cut and seal.  Non reveal.  Cappucino.  Salt and pepper.  These are just some of the industry terms for different concrete grinding and polishing processes - and unless you know exactly what look you’re after, it’s best to come and talk to an expert to make sure you get the right equipment with the right tooling to achieve the desired outcome.

A concrete grinder is typically used to:

  • Remove glues, coatings (eg old paint), membranes etc
  • Smooth out high spots, scratches, chips, bumps, lumps etc
  • Prepare concrete slabs for new floor coverings and paints

A concrete polisher is used to grind the floor to a desired gloss level using progressively finer abrasives measured in grits.  These pads comprise tiny bits of diamond embedded in a metal or resin disc which rotate horizontally to smooth and polish the surface of the floor.  Initial grinding usually starts with a coarse 16 or 30-grit diamond and ends with a 1500 or 3000-grit diamond, depending on the level of gloss that’s required.

Both machines come in different sizes, from small, handheld ones to heavy duty ones for industrial projects - and all can be fitted with vacuums for effective dust control.

And just when you thought you’d got a grip on the differences between the two machines, here’s one that does BOTH jobs! 

The large 415V Planetary grinder is ideal for grinding, honing and polishing concrete floors in large-scale residential and commercial projects, both indoor and outdoor.  It also comes in an LPG version which runs off a gas bottle, making it a convenient option where access to power is restricted. 

Concrete equipment hire is a godsend when it comes to DIY flooring projects, but it’s imperative that you get the right piece of equipment for the desired end result.  Whilst it does take a level of expertise to operate these machines, here at Concrete Hire, we’ll explain everything and guide you through the process with our comprehensive ‘step-by-step’ set of instructions.  We’ll also ask all the right questions to make sure that any concrete equipment you hire from us is appropriate for your particular project.

To see our full range of specialised concrete equipment for hire, including grinders and polishers, click here or chat to one of our friendly team on 0418 222 273.

How Do I Hone My Concrete Floor?

Ho, ho, hone.  Honing a concrete floor is much like stripping away layers of wrapping paper around a Christmas gift to reveal the beautiful surprise underneath!

Essentially, honed concrete refers to the progressive grinding of the surface of an existing concrete floor using diamond tooling to achieve a flat, smooth finish.  The grinding process will reveal the glistening aggregates (sand and small stones) within the concrete mix to create a hard-wearing, good-looking and feet-friendly surface.

Honed concrete makes a stunning style statement in alfresco outdoor areas and is just as effective in an outdoor entertainment area or around a pool - and best of all, it is affordable and will be virtually maintenance-free for decades.

You can bring an old, weather-beaten or stained aggregate surface back to life by honing it or you can polish up a newly laid concrete substrate to get your desired smooth finish - all you need is the right equipment and a clear plan of what needs to be done and you’ll be on your way.

So how do I hone my concrete floor?

First up, it’s important to note that honing concrete involves two to three stages. Firstly a Coarse Diamond (20-30grit) is attached to the Planetary Grinder and run over the floor.  The depth of honing will determine the extent to which the aggregate/stone is exposed.  Once the stone is exposed to the level of consistency you like, the next 60-70grit is run over the floor to remove scratches. If a finer finish is required, a 100-120grit Diamond can be fitted for a very smooth finish.

Sealing of the floor is highliy recommended to prevent staining and the ingress of dirt and contaimiates. For areas around pools and where there may be a slip hazard, a non slip silica sand can be added to the sealer to give the surface grip.

Honing can be done in either a wet or dry process - each of which has its advantages.  Wet processing is sometimes but the messy slurry can create more time when cleaning up. The slurry can also stain render and finished brick. Plants and Lawns also tend not to grow where slurry get s buried. Dry grinding has a vacuum collected and all the waste goes in to a sealable heavy duty bag for easy disposal.  An experienced concrete equipment supplier will be able to recommend the best process depending on your application and the results that you are aiming to achieve.

If you’re going the DIY route, you need to find a reputable concrete equipment supplier in your area because you’ll need reliable, quality concrete grinding equipment backed by responsive customer support if you come unstuck.  (Don’t forget a vacuum attachment for effective dust removal).  Also remember to ask them for their insider tips on how to achieve your desired finish.  Some questions to ask include: does the equipment match the job spec, how manoeuvrable is the concrete grinder, what power source is required and how easy is it to change the tooling?

