CLEAN AND SEAL CONCRETE
A practical guide to maintaining and caring for decorative concrete of all types. Cleaning your concrete periodically and keeping it sealed with the right concrete sealers are the key components of any good maintenance program. How often you clean and reseal will largely depend on the conditions the concrete is exposed to, especially weather extremes, sunlight intensity and the amount of foot or vehicle traffic. If you have a big area to maintain or simply don’t want to tackle the work yourself, Keystone can set you up with the Maintenance Package. Ask us about our Maintenance Package Price.
A high-quality overlay installed by an experienced applicator can provide a new surface that will last for decades, especially when protected by a good-quality sealer. A sealer not only makes the surface easier to clean, it offers other benefits as well, such as enriching the color intensity of the overlay, blocking the penetration of stains, and improving water repellent and abrasion resistance. Some sealers will also give the surface a sheen, ranging from satin to high gloss depending on the product used.
However, even sealed overlays will require some routine maintenance, depending on exposure conditions and the type and amount of traffic they receive. For interior floors, wet mopping or dry dust mopping is typically the only upkeep needed to avoid the buildup of abrasive dirt particles. Exterior flat-work may require occasional pressure washing or scrubbing with a mild detergent.
SPECIAL CARE REQUIREMENTS
Some overlay manufacturers recommend resealing outdoor surfaces annually, depending on the amount of traffic they receive and whether they are exposed to freeze-thaw conditions. Be sure to check with the overlay installer or manufacturer for recommendations as to the appropriate sealer to use for a particular application and to verify compatibility with the overlay. Not all sealers are suitable for exterior use.
On stamped interior floors subject to lots of foot traffic, it’s especially important to maintain the sealed surface to prevent wear patterns. Application of a sacrificial floor wax or polish can provide extra protection by protecting the sealer from wear and serving as a shock absorber to scuffs, scratches and grime.
Although a sealer will inhibit stains, you should still sweep and wash the surface occasionally to avoid dirt buildup. Exterior surfaces can be pressure washed or scrubbed with a mild detergent. For interior surfaces, wet mopping or dry dust mopping of the floor is typically the only routine upkeep needed.
SPECIAL CARE REQUIREMENTS
On outdoor stamped concrete, avoid using deicing salts, especially during the first winter after the pavement is installed. Sealers for decorative concrete often fail in areas where deicing salts are applied or that receive drip-off from parked cars.
SEALING INTERIOR STAINED CONCRETE
Although stain is permanent and won’t flake off like paint, it penetrates only the top layer of the concrete surface and will eventually wear away as the surface is worn by traffic or weather exposure. To prolong stain life, stain manufacturers recommend keeping stained surfaces protected with multiple coats of clear sealer (outdoors) and a floor wax (indoors). A good sealer will provide other benefits as well, such as adding sheen to the surface and enhancing color intensity.
ACRYLIC SEALERS: Acrylics are UV stable, affordable, and easy to apply or reapply, as necessary. They also offer a wet look that greatly enriches the appearance of stained finishes. The downside is that they have the softest surface of all the sealer types and require the most maintenance. One coat of a solvent-based acrylic sealer followed by a topcoat of a water-based acrylic will provide ample protection for interior stain applications. Future floor maintenance can be completed with additional coats of water-based acrylic sealers or waxes as needed.
EPOXY SEALERS: If your stained floor is high traffic, such as a restaurant or other public space, an epoxy sealer may be a good option. Epoxies are harder than acrylics, but don’t allow trapped moisture to escape which may become a problem later. When sealing with an epoxy, thorough moisture testing is a must. Epoxy sealers are popular for stained counter tops.
URETHANE SEALERS: This sealer type is the most expensive, but also the most abrasive-resistant. To get a proper bond, urethanes must be applied over a water-based epoxy. You also should be aware that they are not UV stable.
SEALING EXTERIOR STAINED CONCRETE
ACRYLIC SEALERS: are best for outdoor stain applications because they allow moisture in the slab to escape. Many contractors prefer solvent-based acrylics over water-based acrylics because they tend to perform better outside. If the shiny or wet look is not desired, silicone-based penetrating sealers are recommended for a matte finish. To keep exterior stained surfaces protected, apply a new coat of sealer every year or two, or as necessary. When you begin to notice that water no longer beads up on the surface, it’s time to reseal.
