Concrete Floor Care 101
Concrete has become one of the go-to options for industrial and business flooring because of its versatility and durability. This is especially true when concrete is compared to other flooring options like carpet or tile. Concrete floors do require maintenance to retain their appearance, especially if they are subjected to heavy foot traffic in commercial or retail applications.
A concrete floor is able to be surfaced in numerous different ways, with options ranging from different coloring to stamping patterns, to just polishing and sealing. Depending on how the surface is finished will determine how you should go about caring for your floor.
A polished concrete floor maintains a high gloss shine that is both durable and attractive. Despite their mirror-like finish, these floors are not exceptionally slippery; in fact, they tend to be less slippery than waxed linoleum or polished marble flooring. You can enhance their anti-slip properties by using a sealer that has a slight grit included, enhancing traction without taking away from the beauty of the floor.
Refinishing a polished concrete floor is a very intensive process requiring the removal of a layer of the surface of the existing concrete with increasingly finer sanding and polishing tools used. A layer of sealant and wax is then pushed into the concrete using a rotary finisher before the entire floor is polished smooth.
Because the polishing process takes multiple steps in the fineness of the grit, you can choose exactly how glossy you want the end result to be, whether it’s a tastefully muted satin or a gleaming high-gloss.
Maintaining a polished concrete floor is easy with proactive maintenance. Make sure that any spills are cleaned up immediately to prevent damage to the flooring.
- The polished concrete floor should be dust mopped with a microfiber pad to remove any dirt. Dirt that remains on the floor can abrade the surface and ruin the shine and beauty of the floor.
- The polished surface should be wet mopped at least once a week, depending on the amount of foot traffic that is seen and the amount of dirt and debris that is tracked in. An automatic floor scrubber with a soft non-abrasive pad should be used for large areas. For reference, most cleaners recommend something that is equivalent to 10,000 grit.For smaller areas, a wet mop with a neutral floor cleaner should suffice. This helps ensure that debris that dust mops won’t remove, such as grease or other viscous material, are removed before they can damage the surface.
With the proper maintenance, a polished concrete surface should last a lifetime without the need for refinishing.
Plain concrete is often used for sidewalks and the outside patio surfaces of commercial and residential buildings. Routine maintenance for plain concrete involves keeping the surface clean of debris through manual sweeping or the use of a leaf blower. This can be done in conjunction with a hose to rinse the surfaces clean.
Periodically, the surfaces can be power washed to remove any buildup of soil or discoloration on the concrete. Used in combination with an alkaline degreasing and cleaning solution, power washing will remove everything from oil and grease stains to discoloration caused by rust.
Stamped concrete is a poured concrete slab that is then imprinted with patterns. These patterns replicate the look of stone or brick pavement at a much lower cost while supplying a clean and natural look.
The concrete should be sealed, and if a color hardener has been added, the surface will be even more resistant to damage. A good sealer will also block stains from oil, grease, and other chemicals. However, stamped concrete maintenance relies on proactive steps to maintain its durability and beauty.
The surface should be swept at least weekly to remove dirt and debris. Exterior surfaces should also be scrubbed or pressure washed once per year using a mild detergent. If you notice that your concrete is starting to lose its shine, a reapplication of sealer will usually work to restore its sheen.
If your stamped concrete experiences a lot of foot traffic, you may want to also apply a coat of wax or polish. This polish will act as a buffer between your floor and the heavy foot traffic that can serve to damage it.
Stenciled concrete has patterns and colorations that are applied to wet concrete, allowing the floor to simulate the look of various bricks or pavers. It is very similar to stamped concrete, except the patterns are applied using disposable paper stencils and specially formulated paints.
Once the stencils are applied, a high-quality sealant and finish should be applied. Once that is done, the only maintenance that the concrete needs is the occasional sweeping or rinsing to keep it free of dirt and debris. If the concrete appears to be losing its luster, a reapplication of the sealant should restore it back to its original beauty.
Engraved concrete is a method of putting patterns and designs into existing concrete slabs. Also called concrete etching, this type of floor involves first coloring the concrete and then engraving out a specific pattern. Because the color is on the surface, the engraved portions remain uncolored and take on the appearance of grout.
Maintaining engraved concrete is much like plain concrete in that you only need to sweep or rinse away dirt and other surface debris. As the surface sealant is worn away, you will also need to reapply it in order to help the engraved concrete retain its beauty and color. Make sure you follow the sealer recommendations given to you by the company that does the engraving.
Exposed Aggregate Concrete
This type of concrete allows the small stones that make up the aggregate of the concrete to show through. This can create an exceptionally beautiful surface that is very wear resistant. Typically, the only treatment done to an exposed aggregate floor is the application of a transparent sealer to protect against water and UV damage.
Maintenance for exposed aggregate flooring only requires the occasional sweeping away of dirt and debris. An annual power wash can also help restore the beauty of the aggregate. It should be immediately followed by a reapplication of the sealant after the concrete has dried.
Colored concrete should be cleaned and handled much like plain concrete. That’s because, with the exception of a color additive to the concrete, it is the same. The color is added to the concrete when it is poured, so the color runs throughout the concrete, rather than just resting on top.
It is worth noting that occasionally, a phenomenon known as efflorescence can happen on colored concrete that causes unsightly discoloration. This chalky deposit is caused by calcium carbonate leaching out of the concrete after it is exposed to water. The water reacts with the concrete and the calcium carbonate is forced to the surface as time passes. On colored concrete, this is easily handled using a mild acidic cleaner specially designed to deal with efflorescence. Once the residue is cleaned, a good sealer should be reapplied to prevent moisture from penetrating the slab and starting the chemical process anew.