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What is concrete grinding, and is it the right solution for you?

By Sarah Etler - 9/28/22, 4:59 AM

You’ve heard that grinding your concrete is an easy way to get it level, but is it the best way? Read about why we use concrete grinding as the last resort and when it’s actually a good option for repair.

If you have trip hazards or other concrete issues that you don’t want affecting your family and guests when they visit your home, you have options for their repair. 

Concrete grinding is one of the available options that can be useful in certain scenarios, but it’s usually not the best way to go about fixing concrete problem areas.

A-1 Concrete Leveling has been lifting and repairing concrete for over thirty years, and in that time we’ve seen the long-term effects of concrete grinding.

In this article, we will address why we use concrete grinding as a last-resort alternative, when grinding is a good idea, and why concrete leveling is usually the way to go.

Concrete sidewalk with visible grinding patch

Concrete Grinding as the Last Resort

Here at A-1 Concrete Leveling, we do use concrete grinding in some situations, but we typically try to avoid it as the main repair method.

While concrete grinding can achieve a level surface and even slope along slabs of concrete, it comes with a lot of downsides that lead us to advise against using it unless absolutely necessary.

Here is a list of the risks involved when grinding concrete:

  • Exposes concrete to worse freeze-thaw cycles

Because concrete is porous, it absorbs water which expands when frozen. If there is water in the concrete when the temperature dips below freezing and back up again, the expansion and contraction of the water can cause the concrete to break and crack.

Grinding the concrete can make this process worse, as it opens the pores of the concrete, allowing it to more easily absorb water and become damaged with freeze-thaw cycles.

  • Concrete becomes thinner and weaker

Concrete grinding works by removing material from the concrete slab, which in turn causes the slab to become thinner. The more material that is removed, the weaker the slab can become.

This is a problem because thinner slabs of concrete can be more susceptible to breaking or crumbling, meaning more repair or replacement down the line.

  • Doesn’t address why the concrete has settled

Concrete usually settles due to a void or empty space that has opened under the slab itself, and grinding the concrete does nothing to actually solve that problem, but rather only takes material away from the surface.

If you have trip hazards or other problems due to settling concrete, filling the voids under the slabs is the best way to get a more permanent solution. Without filling the voids, the concrete could continue to settle, making the grinding obsolete. 

When is grinding a good idea?

Sometimes grinding concrete may be a good solution to the problems you’re having with your concrete. 

For example, if you have tree roots making your concrete unlevel and you want to keep the tree, concrete grinding can be a good repair method, especially if the slab is too far raised for concrete leveling to be effective. In this case, the tree’s roots can continue to grow and cause the slab to become unlevel again in the future, but grinding it down will at least make it safer in the short term.

Also, if you know that you’re planning on replacing your concrete in the near future and the risks involved mentioned above aren’t a concern for you, concrete grinding could be a quick and cheap solution to hold you over in the meantime. 

Why should you stick to leveling?

While concrete grinding does have its place as a repair method when other options are exhausted, concrete leveling is usually a superior way to get your concrete back to where it’s supposed to be.

Concrete leveling addresses the underlying issues causing the concrete to settle, it maintains the strength and integrity of the slab, and it doesn’t expose the concrete to more damage due to freeze-thaw cycles. 

Concrete leveling is also more aesthetically pleasing than having patches of ground concrete all around your property, and it can be done in less than a day.

Comparison between concrete grinding and concrete leveling

Summary

Concrete grinding can be a solution to trip hazards and unlevel concrete in some situations, but concrete leveling when possible is usually the best bet for long-lasting concrete repairs.

While we have been perfecting our concrete leveling process over the last 30 years, we do use concrete grinding as a last-resort option at times here at A-1 Concrete Leveling.

Not sure if concrete grinding or concrete leveling is right for you? Click the link below to get in contact with a member of the A-1 Concrete Leveling team for a free consultation and quote.

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Sam has been with A-1 Louisville longer than anyone else. To say he understands how to level concrete would be an understatement. He is a huge asset to the company and more importantly, if he's on your job, you know you are getting the very best work done possible.
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A-1 Concrete Leveling, Inc.
(888) 675-3835
388 S. Main St. Suite 402b,
Akron, OH 44311