Decorative Concrete Floor Care & Maintenance

Decorative concrete flooring, including acid-stained concrete, and stained concrete overlays, is easy to maintain and will last indefinitely, if you follow several basic principles:

  • Dust mop or broom sweep weekly to prevent dirt accumulation
  • Damp mop monthly to remove smudging, scuffs, and water marks, and restore gloss
  • Recoat with new floor finish (polish) once or twice per year to rebuild loss from cleaning and abrasion
  • Exercise caution, and take precautions, before placing stationary materials or objects on your floor
  • Maintain clean mats at exterior entrances

We use and recommend Spartan brand cleaners and finishes: Spartan Chemical. They have a distributor locator on their web site, and have many distributors of their products in the Detroit and Chicago areas. 

This page is one of the most informative, accurate, and frequently visited maintenance guides for acid stained concrete floors on the Internet.  If you aren't currently one of our customers, can't find the information you're looking for, or would like specific recommendations and instructions for your stained concrete floor, we provide consulting services and would be glad to assist you.  Complete our Decorative Concrete Project Submission Form, and we'll get right back to you.

Dust Mopping

You may not have anything approaching this dust storm near your stained concrete floor, but over time the accumulative effect can be just as devastating without preventive maintenance. Photo courtesy of: ARS-USDA.

This is the most important step to preserving your decorative concrete floor. Dust mopping regularly will prevent sand and dirt from building up on the surface of the floor, abrading the floor finish, and wearing through the concrete sealer, and concrete stain, below. Dust mopping also removes an estimated 80-90% of indoor dust that serves as air pollutants, health hazards, and sources of allergies.  Any light duty sweeping or vacuuming tool is fine, but we find an 18” to 36” microfiber dust mop works best. The static electricity created by this flat, broad-surfaced material picks up small debris and contaminants like a magnet. But make sure that your dust mop has not been treated with any oils, silicones, or cleaners by the manufacturer, and shake it out periodically so as not to scratch the floor.

Wooster Brush Company has a nice dust mop called the Dust Eater that is perfect for stained concrete floor maintenance. It is available online for about $20 here: Wooster Dust Eater. You can also get the Norton BlueMagnet online for $20 at Integrity Supply, or from the Merle B Smith Company in Burr Ridge, Illinois, for about the same price. If you prefer a vacuum, Euro-Pro has a great new lightweight, vacuum called the Shark Vac-Then-Steam  for hard surfaces, including concrete. It is slightly more expensive, at $120 from Overstock.com, but lets you avoid having to shake out a dust mop from time to time, and then allows you to "steam mop" and sanitize your floor, after vacuuming.  

Note:  When using a vacuum only, be more thorough, since dust pickup is generally somewhat less effective and complete than with a dust mop or broom.

Damp Mopping

The concept of damp mopping a stained concrete floor is similar to cleaning a window: remove dirt and smudging with a mild cleaning solution to restore gloss. Photo courtesy of: Jack’s Window Cleaning.

Cleaning a decorative concrete floor promptly when the floor finish has become dirty, marred, or lost its luster, and dust mopping no longer helps, will restore the initial gloss and preserve the integrity of the remaining floor finish. You should use a pH neutral cleaner, diluted in cool water, according the manufacturer’s instructions. Most neutral cleaning products do not require rinsing except when recoating with new floor finish because they do not contain strong acidic or alkaline additives.  The best source of a good cleaning product is a local janitorial supply house. They'll also have the best prices.  We use and recommend Spartan's Damp Mop Cleaner.

When mopping, be sure to keep the cleaning solution from getting too dirty, and do not allow the cleaner to puddle. You may want to use separate buckets for the cleaning solution, and to periodically rinse the mop.  Also, do not use Swiffer Wet-Jets, bleach, ammonia, Pine Sol, or any harsh detergents. They will break down and discolor the existing floor finish, and maybe the concrete sealer as well ,which could then require stripping and re-application.  The ideal mop to use for damp mopping is a "loop end wet mop" made of a cotton/rayon blend or microfiber.  Loop end mops are absorbent, re-usable, contact the floor surface continuously, and don't leave lint or fiber behind.  Microfiber flat mops also work well.  Tough marks that do not come up with a mop can be removed with fine steel wool or a light scouring pad.

Recoating

Without periodic recoating, this is an example of the damage that can happen to a stained concrete floor as the sealer is worn through or delaminates.

A certain amount of abrasion and scratching from foot traffic, playing children, pets, heavy stationary objects, and carts or dollies, cannot be avoided and will eventually erode the existing floor finish on a decorative concrete floor. This finish needs to be restored periodically so that the concrete sealer, and concrete stain below, is not affected. How often to recoat depends on the building environment. In homes, once a year is a good rule of thumb; for businesses, it should be more often:  probably every 4 to 6 months.

You should use a commercial grade floor finish from a janitorial supply house, and not one from a hardware or grocery store.  Apply with a garden sprinkling can and then spread with a lambswool applicator, or loop end mop, in thin, uniform coats. Be aware that loop end mops used for applying finish are slightly different than those used for damp mopping:  they are made of a finer fiber such as nylon filament yarn or microfiber.  A new coat of floor finish does not take long to apply and usually dries in 30 minutes or less. If you have the time, consider applying a second coat of finish, at the same time, for added durability and longevity.  If there is a Decorative Concrete Scoring Pattern on the stained concrete floor, be careful not to fill the saw cuts with floor finish.  Floor finish goes on milky white, and it may end up collecting too deep in the cuts to clear up as it dries. 

