One of the biggest challenges in surface preparation is properly qualifying the application to ensure the right tooling is used for the job at hand. It’s also one of the first important steps and easiest ways to start costing money if not set up properly. A mismatched tooling to a project can either be not effective or wear out the tooling prematurely. Putting diamonds on adhesive will likely only melt the glue. Put the wrong diamond on an industrial coating and it’ll just ride over the top, not removing anything. Using an abrasive diamond or medium bond diamond on a hard concrete application and the diamonds glaze over.
In the interest of productivity, efficiency, and simplifying the process to help make sure the right tooling is used for the job at hand, it helps to think of surface preparation as three segments: strip, grind, and remove.
The 3 Pillars of Surface Prep
Considering the diverse range of tooling available on the market, making sure to choose the correct tooling in any surface preparation project can be a confusing moment. In an effort to try and simplify this, EDCO has developed “Core 4 Tooling.”
Safety Is Your Best Tool
No matter the job, remember your PPE:
· Safety goggles/glasses
· Steel toed shoes
· Hardhat or Helmet
· Vacuum/dust control system (or dust suppression solution, at a minimum)
“We always talk about it being a recipe for success,” says Tony Calcopietro, the sales director of the rental division at EDCO Equipment Development Co. That problem that we see isn’t necessarily a choice of the wrong grinder, but if the tooling selection is wrong it results in a failed application costing money, downtime, frustration, return of rentals, and customers not getting the job done in a timely manner. I can go on.”
Whether you’re a general contractor that’s just tapping into surface prep, the man in the truck doing it for the first time, the general handyman doing a bit of everything, or even the weekend warrior – education is key. The project can easily get more complicated than it needs to be if you don’t understand what the tooling and machinery do.
PRO TIP: Test for Hardness
Use a Moh’s hardner test. Not all concrete are created equal – even on the same jobsite. Concrete changes from residential to commercial to industrial. While residential might be under 3,000 psi, commercial might be 3,000-6,000 psi, and industrial might be 6,000+ psi. Knowing where you’re at and the type of hardness of a floor can help.
Contractors have budgets just like everyone else and there is only so much space in the toolbox. But like there isn’t one wrench, skid steer, or excavator to do every job, it’s the same with surface prep. “People want to just have one tool to do everything, that’s not how it works,” says Calcopietro.
- Strip – Featuring special sides to make the removal of soft/thick materials and coatings. Use a stripping tooling if you’re project has a soft glue or adhesive, foam rubber carpet backing, flaking paint, soft mastic, or thick industrial buildup.
- Grind – Designed for hard/thin coatings and to lightly level concrete, grinding toolings should create a smooth concrete surface. A hard thin coating, concrete sealers, mortar-based thinset, light concrete leveling, and smooth/level concrete imperfections all match a tool meant for grinding.
- Remove – Since these toolings are designed to remove thick industrial-strength coatings, they will leave a textured surface on the concrete. Use a tooling meant for removal for waterproof membranes, hard thick coverings, pool/cool deck as well as an epoxy and polyurea coating.
PRO TIP: Stripping
Throw a little sand on the surface if the adhesive starts to reactive. Doing this will allow the glue to adhere to itself rather than to the tooling.
EDCO’s CORE 4 family features the Magna-Trap line of tooling, grouped to simplify the selection process. What they’re doing is correlating the layers (material) one might have on the floor and need to remove to how to get those off. Gary Ondrus, the corporate trainer at EDCO, and his team trains people regularly to help them be as effective as possible. “We train about recognizing what the layers you’re trying to get up…and what tooling we’d use with what grinder in the Strip, Grind, Remove process,” he says. “The Strip Grind Remove is really just paralleling with working on layers and understanding the layers [you] might be dealing with.”
In a sort of helping-the-helper situation, EDCO has set up a set of questions for dealers to assist contractors to determine the final goal. Through these, dealers can better advise which tooling and equipment will be needed.
Ultimately, it’s research and education that will help you understand what you’re getting into with surface preparation. If you’re not finding the information you need, ask your dealer. A good dealer should be a great resource for answers.
“There’s so much information out there – and clickable. Your biggest aggravation is going to be getting the tooling on and it’s not cutting – it just cost you time and money. The biggest thing is to educate yourself,” says Ondrus.