Although concrete is frequently chosen flooring material in buildings throughout North America, there are challenges involved in maintaining this surface. Despite its reputation for being tough as nails, it must be cared for in a specific way.
“Too often, we run into people who believe that once the floor has been installed, it maintains itself,” said Claudia Lezell, IICRC Standards Hard Surface Division Vice Chair and President of Inspections Too, Inc. and Flooring Technology Institute. “This couldn’t be further from the truth. Like most other hard floor surfaces, concrete maintenance requires a specialized approach that takes several factors into consideration—otherwise, it can fail.”
To give maintenance professionals a better understanding some of the key principles behind concrete floor maintenance, the IICRC has developed the following list of commonly held misconceptions:
• Misconception 1: You don’t need chemicals to maintain concrete floors.
No hard flooring surface cleans itself, including concrete. Chemicals are used to breakdown, remove, and clean dirt and debris. Concrete is exposed to the same dirt and debris as any other flooring, so it should be maintained in a similar manner.
• Misconception 2: All concrete walking surfaces are created equal.
Concrete is either coated or polished. Maintenance of coated surfaces will come down to the maintenance of the coating. For example, epoxies, urethanes, and acrylics will have their own criteria associated with them. Polished concrete is maintained with abrasives. While much of the daily maintenance will be similar to other hard floor surfaces, you need to consider the coating before developing a comprehensive maintenance program.
• Misconception 3: Cleaning staff know how to clean concrete floors.
Depending on who handles cleaning and maintenance responsibilities, there’s a good chance that someone with little to no experience is cleaning concrete floors, including professional cleaning staff. Before anyone clean your floors, make sure they have the knowledge and expertise for the job.
• Misconception 4: Concrete floors will last just as long without any cleaning or maintenance.
If the concrete is coated, the longevity of the floor is dependent on the quality of the coating and how it is maintained. If the surface is mechanically polished, the longevity is dependent on the methods and how well those methods were executed during the process of polishing. A properly polished floor with bonded abrasives will have reduced maintenance and longer time period in between restorative procedures than traditional flooring surfaces.
• Misconception 5: Soil loads and the type of soil do not impact how a concrete floor is cleaned.
A concrete floor is no different than any other hard floor surface. The amount of soil and the type of soil will dictate the frequency and type of cleaning procedures.
“The maintenance of architectural concrete floors is no different than any other hard floor surface,” added Jim Cuviello, founding member of the Concrete Polishing Association of America and owner of Cuviello Concrete and Terrazzo Polishing. “The foundation of any hard floor maintenance is the same. There are only slight variations in products used from one material to another.”