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The Importance of Maintenance in Polished Concrete

Tech Tips

Dirt: The Enemy of Polished Concrete
While polished concrete is renowned for its low maintenance and abrasion resistance, maintaining a polished floor does require special care to sustain its rich, glossy appearance and prevent premature shine deterioration.  Though real-time observations of the durability of polished concrete floors are still under way, a polished concrete gloss has been said to last 7 years with proper upkeep. However, even the most durable finish requires proper maintenance.
“Dirt is the enemy of a polished floor,” states Suzanne Koontz, maintenance solutions representative for Concrete Polishing Solutions. “Dirt, debris, and other soil particulates work to grind the floor slowly over time, giving the surface a dull appearance.”
There are three primary causes that result in premature shine deterioration: 
Using harsh chemicals. Harsh chemicals will etch into the surface, causing irreversible effects on the concrete. Products containing acids, high pH, alkalies or caustic chemicals are not appropriate for a polished floor.
Using harsh brushes. As abrasion resistant as a polished concrete floor is, nothing can hammer a shine like a coarse brush or pad. When used daily, the brush serves as a grinding step, reducing the fine, reflective surface into a dull floor. Stripping and scrubbing pads, and thick milled nylon brushes are all too rough for polished concrete. The ideal brush is an extremely soft poly brush, which will sweep up dirt and debris without scratching the floor.
“The best assurance for a lasting shine is to use only approved products on the polished floor.” Mark Evans, Sales Manager for Concrete Polishing Solutions adds, “CPS worked with chemists and engineers to develop cleaning and maintenance products and brushes designed specifically to prevent the premature abrasion of polished concrete. The soaps and detergents have a neutral pH. They are strong enough to clean, but contain emollients to also moisturize the concrete.”
Doing Nothing! That’s right! The number one cause for the failure of a polished floor is neglect. The final sheen of a polished floor is created by using finer and finer grit diamond pads until the surface gleams. Constant foot traffic, forklifts, pallet jacks, and  shopping carts relentlessly pick up foreign soils and redistribute these soils throughout the floor, leaving a scuffed appearance. Using only water as a cleaning solution is also ineffective. Water will not suspend the dirt which allows the debris to remain on the surface.
When a polisher leaves the job with a satisfied client, how can he ensure the client remains satisfied with their new investment? Educate them on the importance of maintenance! Many clients are accustomed to traditional flooring, which requires aggressive cleaning products and frequent reapplication of waxes for maintenance. Not the case with polished concrete. One of the most beautiful advantages of polishing, other than the striking sheen, is that maintenance is minimal.
Daily Care: Regular removal of dirt and debris using a gritless sweeping compound is recommended daily (or, in residential, low traffic areas, a minimum of three times per week). Some sweeping compounds contain emollient laden granules which will attract and remove dust while leaving a reflection enhancer. In high traffic or heavy soiled areas, using an auto scrubber daily will provide optimal results.
Weekly Maintenance: Mopping or running an autoscrubber with soap is recommended weekly as part of the maintenance schedule for light traffic areas, and for use as needed for light spills and stains. Any soap or detergents used on the floor should be ph neutral, and preferably, approved for use on polished concrete. 
As Needed: For heavier stains, a degreaser can be used, but clients should be careful to ensure the degreaser is specifically designed for polished concrete floors. For natural fat and heavy-duty grease soils, a stronger degreaser made of dilmonine may be desired, but again, the product should have been tested and approved for the polished concrete. 
“How long the floor lasts before eventual re-polishing is directly effected by how well your maintenance program is established and followed.” Koontz explains, “Implementing a regular maintenance program and ensuring it is carried out is the best way to protect your investment.”