We are often asked by our regular clients if we could arrange a scrub of the concrete in the warehouse and production area facilities to clean and remove stains and marks from years of neglect.
The first question that we ask is, “Has the concrete been sealed”? If it hasn’t, then there is very little chance of removing stains.
The surface obtained when concrete is poured and then finished off is usually very porous which means anything spilt on it, even after a few minutes, will more often than not become an immovable stain. Other natural stone materials share similar properties and are also very susceptible to staining. Polishing these materials to a high gloss finish can reduce the porosity of the surface giving a little more time to remove anything spilt but they are still absorbent. Oil is probably the worst offender as it penetrates deeply and once it’s there the only way to remove it is by machine grinding the surface. Very expensive!
A Quick Test
If you are not certain if your concrete or stone surface has been sealed carry out a simple test. Pour around 50 ml of water on an area of the floor and leave it for a couple of minutes and then wipe it up. If the area is now darker and discoloured, it has absorbed some of the water and it is likely that the floor is unsealed and at the mercy of anything that is dropped on it.
With a trend toward polished concrete floors in the workplace, a bit of thought needs to go into the care and maintenance of those floors and the potential for staining. Areas like kitchen/lunch rooms need to be sealed as an accidental spill with olive oil or salad dressing can leave an unsightly mark that won’t come out.
So What Are the Options?
Essentially there are 2 choices. Products that sit on top of the concrete or stone, known as Topical coatings and then products that Penetrate the surface to form a protective barrier.
Topical coatings like epoxy coatings work well but there is ongoing maintenance required and they are prone to scratching if abused. We’ve seen them breakdown where forklifts are used on them. Pallets dragged across the surface will destroy it quickly. The black tyres on the forklift will also leave marks that can only be removed using a suitable solvent. (Tip: the other option is white tyres for your forklift…..yes they do make them.)
Penetrating or Impregnating coatings that penetrate the pores of the concrete, are low maintenence and will provide very good protection for the surface. They also enhance the natural look of the stone, important for concrete floors where the aggregate can be a feature.
So, if you are thinking about ripping up the old vinyl or carpet in the office and polishing the concrete, make sure you consider the best way to protect your floor to avoid unsightly stains. It is a great surface to keep clean when it is prepared correctly and may even save you money, over the long term, on your regular cleaning service.