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 where replacement and repair costs can be much higher over time. Not to mention, concrete is much easier to clean and maintain than other types of flooring. However, concrete floors require maintenance to retain their appearance, especially if they are subjected to heavy foot traffic in commercial or retail applications. It's indeed hard to maintain polished concrete floors if there are always people walking up and down its surface every day.
Apart from the typical plain concrete gray color, there are different types of concrete floors and each one requires a different type of cleaning and maintenance method. With options ranging from different coloring to stamping patterns, to polishing and sealing, the floor finish of your concrete will determine your cleaning process or your overall concrete floor maintenance.
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 a leaf blower. This can be done with a hose to rinse the surfaces clean.
Plain concrete might seem easier to maintain compared to other types of flooring. However, it is still important to take care of it to prevent cracking and other types of damage. This is because concrete is a porous material, which means that it can absorb water and other liquids. This can then lead to mold and mildew, which can be difficult to remove. Periodically, the surfaces can be power washed to remove any buildup of soil or discoloration on the concrete. Using an alkaline degreasing and cleaning solution, power washing will remove everything from oil and grease stains to discoloration caused by rust.
Residential polished concrete floors are highly favored by many because of their amazing beauty and elegance. They are easy to clean and they don't require special treatments. A polished concrete floor maintains a high gloss shine that is durable and attractive. Nonetheless, despite their mirror-like finish, these floors are not exceptionally slippery. In fact, they're often slip-resistant because of the tiny sand particles embedded in the floor's surface and are less slippery than waxed linoleum or polished marble flooring.
You can further enhance their anti-slip properties by using a sealer with a slight grit to enhance traction without taking away from the floor's beauty. Using floor wax to maintain a polished concrete floor's shine is not recommended as it can eventually dull the finish. Instead, use a cleaner that is specifically designed for polished concrete floors to avoid damaging the floor's surface.
Refinishing a polished concrete floor is a very intensive process requiring the use of specialized equipment and the removal of a layer of the surface of the existing concrete with increasingly finer sanding and polishing tools. A layer of sealant and wax is then pushed into the concrete using a rotary finisher before the entire floor is polished smooth.
In addition, a buffer can also be used to bring out the shine on the floor without going through the entire process of refinishing the floor. And because the polishing process takes multiple steps, 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.
A polished concrete flooring gives you a lot of brownie points to those who are seeing your floors and maintaining a polished concrete floor is easy with proactive maintenance just ensure that any spills are cleaned up immediately to prevent any damage to the flooring.
For regular cleaning, the polished concrete floor should be dust mopped with a microfiber pad to remove dirt. Dirt that remains on the floor can abrade the surface and ruin the shine and beauty of the floor. Do not use a wet mop too often. Weekly, the polished surface should be wet mopped at least once, depending on the amount of foot traffic seen and the amount of dirt and debris tracked in. An automatic floor scrubber with a soft, non-abrasive pad should be used for large areas. Damp mopping is also a great idea.
A wet mop with a neutral floor cleaner should suffice for smaller areas. For reference, most cleaners recommend something equivalent to 10,000 grit. This helps ensure that debris that dust mops won't remove, such as grease or other dense material is removed before it can damage the surface. With the proper maintenance, a polished concrete surface should last a lifetime without refinishing.
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 than actual stones all while still supplying a clean and natural look. Stamped concrete flooring is often used for driveways, sidewalks, and patios.
The initial installation process is much like poured concrete. Still, the surface must be left smooth before the stamping can begin. After the concrete has been allowed to sit for a few hours, the stamps are applied to the wet surface and then removed after a few minutes. This leaves an imprint of the chosen pattern in the concrete. The most common patterns used for stamped concrete are brick, stone, and slate. There are also a variety of other colors that can be added to the concrete before it is poured to create a more unique look.
Stamped concrete is a low-maintenance option for flooring. However, it is still important to regularly sweep and clean the surface to prevent dirt and debris from accumulating and causing damage. In addition, stamped concrete maintenance relies on proactive steps to maintain its durability and beauty. The concrete should be sealed, and if a color hardener has been added, the surface will be even more resistant to damage. Moreover, a good sealer will also block stains from oil, grease, and other chemicals.
For simple cleaning maintenance, 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 noticed 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 applied to wet concrete thereby 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 floor maintenance that the concrete needs is the occasional sweeping or rinsing to keep it free of dirt and debris. On the contrary, suppose the concrete appears to be losing its luster, in that case, 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, these types of concrete floors involve coloring the concrete first and then engraving out a specific pattern. And because the color is on the surface, the engraved portions remain uncolored and take on the appearance of the grout.
Maintaining engraved concrete is much like plain concrete--you only need to sweep, dust mop, or rinse away the dirt and other surface debris. Eventually, as the surface sealant wears out, you will then need to reapply the sealant to maintain both the beauty and durability of your floors.
Exposed Aggregate Concrete
Exposed aggregate concrete is one where the aggregate, or stones, are left exposed at the surface. The look is achieved by etching away the top layer of concrete to reveal the aggregate beneath. Typically, the only treatment done to an exposed aggregate floor is the application of a transparent sealer for further protection against water and UV damage. This type of concrete allows the small stones that make up the aggregate of the concrete to show through. This can create a very wear-resistant and exceptionally beautiful surface.
The maintenance for this type of concrete is similar to that of stamped concrete--regular sweeping and cleaning will help to keep it looking its best. An annual power wash can also help restore the beauty of the aggregate. It should be immediately followed by reapplication of the sealant after the concrete has dried.
Colored concrete should be cleaned and handled much like plain concrete. That's because it is essentially the same except for a color additive that's been applied to the concrete. 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 exposure 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.
The regular maintenance for colored concrete is the same as for any other type of concrete flooring. That means regular sweeping, dust mopping, and cleaning to remove dirt, debris, and spills. As with all types of concrete, an annual power wash is also recommended to help remove any buildup that may have occurred over the course of the year.
Concrete flooring is a beautiful and durable option for both commercial and residential settings. And with the right care, it will continue to look great for many years to come. Whether you have polished concrete floors, stained concrete floors, or any other type of concrete floor, you must remember that concrete floor maintenance is essential. Use the right cleaning solutions as most concrete floors need maintenance to last them a long time and take the densification and polishing process seriously so that your floor will last for as long as possible. Also, don't forget to reapply sealant every few years to keep your concrete floors looking their best.