When properly maintained, polished concrete floors are a work of art. Taking a proactive approach to sweeping, mopping, and rinsing concrete floors on a regular basis will help to maintain the distinctness of image (DOI)—the expected mirror-like finish of the floor.
Polished concrete is relatively low maintenance. However, improper maintenance by stripping and waxing can take away from the appearance of the floor and damage polish. It also adds unnecessary labor and cost.
Many building service contractors (BSCs) and in-house maintenance teams fall back onto what they know best when it comes to floor care. As they are accustomed to stripping and waxing vinyl composition tile (VCT), it may seem like a no-brainer to use the same process on polished concrete. Unfortunately, while waxing and stripping is a common choice, it is the wrong one for polished concrete.
Avoid costly, damaging, and disruptive processes
Stripping and waxing polished concrete floors are labor-intensive processes that require harsh chemicals and products, including strippers and a wax sealant. The larger the space, the more product and labor required to complete the process. A large warehouse or grocery store may need to shut down for multiple nights to complete the stripping and waxing process, impacting operating hours and the business’s bottom line.
Stripping and waxing can also damage concrete floors. Wax is hydrophobic and does not allow the porous concrete to breathe. It traps any leftover moisture and creates a superficial layer over the floor that will not hold up against regular use.
Porous surfaces, such as concrete, can act as a sponge, trapping any water used to clean the floor underneath the wax coating. The water will eventually try to work its way out, causing a whiting effect in the concrete. This diminishes the appearance of concrete floors and creates the need for another round of maintenance. The abrasive pads used to strip wax are also much too abrasive for concrete, causing further damage that wax cannot fix.
Furthermore, stripping and waxing can be a long, disruptive, and demoralizing activity. For both public-facing and back of house floors, stripping and waxing typically requires shutting down normal processes within the business. Even when completed overnight to avoid closures, crews may require overtime pay, and finding crews willing to work overnight shifts can be challenging.
Adding to the labor load, stripping is only the first step—work crew also need to apply multiple layers of wax and allow them to dry between each application. Even with proper machinery, it’s a process that takes many hours, and crews can become demoralized when faced with the mountain of work involved.
Save time and money with proper methods
The good news is that a more effective, efficient, and cost-effective process exists for maintaining polished concrete floors. This process allows work crews to rejuvenate and maintain polished concrete floors to a high shine during normal business hours using tools they already have.
Workers performing daily maintenance using composite resin abrasive pads that provide the proper level of abrasion on an auto-scrubber or polishing machine can bring back a high-shine finish on minimally damaged floors in a matter of a few weeks. The proper process includes:
- Attaching a daily maintenance pad to the preferred machine with the abrasive side pointed toward the floor
- Filling the machine with a cleaning product that is safe for polished concrete or one diluted to the proper ratio
- Cleaning the floors working wall-to-wall, not only in high-traffic areas, and making passes at the speed of a normal walk.
If workers complete this process daily, a high shine will return to the floors quickly.
Floors that are in poor shape from years of stripping and waxing or other damage may require a more aggressive approach. Workers need to follow a three-step process that includes different levels of abrasion to remove scratches and etching, then polish and seal the floor with a breathable product that can help rejuvenate floors to their original shine. The process involves:
- Installing a higher-abrasive composite resin abrasive pad on the proper machine
- Making a minimum of six passes with the scrubber all at once or over several days.
Once the light restoration is complete and crews have sealed the floors with a fully penetrating sealer to prevent any further damage, they should swap the higher-abrasion pad on the scrubber to the pad used in the daily procedure.
Preserve your facility’s image
Maintaining polished concrete floors properly will improve the appearance and shine of floors, while reducing the costs associated with labor-intensive stripping and waxing. It will also help to protect floors and extend the life of polish.
Beautiful floors can enhance customers’ perception of a business. By using the proper products and techniques for polished concrete, BSCs and in-house maintenance teams can protect a business’s brand—and its bottom line.