Exterior Stained Concrete Floor Care Guide
Normal cleaning for an exterior floor is to wash it down with a hose and, if needed, lightly scrub it with a soft bristled broom to remove any stubborn accumulations. If you want to use a cleaner to help we recommend a neutral base cleaner as this will not damage the sealer that we have placed on the concrete.
One brand we have used successfully in the past is Zep Neutral Floor Cleaner Concentrate. This or other brands can be found at Home Depot or Lowes.
You can also power wash the surface, however you need to be very careful not to put the tip of the power washer too close to the concrete which could remove the sealer on the surface or even damage the concrete. Never bring the tip closer than 6” to the floor and it may need to be further away depending on the type of tip and the pressure the machine generates.
However you clean the floor we recommend drying it off with a quick pass using a leaf blower so that you don’t leave water spots behind. These can be easily removed by cleaning it again but it’s just easier to avoid having them occur.
Another trick is to use a dry mop over the floor to remove this excess water. Just keep it as dry as possible so that you don’t end up with streaks running everywhere.
Your floor has been sealed to protect it from staining, however this does not mean that it is stain proof, only stain resistant. As your floor is exposed to the elements, particularly the sun, we recommend resealing it every two to four years to maintain this protection.
When is it time to reseal? If you notice that the floor looks beautiful when wet and dries to a more chalky appearance, then it is time to reseal. Resealing will restore this “wet look” on a more permanent basis.
If you would like, we can do this for you for a nominal charge, however it is certainly not an impossible task for the average do it yourselfer, just keep in mind that there are some safety factors and application techniques that need to be followed to do it correctly.
Some of these are proper cleaning prior to sealing, choosing the right type of sealer (very important), slip resistant agents, spraying techniques, masking off the area to prevent overspray, amount of coats applied, type of safety equipment needed, etc. We can certainly walk you through it but we do recommend this be done by a professional to minimize possible problems.
One concern we sometimes hear from customers after we turn over a freshly sealed exterior concrete floor to them is that it tends to show everything, from footprints, to water spots after it rains, to dirt that has dried on it, etc.
This is normal as freshly applied sealer has a semigloss sheen to it, and everything that ends up on it really stands out. As time passes, exposure to the elements will significantly reduce this glossiness to a more natural matte finish that shows much less.
Just follow the cleaning instructions above, particularly about drying the floor afterwards, and in a few months it won’t be an issue anymore.
The Ounce of Prevention
Your newly installed concrete floors are tough, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t be damaged, here are some things to avoid so that they won’t require touchups.
First and foremost among the things to avoid is the use of a rubber backed throw rug on a stained and sealed concrete floor. As rubber is impervious to water, it tends to trap any moisture that is coming up through the concrete between the rug and the floor (and yes, even if you are not spilling water on the floor there is a small amount of moisture coming from the outdoors through the slab, this is completely normal.) Over time this trapped moisture may turn the sealer white which may or may not go away on its own once the rug has been removed.
The second reason to not use rubber backed rugs is that rubber has a strong attraction to sealer. The rug may try to “stick” to the sealed floor, especially if it is not moved periodically.
As time passes it will adhere so tightly to the sealer that you will have to literally peel it off to remove it, damaging the floor. WE DO NOT COVER REPAIRS TO THE FLOOR UNDER OUR WARRANTY IF A RUBBER BACKED RUG WAS USED. Other types of throw rugs such as weave are perfectly fine as they allow the floor to breathe. Please keep in mind that it is not ok to use a rubber rug liner to keep these types of rugs from moving around as it will also stick to the floor.
With either a direct acid stained floor (we stained your existing concrete) microfinish, skim coat, trowel down, or stamped overlay floor (where we applied a concrete resurfacer) any and all can be damaged if a large amount of weight is dragged across it without taking adequate measures.
Things like heavy furniture, roller skating, or dragging any object that concentrates a lot of weight in a small area can cause this to happen. It will cut through the sealer and even possibly into the concrete surface underneath. Use common sense to avoid this; we often suggest treating them like wood floors, if you think it would damage a wood floor then assume it would also damage a concrete one.
When moving very heavy objects (grills, steel legged tables, etc.) we recommend using a furniture dolly and putting down some Ramboard or equivalent.
Move the object a very short distance and look at the floor underneath the Ramboard to make sure it is not being damaged. Alternately, if you are using furniture sliders make sure you use ones designed for hard surface floors as these generally are padded.
Do not use the hard plastic sliders as you will almost certainly scratch or gouge the floor. Also double check to see that there is no debris or other trash in the slider itself as this will also damage the floor.
