Concrete frequently performs well even when left strictly on its own. However, there are applications where a little periodic maintenance will greatly extend the useful life of concrete. A look at the list of agents that attack concrete will help users and specifiers evaluate the suitability of the type of concrete floor being proposed for a job. A concrete floor can co-exist with some of the materials that attack concrete very slightly or slowly if proper housekeeping procedures are followed.
Dairies should be especially vigilant in terms of floor washing. Milk spilled on a concrete floor will not attack the floor immediately, but it is likely to sour soon and form lactic acid. If not washed away before it soaks into the surface, the potential for deterioration exists. If a plant floor is subject to spillage of fine materials that could act as abrasives, a rigid schedule of washing, sweeping or both is warranted. When designing a floor to be subjected to occasional chemical spillage, consideration should be given to achieving a highly reflective, hard-troweled surface. For high-traffic areas, a heavy-duty, off-white floor can be achieved by use of a dry shake when the floor is being finished.
Unfilled joints, especially in floors, are likely to become clogged with dirt, aggregate particles and other materials that eventually cause them to lose their ability to move. A more practical approach to joint maintenance in industrial buildings and warehouses is to fill them with sealants that resist infiltration of foreign matter and accommodate movement for long periods of time. Joints in vertical surfaces and most outdoor applications are best sealed with elastomeric sealants. These should not be applied to the full depth of the joint, but to a depth that is less than the joint width. The bottom of the joint is first filled with a nonbonding backing material to support the sealant while it cures.