Polished concrete floors are making massive inroads into the residential housing market. Previously they were relegated almost entirely to industrial and commercial use because of their affordability, sturdiness, and ease of maintenance. The technologies associated with concrete have improved leaps and bounds with nearly any color or pattern combination now available.
This means that more and more people are looking at the benefits of concrete flooring compared to tile, laminate, or hardwood, and are making the choice to go with polished concrete. What makes polished concrete floors different from untreated concrete is that a densifier is first applied to the surface which hardens and fills in all of the pores that are typically found. After this densifier is applied, is it ground down to make for an extremely appealing and shiny floor that betrays its slick appearance by being extremely slip resistant.
Even though maintenance for polished concrete is a breeze, usually just some occasional dusting and mopping, there are still some ways to reduce the already light budgetary burden caused by having this kind of floor in your home. The rule of thumb is that you should get your concrete floors repolished once every two years, but with a proactive maintenance plan you may be able to delay your next repolishing for up to five or even six years at a time. Here are some of those benefits that can hopefully make your home-owning experience a bit less stressful:
Clean Up Any Spills Immediately
I will tell you that compared to hardwood flooring, spills are much less of a worry when it comes to floors of this type. However, how quickly you decide to mop up any spills can end up saving you hundreds if not thousands of dollars by maintaining the polished finish of your concrete floor. Acidic drinks like orange juice or lemonade will eat through the densifier and leave that part of your floor visibly less shiny than the rest, so mop them up with extreme prejudice. The longer you let spills sit on the floor, the more damage you’re allowing them to do.
Use A Dry Microfiber Mop Every Day
The densifier does do a fantastic job at filling in all of the large pores typical of concrete, but that’s not to say on a microscopic level that polished concrete floors are 100% non-porous. These tiny pores attract small dust particles that can end up rubbing against the floor over time and stealing that glossy finish you’ve come to love. If you do a once-over with a dry microfiber mop on a daily basis you’ll be sure to remove those dastardly dust particles before they have a chance to do any serious damage. I recommend a microfiber mop because standard mops can’t get into the small holes present in the finish of the floor the same way a microfiber mop can. If you choose to use a regular mop you’ll have to go over the same spot again and again, whereas with a microfiber mop a quick once over is all that is necessary.
Wet Mop Once Weekly
As effective as a dry microfiber mop may be at removing insignificant amounts of dust and debris, there will be some buildup of unwanted material that will prove extremely difficult to remove with a dry mop alone. For this reason, you need to make use of a microfiber mop that’s wet with warm water at least once a week to wash away all of the accumulated grime and dirt caused by your living arrangements. If you notice there’s a particularly pesky patch that won’t seem to go away, make sure to only use a pH neutral cleaner on it before hitting it again with the wet mop. Cleaners of a basic or acidic pH run the risk of decaying the finish of the floor, so always make sure to read the package. Any cleaners that contain bleach or ammonia are immediately disqualified from being used on your floors.
Don’t Pay For Unnecessary Repolishing
As I stated before, the typical rule of thumb for getting a concrete floor repolished is to have it done once every two years. That’s only recommended if you don’t do anything to keep your floors maintained though. Following the two previous tips in this guide as well as the tips after this one will delay the need to have your floors repolished by years if not indefinitely depending on how much initiative you take in keeping your floors properly polished. As David Johnson from CARRcrete Polished Concrete explains, the most ideal time to polish your concrete is about a week after it has been poured. The services of a professional are at times necessary but I can assume most homeowners would rather delay such an expense as opposed to paying it as often as possible. Since repolishing is essentially the only time you’ll need to call in contractors, it’s best if you only call them in when it is absolutely needed.
Make Sure To Have Professionals Evaluate The Entire Floor
When it does come time to eventually have your floor refinished, don’t take the first quote you’re given after a contractor does a cursory inspection of your floor. Make sure they do an expansive pre-bid evaluation that considers all of the floor. It is highly unlikely that you’ll need the entirety of the floor to have the same level of care so it isn’t fair to you to pay for that kind of a service. High traffic areas or areas exposed to the sun are most likely to require the most amount of attention while the corners of the room most likely won’t need much touching up whatsoever. So, if you ensure that the contractors only use the materials and manpower that they need, you’re sure to get a better quote.