Regardless of the look that you desire, it is important to note that you shouldn’t skip any stages.  Each grit is specially designed to smooth out scratches from the previous one, so it is imperative to follow the step-by-step process to achieve a smooth, blemish-free honed surface.    And because of all the variables involved (depth of honing, level of aggregate exposure, colour etc), it’s really worthwhile doing a sample patch to see if you’ve honed your skills!

At Concrete Hire, we’ll explain the different processes and ask the right questions to make sure you have the correct equipment, tooling and sealer to achieve your desired look.   We’ll also give you a step-by-step ‘How To’ guide so that your job runs smoothly from start to finish.  Come in and see us or give us a ring on 0418 222 273 to talk about any aspect of concrete grinding, polishing, pumping, cleaning, repair or demolition.  We’ve got the know-how, the experience and the specialised concrete equipment for hire to get your job done - on time and on budget too. 

Finding The Best Solution For Cleaning Your Concrete Floor

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Concrete floors tick all the right boxes in terms of aesthetics, durability, functionality, affordability and convenience but they have one small drawback.   They aren’t self-cleaning!

The good news is that there are machines that make cleaning your concrete floor simple, quick and easy.  However, it’s important to know that there are different types of concrete cleaners and for the best outcome, always choose the application that’s best-suited for your needs.

From walk-behind floor scrubbers and hand-held pressure washers to large, high-productivity ride-on floor sweepers, there’s a myriad different types of concrete cleaning equipment for cleaning domestic, commercial and industrial floors, both indoors and outside. 

It’s probably helpful to chat to an experienced equipment dealer who knows the capabilities and limitations of the various pieces of equipment and who can therefore give you an informed recommendation on what floor-cleaning approach will best meet your needs and expectations.

The basic difference between the various concrete floor cleaners is that some are ‘dry’ and some are ‘wet’.  

The wet machines (concrete scrubbers) work by applying water, detergent or a degreasing chemical solution onto the floor which is then agitated by the mechanical brush or brushes.  The dirty solution is recovered by a long squeegee at the back of the machine which is connected to an onboard vacuum and transferred to a dirty water tank. 

Dry machines (concrete sweepers) work by using rotating brushes to collect dirt and debris into a bin.  An onboard vacuum and filter system control the dry dust and keep airborne particles to a minimum.  

The equipment you choose will depend on your particular cleaning need.  You may need to get rid of oil, grease or forklift tyre marks on the floor in a warehouse or be looking for an everyday solution for ordinary household dirt on your concrete floor in your home.  Because  concrete is such a versatile flooring material, there are endless different applications and it’s important to choose the best way of cleaning your concrete floor.

All of the concrete cleaning equipment that we hire is manufactured by the Tennant Company who are recognised leaders in equipment design, so you can be assured you are getting the highest quality machines on the market which will help you get your job done fast, more easily and with better results.

Here’s a snapshot of some of our quality concrete cleaning equipment for hire:

  • Lightweight, walk-behind sweeper for small projects
  • Small, manoeuvrable battery-powered and self-propelled sweeper for fast cleaning of small industrial and commercial properties. 
  • Large ride-on sweeper with cylindrical floor brush and rotary side brush, ideal for large commercial and industrial sites.  It has a bin which can be electronically raised up to skip bin height for easy tipping and emptying.
  • Small manoeuvrable 240v floor scrubber for fast scrubbing of smaller industrial and commercial properties - both inside and outside.
  • Large ride-on scrubber (370kg) with 35V battery for highly efficient cleaning of larger floor areas in commercial or industrial applications

Sweep or scrub - there’s no ‘best’ way to clean a concrete floor, but there’s a best way for your particular application.

It’s important to find the right floor cleaning approach that meets your needs in terms of quality of outcomes, productivity, value-for-money and ease-of-use, so come and talk to our knowledgeable and experienced team at Concrete Hire about a concrete equipment hire solution.  With 20 years’ industry experience and a range of the highest quality specialist concrete equipment for hire, we’ve got your concrete cleaning needs covered.  Call us on 0418 222 273 or visit www.concretehire.com.au to see our extensive range of concrete cleaning solutions.

How Do I Polish My Concrete Floor?

