What’s the Right Project Scheduling for Polishing Projects?
There’s no one size fits all timeline for a perfect polish. Here are the various elements used to decide the best timetable for different projects.
- Scheduling your concrete polishing job for the right time makes life easier
- The job must wait until the concrete has had enough time to cure
- The rest of the schedule depends on what else is happening on the job site
- Polishing concrete is one of the more flexible jobs
The phrase “timing is everything” couldn’t more accurately describe concrete projects, as they are some of the most time-sensitive processes out there. Presuming you’ve hired a great contractor to blend and pour the stuff correctly, you may be wondering how long you need to leave it before adding a coat of polish.
The answer is: It all depends on the project. Each site (and its people and processes) creates its own demands and scheduling necessities. Here are some common time-sensitive factors that apply to polishing projects and what can happen when contractors don’t keep a close eye on the calendar.
Polishing within the various types of construction scenarios
Concrete polishing jobs fall into one of three categories based on the condition of the site:
- Polishing is the only contracting job taking place there
- An existing site is undergoing other contract work at the same time
- The site technically doesn’t exist yet as it’s being newly built
In each scenario, polishing a floor is an intricate process. A significant factor in how long it will take depends on what the client is looking for in terms of grit level and finish, which can make a floor matte, gloss, semi-gloss, or super-reflective.
Beyond their desired sheen level, the customer only has two real concerns if polishing is the only contracting job going on. These are how the polishing work will interfere with the site’s foot traffic (and vice versa) and how any noise produced may interrupt the working environment. A typical solution to both is scheduling polishing jobs outside the site’s work hours and/or scheduling the job to be done on weekends.
Existing floors in sites undergoing remodeling (either added construction or demolition) can still be polished, provided the surface is covered with a protective layer after an initial grinding takes place. If there’s other work going on around the building, it’s best to polish the concrete after the drywall and first coat of paint have been completed but before the final coat.
Sites undergoing remodeling usually have ready access to lighting, heat, power, and water, all of which are essential for contractors to use and allow them to work during or after other processes. Sites being built from scratch don’t always have their utilities activated. This is one of the many important considerations for concrete contractors hired to create polished floors in newly erected buildings.
Scheduling polishing projects during new construction
It’s often best to polish floors no earlier than 30 days after the concrete is poured. This period lets the concrete cure to the proper degree, which simply means setting firmly with the proper degree of hydration. Attempting to polish a concrete floor too early could seriously damage the slab.
The grinding process would likely be far too abrasive and cut much more deeply into the surface than the customer wants. Also, a concrete floor that hasn’t been protected and acclimatized to indoor temperatures may have become moisture imbalanced through exposure to outdoor rain and cold weather.
Other situations may allow concrete floors to be polished before the walls go up without any problems; it is all strongly dependent on the environment and the construction in question. Some customers want a polished floor with an exposed aggregate look, meaning the contractor may have to grind to the proper depth before the 30 days are up.
They would then come back to seal and polish the surface when the new building is in the lockup stage (when everything is built and fitted and the site is safe to be occupied). In other cases, contractors may have no problem cutting down to the desired aggregate exposure depth after the 30 days have elapsed.
Shrinking concrete can extend the polishing schedule
Shrinkage is another factor in new constructions that makes delaying the polishing process a smart move. Concrete shrinks as it cures, which opens the joints. These openings must be given enough time to settle so the contractor knows how much fill these gaps will need.
Filling joints too early will only see them widen again as the newly poured concrete sets to its final condition. This makes polishing to the edges much harder, if not impossible. Therefore, it’s best to make polishing a finishing process nearer the end of new construction. Polishing teams can also come back any time after construction is finished to give the floor another buffing if necessary.
Clear communication is everything in polishing projects
Contractors must let customers know how time-sensitive concrete polishing can be, especially those customers who may be pushing for a deadline that could compromise the quality of the job. A shared understanding of what is realistically possible in terms of scheduling and the final visual result is essential to avoid wasting everyone’s time and resources.
If you’re in the concrete business and looking to keep your project on schedule, we recommend listening to the pull planning episode of our This is Concrete podcast. You’ll learn how this method strengthens trust and communication between all professionals involved in a job and how it can help you work faster and keep project scheduling promises on future polishing projects.
Contact Concreate with your polishing questions
Concreate brings decades of experience to polishing jobs and many other concrete-based services like staining and surface preparation. It’s our goal to help customers and contractors better understand concrete so the pros know how to work, and the public knows what to expect.
Visit our contact page to ask anything concrete-related or discuss your project needs!