Wednesday, January 14, 2009

What a grind

I think I know why one of the quotes we got for polishing our concrete floor was $17.50 a square foot - Boredom Pay.

The machine is a dream to work with, but it's a tad tedious going back&forth, back&forth, verrrrry slooooowwwwly - all day long.

It's so light & easy to manoeuvre that when I first started I was zooming across the floor thinking "this is easy, I'll be finished in no time" - until I looked at the ground I'd covered & realized that I wasn't doing anything - no difference at all. M u s t g o s l o o o o w.

It's slow going but not difficult, you just have to make sure that the machine NEVER stops moving for more than a second. I know this because we now have some interesting marks resembling crop circles engraved in the floor.
Then there's the power cord, the vacuum hose, the extension cord and the large canister dust-collector, all trying hard to trip me and stop the werkmaster in it's tracks. At least I'm getting a little exercise & stretching by kicking and pushing them out of the way while keeping the machine always moving.

The process is very much like sanding polymer clay.
You start with coarse grits (metal diamond-tipped grinding pads) to remove any nasty bumps and then progress through finer & finer grits (diamond pads) until you achieve the level of smoothness & shininess you want. The diamond pads go from 30 grit all the way to 3000, which gives you a high-gloss glassy finish (that's what the $17.50 quote was for). I don't think we'll be going all the way up to 3000, I don't really want a high-gloss floor (it's slippery) & it took me two full days to do the grinding step and first polishing step. With each grit you have to go over the floor in 4 directions: lengthwise, widthwise, diagonally & then diagonally in the other direction so I did a lot of walking.

I was able to start with the finest of the grinding pads because our floor was already very smooth and in fact, we could have skipped the ginding and started with the polishing pads if it hadn't been for those ........ oh dear, I haven't told the story of how I RUINED OUR FLOOR. So embarassing.

Confession time.
In my zeal to protect the floor and have the best surface for staining or polishing (we hadn't decided which) I covered it a few days after the pouring with some 'floor-protecting paper' that has adhesive strips along each edge to keep it in place. The label promised that it was easy-release adhesive and would leave no residue. Sort-of true. No sticky residue left once we finally got it to release, but that label didn't warn us about the properties of freshly-poured concrete: the parts smothered with the sticky stuff cured at a different rate so when we unwrapped our floor to get ready for the finishing we had dark lines, runways, racing stripes, alien landing strips, whatever you want to call them.

I was devastated.

It did make our finishing decision easy though. We had been waffling between staining the floor a warm colour or polishing the original gray. Acid staining would have emphasized the stripes; and grinding, while not completely removing them, is at least softening the effect. And after I getting over my initial guilt, I don't mind them so much. At least they're straight, evenly spaced and running in the right direction. In our TV nook they create a pattern sort of like an area rug.

There, that's my big(-gest) blunder. I wrecked our floors.
For penance I will spend at least 5 full days pushing a Werkmaster machine back&forth, back&forth, back&forth, verrrrry slowly while trying not to get too tangled up in cords & hoses.

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