Polished concrete floors are very ‘in’ and you’ll find this fabulously functional material in a surprisingly wide range of places from shops, offices and warehouses to public spaces and private homes. 

The good news is, you can achieve this smooth, glossy look for yourself AND you don’t have to outsource the job to tradesmen either!   With a range of easy-to-operate concrete polishing equipment for rent, you can be the master of your own project on either old or new concrete floors.

To get you started, here’s a brief overview of how to polish concrete floors - but remember, it’s a multi-step process (can be as many as 12 stages) so you should always rent equipment from professionals who will explain the various stages and who will make sure that you have the correct equipment, tooling and sealer to achieve your desired look. 

What is concrete polishing?

The term ‘polished concrete’ applies to many different looks and finishes and the process works on a similar concept to sandpapering wood. 

Concrete polishers use diamond-embedded abrasives of varying degrees of coarseness to achieve the desired levels of shine and smoothness.  You choose the level of sheen (from satin to shiny, high-gloss) and then you gradually progress through finer and finer grit abrasives until you achieve the look that you want. 

Different polishing processes

There are many different ways of polishing concrete and an experienced professional will always advise you on the best way of approaching your unique project, but here’s a very basic outline of the process:

  1. Use a concrete grinder (which can either be wet or dry) to prepare the surface and grind the floor to the desired level of exposure.   The coarse grit abrasives will remove any coatings (paint etc) and smooth out any imperfections and unevenness. 
  2. Cracks should then be filled with cement based products or epoxy hardeners.
  3. A hardener should be applied to the surface to help solidify and densify the surface so that the surface can be mechanically polished and to provide an added protective layer against staining, moisture etc.
  4. Once the hardener has cured, you can use a concrete polisher equipped with progressively finer diamond abrasives to get the desired level of gloss or sheen.
  5. If you want a colour on your concrete floor, you can use a dye stain (applied before the hardener).
  6. Once you’re happy with the look, you can apply a stain guard product to protect the surface and make it even easier to maintain.

As a general rule, 400 to 800 grit resin-bonded diamond discs should be chosen for low-sheen polishing and for high-shine polishing, choose between 800 and 3 000 grit abrasives.

If you’re keen to learn more about how to polish your concrete floor, you should talk to the friendly experts at Concrete Hire.  They’ll help you choose the right size equipment with the right tooling so that you achieve your desired look plus they’ll ask all the right questions to make sure that you have all the right answers.  They’ll also give you a comprehensive ‘Step by Step Guide’ to get your DIY job running smoothly.  Concrete Hire has been an industry leader in the field of concrete equipment hire in Perth for over 20 years and you can get in touch with them on 0418 222 273 or visit www.concretehire.com.au to see their extensive range of concrete equipment for hire.

How Do I Grind My Concrete Floor?

Concrete floors used to be relegated to industrial sites and heavy duty public places, but thanks to the recent ‘industrial revolution’ in decorating trends, this long-lasting and low-maintenance flooring option is now firmly entrenched as one of the most stylish and popular flooring choices.

Creating a sleek and shiny concrete floor is not difficult and even a lay person DIYer can handle a concrete grinding machine.  However, even though concrete grinders are easy to use, they come in many different sizes and capabilities so it is vital you choose the right equipment for your particular application. 

If you intend hiring a concrete grinder, choose your supplier carefully.  You need to a) select the most appropriate equipment for your job and b) have the skills and technical knowledge to achieve your desired finish - so seek out a concrete equipment supplier who is genuinely interested in helping you meet your objectives and who backs up their products with user-friendly resources such as ‘How-To’ guides.

In the meantime, here’s some basic information on how a concrete grinder works and how you should go about grinding your concrete floor.

Step 1 - Evaluation

Take the time to evaluate the condition of the concrete surface.

Step 2 - Preparation

Sweep and mop the area to remove any loose dust or dirt. 

Step 3 - Using a concrete grinder

A concrete grinder works by using rotating discs that have tiny bits of diamond embedded in a resin or metal matrix.  These rotate horizontally to smooth and polish the surface of the floor.   The diamond tooling discs are available in a variety of abrasion levels, bond hardness, shapes and diamond concentrations to fulfil various functions.  For example, coarse grits can be used for breaking up and removing stains, grease, paint and other coatings, levelling uneven areas or joints and light texturing whereas finer grit abrasives are used for a glossy, smooth, polished finish. 

