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The new ‘industrial’ aesthetic that has swept the home décor and design industries find many homeowners choosing to leave their concrete floors exposed.
The end product is a sleek, minimalist, and extremely attractive tone. It stands as the perfect base for any style of interior furnishing. It also makes for a very practical flooring set-up without the fuss that hardwood or carpeted floors come with.
If you do have concrete floors, however, it is very important that you maintain a smooth finish. This is because there aren’t going to be any more layers to cover it. This is where sanding comes in—to make sure the surface is smooth and the finish is even.
While you could just hire a professional to walk in and do the job for you, where’s the fun in that? The industrial revolution was all about initiative and concrete floors were at the forefront of its imagery.
As an homage to the industrial spirit, here are some tips and tricks for you to keep in mind when learning how to sand concrete flooring.
Why Should You Sand Your Concrete Floor?
First things first, you need to know why you should be sanding your concrete flooring. Sure, you’ve heard about it, probably even read about it when you surfed the Internet for a couple of quick lessons on concrete sanding.
But why? Why is it so important to sand concrete floors?
Two words: longer-lasting. Sanded concrete is an easier surface for finishing products and other polishes to adhere to. Better adherence means the polish—and by extension, your concrete floor—has a longer life.
One reason isn’t good enough? Sanding your concrete also allows for a far more cost-effective flooring option that can come in every shade of the rainbow and is highly easy to maintain and clean. If you weren’t on board before, you should be now.
How to Sand Concrete Flooring
Now that you’re up to speed on why you should be sanding, let’s get you started on how to sand your concrete floors.
1. Floor Prep
Before you bring out all the big tools, take the time to fully inspect the floor you’re working with. Look for cracks or bumps (especially near corners) that you might need to fill in or cleanout, respectively.
Once the surface is fully evened out, make sure you also clean it thoroughly with water and household detergent. This is to remove any old stains or trace chemicals that might disagree with the polish or finish you will eventually coat the floor with.
2. Room Prep
If you’re sanding your floor at home, make sure you remove all the furniture within your room.
It is simply not worth it to ruin a nice cabinet or a sturdy oak table because your sander accidentally skidded out of your grip.
Also, consider setting up plastic sheets or drop cloths along the walls and cabinets; the dust that your sander will generate is by no means a small task to clean.
Keeping sheets around will make the clean-up far more efficient and hassle-free.
3. Types of Sanders
Once your floor and room are prepped, it’s time to open the metaphorical toolbox. When it comes to sanders, your two main options are a drum or an orbital sander.
Between the two, the orbital sander is far easier to use and is better suited for home-based projects. It’s also a better option if you plan on leaving your floor fully exposed after sanding.
When selecting a sander from online or your local DIY store, stay partial to models with a connected water hose system or dust collection system. The constant water flow keeps the concrete from overheating and cracking and is helpful in keeping concrete dust from flying around.
It cannot be stressed enough to wear both safety goggles and a dust mask when you actually get down to sanding: concrete dust is very bad for the respiratory system and long-term exposure is a definite ticket to future health issues.
4. Sandpaper Grit
The grit of the sandpaper is actually a very important aspect of the sanding process. You could have the best sander that money could buy, but if your sandpaper is not well-suited to the floor you’re working with, you might end up with a floor that has been over-sanded or sanded unevenly.
When perusing the types of sandpaper, also take into consideration the kind of finish you are looking for. Coarse-grit paper of 40-60 grit works well for basic stripping, but you need fine 120+ grit sandpaper for smoother finishes.
5. Section Floor Plan
No matter how large or small your project, it doesn’t hurt to plan your floor out. Start from the corners and slowly work your way towards the center in small units of 4-square-foot boxes.
This is also a very good system for rotating furniture within the room if space is a constriction. Create a clockwise system of 4-square-foot units, so that minimal furniture can be moved around at least when getting to the sanding aspect of the process.
If you also plan to stain your concrete floors, however, you will eventually have to clear out all the furniture anyways.
6. Smooth Finish
After each round of basic stripping, use a fine- or superfine-grit sandpaper to make sure the full surface is smooth enough to be displayed even without any finish or polish.
Once satisfied, apply your desired stains and a coat of concrete sealer or polish after all the layers have fully dried.
Before you get to staining or painting your concrete floor, make sure you’ve mopped the entire area and fully let it dry. This reduces the chances of any mold developing underneath the layers of polish and also helps the latter adhere better to the concrete.
Make it a point to polish your floor before the doors or door tracks are installed. While this is unavoidable if you’re laying new flooring into an existing home, keep an eye out for uneven finishes near the tracks as these are portions difficult to access during the polishing process.
Concrete floors are extremely low-maintenance, and require no more than the basic routine of cleaning and mopping on a regular basis.
The frequency that this needs to be kept up at depends on the foot traffic that the floor experiences: for the purpose of your own home, mopping once or twice a week should be more than enough.
How Much Does It Cost to Sand Concrete Floor?
You might know how to sand concrete flooring now, but you also need to know how much of an investment this project will be. Like with almost any other construction job, there are many variables to take into consideration.
If you plan on laying concrete instead of simply stripping an existing concrete floor, a 400-square-foot slab would cost between $1.5-1.6 per square foot. Aside from this, if you need to rent a sander and other contingent equipment, it can cost up to $2.3 per square foot simply based on your location and the local renting charges.
Polish or other epoxy coatings come anywhere between $1.2-$3.0 based on the quality, the color, and the source.
All in all, sanding your concrete floor can cost anywhere between $3.3-4.3 per square foot.
Industrial Aesthetic Galore
Well, that’s it! We have equipped you with all that you need to know on how to sand concrete flooring. Follow the above seven steps and side tips to make sure you have an even floor, with a perfectly smooth finish.
Now all that’s left is for you to study and plan your own living space and take that one giant step towards that urban-chic interior of your dreams. Your friends and guests await with bated breath, the sheer industrial cool that your home will soon embody.