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There’s no one-size-fits-all to tooling

Dave Bigham answers three commonly asked questions about surface preparation equipment tooling, including how many square feet you can get out of your tooling.

IF you asked a plumber or electrician to fix an issue in your home and they turned up with one screwdriver, would you trust them to carry out the work? Selecting the right tool for the job is the key to success, whether you’re a plumber fixing a pipe or a contractor preparing a floor. Here I’ll answer three commonly asked questions about surface preparation equipment tooling.

Just like plumbers and electricians have a toolbox full of equipment that will help them complete their job quickly, safely, and efficiently, contractors have a wide range of tools at their disposal that will help them successfully remove and prepare flooring.

To ensure contractors find the right ones for each application, here are some of our top tips based on frequently asked questions from customers.

How much should I have in my toolkit?
You never know what’s going to happen, so preparation is key. If you’re not prepared and find out that you don’t have the tools until you’re on the job site, you’ll need to pay to get them delivered, increasing costs in the long-term.

The best thing to do is calculate what you need in advance. From past experience, work out how many square feet you can get out of your tooling with the machine you use and the average square foot you work on to decide what will last. Keeping spare sets of tools can help you prepare for the unexpected — for instance, you could hit a deadhead in the concrete and break off a segment. You don’t want to be on a jobsite and discover that you can’t work because you don’t have the tools. It’s better to have a little left over than run out near the end of a job and panic about how you’re going to get more.

When would you use a metal bond diamond instead of a PCD?
Before initial surface preparation, contractors should assess the concrete they are due to prepare before choosing a grinding tool.

If you’re working on concrete that’s never been touched before, you don’t need polycrystalline diamond (PCD). You can use diamond tooling to get the required concrete surface profile (CSP) that you’re looking for. If you’re on a job where there’s a coating, adhesive or thin set mortar that is well bonded to the ground, you should consider using less aggressive PCDs remove the material.

Typically, if you’ve just got sealer on the concrete, a metal bond diamond will work. PCDs are more expensive, so if you’re finding the metal bond diamond is removing material, it’s the more cost-effective option.

How long will my diamond tooling last?
There is no definitive answer to tooling lifespan — in reality, job site conditions dictate how long diamond tools last. However, we can estimate based on the tooling and equipment. For example, when using a GP 500 or GP 700 grinder, the tooling is much larger so, with the head pressure, we can estimate that, on average, contractors should expect diamonds to wear down after about 8,000 to 10,000sq ft of work. Smaller machines have smaller tooling and less head pressure, so would last around 2,500sq ft on average. If you’re not matching your diamonds to the hardness of your concrete, that number could decrease.

We’ve had a customer working on some concrete for an indoor application, who experienced expected wear on diamonds. Then, when they used the same tooling to prepare an outdoor patio on the same site, the diamonds disappeared rapidly. After investigating, we noticed the entire patio felt like sandpaper because the materials they used to create a non-slip surface outside wore the diamonds down quickly.

There’s no one-size-fits-all to tooling – contractors should always take the time to select tooling based on the flooring application, chosen machinery and job site conditions. Once they’ve established these parameters, they can build a toolbox that’ll ensure surface preparation success.
Dave Bigham is global director of training at National Flooring Equipment

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