While protecting stained concrete with a sealer or floor finish will repel dirt and help prevent wear, it does not eliminate the need for periodic maintenance. How much traffic the surface receives often dictates the amount of ongoing maintenance required. To protect your investment, ask the stain manufacturer or stain applicator to provide you with care and maintenance guidelines, including recommendations for cleaning products.
HERE ARE SOME GENERAL MAINTENANCE TIPS:
* For interior concrete floors subject to only light foot traffic, maintenance is usually a simple matter of dry dust mopping and occasional wet mopping with a neutral-pH cleaner.
* If stained floors begin to loose their luster or shine, re-waxing will usually revive the appearance. In a typical residential setting, a year or longer may go by before it’s necessary to buff and re-wax the floor. In businesses with more traffic, it will be necessary to reapply the finish at more frequent intervals.
* For exterior stained concrete, keep the surface clean by sweeping it with a broom or leaf blower or rinsing with a garden hose. To remove stubborn dirt, scrub with a mop or medium-bristle brush and a mild cleaner.
* To keep exterior surfaces protected, apply a new coat of sealer every year or two, or as necessary. When you begin to notice that water no longer beads up on the surface, it’s time to reseal.
* Stained concrete counter tops will have different protection and maintenance needs than walking surfaces. Be sure to consult the installer for guidance. Rubber backed throw rugs or office chairs with hard plastic or rubber wheels can cause damage to acid stained concrete. Over time rubber backed rugs may trap moisture and leave a white stain on the sealed floor. Additionally, the motion of chair wheels grinds dirt into the floor and wears away the protective finish, causing discoloration. We suggests buying a floor mat without plastic knobs on the underside to protect the flooring surface.
Applying a transparent concrete sealer to an exposed aggregate surface can improve both its performance and appearance. These sealers-typically film-forming acrylic resins-can help protect against spalling, dusting, efflorescence, freeze-thaw damage, stains, deicing salts, and abrasion. A sealer will also enhance the color of the aggregate, accentuating its depth and richness. When selecting an exposed aggregate sealer, look for a product that:
* Is non-yellowing and UV resistant
* Will provide a high-gloss wet look that deepens and enriches the color of the aggregate
* Repels oil, grease, water, and stains
* Is recoatable
When applying the sealer to fresh concrete, make sure all cement paste residue from the exposure process has been thoroughly removed to avoid sealing the milky-looking white paste on the surface. On existing exposed-aggregate concrete, thoroughly clean the surface from oil, grease, dirt, and stains before applying a sealer. Use a short-nap roller for the best application results. Expo-Gloss from W.R. Meadows and Wet Look Lacquer from White Mountain are examples of sealers formulated specifically for use on exposed aggregate concrete. These products should be applied to clean surfaces that are free of contaminants. A brush, short-nap roller, or airless sprayer can be used. Whichever brand of concrete sealer you use, be sure to follow the specific instructions for the product, both for surface preparation and application, and make sure the sealer is recommended for use on exposed-aggregate concrete. This link provides a list of concrete sealer manufacturers.
An exposed aggregate surface is rugged, nonskid and resistant to heavy traffic and weather extremes. Little maintenance is required, other than occasional cleaning and resealing.
SPECIAL CARE REQUIREMENTS
Applying a transparent concrete sealer to an exposed aggregate surface can improve both its performance and appearance by helping to protect against spalling, dusting, efflorescence, freeze-thaw damage, stains, deicing salts and abrasion. A sealer will also enhance the color of the aggregate, accentuating its depth and richness. Apply sealer to a clean surface free of dirt and contaminants using a brush, short-nap roller or airless sprayer.
When properly protected and cared for, integrally colored concrete will retain its color indefinitely. The color extends throughout the entire slab, so even if surface abrasion occurs, the color will not wear away. The pigments in integral coloring admixtures also are chemically stable and won’t fade over time from exposure to the weather or ultraviolet light. To remove surface dirt or stains, follow the same general cleaning recommendations given for plain concrete.
SPECIAL CARE REQUIREMENTS
Applying a clear sealer to integrally colored concrete will provide additional protection from chemicals and oil and grease stains. A sealer will also provide aesthetic benefits by adding some sheen and intensifying the color effects. Efflorescence – a chalky white salt deposit that sometimes forms on the surface of concrete can be particularly unsightly on colored concrete, especially darker tones. On colored concrete, protecting the pavement with a cure-and-seal product can help to prevent efflorescence from occurring.