Concrete is a wonderful construction material that is long-lasting and durable. To capitalize on the many outstanding features of concrete, homeowners are finding new and creative ways to build with this material, with some contractors choosing to construct entire homes made out of concrete.
However, even though concrete is among the toughest and most highly insulative construction materials on the market, it cannot be abused. As with any aspect of your home, concrete areas must be carefully maintained in order to ensure maximum lifespan.
Fortunately, caring for concrete is not difficult, and homeowners can use the following steps to keep their concrete surfaces looking new and inviting indefinitely.
#1 – Keep the Concrete Clean
This seems like a very common-sense recommendation, but given the durable nature of concrete, many homeowners allow dirt and debris to sit on their concrete for longer than is prudent, which can degrade the concrete and potentially expedite the formation of cracks and/or stains.
Frequent cleaning is even more essential for homes that feature interior concrete. Polished concrete floors are very common in garages and are becoming quite popular for living room and kitchen flooring, thanks to its durability and eco-friendly possibilities. However, polishing a dirty surface can seal in debris and create an unsightly finish that is hard to ignore.
There are a number of ways to clean concrete, and depending on whether you are cleaning an interior or exterior surface, you may want to use any combination of the following methods:
- Pressure washers
- Brushes and exfoliating scrubbers
- Industrial cleaners, such as trisodium phosphate or oxalic acid, to help break down tough buildup
#2 – Use a Concrete Sealer
Even if you are not caring for a polished surface, it is still critical that you seal your concrete after cleaning to help resist damage and staining from weather, contact, and grime.
A topical sealer is a protective layer that can be added to your concrete’s surface every couple of years to help it resist the degrading effects of use and age.
#3 – Do Not Allow Spills to Sit
Stain resistance is a major benefit of concrete flatwork, with this property being enhanced even further when paired with a quality concrete sealer.
However, do not use this as proof that spills can be completely ignored to be cleaned at a later date, as the longer that accidents are left unattended, the greater the likelihood that a stain may eventually form.
As soon as possible, take care of beverage spills on patios, fluid leaks on garage floors, and mud deposits on sidewalks to decrease the chances that any permanent discoloration mars your concrete.
#4 – Avoid Heavy Objects on Your Concrete
Despite being tough and durable, concrete still has a limit to what it can withstand. While normal wear from vehicles and typical home appliances is no problem, large trucks and heavy machinery can possibly cause cracks in your concrete due to the excess weight load.
If any major construction is being done near your property, or you need to rent a moving truck for any reason, try to keep this equipment on the street to avoid any damage to your concrete.
#5 – Check Your Cleaning Products Before Use
While trisodium phosphate and oxalic acid are listed as useful agents for cleaning concrete, there are some chemicals that can actually eat through sealers and erode the concrete itself. Therefore, it is incumbent upon you as a homeowner to check and make sure the cleaners you intend to use do not have any deleterious effects when used with concrete.
Along these same lines, another important consideration to keep in mind is that lawn fertilizers are known to have corrosive effects, so make sure that fertilizer is not allowed to sit on your sidewalks or make its way into the slots of your driveway drain.
Matt Lee is the owner of the Innovative Building Materials blog and a content writer for the building materials industry. He is focused on helping fellow homeowners,