Concrete famously requires little work to keep it looking beautiful. So long as water doesn’t get into the concrete to break it up and nothing stains it, it can last up to 50 years. That raises the question: how do you protect it from staining or suffering water damage? Should you clean it or re-seal?
To Fend Off Stains
Most of the time, wiping your concrete free of debris with a wet mop once a day will keep it clean. At most, a soft bristle brush and a drop of mild soap may be needed to remove a surface stain. Wipe up any greasy, acidic or alkaline spill with a clean rag immediately.
Power washing is the next step up for a deep clean. It’s good if your floor gets a ton of use or has been coated with a lot of stain-causing organic material. At most, you might want to do it once a year as part of a regular routine to perk up a patio.
A power washer pumps out hot water at high pressure to remove the tough stuff. Pre-treat the stains with a gentle cleaner, remove any furniture or breakable items, sweep away the debris, and then spray with your power washer in one direction.
When To Re-Seal
The important thing to do when you want to protect a concrete floor is to seal it. This keeps water out of the pores so it can’t create cracks through the freeze-thaw cycle. It will also form a layer between the concrete and any stain-causing organic material. How often you need to reapply the seal depends on the type used and how much foot traffic a floor gets.
Acrylic-resin sealers are popular for stamped concrete because they create a wet look and enhance color. These can start to wear off in 3 to 5 years. Signs that you need a resealing of acrylic are chips and peeling on the surface.
Urethane and epoxy sealers can last up to 10 years depending on traffic. You should get them re-sealed if it loses its shine and color. If you let it go for too long, you will be able to see the substrate through the urethane.