Concreate, Inc. delivers concrete polishing and custom staining for both commercial and residential projects primarily in Virginia and Maryland (but also up and down the East Coast). We work hand in hand with with designers, architects, project managers, general contractors, tradesmen, and home owners alike from start to finish. We welcome the opportunity to serve your polished concrete needs in every way possible.

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Stained Polished Concrete: How to Prevent the Worst Outcomes

Stained Polished Concrete: How to Prevent the Worst Outcomes

An imperfect polished concrete floor.

Your polished concrete floors aren’t stain-proof, but there are some steps you can take to make them more resistant to spills

Key Takeaways:

  • Polished concrete will stain
  • You’ll have to move fast if there’s a spill
  • Adding a guard offers some protection
  • A penetrative sealer is the best way to prevent stains from ruining your flooring

Polished concrete is timeless, and your floors will match nearly any decor and color scheme if you go in this direction. The material is also rugged and durable, resisting damage and wear, especially if you prepare and protect it adequately.

However, polished concrete still stains if something spills on it. Oils, acids, and other staining matter will leave a permanent mark if you aren’t careful. Spilling an acidic substance will also eat away at the surface, a problem that could necessitate complete resurfacing. 

You can take some steps to make polished concrete more stain-resistant, leaving your building with a beautiful, long-lasting floor. Here’s some information on stained polished concrete and what you can do to improve your outcomes.

Why does polished concrete stain?

On its own, polished concrete stains because the surface remains porous. Although polished concrete can give off the appearance of being smooth and impenetrable, anything you spill will penetrate the surface and leave behind a permanent reminder.

Acidic materials are particularly troublesome for concrete floors because they eat away at the surface and cause permanent damage. Milk, lemon juice, vinegar, and carbonated beverages all contain acid that could ruin your floors if you don’t protect the surface and clean the spill immediately. 

If you’ve ever spilled oil or grease on your clothes, you know how quickly the stains can set. The same goes for polished concrete because of its porous composition.

Fortunately, there are some further steps building owners can take to prevent staining. These measures give you a little more time to clean the spill, hopefully preserving the concrete.

Use a guard

A concrete guard is a semi-topical acrylic finish applied over the top of the polished floor. The guard is spread thin, clogging the concrete’s surface pores and leaving a film behind that acts as a barrier between the concrete and any contaminants that can damage it. 

Your guard protects the floor from scratching that can occur when a heavy item drags over it. The guard will absorb the damage in this situation, but the surface will remain in excellent condition.

Concrete guards also protect against spills, acting as a sacrificial surface that receives the brunt of the damage instead of the actual floor. Guards also add a level of oil, acid, and water resistance to the concrete because they clog the pores and prevent these materials from soaking into the surface. 

The goal is to prevent the spilled material from contacting the concrete because that’s when stains occur. Acrylic guards act as a line of defense in this regard, giving you more time to clean the spill before it has the chance to leave a permanent mark on your floors. 

Add a penetrating sealer

Another way to keep your polished concrete floor in excellent shape and prevent staining is to use a penetrating sealer. These sealers prevent damage by holding spilled materials on top of the floor’s surface, giving you time to clean it. Penetrating sealers make the concrete water-, oil-, salt-, and acid-resistant while allowing the surface to breathe because they don’t leave a film behind.

Penetrating sealers work far differently from guards because there isn’t a physical barrier left on the floor’s surface. Instead, these sealers create a chemical reaction below the floor’s surface that reduces the concrete’s ability to absorb matter. 

Staining, along with efflorescence, acid damage, and freeze-thaw damage, is caused by the concrete absorbing the molecules of a spilled liquid. By changing the composition of the concrete, penetrating sealers limit the surface’s ability to absorb these molecules, creating stain resistance. 

It’s worth noting that these sealers leave the concrete’s surface completely natural because they penetrate below the surface. As a result, they don’t change the floor’s appearance, making them a top choice for many projects.

You can use shields and penetrating sealers together, as well. The result is a floor with a physical barrier protecting against spills and an altered composition that makes it less likely foreign matter will absorb into the concrete if it breaches the film.

Clean the spill right away

The final way to avoid stained polished concrete is to clean any spills that occur immediately. Leaving acidic material on a concrete surface for lengthy periods will eventually cause damage, no matter how much protection you apply beforehand. 

You can clean many spills with fresh water and some towels, particularly when dealing with acidic substances. Acid is relatively easy to clean if you get to it early enough because it isn’t oily or greasy. 

The cleanup will take a bit longer if someone spills a bottle of olive oil on a concrete floor. The reason is that oil repels water, and using water early in the cleaning process can actually cause the stain to set more rapidly. Fortunately, you can purchase specialized polished concrete cleaners to remove grease and oil from these surfaces. You’ll want to follow the instructions closely to prevent floor damage.

Staying on top of every little spill on these concrete floors would be difficult. However, protecting the concrete with a penetrating sealer or shield gives you more time and can be the difference between a long-lasting floor and one that requires complete restoration.

Protecting your concrete floors

Polished concrete floors are durable, attractive, and low-maintenance, so they should last for years if you prepare them properly. They will stain, though, so applying a concrete shield or penetrating sealer is highly advisable because they stop foreign materials from soaking into the concrete and leaving a stain behind.

Concreate can assist with all your polished concrete preparation and sealer needs. Our team can apply a concrete shield or a penetrating sealer to your surface, making it as stain resistant as possible moving forward. Contact Concrete or visit thisisconcrete.com to learn more about the benefits of polished concrete and how you can best protect your floors.