How To’s – Sealing Concrete
The life of your concrete is largely dependent on the environmental factors that it is subject to. Some basic, common sense practices, can help to extend the life of your concrete, and increase the amount of time between maintenances. First, it cannot be stressed strongly enough that, despite common misconception, concrete does need to be maintained. Most people think that because it is a hard, durable, surface, there is no need to maintain it or take care of it. As a result, most concrete surfaces are exposed to some of the worst factors that it can be placed under. A different way to think of it would be similar to comparing concrete to the paint on a newly purchased car.
No new-car owner expects that he will drive his car off the lot and never have to maintain it the rest of his life. Yet, the car is subject to most (if not all) of the same factors that your concrete is subject to, and yet rarely do we take care of our concrete to same degree as we do our car. (Be honest…when was the last time you washed and cleaned your concrete to the same degree you did your car?) As the result, our concrete looks old, dingy, cracked, scratched, and generally poor, yet we expect it to still remain new despite the abuse we place on it. To really get the look and life from our concrete, we need to change our way of thinking, and with some slight behavior modifications,the look we desire can remain for a longer time. Here are some suggested methods to help extend the look of your concrete:
1. Accept that your concrete needs to be maintained. If you don’t do it, it isn’t going to get done, and the result will be something that is the opposite of what you desire. You paid good money to get it looking good…take care of it like it is worth the money you spent on it! However, no matter how well you take care of the concrete, there will come a time when it needs to be revitalized. Schedule into your budget a maintenance fee. Talk with your contractor and determine a realistic time-frame for a thorough cleaning and re-staining. Many times having the maintenance done frequently is substantially cheaper than waiting for years, and in some cases, some contractors will have a maintenance fee which is relatively cheap to encourage the customer to do frequent maintenance.
2. Treat your concrete like any other surface that is subject to the environmental conditions in which you live. If there is a lot of moisture, try to keep as much off as you can. An all-weather awning will help prevent pitting and erosion from heavy rains and snow. For those hot summer months, the awning will also help to keep the concrete cool – this helps prevent excessive, drastic, movement of the concrete, and this in turn helps to minimize cracking. Especially for concrete surrounded by landscaping, keep the concrete as clean as you can. Trim and clip plants back so leaves and dirt aren’t sitting on the concrete and staining the surface. If leaves or other similar residue does accumulate on the concrete, sweep or blow it off. Most stains result from dirt or residue from landscaping plants that are either next to, or over, the concrete.
3. Occasionally clean the concrete – maintain it as best as you can. Establish a regular schedule for cleaning and maintaining the concrete. Some people have determined that rinsing the concrete every time they mow the lawns helps them to remember to clean up any messes. The schedule can be as frequent, or as infrequent, as you want to make it. However, remember that the longer it goes, the sooner it will need to be re-stained. The longer residue sits on concrete, the more likely that a stain will occur. Also, in some regions of the world, moisture can result in fungus and
mold growing in the pores of the concrete.
The only way to remove these microbes is to use chemicals or pressure washers. Establishing a maintenance schedule can help you factor in the methods you need to take to clean your concrete. When cleaning off concrete, most of the time it can be effectively done with water and a soft-bristled broom. Medium or hard-bristled brooms can leave small scratches, that over time will cause the surface to deteriorate. In most cases there is no need to use chemicals, but if persistent stains do occur, don’t use harsh chemicals without first consulting your contractor or NewLook. Some chemicals will cause irreparable damage to NewLook products and to your concrete.
4. In instances where stains occur as a result of landscaping or vehicles, the concrete should be cleaned with the help of NewLook’s Concrete Cleaner and Degreaser. Oil spills, especially, will result in permanent, unsightly stains. The sooner the oil or residue is removed, the less likely a permanent stain will result. NewLook products have no VOC’s, and as such, are safe for the environment. Follow the recommended methods for cleaning using NewLook products.
5. Schedule a maintenance visit from your contractor before the surface, and look, have become too damaged. Despite our best efforts, concrete can get damaged and stained beyond our ability to clean it. If, and when, that occurs, have your contractor return and re-apply another layer of NewLook stains. The more layers of stain on the surface, the less need there is for heavy maintenance. In some cases, there are enough coatings of stain on the concrete so that nothing more than a simple pressure washing and re-sealing is needed to revitalize the concrete.