How to maintain Sealed Floors
Cleaning & Maintenance … Importance of Rinsing There is not a week that goes by that someone doesn't call or e-mail me about the appearance of the sealer on their interior decorative concrete floors. These residential and commercial property owners seem to be mystified as to why their floors finishes are dull, being eaten away, or have become less slip/fall resistant. They start off trying to get validations as to their belief that it was the quality of the sealer or the workmanship of the contractor that applied it.
My first question is “how are you cleaning it and what cleaning product are you routinely using? 90% of the time I come to the conclusion that they simply have not been cleaning and maintaining their interior decorative concrete flooring properly. Professional contractors in a majority of cases do provide their customers with Proper Care & Maintenance literature” which clearly states: (1) type of cleaning solutions, detergents, and sanitizers that they can use, as well as those that should not be used; (2) step by step routine cleaning procedures and types of cleaning equipment that is acceptable; (3) and stress the fact the surface is stain resistant, not stain proof (ie: spills should be cleaned before they have a chance to sit, eat into, or discolor the surface).
Failure of the residential or commercial property owner to read, heed, and abide by cleaning and maintenance instructions will result in them vandalizing their own floors!” The primary problem seems to stem from the failure to rinse thoroughly after cleaning with acceptable detergents, sanitizers, degreasers, or other solutions. No one would ever wash their vehicle with a soapy solution or remove road tar/foreign matter with spot cleaners, then fail to rinse thoroughly… in fact they would also use a lint free towel to remove the water spots on the finish. All washing machines have a rinse cycle for a reason. Everyone rinses off the soap from their body when showering. No one would wash dishes without rinsing off the all the detergent.
So why is common sense so lacking when it comes to thorough rinsing of their interior decorative concrete floors after cleaning? Simply mopping a floor, many times using the same detergent saturated string or sponge mop to rinse, has little effect as related to effectively removing all remaining film like residues that will build up over time. Failure to rinse not only leaves soap and film build residues which distract from the appearance of sealers, but also can result in dangerous consequences due to the associated reduction in slip/fall resistant properties. Shoe soles and bare feet can not come in direct contact with a floor that has a build up of soap residues, greasy/oily films, or other foreign matter that remain on the floor after cleaning; therefore, accidental injuries will occur which you as the applicator can not be held responsible for, nor have the ability to foresee or deter. Furthermore, remaining residues can be aggressive in nature causing the sealer to be eaten away over a relatively short period of time if the floor is not rinsed thoroughly with fresh water after each routine cleaning.
No contractor or sealer manufacturer can be expected to stand behind the performance, clarity, or longevity of a sealer when the property owner has clearly failed to follow ordinary good housekeeping guidelines as related to proper cleaning and maintenance. Procedures should be:
- Apply the approved types of cleaning solutions (detergent, sanitizer, degreaser, etc.), taking care to properly dilute them as specified in warm water.
- Allow solution/solutions used to sit for 5 minutes in order to break down the dirt, grime, grease/oil, and foreign matter.
- Scrub the floor with soft bristle broom, or if heavily soiled with a light duty floor scrubber.
- Rinse with plenty of fresh water. If there are drains, use a squeegee to push the rinse water towards them. On floors that do not have drains, use a wet vat to remove rinse water.
- Repeat above
The use of a steam cleaner is another acceptable cleaning method, used along with above. Again, a mop is the least effective method to clean a floor. If a mop is used the floor must be rinsed several times until all rinse water is clean and free of residues. If you would like a copy of a generically written Proper Cleaning & Maintenance form that has proven to be quite valuable, please click here to download. This form, or one similar to it with your own modifications, should be used in duplicate. Upon completion of a project you/contractor sign the form, as well as your customer, with both retaining one of the duplicate copies. If at any point in time the property is sold, the original residential or commercial property owner will be responsible for passing their copy of the form onto the new owner.
Should anyone ever state they did not know how to properly care for and maintain their floors you will have signed written evidence to the contrary; thereby, limiting a legal case being filed against your company for workmanship or materials used should they ever attempt to take defensive action (ie: the fault clearly being their own due to failure to perform good housekeeping practices and the following of proper cleaning and maintenance guidelines). Generally speaking, property owners are quite proud of their investment in a decorative concrete surface and will follow proper cleaning and maintenance instructions in order to shield it from harm and assure its longevity.
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