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Construction timelines: when to pour your polished concrete

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Concrete polishing
Policrete Team
Policrete Team
October 31, 2019
minute read

Construction can be complex. There are a lot of moving parts, many of which extend beyond our specialty of laying and polishing concrete flooring. Yet all of these components need to be coordinated with a great degree of precision to ensure that a job runs smoothly. There’s nothing like the stress of managing a construction project where your tiler shows up late or your chippy botches the job. 

When coordinating the timeline for your next construction project, if you’re laying polished concrete, there’s one main factor to consider. Are you planning on installing hydronic heating under your floor?  

Yes, I’m after hydronic heating

A common misconception is that concrete flooring is cold and uninviting. This couldn’t be further from the truth.  Concrete is a thermal mass material, which gives it the ability to absorb and retain heat. In addition to this, you can also choose to install hydronic heating. 

Installing hydronic heating involves placing foils into the ground before pouring your top layer of cement. Hot water runs through these foils, which transfers heat into the concrete, slowly releasing warmth into a room over time. Unlike traditional central heating systems, this incredibly energy-efficient process is great for allergy sufferers because it doesn't circulate dust throughout the home. 

For floors with hydronic heating, we first pour the foundational slab. The structural skeleton of the property is then built upon this foundation. Once the project has reached lockup stage, the coils can be put into place and we continue with the pouring, grinding and polishing of the top layer of concrete. 

No, I don’t want hydronic heating, and I want a full exposure grind

Installing polished concrete floors

A full exposure grind (where you can see the aggregate in the concrete) is becoming an increasingly popular option in restaurants and retail stores, not only because it looks great, but also because it’s really effective in disguising dust and other mess (kind of like the design on bus seats - if you can’t see the grime, is it really there?). This process is more labour-intensive but is well worth the effort when you can step back and admire the eclectic mix of materials inside the mix. 

If you’ve opted for a full exposure grind, we recommend grinding the surface about a week after pour, once the concrete has had time to properly settle and establish itself. We’ll then return to seal and polish the concrete at the lockup stage of the project. 

No, I don’t want hydronic heating, and I want a low exposure grind

Installing polished concrete floors

Low exposure grinds provide a more subtle appearance, often described as the ‘salt and pepper’ look due to the irregular shape of the aggregate that shows. When it comes to low exposure grinds, the installation process can be a little trickier. Because we aren’t taking as much off the surface, there isn’t as much wiggle room to be able to grind out impurities or any damage that may occur to the concrete during installation. 

When developing the timeline for your build, it’s important to consider the movements of other tradespeople around the site, particularly for a low exposure grind. Because of this, we use Ram Board, a heavy-duty and breathable temporary floor protection that’s rolled out on-site to protect newly laid floors. This material is made up of 100% recycled paper and cardboard, so it’s the perfect combination of sustainability and practicality.  

Ensuring that a low exposure grind is protected from footprints, dust and spills between the initial pour and the grind is crucial to maintain the quality of your polished concrete floor. Keeping all this in mind, you should plan to undertake the initial pour before lockup, then return after site lockup to perform the seal and polish. 

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