Polished concrete is durable, aesthetically pleasing, and easy to maintain compared to many traditional flooring materials. For these reasons and others, it is easy to see why polished concrete has grown exponentially in popularity over recent years. With the growing use of polished concrete, it is important for cleaning staff to understand how to properly care for it, to prevent wear and costly restorative maintenance.
Many users of polished concrete hold the belief that it is maintenance-free, which is a common misunderstanding. While polished concrete is low maintenance compared to traditional vinyl composition tile (VCT), it is by no means maintenance-free. Polished concrete requires a specialized maintenance program aimed at maintaining its appearance and durability, otherwise the floor can fail.
Concrete is polished using a series of grinding and polishing steps. These steps use diamond disks or pads in a step-wise manner, starting with the most aggressive disk and moving toward less aggressive disks until the desired appearance is achieved. The appearance of polished concrete can range from a satin sheen to a mirror-like high gloss. This polishing process is very labor-intensive and costly, and if the floor fails due to improper maintenance, it will need to be performed again to restore the floor to its like-new appearance. This can result in costly and unneeded fees.
To prevent re-grinding and re-polishing of a concrete floor, both daily maintenance and proactive maintenance are key.
Daily maintenance of a polished concrete floor consists of dust mopping and wet mopping or autoscrubbing. Dust mopping will remove dirt and particulate soils, preventing them from becoming ground into the floor and wearing the floor down over time. Autoscrubbing will remove any greases, oils, and particulates that may have been introduced to floor, but it is important to also choose the correct cleaning chemical to pair with your autoscrubber when cleaning a polished concrete floor.
Concrete floors are very sensitive to acids; the floor can be etched within seconds of being exposed to an acid, and there is no effective way to fix this etching, short of grinding and polishing the floor. Acid cleaners should never be used on a concrete floor for this reason. Neutral cleaners and some alkaline cleaners are very effective on polished concrete, but corrosive high alkaline cleaners (pH 12+) can damage the shine of the floor and leave it looking dull.
The right chemical paired with the right pad is the best way to properly maintain a polished concrete floor. Special diamond pads can be used to maintain and bring back the shine of slightly worn floors. Depending on your desired maintenance program, these diamond pads can be used continuously throughout the maintenance of the floor, or they can be used intermittently to restore the floor after it has shown some slight wear.
Preventive maintenance is also very important in polished concrete floor care. As said before, concrete is very sensitive to acidic material. Care should be taken to never allow acids to come into contact with the concrete. To help bolster acid resistance as well as resistance to other types of staining, special protectants can be applied to the concrete. These protectants will penetrate the pores of the concrete and help prevent stains from getting into the porous concrete.
One last thing to consider is the frequency of polished concrete maintenance. No two facilities are the same in respect to the amount of wear a floor will receive. It is important to take notice of the floor and if it is becoming worn or dulled between maintenance cycles, then more frequent maintenance is needed. The floor should be evaluated regularly to avoid excessive wear.
With the recent growth of polished concrete, more and more facilities and cleaning staff will need to know how to properly care for this type of flooring. With the right knowledge and know-how, polished concrete floors can be a very good flooring option.
For more information and a list of polished concrete maintenance products, visit our Concrete Care webpage.