One of the primary reasons concrete is a popular material for constructing floors is that it’s durable and low in maintenance. Typically, it’s the material of choice for driveways, patios and other exterior floors or surfaces. However, even inside the house it can be and is used to construct floors because removing stains and blotches off concrete floors is far easier. In addition, depending on the type of sealer you apply to the concrete floor, the dull, grey nature appearance of concrete can be transformed into something more pleasing to the eye.
Despite its durable nature concrete floors also need further protection. Floor sealers protect concrete from exposure to moisture and thereby prolong its lifespan. Good quality floor sealers last for at least a couple of years, after which you will have to apply a new coating of sealer. However, just because you have applied a sealer it doesn’t mean that concrete floors don’t need to be cleaned anymore. Obviously, it doesn’t require the same degree of attention that a hardwood floor or a marble floor would, but nonetheless, concrete floors require periodic cleaning as well.
The method of cleaning an outdoor floor, such as a concrete patio or driveway, will differ from the method used to clean indoor concrete floors that have been stamped or polished. Indoor concrete floors need to be tackled a little more gently than outdoor concrete floors. Plus, stains on indoor concrete floors should be dealt with as soon as possible, because while concrete is fairly stain resistant it’s porous nature means that it does soak up a certain amount of spills and dirt.
You can use a power washer or a pressure washer to clean outdoor concrete floors. You don’t necessarily need to buy one of these as power washers are available for rent. The instructions on how to use it are also provided with the machine.
You begin by spraying the driveway, patio or any other external concrete surface with cleaning detergent. Use a nylon brush or any other brush with stiff bristles to scrub the detergent thoroughly. Remember not to use a brush with metal bristles as it might scratch the surface and the metal fibers may also remove the layer of sealant in some parts of the floor. Once the floor has been scrubbed properly turn on the power washer and move the wand from side-to-side, just like you would in case of a mop.
Make sure that you’re wearing safety glasses and a pair of sturdy gloves before you start cleaning.
Following this routine once every month or so should suffice in maintaining a clean driveway or patio. However, you need to put in some extra effort to take care of any stains on the floors. Bleach and ammonia are the most common chemicals used to clean stains on outdoor concrete floors. You can also use trisodium phosphate (TSP). You will have to mix it with water and scrub the floor with it to remove stains. Once again, a brush with nylon bristles is the best option. After thoroughly scrubbing the stained areas, you can use a hose to clean up the floor. The other alternative is muriatic acid. This, however, is generally used for the particularly obstinate stains such as rust and dried up grout.
Irrespective of which product you use to clean stains, don’t forget to wear protective eyewear and gloves.
As mentioned earlier, indoor concrete floors will require gentler cleaning.
To begin with, you will need to sweep the floor or better still vacuum it thoroughly on a regular basis. The frequency with which you do this will depend on the amount of foot traffic the floor receives. You will also have to take into considerations the presence and number of pets and children in the house. So, if the floor in question receives heavy foot traffic and you have pets at home, the dry dusting and cleaning need to be done daily. Whereas, if the foot traffic is moderate and there aren’t any pets at home, you can restrict the dry dusting and cleaning to once or twice a week.
Use a microfiber mop or brush to dry clean the floor. It creates static electricity, which efficiently pulls dust and debris off the floor and doesn’t just pushing the dust or debris around.
Once a month, you need to mop the floor along with vacuuming it.
In addition to this, you need to take care of stains and spills immediately or as soon as you notice the stain or spill. One of the easiest ways to take care of stains on indoor concrete floors is to create a thick, consistent paste with flour and hydrogen peroxide. Apply this paste over the stained area of the floor and let it rest for a few hours (ideally overnight). Later, scrape up the dried up layer and vacuum up any remaining debris. The process of cleaning the floor mentioned above should be carried after taking care of the stain.
An important part of the process of cleaning sealed concrete floors is to keep an eye on the level of wear and tear of the layer of sealant itself. A number of manufacturers claim that a new coating of sealant needs to be applied every year. However, that’s more a marketing tactic than a thumb rule. When you need to apply a fresh coat of sealer will depend on several factors, including the weather conditions in your area for outdoor floors. Also, if the wear and tear is restricted to a small area, you can simply patch that up instead of applying a fresh coat of sealer to the entire floor.
A few quick notes about the various types of concrete sealers and the things you need to know about them in order to ensure they last long.
As with any other type of floor, regular care and maintenance is the key to ensuring that the floor remains clean and last for a long period of time. Also, you should consider a wax finish to top up the sealer used to coat your concrete floor as that provides extra protection and longevity.