Concrete has been a popular building material for hundreds of years. Even buildings constructed of stone, masonry, and other materials often contain floors, foundations, and other support elements made from concrete. Unfortunately, degradation and age can have a negative effect on the appearance of such concrete.
At some point in the life of virtually all concrete structures, some form of chemical cleaning will be required. When that time comes, a restoration contractor must possess a thorough knowledge of the options at hand. This article will increase your knowledge of concrete restoration techniques, discussing the applications of three different types of chemical cleaners.
1. Neutral Cleaners
All concrete cleaners must strike a balance between restoration and the potential for unintended damage. Believe it or not, concrete can be a sensitive material, especially if it has been treated with sealers or other finishing products. Too harsh of a cleaning agent can easily mar the appearance and even cause lasting damage to the concrete itself.
The gentlest type of concrete cleaners is pH neutral cleaners. These act to remove mild soiling without the use of acidic or alkaline substances. These cleaners tend to be used primarily for cleaning polished or sealed concrete floors. That said, a pH neutral cleaner can also be used to tackle outdoor work, provided dirt and grime have not penetrated too deeply into the pores of the concrete.
2. Acidic Cleaners
For concrete with stains or heavier deposits of dirt and grime, a pH neutral cleaner may not have what it takes. Many types of soiling simply won't respond to a cleaner with a neutral pH value. That's because the concrete has accumulated substances that become soluble only in the presence of acid.
Such substances generally have a higher salt content, which allows them to cling more stubbornly to the surface of the concrete. Hard water, certain soil conditions, and naturally high salt levels in the concrete itself can all lead to the formation of unsightly stains. Acidic cleaners have what it takes to break down and remove such substances.
Acidic cleaners are also the best way to deal with the common problem known as efflorescence. Efflorescence involves the formation of powdery white deposits on the concrete. These deposits consist of salts pushed to the surface as water vapor migrates through the slab. Non-acidic concrete cleaners will have little to no effect when it comes to removing efflorescence.
3. Alkaline Cleaners
Not all concrete stains will have an acid-soluble nature. As a result, acidic cleaning solutions may not prove effective at removing certain types of soiling, with organic contaminants being chief among them. Organic contaminants include a wide range of substances, which include fats oils, and proteins, as well as microorganisms like mold, mildew, and yeast.
You can scrub all day long with an acidic or pH neutral cleaner, yet such substances will often remain stubbornly ingrained in the concrete. To effectively remove them, a contractor must turn to alkaline cleaners. Alkaline cleaners boast pH values at the higher end of the spectrum — in other words, anywhere above 7.0.
Also sometimes referred to as degreasers, an alkaline cleaner cuts right through organic stains. The oily substances emulsify in the cleaner, allowing them to be easily rinsed away with water. In the process, these cleaners also help to restore the naturally alkaline pH of the concrete.
Do you own or clean a building with obvious stains in the concrete? Contact Industrial Cleaning Equipment & Supply to learn more about how to combat those stains with effective cleaning products. Our team will help you choose the best type of concrete cleaner for your project.