One of the major reasons acid stained and sealed concrete flooring is so desirable is because of its durability. Compared to most types of flooring, the upkeep of concrete flooring is very minimal, but this does not mean it is totally maintenance free. Putting forth the time and effort every once in a while towards maintaining your floor might feel like a hassle, but rest assured, it is a much bigger hassle to repair the damage that can result from total neglect in this area!
There are a few common hazards to the integrity of this type of flooring. Knowing what they are and how to elude them can save you from the headache and cost of repairs. And as you will see, maintaining your concrete floors is not all that hard if you know what you’re doing.
Let’s first look at the most basic, and hopefully obvious way to protect your acid stained concrete flooring; seal it!
As any professional knows, applying a sealer is the step that brings the color to it’s full potential. It will also block out damaging substances as well as dust, dirt and grime. A sealer enhances and protects your stained concrete flooring.
Types of Sealers
Let’s take a look at the different sealers available. There are some major differences in the concrete sealers on the market. Knowing the difference between each type is an important part of choosing one that will meet your decorative goals and give you protection and longevity for your effort and investment.
- Penetrating sealers are mostly used on exterior concrete flooring. They provide excellent protection and have a matte, non-glossy appearance.
- Acrylic sealers can be used indoor or out. Acrylic goes on quicker and easier and is usually the least expensive. The protection that acrylic sealer offers is good, but not the best. You will most likely have to apply coats of wax on a regular basis. Acrylic sealer I available in a range of sheen levels. I prefer the shiniest look, but this is a preference.
- Epoxy sealers provide a high level of protection with a glossy finish. It is better to use them indoors since this type of sealer can be prone to yellowing with exposure to UV rays. Epoxy sealers are a good choice for high traffic areas and are available in color tints.
Polyurethane sealers are the most costly and offer high-level protection in a variety of sheens. This type of sealer is non- yellowing and a good choice for enhancing the look of color treatments in cement.
Damage and Irritants to Your Stained Floors
Be aware of impact on your concrete floors. While it may be harder to injure a concrete floor, it is certainly not impossible.
Furniture should have plastic glides, felt pads or other floor protectors under them to prevent scratching or damage when furniture is moved. Floors should be protected from outside sand or gravel, by making sure doormats are placed at all outside entries, both inside and outside.
The friction of sand, gravel or dirt can cause wear to the floor and these mats can pick up 85% of the dirt tracked in. Shoes should also be removed to help prevent extra dirt tracking!
Take the same precautions with your concrete floor that you would with hardwood flooring.
Cleaning Your Acid Stained Floors
Your floors should be dust mopped daily with a microfiber dust mop. A daily dust mopping can trap the extra dust particles that can be tracked in or blown in from the outside elements.
Use a dust mop to collect the excess dust and begin to mop with one smooth motion. Weave back and forth across the floor without lifting the mop up and down. When you are finished, clean the mop outside to avoid reintroducing dust to the floor.
A vacuum would also be an alternative way of cleaning the floors.
Do not use commercial cleaners on your acid stained floors. A Swiffer Wet-Jet, ammonia, Pine-Sol, or bleach can cause damage to the wax or sealer.
When your floor needs a mopping, damp mop it with cool water and a neutral pH cleaner like Murphy’s oil soap or general-purpose neutral cleaners.
Use only 1 oz. of cleaner to 1-gallon of water in your mop bucket. The mop should be wrung out so that it is lightly damp. If you use too much liquid on your floors then the water will puddle, which can be damaging to your floor.
Rinse and repeat, again wringing out the mop until it is just damp.
If your floor is sticky, you may be using too much cleaner to water in your cleaning solution. Double check your ratio of water to cleaner and re-mop the floor to remove the excess cleaner.
Another problem that can occur is getting a milky white spot on the floors. Similar to a hardwood floor, this can happen when something wet is left sitting on the floor for too long or when a spilled liquid is not wiped up.
Wipe up the standing liquid, and dry the area well with a towel or mop. Allow the floor to dry and the milky spot should fade.
If your floor appears to be spotty you may have left too much cleaning solution on the floor while mopping. Make sure your mop is just damp, not dripping wet.
Keep the mats clean, dry and shake them out often so dirt from the mats is not tracked through the house causing marks on the floor. This should include the outside mats.
Speaking of mats, let’s talk about the type of floor mats you should be using on your stained concrete. The term “plasticizer migration” refers to plastics and additives, often found in floor mats that will be absorbed by concrete. The plasticizers will soak into the porous surface of concrete and leave discoloration. Choose the right indoor floor mat.
Avoid putting materials that contain plastic or plasticizers on your flooring. Both the stain and the sealer need time to properly cure, and are especially vulnerable to this problem until then. It’s recommended to use a carpet remnant or 100% rubber backed mat.
Even with the hazard of plasticizer migration, you shouldn’t be afraid to use floor mats. While not essential, mats on the outside of the doorway are a good line of defense against dirt and grit that could get tracked onto your floors.
Frequency of maintenance routines will depend considerably on foot traffic. In a business or other public venue, the maintenance is frequent and regular. Dust mopping, wet mopping and application of a wax or floor finish are ongoing.
For a sealed floor in a residential space on the other hand, maintenance is on more of an as-needed basis. Dust mopping and wet mopping may be all that’s needed.
If you notice the floor getting dull, apply a coat or two of floor finish. This is a good way to prevent damage to the floor. Waxes and floor finishes will be on the front lines, taking any abuse, before it has a chance to get to the sealer. Waxes and finishes are easy to rejuvenate, but fixing a worn sealer is a different story.
How often you need to re-wax your floor will depend on how much abuse your flooring takes. If you have several children, animals or higher traffic areas, you may need to re-wax as often as every 3 months.
It will be originally waxed with at least 4 layers of wax, so in order to maintain that, watch the higher traffic areas.
To re-wax use a looped rayon mop to spread the wax. Other types of mops absorb too much of the wax. Pour a puddle in a 10” circle and then spread the wax thinly and evenly over your floor with smooth strokes. When the entire floor is covered with an even layer, let the wax dry for one hour before resuming use.
Understanding the factors that can cause wear and damage to your stained concrete flooring is a great way to begin your maintenance routine. You can feel good about having chosen a type of flooring that has so many advantages. The strength and low maintenance nature of the flooring are two of stained concrete’s best features.
While there really is no such thing as a perfect, maintenance free floor, some types of flooring come a little bit closer to perfect than others!