ALWAYS CHECK THE FLOOR CONSTANTLY DURING THE MOVE! If you have heavy furniture or steel legged chairs, consider leaving the sliders in place after the move, by distributing the weight it keeps it from flattening the sealer underneath the legs over time.
A few more points to go over, if you have any object that will constantly roll over the same area on the floor we strongly recommend putting down an outdoor rug in the area or purchasing a hard floor chair matt.
What happens is that any rolling object will get some dirt trapped underneath the wheels. If it constantly rolls back and forth over one spot, this dirt will get ground into the floor, eventually wearing through the sealer and into the actual floor itself, damaging it.
WE DO NOT COVER REPAIRS TO THE FLOOR UNDER OUR WARRANTY IF IT IS CAUSED BY THIS TYPE OF WEAR.
Next, no taping to the floor! Tape, even blue painter’s tape has a very strong affinity to sealer, almost exactly the same as rubber mats. Obviously stronger versions such as duct tape, gorilla tape, or masking tapes are absolutely out of the question.
Putting any of these down will almost certainly rip the sealer and even some of the color right off the floor. We’ve even seen tape pull off the top layer of concrete. Some people have used blue painter’s tape for short periods of time, i.e., less than a day, and gotten away with it but we have seen people putting it down for a few hours and having trouble removing it afterwards.
Just to be clear, WE DO NOT COVER REPAIRS TO THE FLOOR UNDER OUR WARRANTY IF TAPE WAS PLACED ON THE FLOOR. So please avoid the problem, if you are protecting the floor for painting, tape the paper, ramboard, or Masonite to itself, never to the floor.
Last but not least, we occasionally hear from customers about “dark spots” that show up in the floor after a rain. Generally this only occurs when the floor is new (less than 3 months).
We were stumped when we got a few calls about this, doubly so when by the time we got there these “spots” were completely gone. After talking with a few friends in the business we finally figured out what was happening.
Concrete by nature is porous, that’s why we seal your floors, one to enhance the color of the stain, and two to protect them. However, the sealer we use is semi permeable, i.e., it stops the majority of water but not all of it.
We use this type of sealer because, as previously explained, there is always moisture coming up through your slab. If this moisture hits an impermeable sealer (for example a polyurethane or epoxy) it can’t get through it. What happens then is that this moisture starts to push on the sealer; a process called hydrostatic pressure, and eventually will pop it off.
Semi permeable sealers like the ones we use, “breathe”, allowing this moisture to go out. Of course, it also allows moisture to come in from above. It’s not a lot, but it’s enough to darken the concrete temporarily until it “breathes out” again, usually within a day or so.
So please don’t panic if you see some dark spots in your floor after the sprinklers go off or a rainstorm goes by, it will dry back to the same color within a day and after a few weeks these pores tend to close up so it stops happening entirely.
Taking these simple precautions and using common sense will result in a floor that will last and remain beautiful for many years. If you have any questions regarding the maintenance of your floors, don’t hesitate in contacting us.
Ok, so sometimes things happen, a stone gets dropped, some heavy lawn furniture got dragged, etc. Generally these small scratches, nicks, dings, and chips aren’t serious but you can see them and you would like them to blend in better with the rest of the floor. Here are a couple of things you can do.
Often scratches are more obvious on a new, freshly sealed floor as it is shiny and shows everything. Frankly, if it is a light scratch, then the easiest thing to do is wait a few weeks as the scratch will gradually blend in with the rest of the floor as the shine mattes down.
If the scratch is more pronounced, i.e., if you run your finger over it and can feel a ridge, then the only way to fix this will be to reseal the area. This can be done by the average do it yourselfer; if you would like us to talk you through it, just drop us a line. Otherwise we can do it for a nominal charge
This is very rare as your floors are sealed and normally the only thing that will get through the sealer will be industrial solvents, gasoline, or strong household chemicals. Normally any stains are on the sealer coat, try using the neutral base cleaners we mentioned before. If this doesn’t work then it may be that the sealer coat itself has been damaged and will need to be stripped and reapplied.
Chips and dings
Life happens, dropping something heavy or pointed on the floor can chip out a small piece. The easiest way to fix it is to pick up a stain marker at Home Depot or Lowes that has a similar color to your floor and apply it to blend it with the rest of the floor. Generally can’t see the touchups as it just looks like another random effect on your decorative concrete floor. If the chip is large, i.e., bigger than a quarter, then contact us and we can apply a patch to help blend it in a little better.