Last week, we talked about ways that you can maintain the concrete at your facility or home. Using a pressure washer, you can remove accumulated debris that makes your concrete look less attractive. Using a sealer, you can help protect the surface from damaging elements such as UV rays, rain, hail, and snow. Finally, we learned about using products such as concrete mortar or non-hardening UV-safe silicon to repair the often-inevitable cracks that appear in concrete over years of wear and tear.
Today, we will discuss a common problem with concrete: unsightly stains from oil and tricky adhesives. Using the tips outlined below, you can keep your concrete looking its best even when accidents happen.
Removing Oil Stains From Concrete
One of the most common problems with concrete is oil stains. Oil stains happen frequently because people often do vehicle maintenance in their driveway.
Water alone can be used to remove dirt from concrete, but if you need to remove oil stains, you will likely need the assistance of chemicals to break the bond between oil and the concrete surface.
Removing Small Oil Stains
If you have a small oil stain, you may be able to remove it or greatly minimize its appearance by using a poultice. A poultice is an absorbent material such as kitty litter or sawdust that can be used to remove oil from concrete. First, apply a solvent such as acetone or lacquer thinner. Then cover the stained area with a liberal amount of poultice so that the area is covered. Let it sit for at least 12 hours. Finally, remove the poultice and rinse the area clean with a pressure washer or a water rinse.
It may also be possible to remove smaller stains with simply a strong general detergent, a scrub brush, and a water rinse with a hose. Try this first for small stains. If it doesn’t remove the stain, move on to chemicals created for this purpose.
Removing Larger Oil Stains
Large oil stains often occur in garages, mechanic shops, parking lots, and drive throughs. One of the best ways to remove these large oil stains is by using hot water and either an alkaline degreaser or a different chemical product specifically designed for cleaning stubborn stains from concrete. The hot water serves to separate the oil from the concrete as much as possible. Then, the alkaline degreaser removes the oil.
First, rinse the stain with a pressure washer using hot water if possible. Then, apply an alkaline degreaser to the affected area. Let it sit for 15 minutes, then rinse with hot or warm water.
At Worldwide Janitor, we have several products to aid you in removing stains from concrete:
Preventing Oil Stains
The best way of preventing oil stains is to avoid repairing or changing the oil in vehicles over the concrete in your drive or garage. If that is not an option, you can use a drip pan under your vehicle to catch oil and prevent it from penetrating your concrete.
However, if you manage a parking lot facility, for example, you may not have control over the leakage that often occurs in parked cars. A sealer made specifically to protect from oil is the best solution for pavement like this if it’s feasible for your facility.
Removing Glue, Gum, and Other Adhesives From Concrete
Another common blemish on concrete is adhesive. Whether gum, glue, or some other sticky material, it can be difficult to remove from concrete and leave unsightly marks.
You can use a chemical adhesive remover to reduce the appearance of adhesive on concrete. These adhesive removers are made of different chemicals. Some are made with citric acid, and some have a soy base. But the strongest adhesive removers are solvent-based.
Before you begin, use a putty knife to remove as much of the adhesive from the surface as possible. Then, begin by applying the adhesive remover to a brush with stiff bristles, but be cautious when using a steel brush.
Test the chemical and brush on a small area first to make sure that it won’t damage your concrete surface. Then apply the chemical to the surface and let it sit (read instructions for your particular product to see how long it is recommended). This process may help to loosen adhesive, so use your putty knife to remove any loose adhesive.
Then, scrape the area with a brush. If needed, apply more cleaner and repeat the process. When you’re done, use a rag or sponge to remove excess chemical cleaner, then rinse the area with water. Be sure to allow the surface to dry completely before staining, applying sealer, or doing any other maintenance on the concrete.
Other tips for removing adhesive:
- It might be easier to work in very small sections at a time rather than attacking the whole surface, especially for larger surfaces.
- Read the directions of your particular product before using.
- Work in a well-ventilated area as many solvents create hazardous fumes.
- Keep in mind than many solvent-based chemicals are very flammable. Only use these products if you are trained to do so.
Utilize these tips, and the concrete at your facility will look significantly better.
What tips do you have for maintaining concrete?