Concreate, Inc. delivers concrete polishing and custom staining for both commercial and residential projects primarily in Virginia and Maryland (but also up and down the East Coast). We work hand in hand with with designers, architects, project managers, general contractors, tradesmen, and home owners alike from start to finish. We welcome the opportunity to serve your polished concrete needs in every way possible.

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Wet Polishing vs. Dry Polishing: Which Is Best for Your Concrete Floor Project?

Wet Polishing vs. Dry Polishing: Which Is Best for Your Concrete Floor Project?

A polished floor in an office space.

Both polishing methods have pros and cons worth exploring before you begin

Key Takeaways:

  • Wet polishing and dry polishing use different processes
  • The wet polishing process takes longer and creates a matte finish
  • Dry polishing is faster and leaves a shinier floor
  • Your decision will come down to the project at hand

Your concrete flooring project will be full of decisions you need to make, as you’ll select colors, sealers, guards, and etchings before seeing the finished product. You might also have to choose between wet and dry polishing.

Wet polishing utilizes water to keep the diamond abrasives used in the process at a cooler temperature. This water also limits the amount of concrete dust in the air. The result is a floor with a matte finish. 

Dry polishing creates a shinier floor, allowing it to reflect more light. It’s also a faster process, a plus when a job has a quick turnaround.

The decision will ultimately come down to your project’s goals, so it’s advisable to learn as much about these methods as possible before you begin. Here’s a look at the pros and cons of wet and dry polishing your concrete floors.

The pros of wet polishing

The wet polish method has numerous benefits worth considering as you make your decision. These pros will influence how the floor looks and the process the job follows. 

One of the most significant benefits of wet polishing is its elimination of concrete dust. This method doesn’t allow dust to enter the room, limiting the need for dust collectors and vacuums. The water can also prevent silicon particles from entering the air, keeping the technician safer. 

You’ll find that wet polishing does a better job of removing scratches from the concrete than dry polishing. The diamond tools used in the polishing process can leave scratches behind, but wet polishing prevents this from occurring.

Wet polishing is the way to go when you’re looking for a matte finish. The floor won’t look as shiny in this situation but will be easier to maintain.

These pros are the reasons many building owners opt for wet polishing. There’s more to the story, though, as it does have some drawbacks.

Wet polishing cons

Despite the positives of the wet polish method, there are some negatives worth considering. These cons could steer you toward dry polishing on your next project.

For some, the matte finish wet polishing produces is a con. If you’re looking for a shiny finish for your polished concrete floor, dry polishing is the way to go because wet polishing can’t reach those higher levels of sheen.

There’s also significant waste during wet polishing because of the water it demands. This water wouldn’t be used otherwise, so wet polishing might be slightly less environmentally friendly when you factor in the resources it requires.

The water wet polishing uses also makes a slurry on your floor. While this slurry prevents dust from getting all over the room, it still requires cleanup once the project is complete, and this cleanup process could increase your costs. 

Wet polishing also takes longer. If you’re on a tight timeline, you should know that the floor must dry for several days after wet polishing before you can apply a coating, extending its completion window.

The cons associated with wet polishing are worth examining before making your decision. You should also compare them to the pros and cons of dry polishing for the best results. 

Dry polishing benefits

Dry polishing is a newer method than wet polishing, and it has become popular because of its benefits. These pros make it a practical choice in many situations.

Perhaps the main pro associated with dry polishing is the shine it creates. This process gives you a greater sheen and better light reflection so that the room will feel brighter upon completion. For many project managers, the sheen level is reason enough to go with dry polishing.

Dry polishing is faster because your contractor won’t have to worry about cleaning up a slurry after polishing the floor. Coatings can also be applied almost immediately because you don’t have to wait for the surface to dry before beginning the next step. 

You’ll find that dry polishing works better on soft concrete. When wet polishing, the diamonds grind more aggressively and can leave gouges and other marks on softer surfaces. This scenario isn’t likely when dry polishing. 

These benefits could be enough to push you toward dry polishing. However, it’s worth learning about this method’s cons before making a final decision.

The drawbacks of dry polishing

Dry polishing is quicker and easier than wet polishing. It also has some cons worth examining before you begin.

The main drawback of dry polishing is the dust that enters the room during the process. While contractors have systems to reduce the dust the job leaves behind, it’s still present and could create health risks if it isn’t adequately addressed. 

Dry polishing can also be more expensive because there’s more equipment necessary. While the cleanup process required by wet polishing adds to its cost, dry polishing requires dust containment methods and vacuums that add to your contractor’s overhead expenses and could make it a costly option. However, the price ultimately comes down to the job at hand.

There’s also a risk of glazing when dry polishing, particularly when polishing hard concrete. Glazing is when the equipment overheats and prevents the diamonds from properly cutting into the concrete. This issue is rare, though, and usually occurs when the contractor tries to rush through a job.

Learning about these drawbacks will assist you as you make your final concrete flooring decision. The option you choose will ultimately depend on the project and the desired appearance of your floors.

Making your concrete flooring decision

There’s no definitive answer as to which polishing method is better because wet and dry polishing have their own pros and cons. It’s best to speak with your service provider before determining the most suitable option for your particular job.

Concreate can assist as you polish your concrete floors and achieve your desired look. We’ll handle all the prep and ensure your flooring job is completed to your specifications. Contact us or visit thisisconcrete.com for more information.