Polished concrete floors provide an attractive feature to homes and businesses alike. If properly looked after, they can last up to ten years or more before needing repairs. But maintaining their trademark glossy look is not as easy a task as you may assume. A concrete finish might sound like a durable flooring option, but keep in mind it still requires consistent maintenance to stay in top condition.
Neglect or carelessness can not only void the warranty on new polished concrete floors, but can cause unsightly damage. Luckily taking care of your concrete floors doesn’t have to be a tedious task. While it does take some effort and planning, if done properly the maintenance process doesn’t take a lot of time and ensures your floors serve you well for a long time.
What are the three most important ways to care for polished concrete floors?
1. Establish a regular maintenance schedule.
The cleaning schedule that you establish for your polished concrete floor should be in line with the amount of traffic it receives. If the area has round the clock foot traffic, you may want to set up an evening and morning cleaning schedule.
Regularly cleaning your polished concrete floors is essential because it doesn't take long for minute particles of dust, sand and other debris to take their toll on the finish. It may seem as though the floors are relatively clean after a few days, but it doesn't take long for small sand and dirt particles to create what’s known as the sandpaper effect which slowly ruins the finish and causes the concrete to lose its trademark smooth appearance.
2. Use the right tools and products to protect the finish.
Cleaning regularly is important, but no amount of cleaning effort will be enough if you’re not using the right tools and equipment.
Polished concrete floors are durable in some ways, but more vulnerable in others. There are two methods of cleaning this type of flooring. Manual cleaning (preferred) or the use of automatic cleaning equipment. Either way precautions need to be taken so the finish is protected from damage.
Floors should first be swept to remove dust and other debris. The dust mop should be made of soft microfiber because this will help to protect the polished finish better than some of the harsher materials that can scratch or dull polished concrete floors. Spills should be cleaned up immediately to help limit the amount of seepage into the porous surface.
If cleaners are required, choose a pH neutral formulation that suspends the particles of soil for easier removal. Allow the cleaner to sit long enough to loosen the dirt and other substances, then remove it from the floor before it dries. When cleaners dry on the surfaces of polished floors, they tend to create a dull haze and can cause discolouration. Work with smaller areas to prevent this from happening. If you use a wet mop, always make sure that the mop and water are clean so you aren't spreading damaging particles as you go.
Cleaning with automatic equipment
Automatic floor scrubbers may be used, but they should be equipped with pads that are soft and non-abrasive. Pads that are too hard can cause etching and scratching, damaging the finish of the polished concrete.
Make sure that wheels on the equipment are made of rubber or other materials that help prevent scratches. Standard cleaning pads vary in colour and texture, here are the most common options:
- White pads have a soft texture and work well for protecting high gloss floors.
- Soft beige pads can also be enough to prevent dulling of polished floors.
- Other options are not really a good fit, because they usually pose the risk of causing etching and scratches on the floor's surface.
3. Avoid using damaging substances.
You should never apply wax to a polished concrete floor. There are more than a few reasons why it’s a bad idea, but some people still do it, causing irreversible damage to their floors.
First off, if you apply wax you will void the warranty, which is obviously very bad, considering the likelihood that you’ll need it sooner or later. Additionally, the wax will build up over time and need to be removed, which will most likely result in a dulled finish for the entire floor.
Another important thing to remember is to avoid placing tape on the floor because the adhesive may cause damage when removed. Degreasers should also be avoided because they are abrasive and can also lead to dulling and discolouration of the finish. Any cleaners that contain acids can cause etching and loss of gloss in the finish. Make sure you read the labels of cleaners you intend to use on the floor to ensure they are of a neutral pH balance.
Polished concrete flooring should avoid contact with water for the first three days after the initial installation so the sealers will have time to properly cure. This allows for the best possible protection from the beginning.
Polished concrete floors not only look wonderful but are among the easiest type of flooring to look after. They do not require waxing or sealing and with proper care can maintain their glossy appearance for several years.
We hope this advice will help you to avoid the need for re-polishing or costly repairs of your polished concrete floors. Polished concrete floors can be a significant investment, so you want to make sure they stay in top condition for as long as possible by maintaining them properly.
This article was written by Matthew Funnell, a concrete cutting specialist who works with Supercut (WA) Pty Ltd a privately owned concrete cutting and core drilling company serving Western Australia for 20 years. Matthew likes to share his knowledge and experiences through writing industry related articles in his spare time.
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