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Keeping the Shine: Training in Maintaining Polished Concrete Floors

A D+D Online Feature published September 12, 2012



More items for Maintenance + Renovation

by Howard Jancy

Hellooooo! Is anybody listening? Too often, I hear myself saying that when, for the umpteenth time, I am discussing the maintenance requirements for a polished concrete floor with an owner and his or her representatives....
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Tagged categories: Concrete; Concrete floor coatings; Concrete polishing; Decorative concrete; Polished concrete; Sealers

Comment from chad zogleman, (9/14/2012, 11:51 AM)

Howard, that was a very comprehensive article. After looking at over 25 million square feet in a year for the retailer you pictured in your article and dealing with grocery chains, mom and pops etc.,...here is what happens in regards to the maintenance of polished concrete floors. Every has read a maint. schedule for polished concrete similar to the one you posted...which there is nothing wrong with by the way, but the problem is most get the 'directions' and forget to keep track of their floor. The 'directions' simply get handed to maintenance and the attitude is 'that's all I'll ever have to do.' Let me answer the question that many have been confused over, "so why are there maintenance issues?"...Answer: Because the maintenance personnel don't follow your instructions, or they may venture off, or slack off a little bit, the guard breaks down, scratches dull the sheen, etc. You don't recover your floor by getting maintenance back on track...you do some re-polishing as you stated. The issue with continuous re polish programs for polished concreteis that the paste layer is very thin (1/32"?) and once you get through that you have random aggregate and a varied looking floor. If this is a dye and polish job, you are looking at completely re-dying the floor. I saw this exact scenario on a grocery chain done by a very respected polisher. The chain "followed maintenance instructions", and still had issues, not from differed maintenance, but from nobody being a steward to their floor. They went though this scenario more than twice in two years and still wonder what happened....a professional isn't keeping track or managing it, and its not the polishers fault...they are their to create, not maintain! You wouldn't give a roofing crew, lawn care crew, or any other lower paid labor instructions and check up on them a couple of years down the road and expect great results would you?? I am obviously passionate about polished concrete floors, and am no way trying to diminish the great savings, beauty, and efficiency these floors. When the market starts to understand that you just can't drop off some instructions, and that there needs to be a partner on the 'end' piece (maintenance) of polished concrete flooring these floors will grow exponentially.


Comment from Jim Cuviello, (9/17/2012, 10:30 AM)

Chad you are 100% correct, the issues you mention about maintenance personnel apply to any flooring not just polished concrete. In Europe floor maintenance personnel are better trained, treated and paid. European blue collar workers are paid better than most any other place in the world. I know of one company who makes floor care products who gave up on the US market years ago and does most of their business in Europe. European floor care workers are technically trained, respected and held to a hire standard. Janitorial supply companies regularly provide in services for a janitorial contractors floor care crew if they are buying product from them. Where does the janitorial company get their training on how to maintain polished concrete on a regular basis?


Comment from David Burgess, (10/16/2012, 7:51 PM)

