Concrete surface preparation can be required for a number of different reasons. You might be wanting to coat the surface of the concrete. Perhaps the concrete is covered in stains or old paint. If it’s damaged, it might need some prep to go along with repairs. Or maybe you’ve had some new concrete laid and want to give it a smoother finish.


Whatever your requirements or reasons are for concrete surface preparation, if you’re planning on undertaking the job yourself, you’ll need some specialist tools. The tools you need will vary depending on what you’re trying to achieve.

Let’s quickly list a few and we’ll talk more about some of the tools and what they do as we go through this overview:

  • Concrete grinder
  • Burnisher
  • Concrete polisher
  • Scarifier
  • Concrete shaver
  • Floor sander
  • Floor scraper
  • Planer
  • Shotblaster

Whether you’re planning on recoating your concrete or not, proper preparation is essential to achieve the results you desire.

What Is Mechanical Abrasion?

This is a common term used when it comes to preparing concrete surfaces, and mechanical abrasion can be achieved with a variety of concrete prepping tools, depending on what’s required.

Various mechanical abrasion techniques will remove old paint, get rid of those oil stains in driveways and garages, remove existing sealants and virtually all possible contaminants on the surface of the concrete.

Most forms of mechanical abrasion will scuff up the surface, depending on the level of severity you choose. This is perfect for when you want to apply something like a new sealant, paint or other finish, as it helps the new coating to adhere to the surface of the concrete. Any time you’re recoating, you don’t want the surface to be so smooth that nothing sticks to it.

Concrete Grinding

Grinders made specifically for prepping concrete surfaces come in a variety of sizes and styles. One of the most popular is the dustless concrete grinder, as a bag collects all the cement dust while prep work is being carried out. This equals far less mess and a choke-free environment. It also means there is a lot less clean up work to do afterwards.

Concrete grinders generally use diamond segmented abrasives. These abrasives come in various levels, from coarse to really fine, depending on the finish required. Rotating disks both level out the surface and smooth it off.

Smaller handheld models are available for little jobs and smoothing out rough concrete edging. They are also handy for prepping for concrete repair work.

Why Would You Want To Scarify a Concrete Surface?

Scarifying machines employ the use of tungsten or hardened steel flails, and they do exactly what the name suggests: Scar up the surface of the concrete.

Generally you’ll want to do this to remove old stains, coatings and debris and leave a fairly rough, clean surface in readiness for painting or some other concrete finish.

Scarifier attachments can be put on concrete grinders and come in a variety of grades. Some will make the concrete surface look like it has just been freshly laid.

Other common names for scarifiers are milling machines, planers and rotary cutters. Note that they can be adjusted and fine tuned for precision surface prep.

When Would You Do Shotblasting?

Shotblasting is perfect for those stubborn surfaces, where other methods may not remove the previous coating.

A shotblaster employs thousands of shot pellets, directed at the concrete surface. It’s a clean and dust free method and exceptionally good at getting into the concrete and really cleaning it up.

The most commonly used model is the 200mm shotblaster, but for really big jobs, you can also get your hands on a 380mm model as well.

Once blasted, the surface will be clean, debris-free, and nicely scuffed up for the application of the new concrete coating.

Floor Scrapers and What They Do

These come in both hand held models and ride on models for those really extensive concrete prepping tasks.

Basically these are just a scraper with a blade on the front that comes in a variety of lengths. It’s the perfect bit of kit when you need to remove things like old lino or even tiles from a concrete surface, in readiness for a brand new finish. You can also use it to remove carpet and underlay.

After scraping is complete, what you’ll be left with is a surface stripped bare down to concrete. You can then start preparing the surface with concrete grinding or whatever method is required.

Concrete Shavers

This is considered a multi purpose tool and a very handy one for surface preparation. You can use a concrete shaver to scar a surface, plane it flat, even out uneven concrete joints, as well as remove old coatings, such as epoxy or paint.

What you’ll achieve is a nice clean surface ready to go to the next stage.

After shaving, you don’t necessarily have to coat the concrete with a new material. You might just want to leave it bare. What the result of shaving achieves is a smooth surface, but one that’s slip-free. Perfect for footpaths and driveways so you don’t slip in rainy weather.

Concrete Burnishers & Polishers

If you’re seeking a really smooth and polished concrete surface, such as for indoors, then a concrete burnisher is the tool to get the job done.

Once the surface has been prepped and debris removed, you want the concrete to be as smooth as possible before polishing.

Burnishers come in a variety of sizes and are quite easy to use. You can also polish tiles and marble floors with them as well.

There are different pads available to achieve a variety of results and finishes.

The Wrap

Proper concrete surface preparation is quite easily achieved by the home do it yourselfer if you equip yourself with the right tools to achieve the results you want.

Decide what it is you need to accomplish, then seek out the concrete preparation tools you’ll want for that specific task. When done right, you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the results.

For concrete equipment hire in Sydney, try Dynamic Hire

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