Decorative concrete is probably one of the most popular hardscapes today, be it indoor or outdoor floor projects. Though this material requires a little upkeep, maintaining stamped concrete is still essential to extend its service life and preserve its look. Like any other conventional concrete and pavements, stamped concrete needs your attention and care, so you can always have a stronger and brand-new looking patio, driveway or pool deck.
In a separate article, we’ve talked about the process of stamped concrete installation. Today, we want to make sure that you can routinely assess the condition of your decorative concrete to keep it in good shape all the time. Since it is no longer uncommon that concrete materials receive too much foot or vehicular traffic and extreme exposure to environmental conditions, we have listed four basic steps in maintaining stamped concrete. Let’s go over these simple ways to preserve and enhance the charm of your home’s exterior.
Step 1: General Cleaning
You might think that sweeping can make no difference in maintaining stamped concrete, but it sure can. And so, this is the very first step in cleaning a decorative concrete. Always keep the surface free of debris, dirt and grime. Allowing debris to stay for too long will stain the surface. Even dead leaves can be a culprit to damage the appearance of your stamped concrete. The natural breakdown of dead leaves can create a chemical reaction, resulting in staining. Worst is, these stains can be permanent. That is why routine cleaning is a must.
Sweep the surface using a broom to loose dirt or a leaf blower for an added assistance. Pay attention to any cracks on the floor while sweeping. Cracks can lead to structural issues in the future as it allows water or moisture to penetrate underneath the stamped concrete. If no structural problems found, wash and mop the surface to avoid dirt build-up. Sweeping and mopping should be done weekly. Just don’t forget to replace the mopping water whenever it becomes dirty.
If you feel that water isn’t enough in cleaning and maintaining stamped concrete, use mild detergent instead. Apply a little amount of mild detergent or dish soap to create a cleaning solution. Brush the surface using a medium bristled scrub. Keep in mind that in choosing a cleaning solution, avoid any chemical-based cleaners as it can make a dull surface.
Step 2: Dealing with Tough and Stubborn Stains
Addressing stubborn stains is quite challenging. Mild detergent solution and mopping are not enough to remove those stains. In cases like this, consider using a power washer to dislodge any build-up dirt on the surface. Pressure washing (or power washing) eliminates leaf stains, grease spots and tire marks. You can either use gasoline-powered or electric-powered pressure washers, which can be rented from a home improvement store.
There are certain precautions in using a power washer. Make sure to set it to medium or lower to avoid damaging the concrete surface. Remember not to put the tip of the power washer close to the surface as it could damage the stamped concrete as well. Always maintain sweeping motions or move the hose back and forth, so the stream of water will not stay in one place for too long. And lastly, wear gloves and safety goggles for extra protection.
Aside from using a pressure washer, you can also apply oxalic acid or alkaline greaser in maintaining stamped concrete. Combined with a cleaner, oxalic acid can remove rust stains. Whereas, alkaline degreaser helps remove soot, grease and oil. It is beneficial to combine alkaline degreaser with hot water to lift the stains to the surface of decorative concrete. However, just like any other chemical agents, make sure to check the label and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. It is also helpful to consult a local contractor for much-needed advice before applying stain removing agents to your concrete.
Step 3: Maintaining Stamped Concrete Surface
After thorough washing and cleaning, this is the perfect time to waterproof and seal your decorative concrete. Periodic sealing keeps your concrete safe from extreme temperatures, moisture penetration, freeze-thaw conditions, abrasion, de-icing chemicals and other elements. A sealer is also applied in maintaining stamped concrete and preventing its color from fading. As normally recommended, reapply sealers at least every two to three years to keep the vibrancy and appeal of your concrete. A 5-gallon of sealer can cover roughly 800 square foot of concrete.
It is also critical to understand the do’s and don’ts before applying any sealers:
a. In the pursuit of maintaining stamped concrete, talking to your contractor can help you find out the best sealer for your home’s exterior.
b. It is important to choose the same type of sealer you’ve initially applied when your concrete was installed.
c. Always remember not to apply sealer to a wet or damp surface.
d. The best results in applying sealer happen during cooler temperature. It is recommended to apply sealers when the air temperature is more than 55 °F, making the sealer dries faster.
e. Make sure not to over apply the sealer. Apply it very thinly, then re-apply the second coating once the first application dries up.
f. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions or contact a professional contractor if you’re not sure of the process.
Step 4: Polishing the Concrete
Too much foot or vehicular traffic on the surface shows some signs of wear and tear. In maintaining stamped concrete, you might want to consider using a floor wax or polish for additional protection. Just keep in mind that floor polish is specially-formulated for decorative concrete.
As you noticed, maintaining stamped concrete isn’t too difficult. These simple guidelines we have enumerated are so easy to follow that you won’t have any excuses not to give your decorative concrete the attention and care it needs. However, if you feel that these are too much to stay on top of, then contact Deck Ready. Whether it is your patio, driveway, pool deck or walkway, we can help to enhance your property’s curb appeal.