QUICK BEGINNER TIPS TO IMPROVE YOUR CONCRETE FLOOR GRINDING

If you're new to concrete grinding, I'm sure you've realized that it can be a lot more complicated that it appears. There are so many variables that can affect the final outcome so being prepared and having a few tricks up your sleeve can be incredibly beneficial. 

We've compiled a short list of tips that address some of the most frequently asked questions regarding effective grinding. These tips will help you, as you continue to grow your floor grinding business.

QUICK TIPS TO HELP:

  1. First, make sure you are using the correct diamond tooling with the appropriate bond hardness, for the floor you’re grinding. This can make or break the efficiency of your grinding job. Using the wrong tooling will end up in your tooling glazing over, or prematurely wearing out. You’ll end up having to spend a lot more on tooling than you should, and it will take up a lot more of your time.
     
  2. Throw a bit of sand onto the slab before grinding- especially if there is leftover sticky residue on the surface. The extra grit will help open the diamonds segments on your tooling and act as an additional abrasive. 
     
  3. If you are using a ‘Multi-directional’ grinder, reverse the spinning direction of your heads from time to time to re-open your diamond tooling. This will help you to get as much out of your tooling as you can. This will also help to prevent scratches and inconsistent wear patterns.
     
  4. If your tooling has glazed over or become ineffective, bring it to a new part of the concrete and begin grinding to re-open the diamonds. This can be especially effective when removing adhesives or coatings. (If this fails to work- see Tip #1)
     
  5. Pre-soaking the slab will help maintain a lower surface temperature of the concrete and tooling. Doing this will help to keep the diamond tools working effectively. This is especially true in hotter climates or when the slab may be subject to warm working environments. 
     
  6. Initially, leave your dust collector on a lower power setting so that the dust can accumulate a little under the machine. That will allow some of the particles to help open your diamond tooling. This tip can also be very useful when removing a very ‘sticky’ adhesive, because the dust mixes with the adhesive residue so it’s not as sticky. This helps to keep your tooling cleaner and performing their best. 
     
  7. In some difficult grinding jobs, using other equipment along with your grinder can be very beneficial. Using a Shot Blaster or a Ride-On Floor Scraper are a great way to remove some leftover glue on the slab prior to grinding. Scraping off that excess glue beforehand will help you save time and improve the performance of your tooling and grinder. This can improve your production rates quite a bit.

Whether you’ve been grinding concrete for years or it’s your first day on the job, there’s always room to improve your skills so that when unexpected issues arise, you are prepared to deal with them effectively and efficiently.

HOW TO BEST REMOVE TILE FROM A CONCRETE FLOOR

Removing tile from a concrete floor can be a huge task for any flooring contractor. Often retail or commercial projects will have a large amount of square footage of tile to be removed, with a very tight timeline.

There are a few ways to remove tile from concrete floors. In this blog, we will touch on a few of the main ones and go over the pro's and con's of each to help you find the best tile removal method for you and your job. Some methods will be easier and faster than others, but at the end of the day all methods will get the job done. Finding what works best for you and your job specs is keys.

WITH SMALL HAND-HELD EQUIPMENT

There are a lot of quality, small hand-held equipment options in the market that can remove tile from concrete surfaces. Typically, hand-held equipment is best for smaller removal jobs because of the time it takes to remove the tile, and the effort needed by the operator. Below is a brief list of the Pro's and Con's

PRO'S

  • Less expensive
  • Easier to use without previous experience
  • Easy to maintain
  • Great for tight spaces, by walls, and corners

CON'S

  • Lower production rates- especially for larger removal jobs
  • Labor intensive
  • Less effective on older tiles because the adhesive tends to have a stronger bond over time

When using any piece of equipment, it is important to know what it can, and cannot do. If a hand-help piece of equipment is the only tool you're bringing to a floor removal job, make sure your expectations are realistic. A hand-held unit is sometimes useful as a second removal tool to get into the tight spaces. These units are more suited for occasional tile removal jobs, or smaller residential projects.

