Polishing concrete floors by just using hand held grinders in general would be time consuming. Areas that are best suited for hand held grinders are around floor edges and small rooms where the big stand up grinders cannot fit in or reach.
The process can be time consuming and painful at times, but with the right tools and technique it can be speeded up. The power tools you will need are as follow:
Step 1: Every polishing job, no matter if it is on a hand held grinder or a stand up grinder, should start with the coarsest grit. Start by using a 50 grid grinding disc on the hand grinder and carefully polish the whole concrete surface. This is to flatten the concrete and expose the stone. It is almost like setting up your canvas for painting your masterpiece.
Step 2: Once you are done with the 50 grit pad, switch to the 100 grit disc and repeat the process, being careful to remove all of the 50 grit scratches from the concrete. If you leave any 50 grit scratches, the more those scratches will appear as you go through the concrete polishing procedure. You must make sure you have removed all scratches from the previous stage, before moving on to the next grinding disc.
Step 3: Once you have finished with the 100 grit and you are happy with the look of the concrete, you can switch to 200 grit. The process is the same as step 2, but this time you make sure you are removing all 100 grit scratches. With every grinding disk you use, your concrete becomes smoother and glass like looking.
Step 4: Start again with 400 grit to erase the 200 grit concrete polishing scratches. With 400 grit you can achieve more of industrial/rustic looking concrete, that is darker in color and has a reflective surface. You will have mid range stone exposure, where the stones will not be as well defined as with higher polishing grits.
Step 5: If you would like to achieve more of a high end, glass looking, smooth and highly reflective surface, you can move to 800 grit. As with the previous steps, you need to make sure that the scratches from the previous stage are completely removed. Depending on how high you want to polish the concrete, you can go on to 1500 grit and 3000 grit stage.
Step 6: Once you have achieved the desired stone exposure and polishing grit, you can move on to the final stage. As concrete has a porous surface, even when polished, we need to make sure we turn it into a non-porous one. This is to ensure the long lasting and beauty of the polished concrete. To do this you will need to clean the concrete, removing any concrete dust left from the grinding. You will then have to seal the polished concrete with a stain guard or penetrating concrete sealer.
Once you are done and your concrete sealer is fully cured, your new polished concrete is ready for use. To maintain it and make sure it looks like brand new for long, all you will have to do is regularly clean it with a damp mop.