There are many different models of concrete grinder on the market which perform multiple functions so it’s worthwhile discussing your needs with the equipment hire company to make sure the machine is fit for purpose and that you have selected the most appropriate accessories.  Different power options are available, plus there are machines with built-in water-mist systems for wet and dry applications, vacuum attachments and skirts for dust-free grinding, floating heads and adjustable rear wheels.

Step 4 - Polishing

Polishing Concrete is a process whereby progressively finer diamond tooling is run over the concrete to produce a high sheen finish. There are many different ways to polish concrete. In simple terms there are two methods:

Polished Concrete- This is typically a 10 stage process whereby the concrete is ground to the level of exposure you want, then grouted to fill pin/air holes, then a Densifier/Hardener is applied so the surface can be self-polished to a high sheen up to 1500 or 3000 grit

Semi Polished Concrete- Sealed.  This is a process whereby the concrete is ground to the level of exposure you want, then grouted to fill pin/air holes, then a pass with fine diamonds, and then sealed to give the ‘Polished Concrete look’. The sealers used are topical (not penetrating) which means a layer of sealer forms on the top to give a Polished look. The sealer may require resealing every 2-3 years depending on Environment

If you want to learn more about how to polish concrete floors or are interested in concrete equipment hire for grinding, polishing, pumping, cleaning, repair or demolition, you should contact the professionals at Concrete Hire on 0418 222 27 or via their website, www.concretehire.com.au.   Take advantage of their 20 years’ industry experience and let them help you choose the best concrete equipment for your project at budget-friendly prices.

How Do I Prepare A Floor Before Tiling?

Replacing an existing floor with new tiles will transform the look of any interior or exterior space. 

But whether your choice is for functional or frivolous tiles, industrial or indulgent ones, one of the most important aspects of any tiling project is the proper preparation of the substrate (the surface to which the tiles will be adhered).

If the substrate isn’t flat, clean and firm, it could result in an inferior result where tiles crack or break, jut out, loosen or lift off completely or ‘squeak’ underfoot. 

Preparing the surface isn’t usually a difficult job, but it does require a bit of elbow grease.  If you’re planning on going the DIY route, then your best bet is to hire a concrete grinder from a trusted supplier which will make the preparation work fast and easy.

It’s important to note that regardless of whether the tiles are to be laid on the surface of an existing floor where an old covering needs to be removed or whether they’re to be laid on a new or existing concrete floor, the same principle applies - and that is that all subfloors have to be flat, even, clean and totally dry before the new tiles can be laid.

Here are the basic steps on how to prepare floors before tiling, but remember, this information is only intended as a guide and it’s best to get advice from the experts that’s appropriate to your particular situation.

  • Remove existing flooring (could be tiles, vinyl, carpet etc).  By stripping away the existing flooring, you get the benefit of seeing the condition of the subfloor and taking action to sort any issues out.  You also get to see if there’s any water damage (particularly important in wet areas like bathrooms) so you can identify the source of the problem and fix it, instead of simply covering it up only to find you have a much larger (and more expensive!) problem on your hands in the future.
  • Remove any glue, coatings, sealers, paints, residue or other substances that are stuck to the floor.  This is necessary to allow the new adhesive to bond properly with the slab.  The condition of the surface and the type of contaminant/adhesive that needs to be removed will dictate how you prepare the surface, but in many instances, mechanical preparation with concrete grinding equipment using diamond tipped blades is the best option. 
  • Survey the subfloor to identify any high or low spots because as mentioned earlier, the surface must be completely level before any new tiles can be laid.  Again, concrete grinding equipment can be used very effectively to smooth out any uneven areas.
  • The subfloor must be completely clean and free of any dust or debris.  Many concrete grinders have optional vacuum attachments to suck up any dust that’s generated during the grinding process. 

If you’re thinking of going the DIY route for your tiling job, then you should partner with experts to get a professional, quality finish.  A company like Concrete Hire for example, which has been an industry leader in the field of concrete preparation and specialised concrete equipment hire in Perth for over 20 years, will happily share their expertise and skills to help you get your tiling job done on time and on budget.  You can get in touch with them on 0418 222 273 or via their website, www.concretehire.com.au where you’ll also find details of their extensive range of concrete grinding, polishing, pumping, cleaning, repair or demolition equipment for hire.