Walk into a retail establishment, a warehouse, a factory, an office building, or another facility in Minneapolis or St. Paul that has polished concrete floors and you may see different things. One place may have a perfectly glossy floor that looks perfect, while the other may have a floor that looks like it is near replacement when, in all reality, it is one that is just a couple years old.
The floor that looks tattered has most likely been plagued with dirt and abrasives, which has broken down the sheen and finish of the floor. Sometimes abrasives end up being used to polish concrete, but those same abrasives can break down the floor.
What Are Abrasives?
The abrasives that are mostly responsible for damaging polished concrete floors include dirt and particles that are tracked by customers, fork lifts, shopping carts, etc. The particles are generally very small, but they build up over time. If there are a lot of abrasives on a floor, it is easy to see. If you wear boots with leather soles while walking on a floor, you can very easily feel whether or not the floor is lacking basic maintenance.
As for what abrasives do to a floor, they break it down. When the dirt particles sit on the floor and they are combined with wheel and foot traffic, those particles are like sandpaper to the floor. Think of the particles acting like a 200 grit resin diamond. Anyone who has a polished concrete floor knows that such grittiness is going to take out the shine. This grit then digs into the floor and it gives dirt an additional place to lodge itself. This not only makes the concrete harder to clean, but the gloss value is greatly diminished.
Shockingly, abrasives can remove approximately 75% of the reflectivity the floor had when it was first finished. To get the gloss back, the floor may need to be re-finished. When companies have their floors re-finished, they typically do before it is time. Premature refinishing costs more in the long run.
What To Do?
The damage that abrasives cause is mainly preventable. Businesses can have walk off matt programs so that customers and carts have a chance to knock abrasives off while walking and rolling over mats on the sales floor. The mats themselves need to stay clean so they can be effective.
Another way to keep abrasives to a minimum is to dust mop the floor during the day or during high traffic periods. This is very important in Minnesota’s winter months as salt is used to keep sidewalks from freezing.
If the floor has been damaged too extensively by abrasives, it needs to be re-polished. You can’t simply do a light polish or deep clean and hope everything will be okay. You will need to get through the scratch in the floor and then go from there. This is when you will need professional intervention by a contractor who has the right tools and materials to do the job right.