Burnishing is a floor polishing process that turns a rough concrete floor into a smooth, glossy surface. The procedure involves the use of an electrical, rotary floor polisher and disposable polishing pads that break down and smooth out the various top layers of a concrete floor. When burnishing a polished concrete floor, it is important to prepare the concrete surface before beginning the process as well as properly cleaning the surface once the process is complete.
Before burnishing your polished concrete floor, remove any furnishings from the surface as well as pick up any large debris including rocks, toys and other items that may be on the floor. Sweep the concrete with a soft-bristle broom to remove any loose dust and debris or use a vacuum cleaner containing a crevice tool to remove the debris.
Place a piece of white copier or computer paper on the flooring and move it with your hand to see if the concrete is still dirty. If dirty, wet a soft mop with lukewarm water from a sink, wring out excess and damp mop the concrete floor. Then let the flooring air dry.
If you burnish a polished concrete floor without cleaning it, the burnishing process will grind the dirt into the concrete finish.
Burnishing Pad Options
Use an electric- or propane-powered burnishing machine with a pad appropriate for the level of gloss you want. If the flooring has never been burnished, start with a 200-grit coarse pad then polish the concrete with a 1500 to 3000-grit pad until the concrete is glossy. The higher the grit number, the glossier the flooring will be.
When working with a 200-grit coarse pad, work slowly and carefully to keep from damaging the concrete flooring. Coarse pads are ideal for removing stains and dirt from the flooring but not for concrete that is dirt free.
If a large amount of dust is appearing on the concrete floor, you are using a pad that is too coarse for the flooring.
Scratch and Scuff Mark Issues
To remove scratches and scuff marks, use a coarse burnishing pad, 100- to 200-grit. Then use a fine or very fine pad, 800- to 1500-grit, to smooth out the polished concrete. A burnishing machine that uses two pads can speed up the process especially when removing scratches, stains and scuff marks.
Weekly Burnishing Process
If possible, burnish your polished concrete flooring four times a week to keep the flooring shiny. Use a fine burnishing pad three times a week and a coarse pad once a week to remove any dust, dirt, scratches and scuff marks.
Dust Mopping and Aftercare
Dust mop your polished concrete flooring after the burnishing process is complete to remove any loose dust and particles left behind. Then damp mop the concrete, using water only, to remove any particles the dust mop didn't remove. Let the flooring dry completely before walking on the concrete.
Afterward, place walk-off floor mats at all entrances to reduce the amount of dirt and debris from entering the room containing polished concrete.
Sweep your concrete flooring regularly to keep dust and dirt from collecting on the surface and damp mop the concrete when needed. Also, avoid walking on the polished concrete after walking in the rain, rain water is acidic and can cause indentations in the concrete surface, known as etching.