How to Polish Concrete: A DIY Step-By-Step Guide

Concrete floor surfaces can also be polished to a shine. Polishing concrete is not only an economical way to update the look of your floor, but it’s also durable and easy to maintain. Polished concrete is a popular flooring option, offering a sleek and modern appearance for both residential and commercial spaces. With the right tools and a little know-how, you can easily polish your own concrete flooring.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through the entire process of polishing your concrete floors, from surface preparation to the final touches. With easy-to-understand instructions, you can transform your concrete surface into a stunning polished concrete floor that’s durable and low-maintenance.

Introduction to Polished Concrete Floors

A polished concrete floor is achieved by grinding and polishing the concrete surface until it reaches a desired degree of shine and smoothness. This multi-step process involves using heavy equipment like a concrete grinder and diamond tooling to remove any existing coatings, level the surface, and gradually progress through finer grits until the desired sheen level is attained. The result is a high-gloss, low-maintenance flooring option that’s perfect for interior floors in homes and businesses.

Concrete polishing is like sanding wood in that it requires a gradual process of smoothing and refining the surface to achieve maximum shine.

Benefits of Polished Concrete Flooring

  • Durability. Polished concrete floors can withstand heavy foot traffic and resist stains from oil and hydraulic spills.
  • Low maintenance. Polished concrete floors are easy to clean and maintain without waxing or sealing.
  • Cost-effective. Polishing concrete is an affordable alternative to other flooring options, such as wood or tile.
  • Customizable. You can choose the gloss level and even add decorative elements, like stains or dyes, to create a unique look.

Preparing Your Concrete Surface

Before diving into the polishing process, properly preparing your concrete surface is essential. Here are the steps to ensure your surface is ready for polishing:

  • Clean the surface. Remove any dirt, debris, and oil or hydraulic stains from the concrete floor using a bristle brush and a suitable cleaning solution.
  • Repair cracks and holes. Fill any cracks or holes with a concrete patch or joint filler, following the product instructions.
  • Remove existing coatings. If your concrete surface has any paint, sealers, or thick coatings, use a grinder with a more aggressive tool to remove them before polishing.

Gathering Your Materials and Equipment

To achieve top-quality results, you’ll need some basic equipment and materials for the polishing process:

  • Concrete grinder. A specialized grinding machine designed to grind concrete surfaces.
  • Diamond abrasives. These are essential for grinding, as they help you progress through the various grit levels.
  • Dust collection system. A vacuum or dust containment system to control dust and keep your workspace clean.
  • Safety equipment. Protective gear, such as goggles, gloves, and a mask, is crucial for your safety during polishing.

How to Polish Concrete Floors: A Step-by-Step Guide

Now that your concrete surface is prepped and your equipment is ready, it’s time to grind and polish. Follow these steps to transform your concrete floor into a polished masterpiece:

Step 1: Initial Grinding

  • Equip your concrete grinder with diamond-segmented abrasives, starting with a coarse grit (usually around 30-grit).
  • Begin grinding the concrete surface using overlapping passes, ensuring you cover the entire area.
  • Be mindful of the grinder’s instructions, as some machines require specific techniques or movements.

Step 2: Grinding Progression

  • After completing the initial grinding, assess the surface to determine if any areas require further grinding or if any existing coatings remain.
  • Switch to finer grit (usually 60- or 80-grit) and repeat the grinding process.
  • Continue this pattern, gradually progressing through finer grits (e.g., 150-, 300-, and 600-grit) until you achieve your desired degree of smoothness.

Step 3: Polishing the Concrete

  • Once the grinding process is complete, it’s time to polish your concrete floor using diamond polishing pads.
  • Begin with a low-grit pad (usually around 800-grit) and work up to higher grits (e.g., 1500- and 3000-grit).
  • Use overlapping passes to ensure an even polish and gradually progress from one grit level to the next.

It’s important to note that polishing is about exposing the rock in the concrete mix and refining the surface until you achieve the desired level of shine.

Step 4: Dry Vs. Wet Polishing

There are two main methods for polishing concrete: dry and wet. Both methods use diamond abrasives but differ in how they control dust and achieve the desired sheen level.

  • Dry polishing. This method collects the concrete dust using a dust collection system, which keeps the workspace clean and eliminates the need for water. This method is faster and more environmentally friendly, as it doesn’t produce a slurry.
  • Wet polishing. This method uses water to cool the polishing pads, reduce dust, and provide lubrication. However, it creates a slurry that must be cleaned up and disposed of properly.

Choose the method that best suits your needs and preferences, keeping in mind the pros and cons of each approach.

Step 5: Sealing and Finishing Your Polished Concrete Floor

After achieving your desired level of gloss, it’s essential to seal your polished concrete floor to protect it from stains and wear:

  • Follow the product instructions to apply a concrete sealer or an internal impregnating sealer.
  • Allow the sealer to dry according to the recommended drying time.
  • Buff the floor using a polisher and a fine-grit diamond pad to enhance the shine and create a finished surface.

Polishing Concrete Floors Vs. Tiles

When choosing a flooring option for your home or commercial space, polished concrete floors and tiles are two popular choices. Each has advantages and disadvantages; the best option depends on your specific needs, preferences, and budget.

Here are the key differences between polished concrete floors and tiles to help you make an informed decision.

Polished Concrete Floors

As mentioned, polished concrete floors are created by grinding and polishing the concrete surface using specialized equipment and diamond tooling. This process results in a smooth, high-gloss, durable, and low-maintenance finish.

