The portions of the floor in the foreground and in the distance have been restored (guard replaced).
Mark Schuller The portions of the floor in the foreground and in the distance have been restored (guard replaced).

Polished concrete floors are not maintenance-free, despite what many owners have been told, although they can be low-maintenance. Proper cleaning equipment must be used to remove oils and soils from the concrete surface. Restoration may be necessary when the floor has lost its shine or clarity.

Polished concrete requires different cleaners than other floors due to the nature of the surface. Also, maintenance personnel must use the correct type of floor pads to prevent damage to guard products and concrete surfaces.

Proper pH cleaners are essential. A cleaner that is too acidic or too alkaline will deteriorate the concrete. To clean oils on the surface, start by understanding what types of oils you must remove. Using the wrong types of chemicals will not yield the proper results. Petroleum oils and animal oils are different in nature and must be cleaned differently. Petroleum oils need to be cleaned by emulsification. This is done by breaking down the oils and removing them along with water. Animal oils or fats need to be saponified. Saponification is breaking down animal fats and turning them into a soap solution that can then be rinsed off of the floor. Always rinse the flo or thoroughly to remove any residue left behind that will diminish the clarity, shine, and safety.

To remove soils from a polished floor, again know what type of soils you are trying to remove and use the proper water volume to float out the soil and the proper cleaning solutions to prevent damage to the floor. Removing all of the soil is crucial, since soil works as an abrasive and will ruin the clarity and shine.

Polishing Pads

A polished concrete floor requires a very soft pad to keep the surface clean without scratching or etching the surface. White polishing pads are most commonly used for daily maintenance.

To repair or restore a polished concrete floor, first identify whether or not the floor has both clarity and shine. If a floor has clarity but does not have shine, the guard product may need to be removed and reapplied. If a floor does not have either clarity or shine, a more aggressive restoration procedure may be necessary. Also, identify excessive wear patterns and other damaged areas.

If a polish guard must be removed, follow the guard manufacturer’s recommended procedures and use the proper equipment. Usually, you can use a single disc floor scrubber along with an automatic scrubber. Apply the guard manufacturer’s recommended floor chemical to assist in the removal of the polish guard. In some cases, a more aggressive floor pad may be necessary to assist in the removal. Do not use an abrasive pad or floor brush, as this will damage the clarity of the original polish. Rinse the floor properly and reapply the polish guard. Use a high-speed floor burnisher to harden the polish guard then remove all residue left on the floor.

When damage has occurred to the clarity of the polish, you must repair the damage to the concrete surface before you can reapply the polish guard. Determine at what point you will need to start your restoration process and follow each step in succession. Do not skip steps. There are several companies that have special equipment, diamond brushes, and diamond pads to assist in this process. When the desired clarity has returned, reapply the polish guard.

This article is based on a presentation by Mark Schuler with MrClean, who will be one of the speakers at the World of Concrete Polishing Luncheon & Forum on Jan. 17 presented in cooperation with the ASCC Concrete Polishing Council. Visit to register.