By Phillip C. Evans Titus Restoration Services, Inc.
Titus Restoration Services, Inc.
Serving the U.S and Carribean Islands
(Protecting the Slab. To see pictures of what not to do before or after polishing click here)
(For Recommended protection materials before and after the polish click here)
Understanding Polished Concrete Maintenance
Understanding the strengths and limitations of polished concrete will help you maintain its beauty for many years. Polishing concrete is nothing more than scratching concrete with diamonds.
Scratches Polish Polish Concrete
Concrete is ground (scratched) first by coarse diamonds (sometimes as low as 30 grit) and then several steps of finer and finer diamonds grits until it achieves a high shine (1800 grit). Each grit (coarseness of scratching diamond) must thoroughly scratch the concrete until the scratches are uniform throughout the slab and then the next grit is begun. The concrete is thoroughly scratched with higher grits leaving smaller scratches and smother concrete. It is not unusual to start at a coarse 30 grit and stop as high as 800, 1500, or 3000 grit. This polishing process is performed over a short time by heavy rotating or planetary rotating concrete polishing equipment.
Scratches Also Dull Polished
Concrete Polished concrete is dulled just as it is polished…by small scratches. These scratches come from people’s shoes, scratches from grocery cart wheels, scratches from office chairs, etc. Instead of coming from over a short time by heavy planetary rotating concrete, this dulling process of polished concrete is performed over a much longer time period and is dependant upon the volume and type of traffic exposure previously mentioned. It is very common that isles and high traffic areas will dull before low traffic areas and it is common that areas subject to heavy wheel traffic will dull before foot traffic areas.
The Durability of Polished Concrete
It is typical that polished concrete is hardened by s silicate densifier to aid in scratch resistance. This densifier will increase the hardness of the surface of the concrete by as much as 400%. Due to the variables of the exposure and volume of traffic as mentioned above, it is impossible to predict the exact rate of dulling of the polished finish. Titus typically recommends a stain protection over polished concrete. This stain protection not only offers resistance to mild acids, spills, and stains; it provides what we call a nano-film on the concrete surface. This film is a very thin protective layer that goes in and on to the polished surface. It is very hard and protects against scratches. Stain protection can be easily re-applied to restore the shine of polished concrete. It is especially important for concrete exposed to hard wheel traffic or frequent spills.
Polished Concrete Maintenance
The following are some general maintenance guidelines for your polished concrete floor. We hope that the information provided herein will allow you to properly maintain you floor for the least possible cost.
The Do’s and Don’t of Polished Concrete Maintenance
- Mop with clean water.
- Do not use abrasive cleaners.
- It is best to uses clean water and vacuum recover the dirty water (this is the reason auto scrubbers are recommended).
- Use neutral pH based cleaner as needed.
- Do not use citrus cleaners, ammonia, or alkaline base cleaners. Do not use oil soaps, vinegar, furniture polish, wax, or household dust treatments.
- Use cleaners only as needed as all soaps leave a film.
- Dry mop often using rayon or micro-fiber mop.
- Do not use treated mops or mops that have been used to clean up spills or for other purposes. Small dirt particles dull the floor over time. Use dedicated mops.
Do not use mop heads that may contain residual chemicals that will damage the floor
Mops used for spills and other applications may contain chemicals that will dull or damage the floor.
- Use felt pads on chairs. Do not scrape or drag steel or sharp objects over the floor
Prevent scratches by using felt pads on furniture feet. Lift heavy furniture when moving.
Use pads under rolling chairs. Do not use a rolling desk or office chair on a polished concrete floor without a large pad.
- Prevent scratches which cause dulling by using proper floor protection.
Use scrape off mats outside doors and clean them regularly. Do not track sand or mud on the polished concrete floor. Foreign materials on a floor are the primary cause of slips and falls. Water may stain the concrete. Dust and dirt will dull the finish. Use walk off mats inside doors and clean them regularly. Do not let mats curl at edges or become trip hazards.
- Scratches dull the polished concrete. Sweep then vacuum water and dirt form floor.
Do not leave dirt or water standing on polished concrete. Foreign materials on a floor are the primary cause of slips and falls. Water may stain the concrete. Dust and dirt will dull the finish.