I just noticed this thread and thought I'd comment. I too agree with both Jim & Chad yet it seems to me as an industry we have crossed this bridge many times over. Here's my 2 cents. It's evident polished concrete has it's place and when maintained correctly it has exceptional beauty & does reduce floor care costs compared to conventional janitorial scrub & re-coat programs. However with that said, due dligence is required by all parties in the maintenance cycle including facility owners, facility managers & facility cleaning contractors or in many cases in-house cleaning departments. As I see it the buck stops at the top door ... facility owners/managers. They must initiate enforcement of a quailty driven maintenance specification designed to care for their PC investment. A well defined janitorial cleaning spec is based on a survey of the facility especially. It must include scope of work for variables such as: traffic (soil load), frequency of cleaning task, building population, correct equipment, staff skill level, staff training initiatives, weather etc. For example a manufacturing plant may have their front office area serviced 5x days/week whereas the plant floor 1x day/week. Each area will have specific maintenance spec's relative to the variables to that space. Once a well defined PC spec is in hand the next tier down the maintenance labder is ... monitoring the cleaning results relative to the specification or in not so gentle terms, enforcement. To do this effectively facility managers must invest in the time to communicate clearly to their floor care service providers, per the specifications. This excercise cannot be a one time or one once a week, one minute meeting. Effective dialogue between both parties must invlove addressing floor care results relative to the task & frequency of the cleaning spec. It is here; the abscence of frequency that most often kills a floor care program or the improper use of chemical or equipment. Also, as discussed, staff training is key, for this reason all janitoral contractors should ask their distributor about what type of PC floor care training programs they offer before purchasing any equipment. Good janitorial supply houses will provide their customers with NC 4 hour PC seminars that go beyond the sale of a piece of equipment. Take home hand-out's must be more than equipment quotations. Good janitorial supply distributors retain at least one or more quarter back specialists on their team that attend on-going industry trade shows and continuing educational courses. A good janitorial suppply house will help their customers address PC maintenance needs by doing on-site survey assesments with them. It goes with out saying, in an effort to offset pre-mature micro pitting, maintenance is a must! If we fail to heed the call as noted ... "is anyone listening" then we can expect our floors to errode and plague our industry. I live in the heart of sand & salt country, Edmonton Alberta, Canada. There are dozens upon dozens of buildings here that are proof postive, PC maintenance works when the right combination of steps are executed by facility owners, facility managers and janitorial service providers alike!


Comment from John Fauth, (10/18/2012, 9:20 AM)

Great comments and observations. I had occasion to be in several big box stores recently to look at their polished concrete floors. At store A I spoke with the individual responsible for their floor maintenance, who explained they are required to submit their hourly use of equipment (ride on scrubbers) on a daily basis, and to log each day's maintenance activities. That's a floor owner who understands the importance of maintenance, and how it is too easy at the store level to consider it a nuisance rather than a necessity. Store B also had polished concrete floors that had become a version of polished exposed aggregate in the aisles, while remaining traditional polished concrete (ie: paste) under the racks. Although I wasn't able to speak with the maintenance manager, it seemed logical that the floor maintenance program included a routine polishing process that had removed paste wherever it had access (and there is no access where merchandise sits under the racking). It's certainly not an unattactive look, but one that a floor owner should be aware of with that kind of maintenance program. Perhaps the use of a guard would have prevented that wear, if so desired.


Comment from Dawn Thompson, (3/29/2016, 9:07 AM)

Very helpful, Our new school came with polished concrete floors, I have never been told anything except to run the floor scrubber on it everyday. I have no idea how to take care of this floor, it has very little shine left now.


Comment from David Burgess, (9/15/2016, 11:39 AM)

Dawn, your situation is all to often common. Depending on your capacity, be it as an outsourced cleaning contractor or school custodial services there definitely should be maintenance protocol made available to you in writing. Don't give up requesting PC maintenance specifications for your school. For the most part these documents are filed with the General Contractor responsible for awarding the winning bid. It is critical you receive them for the very reasons you stated. Water of itself will not adequately maintain a PC floor and in time micro abrasion will occur. The rate of abrasion will occur rapidly if your facility is in a snow belt region or the floor did not receive an application of topical stain guard sealant. The application of a guard on cafeteria floors will help reduce acidic food & liquid stains from causing permanant etching or staining. There are several good quality PC cleaning soaps that are designed to be added to your scrubber water solution tank at 1-2 oz. per gallon. When the proper cleaning detergent is added to your water, the routine maintenance program cost is less than pennies per day. The use of a specialty blend PC floor cleaning detergent will help prevent premature micro abrasion and make you look like a knowledgable hero!


Comment from Sheldon Wolfe, (9/16/2016, 10:43 AM)

Architects don't specify maintenance, let alone enforce it, but it's too bad they don't make it clear to clients that polished concrete is not a maintenance-free surface.


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