WITH A WALK BEHIND FLOOR SCRAPER

A Walk Behind Floor Scraper is the next step up from a hand-held unit. One thing to keep in mind is that not all Walk Behind Floor Scrapers are made the same. There are only a few on the market that can effectively removal tile from concrete floors because of the power needed to do so.

If you would like some more info on how to compare Walk Behind Floor Scrapers, check out this blog.

Here are some of the Pro's and Con's of using a Walk Behind Floor Scraper:

PRO'S

  • Easy to use
  • Depending on the unit, less labor intensive
  • Effective removal
  • Easy to use in smaller areas and rooms

CON'S

  • Still a little small for larger jobs – make sure to check production rates
  • Although stronger than a hand-held unit, it can struggle on very tough removals
  • Higher price point than a hand-held unit

Walk Behind Scrapers are a great option for removing tile from concrete in many ways. Just make sure that if this is all you have at your disposal to not take on huge jobs with tight timelines. Even though they are much more productive than a hand-held unit, reality is, they still have limitations because of their smaller size.

WITH A RIDE ON FLOOR SCRAPER

A Ride-On Floor Scraper is one of the most productive ways to remove tile from concrete floors. These machines can remove a large amount of square footage much quicker than the hand-held or walk behind options we talked about above.

There are different types of Ride-On Floor Scraper on the market and some can remove tile better than others.

Here are some Pro's and Con's of a Ride-On Floor Scraper

PRO'S

  • High production rates
  • Easier to operate
  • Effectively removes the toughest flooring, quickly and efficiently
  • Drastically reduces labor needs and operator fatigue

CON'S

  • Highest price point of all three options
  • Requires some operator training

Ride-On Floor Scrapers are one of the best machines for removing tile from concrete. Removing tile can be a difficult and labor intensive task, but using the right equipment will ensure the process goes much smoother.

At the end of the day, the best way to remove tile from concrete is going to be based on the size of job and the timeframe for completion.

If you’re not sure what is best for you, we suggest renting a few different types of units first to see how they work for you and your business. If you’re unsure, renting will give you the best understanding of what you need going forward, without having to make a large investment upfront.

3 THINGS TO LOOK OUT FOR WHEN BUYING A USED WALK-BEHIND POWER TROWEL

Buying a used piece of equipment can be a great way to save money if you know what to look out for. Otherwise, it could end up turning into a waste of your money and time. Buying used Walk-Behind Power Trowels are no different, so how do you make sure that you’re on the winning side of this transaction?

There are 3 simple things to look out for when looking at used Power Trowels to help you weed out the quality pieces from the lemons. Because the nature of equipment can be unpredictable, it can be hard to tell what may or may not be wrong. The tips that we highlight are not a 100% fool proof, and are only meant to help you identify some red flags. Remember that whenever you buy something used without a warranty, you are taking a bit of a risk.

TIP # 1: CHECK FOR OIL & GREASE

One of the things that will help to keep Walk-Behind Trowels running smoothly for years, is proper oil and grease maintenance. If you are looking at a Power Trowel and there are no signs that those two things have been properly maintained, you could run into some problems down the road. The main areas to check for oil are:

  • Gearbox (There should be a place to see where the level currently is)
  • Engine

If either of these look dry or under-oiled, take some caution. Lack of oil in these areas can result in your engine having major issues, and the internal components of the gearbox compromised.

When looking for grease, check around the spiders. Those are the main grease points on a Trowel.

Checking for proper oil and grease maintenance will help you to asses the mechanical state of the unit, but also tells you a lot about how the owners have probably cared for the equipment. A lack of proper care and maintenance is something you want to stay away from, if possible.

TIP #2: PAY ATTENTION TO WEAR & TEAR

The way an operator has used the Power Trowel over the years is one of the most important things to try and asses and pay attention to. If the Power Trowel was treated poorly and not cared for effectively, it can drastically shorten the life and efficiency of the Trowel. As you inspect the Walk-Behind, pay close attention to any dents or bends on the spider arms as this may indicate that the unit has been dropped, or damaged during use.

Although you can't really know how someone used their Walk-Behind Trowel over the years, one of the tell tale signs is the overall state of the machine. If the unit looks like it has been beaten up and not cared for, it's most likely true.