Floor finishes are inexpensive - around $20 a gallon from a janitorial supply house. They come in matte, satin, or gloss versions, depending on the amount of desired surface sheen, and vary in optical clarity and depth, as well.

"Spray Buffing" is an alternative recoating method.  It is a short-cut that combines damp mopping and recoating with floor finish. By using a certain type of floor finish, formulated with a detergent, you can remove scuffs, scratches, and dirt, and restore gloss at the same time.  Spray buffing is very effective for maintaining high traffic or wear areas, but it can only be done a limited number of times before adding more floor finish is required.  It is as simple as spraying affected areas and then using a low speed floor buffer fitted with a red polishing pad to work the material into the existing floor finish.

"Hazing" is a common problem with floor finishes caused by:  1) excessive humidity during application; 2) applying additional coats before previous coats have fully dried; or 3) applying over a dirty or contaminated surface.  "Powdering", or chalking, of a floor finish is caused by:  1) applying under cold conditions (below room temperature or near poorly insulated exterior walls or entrances); or 2) applying over an unsealed or excessively porous substrate.  These problems can be resolved by stripping the floor finish, correcting the source of the problem, and then re-applying more finish.

Read more, here, about Decorative Concrete Floor Finishes, and how they differ from Decorative Concrete Sealers.

Furniture & Other Objects

Protective pads for furniture and other heavy objects are a small measure that will extend the life of a stained concrete floor indefinitely. Photo courtesy of: Expanded Technologies.

The sealer and floor finish on your acid stained concrete floor, or stained concrete overlay, is a form of plastic. Most plastics tend to bond together, so you should avoid placing on your floor anything with a plastic or acrylic bottom, such as air mattresses, painters tarps, planters, furniture coasters, and certain types of matting.  Otherwise, when these objects are moved, they may take the sealer and color right off of the floor. If you do keep such objects on the floor, make sure to use a fabric in-between, or attach felt-bottomed pads.  Products made with cheap or poor quality rubber will also stick to stained concrete flooring, and can leave yellow or brown staining.  Quality rubber (e.g., based on nitrile) are generally okay, but they should be tested before leaving them in place permanently.

A special note regarding furniture:  The concrete sealers and finishes used for stained concrete flooring are extremely durable - but the hard bottoms, and constant movement, of tables and chairs in a restaurant, office building, dining room, or entertainment area, will eventually scratch or wear through them, if preventive measures are not taken. In such high activity areas, we highly recommend attaching special pads to the legs of all furniture ,and heavy stationary objects.  Expanded Technologies in Kenosha, WI, has a great selection of high quality furniture pads.  This is a quick and inexpensive way to extend the life of your floor and reduce your maintenance costs drastically.

Also, be very careful of runoff water from plants, which often contains tannins, lignin, fertilizer or plant food. Over time, these trace chemicals will discolor and permanently stain your sealer.

Finally, NEVER EVER apply tape of any kind, for however short a period of time, to a stained concrete floor!!!  The tape will pull up the concrete sealer, and concrete stain coloring, when removed. Painters should know better, but they do this all the time. This type of damage is not covered under a stained concrete floor warranty, so you should warn painters beforehand, and/or recover repair damages from them, so you are able pay to have it fixed.

This customized mat is ideally positioned to protect the stained concrete at this Marriott hotel. Photo courtesy of: KBA Marketing, Inc. of Vero Beach, FL.

Mats

Mats are imperative  for a stained concrete floor with an exterior entrance.  Dirt, moisture, and outdoor contaminants, such as de-icers, anti-freeze, fertilizer, and oil, pose an ongoing, significant threat of damage or staining to a decorative concrete floor, no matter how durable the sealer.  Mats should be used both inside and outside exterior entrances.  A good matting system will reduce dirt accumulation on your floor by 85% or more, and is an easy way to simplify and reduce the maintenance required on your floor.

The best mats to use outside are those made of rope, hemp, or other heavy absorbent fabric that has a high friction open surface designed to knock grit particles off of shoes and trap them.  Inside, more densely fabricated mats, such as soft, shag carpets are then effective in removing any remaining dirt and moisture on footwear. Whatever mat you choose, it should have a solid backing so that it is easy to shake out. This backing should be of a good quality rubber or vinyl, so that the mat does not stick to the floor, or stain it. Rubber mats can be cleaned in a washer and dryer.  Vinyl mats need to be hosed off and allowed to air dry.

For high traffic entryways, a good rule of thumb is to use at least 15 feet of matting. This allows each foot of your visitors, guests, or customers to touch the matting at least 3 times, and is proven to be most effective in removing the majority of incoming dirt and moisture.  The Koffler Sales Company in Lake Zurich, IL, carries a wide selection of floor mats that are perfect for residential or commercial acid stained concrete flooring, as does Consolidated Plastics.