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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When to Polish Concrete After Pouring the Slab

When to Polish Concrete After Pouring the Slab

Learning when to polish concrete during a new construction project is important.

Waiting for the surface to cure beforehand is essential to a concrete floor’s long-term durability.

Key Takeaways:

  • You don’t want to polish concrete until it has time to cure
  • The curing process takes about 28 days
  • This cure time allows the slab to build durability and strength
  • Other construction in the building might also influence your timeline

Every successful construction project requires a timeline. While sticking to the agenda sometimes brings challenges, it’s an essential part of the process because it ensures that any contractors you’re using can fit you into their busy schedules. 

If you’re pouring a concrete slab as part of your project, it requires adequate time to cure before moving on to other parts of the building. Your concrete floors will also need time to cure before you can grind, polish, or seal them to complete the job.

Typically, concrete slabs take about 28 days to cure, but there are some variables you should know about before you begin. Here’s some information on when to polish concrete as part of your construction project.

Cure time

You’ll usually want to wait at least 28 days to grind and polish concrete after pouring a slab. This timeline gives the floor time to develop strength and durability, so it will stand the test of time. 

Once the concrete cures, it will retain enough moisture to prevent it from drying out and cracking and will have increased resistance to scaling and abrasion. You can’t rush this process, as only time allows concrete to cure adequately. 

However, the 28-day cure time isn’t universal, as concrete cures at different rates in different climates. Your concrete professional should know the ideal cure time for your region, ensuring the slab is ready to go before polishing it.

How the rest of your project influences polishing

You don’t necessarily have to polish your concrete 28 days after pouring it. In fact, the longer you can wait, the better results you’ll likely experience. 

If your job involves more than just polishing your concrete floors, you’ll have to fit the polishing task into the rest of the project. When you schedule with your concrete professional depends on what else you have going on in the building.

Typically, the best time to polish concrete is after installing the drywall and laying the first coat of paint and primer, but before the final coat of paint. You’ll also want to complete the floors before installing trim, cabinets, and doors.

However, there are exceptions to this rule, as much of it depends on the individual project. For instance, it could be easier to do most of your grinding before installing the interior walls in the building and then having your contractor return for a final pass once the walls are up. 

You can also polish your surfaces before completing any interior construction if that’s the only time your concrete contractor is available. Nevertheless, you’ll still need to ensure the floors cure adequately, and you’ll have to protect them from damage that can occur during the construction process. It’s also advisable to wait until the building has a roof and exterior walls to prevent water damage after polishing the floor.

Remodeling work

Figuring out when to polish concrete during a remodeling job is a little more straightforward because the concrete slab has likely been there for years. As a result, you don’t have to wait for it to cure and can move forward with the polishing work at pretty much any point. 

Some project managers choose to polish their concrete floors during the demolition stage. In this scenario, your floors will be one of the first things completed as part of the remodel, but you’ll have to remember to cover them with a protective board to prevent damage during construction. 

Another option is waiting until the new walls are up and then starting the polishing job or handling the polishing at the end of the construction process. You could also opt for your contractor to grind the floors during demolition and polish them near the end of the project.

Remember that the availability of light, power, and water also impact when you can schedule your concrete professional. The job is impossible to complete without those essentials.

The issue with polishing too soon

As you decide on the best time to polish concrete, you might wonder what can happen if you polish it too soon. After all, it would be far easier to have your contractor complete your floors early in the construction process so you don’t have to worry about them.

We’ve mentioned how concrete gains durability as it cures while ensuring the optimal amount of moisture remains. Grinding and polishing the surface too early could damage it, leaving you with a less durable floor moving forward. 

In addition, moisture continues evaporating from the concrete after it feels dry to the touch. This moisture usually evaporates through the surface. 

The moisture that leaves through the floor’s surface can leave it looking dull and flat if you polish it too early. As the water comes through the floor, it leaves salt and other minerals behind, which can ruin the finish.

You might have to repolish your floors if there’s too much moisture present when you do it the first time because of these mineral deposits. You’re better off waiting for the concrete to dry so you don’t end up in this situation.

Hiring an expert

There’s no substitute for an experienced concrete professional when it comes to polishing a newly poured slab because they’ll know for sure if the floor is ready. You can expect better outcomes in this scenario because you won’t run the risk of prematurely polishing your surface.

Concreate can handle the grinding, polishing, and sealing of your new or existing concrete surfaces. We’ll make sure you wait until the best time to polish concrete floors, limiting the chances of the job not turning out as expected. Contact us or visit thisisconcrete.com for more information on when to polish concrete floors.