This can indicate the owner has not been diligent with many important upkeep items, which could come back to bite you in the future.

TIP #3: LOOK FOR BRANDS THAT HAVE A GOOD REPUTATION

Not saying that this is the main criteria to use when looking for a used Walk-Behind Power Trowel, but knowing which brands have a good reputation for manufacturing trowels that last, are good ones to look for when buying used. If you're unsure of where to start, do some online and industry research before you begin looking.

Another great thing about buying a used Trowel from a known brand, is parts and product support.Depending on the age of the Trowel, they will be more able to assist you as issues come up since they will always have parts stocked for their older units in the market still being used.

Buying used equipment can be a good option as long as you know what you are getting into. Before you buy used, you may want to check out what new Walk-Behind Trowel prices are, because you may find out that the "deal" you are getting with a use machine isn't really that good.

Hopefully after reading this blog you will be able to find a unit that fits your price point and is in a good enough state to accomplish what you need it to.

WHICH PLATE COMPACTOR SHOULD YOU USE?

Compaction is one of the most important processes in many applications. Whether you are laying pavers, asphalt, or concrete, using a plate compactor is vital to the longevity of the material. With all the different types of plate compactors on the market, it can be confusing to figure out which one is right for your application.

There are a few different ways to figure out which compactor you should be using that we will go over in this blog. This is a very important part of your job to get right because the consequences of having improper compaction can be really bad. When the base shifts you can run into many big issues that cost time and money down the road.

Let's get into some of the ways you can figure out which Plate Compactor is right for you job.

HOW MUCH COMPACTION FORCE DO YOU NEED

This is probably one of the most important aspects to pay attention to when you are selecting a compactor to use. Depending on the base material that you are putting down and how is down will determine the compaction force that you need for proper compaction.

Make sure that you know what compaction force is needed for you job. Under-compacting can cause some serious problems down the road and although it may feel like you are saving some money by purchasing a smaller plate compactor, the issues it can cause in the future will eat those savings.

WHAT SIZE IS THE AREA YOU ARE COMPACTING?

The size of the area is a large factor as well when selecting which compactor you should use. A bigger plate obviously covers more ground per pass, but travel speed also comes in the equation. Different compactors with have different travel speeds that are measure in ft/min.

This is an important thing to pay attention to along side the size of the plate. If you have a slightly bigger footprint, but the travel speed of the plate compactor is much slower than another unit, the bigger footprint may not be doing you any favors. You should be able to simply calculate what the difference in production is.

One important thing to remember is to buy a plate compactor that suits well with the average size of job that you normally do. If you purchase a unit that is based off a one-time need, you may end up with something that does not fit well for the other parts of your business.

WHAT FEATURES DO YOU WANT?

Most plate compactors are fairly basic machines that have very similar features. The main differences are between forward and reversible options. As you may think, the main difference between those plates is that a forward only goes in a forward direction and a reversible plate can go in both directions.

Depending on the type of compaction that you are doing and the layout of the job site will determine which features may be more helpful for you. Generally reversible plates will be better in tighter areas as you don't have to turn the machine around, but you can just walk backwards.

Another features to pay attention to is the shape of the plate. The shape of the plate can help you manever around different obsticles and move around in tighter spaces easier. 

There are some limitations with the different types of plate compactors, mainly the compaction force. Forward plates only offer so much compaction force, while reversibles can offer much more force with larger units.

After you evaluate what you really want and need out of your compactor, you should have a pretty clear understanding of what unit will help you our best.

STANDARD PITCH VS. EASY-PITCH - WHICH ONE SHOULD YOU USE ON YOUR WALK BEHIND TROWEL?

When talking about Walk Behind Power Trowels, the term"pitch" is referring to the angle that the trowel blades sit against the floor. The pitch of the blades should change as the finishing process progresses, and the concrete changes. In the past, there was a standard way that you pitched trowel blades, but over the years other ways have been developed. Depending who you talk to will determine which answer you get on what ways are the best. At the end of the day it comes down to preference.

