What is the best concrete surface equipment you can hire? The answer depends on one major consideration: your desired outcome for the concrete surface.
Right now, you may be looking at a new concrete floor to polish or an old concrete surface that needs repair. No matter the starting condition, your choice of equipment will depend on your desired outcome.
Most Australian contractors and homeowners rent concrete surface equipment to prepare or condition a newly-placed or old concrete floor prior to polishing, coating, floor repair, or placement of overlays or stains. This article will cover the best concrete surface equipment for preparing concrete floors and maintaining the quality and life of concrete surfaces.
A concrete grinder is a machine that smooths concrete surfaces using mechanical abrasives attached to rotating discs in the machine’s “head.”
Manufacturers offer a variety of concrete grinders that come in different configurations, from single-headed ones to triple-headed heavy-duty ones armed with synthetic diamond (aka diamond tooling or diamond grinding).
Here are things you should know to help you decide which concrete grinder to use for your needs:
When you think about concrete grinders, the walk-behind concrete grinder is very likely the first thing to come to mind — and for a reason. They are the most common type of concrete grinders, suited for both medium- and heavy-duty tasks such as removal of floor coatings, screeds, and adhesives, as well as smoothening and leveling concrete surfaces prior to coating.
But there are handheld concrete polishers as well which are perfect for doing detail work, whether it be on floors, walls, benches, or other uneven concrete surfaces.
Manufacturers also offer different features on their concrete grinders such as dual- and triple-heads, but the heads do not matter as much as the attachments — that is, the grinding discs attached to the machine’s head.
Synthetic diamond or diamond tooling/grinding is probably best known to consumers. It is also the most versatile in terms of application, as it can be used for profiling, detail work, and spot-polishing, as well as heavier tasks such as removing thick and hard floor coatings, adhesives, and screeds.
Other attachments include tungsten carbide and silicon carbide. Both can be used for coarse and fine polishing.
Concrete Grinder Features to Look Out For
- Adjustable grinding pressure to achieve the exact roughness or polish you want
- Easily-interchangeable attachments so you can replace grinding plates quickly and safely
- Easy disassembly so you can quickly gain access to tight areas
- Dust collectors are an optional feature but they are great for less debris and faster cleanup after grinding
A concrete scarifier is a machine with cutters placed around rotating drums. As you drive the machine forward, the drums rotate and the cutters — made of tungsten carbide or steel — scar the concrete. A scarifier can cover 28 square meters to 140 square meters per hour depending on the cutters used, the material to be removed, the machine and its horsepower, as well as the hardness of the concrete surface.
Scarifiers are used to remove materials on top of concrete such as epoxies and other cement-based coatings. They are more aggressive on concrete surfaces than grinders, leaving behind a very rough, coarse, non-slip surface. As such, they are ideal for asphalt removal, floor coating replacement, leveling uneven concrete surfaces, and concrete paint removal. They are also used to add grooves to concrete to make them non-slip.
Like grinders, scarifiers have handheld and walk-behind units. Handheld scarifiers have cutting widths of 2 to 3 inches and a cutting depth of up to a quarter of an inch, but they are ideal for vertical surfaces. The heavier walk-behind scarifiers, on the other hand, have 4 to 6 inches cutting widths, with cutting depths of up to a quarter of an inch in one pass.
When it comes to scarifiers, one thing to consider is the tip style of the cutters. While blunt or flat tips are usually used for aggressive removal, it is possible to achieve a smoother finish on the concrete when you use sharp or angled tips.
Scarifiers are usually used in tandem with grinders, especially when repairing old concrete surfaces. Once the old coating is removed by the scarifier, the grinder is used to smoothen the surface and prepare it for the application of a new concrete coating.
Concrete Scarifier Features to Look Out For
- Easily-removable drums so you can quickly and safely change the cutter drums once they are spent
- Cutting depth control function so you can adjust according to the depth you want to tear into the concrete surface
- Most models already come with a vacuum port for dust and concrete debris
A concrete shot blaster is a tool that uses high-velocity centrifugal force in its inner blades to blast fine steel grits (the “shot”) onto the concrete surface, resulting to abrasions that can be relatively smooth or coarse depending on various factors. The machine collects the shot as well as the concrete debris into a chamber, allowing you to reuse your steel shots for future applications.
Due to its nature, however, it is recommended to use a shot blaster with a hand-magnet to easily collect steel shots from the shot blaster chamber. A floor magnet is recommended as well to collect shots that may have spilled on the floor.
While other machines can get the same job done, shot blasters are preferred over others because of its minimal debris output compared to scarifiers and grinders. Shot blasters leave very little airborne dust which makes it perfect for indoor use, especially when renovating concrete surfaces close to manufacturing or food preparation areas.
Unlike scarifiers and grinders which can be used wet or dry, shot blasters are only used on dry surfaces. They leave a dry surface with minimal debris, making it possible to chemically coat the floor quickly after shot blasting.
Shot Blaster Features to Look Out For
- A shot blaster’s production capacity differs according to machine size and horsepower. Check for the highest production capacity per hour.
- Shot blasters already come equipped with a shot recycling chamber, but just to be sure you are collecting all the spent shots on the floor and inside the machine, use a hand-magnet. Floor magnets can be hired separately, too.
You can rent any of the equipment mentioned above from your local specialist hire company that offers concrete surface preparation equipment for hire.