How To Sand Concrete (With a Sander or By Hand)

There are a lot of ways you can sand concrete depending on the area and desired finish. 

Concrete is seeing an increase in demand as an affordable alternative to flooring that can easily be customized using different finishes, textures and effects.

Other uses of concrete include the construction of simplistic furniture that is highly modern nowadays.

Not only are tables unique and full of character, but the industrial finish can last a long time and endure a high amount of general wear and tear.

Whether you want to find a concrete table, counter top, or flooring inside or out, this is a complete guide on how you can sand concrete. 

Depending on how you want to create a concrete product or where to add some, there are a lot of ways you can complete any project.

This guide has been made to help you evaluate what options will work best for your concrete needs, and which sanding methods you should consider. 

Reasons to sand concrete

If you are new to the concrete world or have not integrated the material into your home before, you might be wondering why you should consider sanding it.

It can smooth the surface and remove any loose pieces of rubble in the process.

This can be a great way to prepare any concrete surface for a new layer of paint, varnish, or even more concrete. Sanding is a way to prepare the surface and ensure that it is level and clean, as well as smooth. 

Concrete is a very affordable material, that is also highly versatile. One of the main reasons why people have begun to integrate this material into their homes is how strong and durable it is.

Another reason being how much can be done with concrete.

You can create a completely custom finish thanks to different layering techniques and materials that can be used to make a range of textures.

Of course, if you use concrete for flooring then it is recommended that you keep it smooth and level, and introduce different textures once it has set. This can be through rugs, cushions, and throws. 

Depending on where you want to integrate concrete and what the intended purpose is, it can be hard to know what the best method would be.

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If you are working on smaller projects or using concrete for an art piece, then you might want to consider sanding by hand.

Compared with a sander, there is a reduced risk of damaging small pieces, and it is easier to get into tiny cavities. 

By hand

Smaller projects including a lot of artwork are often recommended sanding by hand. This is because it is much easier to reach small places without causing potential damage to the structure.

It is possible to sand larger areas like entire floors by hand, however it is highly time-consuming and can be more labor-intensive than other methods. 

Depending on the finish of your concrete, it is worth finding a grit level that is appropriate for your desired finish.

Try to use diamond sandpaper that has been made with masonry in mind, because traditional sanding tools will not be effective on the hard concrete.

The key to sanding large areas by hand is to divide the area into smaller sections and start sanding in a corner until the entirety of the section is level.

You can check this by seeing if your sander touches all parts of the area when you sweep your hand around using an even amount of pressure. 

Sander

If you have a larger area to cover, you might want to consider using a sanding power tool. These can make the task easier and more accurate by using a handheld or walk-behind sanding machine.

A handheld orbital sander is a great compromise between the accuracy of a machine and being able to reach smaller angles that comes from sanding by hand.

They are relatively affordable and a great option for sanding concrete surfaces or counters.

Make sure that you carefully research the right sanding paper attachment when you are considering using a handheld orbital sander, because the grit levels made for wood will be less effective on harder concrete surfaces.

Diamond based sanding paper is the more reliable attachment, and it is worth finding a brand that is reliable and durable. 

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Walk-behind sanders can be great for external areas or larger spaces, and they are the most expensive option, they are highly effective and have the optional vacuum attachment.

Try to be mindful when you use one of these to keep the machine moving at a steady pace.

This can be the main reason why you might have an uneven surface, and it isn’t a task that you can drift off with.

Walk-behind sanders are less versatile than handheld sanders, because they have been made with sanding floors in mind and their design is too hefty to be moved around a great deal. 

Safety measures

The sanding process can create a great deal of dust and small particles of concrete in the air.

Wear a mask and goggles to avoid inhaling any of the harmful substances when you are sanding concrete, as it can cause long-term respiratory conditions and other substance-related irritations.

Another way to prevent inhaling harmful substances that may be picked up during sanding is to clean or vacuum as you go.

This can prevent the chances of you or those around you from inhaling potentially harmful dust, as well as making the cleaning process at the end a lot easier. 

To summarize, there are a lot of things to consider when you want to sand a concrete surface. For smaller projects, you can sand by hand to get a more accurate and even finished product.

However, this method is less effective for larger areas such as entire floors or even countertops.

Handheld sanders are more versatile and can be used to create a level surface on any type of concrete.

Another option is walk-behind sanding machines that are great for larger areas or backyard concrete spaces. Try to keep the surface level throughout and ensure that you vacuum the dust regularly to prevent inhalation.