If you’re working in the Surface Preparation industry, I’m sure you’ve used a small concrete grinder before. They are essential to many big and small jobs. Whether you’re into placing epoxy floors, doing general surface prep, or polishing concrete, a small grinder might be essential to your success. Small grinders are some of the most common pieces of surface prep equipment on the market, so many manufacturers and dealers often have multiple models in their portfolio. This is great for those looking to rent or purchase because there are so many options to choose from, with many features, in various price points. However, along with this comes a flood of units that can all seem very similar, which can make it confusing to those new to small grinders.

In this blog, I want to highlight 4 main types of single head, small grinders that are available on the market; as well as their benefits, and best practice application, to hopefully clear up some of the confusion when doing research.

Before we get into specifics it is important to note a few things:

  • Know what power capabilities you have on site. This will drastically change the type of grinders you can use, and should invest in.
  • Decide what the main purpose of the machine is. (Example: job site size, polishing/grinding, edging, etc.)
  • Keep an open mind and do honest research based on your needs. Don’t default to a certain brand or unit just because it see Ask good, challenging questions of the manufacturers to make sure you are doing a proper comparison.

The types of small grinders we will look at today are:

  1. Hand Grinders
  2. Basic walk behind grinders
  3. Professional walk behind grinders
  4. Edgers

Although there are other grinder models available, this will put most small concrete grinders into a basic category as a starting point for your research.


Most of you will have some experience with a hand grinder. They are relatively inexpensive, but depending on what you’re grinding, may not be all that useful. If you are doing some small surface prep or coating removal, you may be able to get away with using one, but it will be labour intensive. Another important thing to note is that you can do a lot of damage to the concrete if used improperly or by someone without experience.

A hand grinder is always nice to have with you, but using it as a primary grinding solution for most jobs would not be recommended. These are best suited for small projects or spot work and DIY at home users, because in these situations there isn’t a need for anything larger.


When speaking about a “basic” grinder, I’m referring to the features and versatility it this grouping of machinery offers. These are a large step up from the hand grinder and are easier for most people to use well. Basic grinders would be used for general surface prep on smaller jobs, but more than spot work. These machines help eliminate a lot of the potential user error, allowing for a more consistent result and profile.

Usually these concrete grinders will have a rigid head that needs to be adjusted to the ground. This can be helpful when dealing with harder coatings because the head will not flex as much, allowing for more consistent and aggressive removal than a hand grinder.

We generally suggest these grinders to those doing general surface preparation and coating removal on smaller jobs.


These units are a better option for contractors who are constantly needing them on their job sites, or those doing frequent grinding, and/or polishing. We suggest finding a unit that comes equipped with a floating head. This will allow for the grinder to ride the variations in the slab, resulting in more even profiles and is ideal for polishing in smaller areas or around edges. They are a great option for surface prep and coating removal in slightly larger areas as well.

Many professional grinders will also come with different electrical options. Having the ability to run higher voltage & amp motors can help with the aggressiveness and production of these machines.

Pro concrete grinders would be best for a regular user of single head grinders. You’ll notice the difference in quality and the extra features will go a long way, especially when polishing.


There are some specific concrete grinders that have the capability of getting right up to the walls and corners, which is incredibly useful for polishing contractors as edge work can be a burdensome task. If you think your business would benefit from investing in an edger, make sure you look for a few key features before making a purchase.

  • Ability to edge on both sides of the grinder.
    • Many edgers can only edge on one side, resulting in large gaps when trying to grind or polish into corners. We suggest investing in a unit that can be used on both sides, that way you can cover more space and get closer into those tight areas.
  • Knowing how close the grinder can get to the wall.
    • There will always be a little space left between the grinder and wall, but some do a better job at minimizing this space, than others.
    • Make sure you ask how close to the wall the edger grinder can actually get. Don’t accept “close” as an answer. A few milometers / inches will make a big difference.

Those 4 small grinder categories are the best place to start your research. Once you understand the basic difference of what each category has to offer, you can become more specific in your research to find out different product or brand specs and prices. There may be some grinders that fit into more than one category which can be a huge asset and a good investment if it makes sense for your business needs. If you can find a professional grinder that can also double as an edger with all the discussed features, you’re looking in the right place. At the end of the day you have to make the best investment for you and your business, and the best way to do that is by doing the proper research and asking the right questions.