Everything you wanted to know about concrete but were too afraid to ask
Concrete is one of the ubiquitous building materials we so often take for granted. We interact with concrete every day without thinking about it – in our garages, walking and driving on the streets and sitting inside many modern office buildings. But how much do we know about it? Do we know how to keep it protected or undertake proper surface cleaning on it?
What is concrete and what are its vulnerabilities?
Concrete is a mixture of several materials – cement, with which it is often confused, sand and aggregates (or stones) and water, which combines with cement to serve as paste holding it altogether. Through a process called hydration, the concrete mixture sets and becomes the tough substance we know as concrete.
Concrete is typically used for the creation of roads as well as buildings, for which it would normally be reinforced with steel. However, when mixed with pavers, concrete is also a popular material for outdoor flooring, so it's not unusual to see it used around the home, too.
Despite its hardness, concrete has a high degree of porosity, particularly when it's used as paving. This means that it's very susceptible to stains, not to mention all manner of other types of damage.
According to the Portland Cement Association (PCA), most acids have a particularly corrosive effect on concrete. If not properly protected, concrete can suffer from acid etching and be slowly eaten away.
Concrete is also vulnerable to efflorescence, when the evaporation of water in concrete brings lime compounds dissolved in the water to the surface, where they react to the carbon dioxide to leave an unattractive white powder on the material.
Even aside from these more serious types of damage, however, concrete is also prone to staining from many different materials, including oil – common for concrete floors in garages.
How do I protect and clean my concrete pavers?
If you're intent on keeping your concrete paver as pristine as possible, then it's essential to seal it up with a product like Dry-Treat's STAIN-PROOF Original™. This will not only protect it from being penetrated by various materials, it will also prevent efflorescence by creating a water-repelling layer on the surface.
When doing so, be sure to have an Accredited Applicator perform the sealing, in order to ensure the 15-year warranty on the product.
If your concrete paver does get some less serious stains, you can try cleaning them off. There are several methods for cleaning concrete pavers. The PCA lists several dry methods, such as grinding, scabbing, scouring and planing, as well as shotblasting and sandblasting.
If using a steel-wire brush for this purpose, you'll have to be careful, as the metal particles which come off can eventually rust, ironically further staining the material. You could also try various wet methods that will involve using water. If you're lucky, small spills can simply be removed with a scrub brush, sponge, water and some detergent.
For more heavy-duty stains, HANAFINN Oxy-Klenza™ is a safe and reliable cleaning solution.