So, how do you know which pitch option is right for you? In this blog, we will highlight a few things to ask yourself that will help steer you in the direction best for you.

DO YOU LIKE A LOT OF CONTROL OVER THE PITCH OF YOUR BLADES?

Standard or Fine Pitch, as it is sometimes referred to, generally offers more fine tune adjustment than the Easy-Pitch. A lot of concrete finishers that have been in the industry for a long time still tend to prefer the standard pitch for this vary reason. They feel that it gives them more control over the pitch of the blades, giving them the result that they want.

This isn't to say that an Easy-Pitch doesn't offer enough control over the blades, just not as much as the Standard Pitch. The reason that there is more control with a Standard Pitch is because of the technology that it uses. The Standard Pitch uses a knob that doesn't have set positions, where the Easy-Pitch has set positions that the blades will be set at.

If you have been finishing concrete for many years and are use to the adjustments that Standard Pitch offers, then I would recommend you stick with it unless your looking for a change. The Easy-Pitch will be easier overall to pitch the blades with, but you will sacrifice some fine adjustments that may be important to you. If you are newer to using Walk Behind Power Trowels, the Easy-Pitch may be a good option. This is where a lot of the industry is going and it is an option many people love.

EASE OF USE

Both type of pitch options are quite simple to use. Easy-Pitches would be considered easier to use because the process is quicker. All you need to do is depress the handle and then move the handle to the desired position. When using Standard Pitch, it can take a while to turn the knob to get the blades from being not pitch to being fully pitched.

This is not a huge element, but when you are troweling for long periods of time, it can be helpful to have something that is easier to use.

PRICE

Different pitch options normally will change the cost of the trowel you are buying. Depending on how much this option means to you, will determine whether you think that it is worth it. The option to have an Easy-Pitch will normally cost a few hundred dollars extra.

Some power trowel manufactures make you buy a whole new handle in order to incorporate an Easy-Pitch, while others have a bolt on kit to an existing handle. This will also drastically change the cost of this option.

The different pitch options available both get the job done at the end of the day. It really comes down to your preference and what you are used to.

Credit for this article goes to Chris Windsor.

3 FEATURES YOU NEED TO HAVE ON YOUR FORWARD PLATE COMPACTOR

Forward Plate Compactors are used for compacting many different kinds of base materials when prepping for concrete, pavers, and many other types of applications. Compaction is one of the most important parts in the construction process. Poor compaction can lead to the base shifting over time which can ruin an entire project.

In this blog, we are going to highlight 3 features that are extremely helpful to have on a forward compactor. The following features will make using the compactor much easier, and help when moving it around jobs.

WHEEL KIT

Wheel kits are an add-on that is often overlooked when comparing units. Although the wheels only work well in some applications, they are fantastic for moving plate compactors around the shop, showroom, and even many job sites. Depending on the type of units that you are looking at buying or renting, you may notice some come with a wheel kit included and others are available at an extra upgrade cost.

Whatever unit you decide to go with, getting it equipped with a wheel kit is a great option that will make moving the plate compactor around much easier and save you time over the long run.

HANDLE MOUNTED THROTTLE CONTROL

Most Forward Plate Compactors have the throttle control located on the actual engine. This is an awkward position, especially when you are needing to stop the unit after you are finished compacting. Also, having to bend down and stop the unit while it is still moving forward can be a safety hazard. We suggest using a forward compactor that has the throttle control mounted on the handle. Even though this is a simple feature, it eliminates the need to bend down and trying to stop the unit while it's still moving. A handle mounted throttle control makes the overall operation of forward plate compactor much easier and safer.

BUILT IN HOIST HOOK

A secure and trustworthy lifting point on a plate compactor that wont slip, is a necessity. This is usually a standard feature offered on most plate compactors, but sometimes it is an upgrade and extra cost. Make sure to keep an eye out to see if it come's standard or if you'll need to purchase the upgrade.

These features may seem small, but they will add to the overall experience and benefit of your forward plate compactor. Make sure you compare these key features when you are researching what unit may be good for you.

Credit for this article goes to Chris Windsor.