Advantages of Polished Concrete Floors

  • Durability. Polished concrete is highly resistant to wear and tear, making it suitable for high-traffic areas and industrial settings.
  • Low maintenance. These floors require minimal upkeep, as they don’t need waxing or sealing and are easy to clean with regular sweeping and mopping.
  • Customizable. The polishing process allows for different gloss levels, and you can add decorative elements like stains or dyes for a unique appearance.
  • Eco-friendly. Since polished concrete utilizes existing concrete surfaces, it reduces the need for additional materials, making it a more sustainable option.
  • Cost-effective. Polishing concrete is generally more affordable than installing new tiles, especially if the existing concrete slab is in good condition.

Disadvantages of Polished Concrete Floors

  • Hardness. Concrete floors are quite hard, which may be uncomfortable for extended periods of standing and can be problematic if objects are dropped on the surface.
  • Cold. Concrete floors can feel cold underfoot, particularly in colder climates or during winter months.
  • Installation. The polishing process can be time-consuming and requires specialized equipment, making it challenging for DIY enthusiasts.


Tiles are versatile flooring options in various materials, such as ceramic, porcelain, and natural stone. They come in numerous sizes, colors, and patterns, providing endless design possibilities.

Advantages of Tiles

  • Design flexibility. With a wide range of materials, colors, and patterns, tiles offer greater design flexibility than polished concrete.
  • Water resistance. Most tiles are water-resistant, making them ideal for bathrooms, kitchens, and other moisture-prone areas.
  • Easy to repair. If a tile becomes damaged, it can be easily replaced without affecting the surrounding tiles.
  • Comfort. Tiles can feel more comfortable underfoot compared to polished concrete, especially when paired with rugs or mats.

Disadvantages of Tiles

  • Cost. Depending on the type of tile and installation method, tiles can be more expensive than polished concrete floors.
  • Maintenance. Grout lines between tiles can become dirty and discolored over time, requiring regular cleaning and occasional resealing.
  • Durability. While tiles are generally durable, they can crack or chip under heavy impact or if the subfloor is not properly prepared.

Hiring Professionals for polishing Concrete Surfaces

While some individuals may attempt the polishing process themselves, hiring professionals can provide numerous benefits and ensure that your polished concrete surface exceeds your expectations.

Here are the advantages of hiring professionals for a beautifully polished surface and the factors to consider when selecting a contractor.

Advantages of Hiring Professionals

  • Expertise and experience. Professional concrete polishing contractors possess the necessary skills, knowledge, and experience to tackle various projects, from residential floors to large commercial spaces. They understand the intricacies of the polishing process, such as selecting the right diamond abrasives, determining the appropriate number of grinding and polishing steps, and troubleshooting any issues that may arise during the project.
  • High-quality results. Hiring professionals ensures that your polished concrete floor or surface will be completed to a high standard, with a consistent and smooth finish. Professional contractors have access to top-quality equipment and materials, allowing them to achieve superior results compared to DIY methods. Additionally, professionals are well-versed in the latest industry techniques, ensuring that your polished concrete surface is both durable and aesthetically pleasing.
  • Time and labor savings. Polishing concrete is a labor-intensive and time-consuming process that can be challenging for inexperienced individuals. By hiring professionals, you can save yourself the time and effort of tackling the project on your own, allowing you to focus on other tasks or enjoy the finished product with minimal disruption to your daily routine.
  • Proper surface preparation. Proper surface preparation is crucial to achieving a successful, polished concrete surface. Professional contractors have the expertise to assess the condition of your existing concrete surface and determine the necessary steps to prepare it for polishing. This may include repairing cracks or holes, removing old coatings or adhesives, and leveling the surface to ensure a smooth and consistent finish.
  • Safety and compliance. Professional concrete polishing contractors are trained to adhere to safety regulations and industry standards, ensuring the work is completed safely and efficiently. They will also know local building codes and requirements, ensuring that your polished concrete surface complies with applicable regulations.

Factors to Consider When Hiring Professionals

When selecting a professional contractor for your concrete polishing project, consider the following factors to ensure you make an informed decision:

  • Experience. Look for a contractor with a proven track record of successful polished concrete projects, ideally with experience in similar spaces or surfaces, such as concrete countertops, floors, etc.
  • Reputation. Research customer reviews and testimonials to gauge the contractor’s reputation for quality workmanship, reliability, and customer satisfaction.
  • Portfolio. Request to see examples of the contractor’s previous work to assess their skill level and get a sense of their style and capabilities.
  • Insurance and licensing. Ensure the contractor is licensed (if required in your area) and carries appropriate insurance to protect against potential liabilities during the project.
  • Written estimates. Obtain written estimates from multiple contractors to compare pricing, scope of work, and materials to be used. This will help you make an informed decision based on value rather than simply choosing the lowest bidder.


Polishing your own concrete floor may seem daunting, but with the right tools, materials, and a thorough understanding of the steps involved, you can achieve professional-looking results. Remember to prioritize safety and follow all equipment instructions carefully to ensure a successful polishing project. With patience and attention to detail, you’ll soon have a stunning polished concrete floor that’s both beautiful and low-maintenance.

Do you need help with professional floor polishing services? Contact us today to learn more about our expert services. Our team of experienced contractors can turn your vision into reality. Whatever your flooring needs, we can help you create the perfect polished concrete floor.

A beautiful polished concrete floor / Photo Credit: MorgueFile

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