Concrete Floor Maintenance: The Six Misconceptions was published for client Charlotte Products
Concrete floors have certainly evolved over the decades. When first installed in facilities, they were invariably used in the most functional of areas such as basements, warehouses, industrial work areas, etc. Now you see them just about anywhere in all types of residential and commercial facilities. Further, you may notice they don’t look the same as they once did.
Today, these floors are often dyed or stained in many different colors and decorated with different patterns and designs. With these new looks, some locations such as retail facilities now consider concrete the “in” floor. There are many reasons for this, including the following:
- These floors can be amazingly durable
- When compared to other flooring materials, such as stone, concrete is very cost effective.
- They are typically a low maintenance floor
It’s this last point that often results in one of the biggest misconceptions about concrete floors. Yes, they usually are low maintenance floors, but low maintenance does not mean no maintenance.
So, let’s clear up this and other misconceptions about concrete floors. The more cleaning contractors know about these floors, the better they are able to clean and maintain them for their customers.
Misconception 1: Concrete and cement are the same things.
While the terms are used interchangeably, cement is just an ingredient found in concrete. Along with cement, concrete is also made up of gravel, sand, and crushed stones. By the way, if the concrete is made with chips of marble, granite, and other stone products, then it is terrazzo.
Misconception 2: The best way to clean concrete is by wet mopping with just pure water.
Concrete is like any other type of floor. It gets soiled, heel marks can develop, spills get poured on it, etc. Plus, concrete floors are very porous floors, unless they have been sealed. To keep them clean, select a cleaning solution specifically designed to clean concrete floors. If using a floor machine to clean the floor, some concrete cleaning solutions contain a low friction lubricant. This makes it easier to glide the machine over the floor. With larger floor areas, cleaning the floors with an automatic scrubber or a scrubber alternative is recommended.
Misconception 3: Concrete floors are prone to cracking.
This is not a misconception. If a concrete floor is not poured over a smooth, level surface, it may develop cracks very soon after installation. But even if it is poured on an even surface, cracks can still form. Sometimes they are small, while other times they are substantial and quite noticeable. The main reason for this is the “settling” of the concrete after it has been installed along with building shifting. For cleaning contractors, this typically means paying close attention to these cracks. They can be soil collectors and with moisture, develop bacteria and odors. Keep them clean and dry.
Misconception 4: A floor maintenance program is not necessary with concrete floors.
Earlier we mentioned that concrete floors should be treated like any other type of floor. That means a maintenance program is needed. However, it may not be as extensive. If the floor does not have a sealant or finish applied, the floor should be swept or vacuumed daily; wet mopped or cleaned using a floor machine using cleaning solutions such as those mentioned earlier.
If an impregnator, which is similar to a sealant, has been applied to the floor or if it has been sealed and a finish applied, then the floor will also need to be buffed or burnished. It may also need to be stripped and refinished, based on the appearance of the floor and the amount of time, energy, and funding the customer wants to put into the floor.
Here’s a tip: select all floor care products from the same manufacturer. They are often designed to work together. This synergy will make your job easier.
Misconception 4: An impregnator or sealant should always be applied to a concrete floor.
The best way to address this is to say that it is highly recommended that a sealant be applied to the floor, and this is true even if no finish is applied. The principal reason is that it prevents soil and moisture from working their way into the floor.
But here is something else we need to know: it is invariably easier to clean and maintain a floor on a daily basis if it has been sealed and finished.
Misconception 5: A polished concrete floor refers to a concrete floor with a finish applied.
When we use the term “polished concrete,” it typically refers to concrete floors polished using grinding equipment. View this process similar to sanding the top layer of the floor. The grinding process will help determine its gloss, from a flat sheen to a high-gloss shine. However, a more modern version of the polishing process has evolved allowing a floor to be polished and maintained using just a standard floor scrubber with specialized pads and chemicals. This process is generally easy to perform, does not require the use of specialized equipment, and cost effective.