- Set potted plants in saucer on breathable pad. Do not set potted plants directly on the floor. Extended exposure to moisture may leave a stain. This is especially true if the concrete is dyed. Plant fertilizer may damage the shine.
- Re-treat solvent spills as needed with stain protection.
- Do not use solvent to clean the floor. The use of solvents may stain, dull, or alter the colors of the dies.
- Clean acid spills such as citrus, colas, soft drinks, vinegar, and wine ASAP. If you own a grocery store or a liquor store, apply additonal coats of lithium stain protection in isles where acidic food items such a pickels, vinegar, wine, or colas may be spilled.
- Do not use polished concrete without stain protection in areas subject to acid spills such as citrus, colas, soft drinks, vinegar, and wine. We advise using a silicate densifier with a silane additive PLUS stain protection if you expect exposure to these spills. Acids will etch and dull polished concrete. Concrete without stain protection may be stained, dulled, or otherwise damaged immediately and will not provide even a short window of time to allow for cleaning up the spill.
- Mop up water puddles on polished concrete ASAP. Do not let water puddle on polished concrete. Water puddles may leave a mark on a polished concrete surface. It may also penetrate the stain protection and permanently discolor dyes or natural concrete. They are also a slip hazard.
- If tape must be applied to polished concrete, it should grey natural concrete and it should be the 3M Blue Painter’s Tape and not left longer than 2 hours. DO NOT EVER, FOR ANY LENGTH OF TIME WHATSOEVER, APPLY ANY TAPE TO DYED, COLORED, OR STAINED CONCRETE AS IT MAY LIFT THE COLOR! DO NOT APPLY TAPE TO POISHED CONCRETE! TAPE MAY MAKE A PERMANENTE MARK IN THE POLISHED FLOOR FINISH AND LIFT DYE COLORS.
Since each facility has varying traffic and abrasion exposure, the following guidelines are general and provide for the end users adaptation to his specific exposure.
Daily - Dust mop
Weekly - Dust mop, *optional auto scrub with soft brushes *optional burnish with soft pad or 3000 grit diamond maintenance pad
Monthly - Dust mop, Auto scrub with soft brushes, *optional burnish with soft pad or 3000 grit diamond maintenance pad
Quarterly and Semi-Annually - Dust mop Auto scrub with soft brushes. Re-apply 50% solution of stain protection. Burnish with 400, 800, and 1800 grit diamond pad.
Annual - Dust mop, Auto scrub with soft brushes. Re-apply 50% solution of stain protection. Burnish with 400, 800, and 1800 grit diamond pads.
5 Years – Evaluate for Restoration per the Following: Dust mop. Auto scrub with soft brushes. Diamond grind with 400, 800, or 1500 grit as required. Re-apply 50% solution of stain protection. Burnish with 400 grit diamond pad. Re-apply 50% solution of stain protection. Burnish with 400 grit diamond pad. Re-apply 50% solution of stainguard. Burnish with 400, 800, and 1500 grit diamond pads.
Conclusion - Maintaining polished concrete is simple if you understand the product. Polished concrete floors are dulled over time by traffic. How fast they dull is dependent upon the severity and quantity of traffic. Stain protection can provide an very hard film that protects the concrete and is sacrificial to protect the concrete itself. Polished concrete floors are extremely easy to rejunivate with either stain protection, burnishing, or by re-doing a couple finishing steps of the polishing process.
Titus’ concrete polishing procedures meet or exceed the federal guidelines for slip resistance when dry but as with any tile or hard surface floor, precautions must be taken when the floor is wet. Dry mop the damp area, provide caution signs, and fans as necessary to prevent slips and fall. Polished concrete is more durable to abrasion by walking and requires less maintenance than acid stained (or dyed) and sealed concrete.
A sealed concrete surface offers more stain and chemical protection than polished concrete but the sealer dulls quicker and must be waxed or re-applied. It is consideraly more maintenance intensive. Titus ALWAYS recommends that acid stained or dyed concrete that is sealed receive at least 2 coats (3mils) of urethane coating.