Understand Your Repolishing Quote
After you’ve received a quote for your repolishing, make sure to have each aspect of the quote carefully explained to you so you know you aren’t getting fleeced. The typical costs associated with having your floor repolished are labor costs, equipment costs, material costs, and the cost to have your floor ground down once the polish has been applied. Make sure that the quote you’re being given makes sense with the amount of work that is going to be delivered to your home and don’t be afraid to haggle if you think something isn’t right. Contractors aren’t looking to scam you but if you make it obvious that your job isn’t an opportunity for them to recoup costs on another you’re more likely to get a good deal.
Don’t Drag Furniture When Moving It
One of the easiest ways to wear down your polish is by constantly moving furniture around without picking it up. When furniture is slid across a concrete floor, small bits of the finish will come with it every time. Eventually this will result in very clear marks that extend across your floor almost like a fingerprint of your interior decorating hobbies. Having to have your entire floor repolished just because of wear and tear on one specific area is not an efficient use of your home repair budget. So as long as you ensure that every time you decide to move furniture around that you completely elevate the limbs from rubbing against the concrete floor, you’ll have a lot less to worry about in the years to come.
Get Quotes From Multiple Repolishing Firms
Depending on where you live, there may be one or several contractors who are well versed in how to properly go about repolishing a concrete floor. Ideally you’re able to get a reference to an industrial repolisher who’s able to work on vast amounts of floor space as effectively and efficiently as possible. There are multiple ways an individual company can repolish a floor and some are much more costly in the realm of materials and electricity than others, all of which leads to an increased hit to your wallet come time to pay. Some contractors have figured out ways to repolish floors in a much faster timeframe and with much less manpower than needed by other firms. Get quotes from as many different repolishing contractors as possible and go with one you can trust and that isn’t seeking to make as much profit as humanly possible.
Avoid The Use Of Harsh Chemicals
One of the greatest pros in favor of polished concrete flooring is that very few toxic chemicals are used in the making and installation of said flooring. This benefit also extends to the maintenance aspect of concrete floors. For instance, you should never use any chemicals that aren’t complete pH neutral when cleaning your floors, as they will quickly erode the shiny finish you’ve come to adore so much. Any harsh chemicals are actually completely forbidden when it comes to the densifier used for polished concrete, as it isn’t intended to come into contact with these materials. Making sure that you only use pH neutral chemicals that are gentle on the finish will go a long way in keeping your floor finish well protected.
Have A System
All of these tips are only useful if you manage to stay on top of your game as far as employing them. Use a calendar to track your mopping and dusting activities and be sure to make up for any missed days or weeks by putting in just a little more effort than you would normally. As stated before the amount of work you put into your floors beforehand will determine the frequency with which you’ll need to have the floor repolished. There’s nothing wrong with being methodical and tracking your progress and it makes you much more likely to actually stay consistent with your floor maintenance plan.
Clean In Small Portions At A Time
As said earlier, any foreign materials put onto the floor should be removed almost immediately. The same can apply even to your cleaning products. Even if you use pH neutral chemicals, unless it is specifically made to lay on polished concrete for long periods of time there is a chance there will be some degradation of the finish. You should strive to apply your cleaning product one bit at a time and apply more as you finish each area. This way, there’s no risk of the cleaning product drying out and having a negative effect on your floor before you’re able to mop it up.
Rent A Floor Burnisher
A floor burnisher is that polisher that you push yourself you’ve probably seen in movies or TV shows before, it’s how Groundskeeper Willy keeps the floors of Springfield Elementary so shiny. Instead of going straight to the repolisher when you’ve noticed your floor is losing its shine, you can rent a floor burnisher for as low as $70 dollars a day. The burnisher will grind the finish of the floor down some more to hopefully reveal the previous shine. It may seem expensive, but compared to repolishing the entire floor it is an absolute godsend. Make sure to read the instructions carefully and if you haven’t used a high-speed burnisher before you should use it dry. If you’re choosing to wet burnish your floor, make sure you’ve purchased and applied a polished concrete solution to the floor before going to town.
Using all of these tips together will make sure that you have a comprehensive preventative maintenance plan in place for your polished concrete flooring. Expensive intervention can be delayed almost indefinitely if you are always on top of your floors needs and manage to keep things spic and span. The biggest cost associated with polished concrete floors is getting the floor repolished, as flooring in excess of 250 square feet will require at least a thousand dollars in fees before everything is said and done. So, if you use these tips to reduce the need for your floors to be repolished, you’ll have much more time to save up the money to pay for a professional to come in and have your floor restored.