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A reader writes: “I am struggling with a grocery store that has polished concrete that keeps getting damaged by acids such as vinegar and alkaline products such as bleach. The store owner says it is my responsibility to restore the floors to like new. Any suggestions would be appreciated.”

Although the trend is to go towards polished or sealed concrete floors in high traffic areas such as grocery stores, there can be some confusion as to expected appearance. Ever since A&P first introduced a clean (gleaming white) appearance for their stores, the focus has been on assuring the shopper that they could trust the quality of foods being marketed when compared to the old fashioned stores with dirt or sawdust. In my observation, a polished floor is expected to have a much higher gloss than a stained floor with a matte finish. Although there are some similarities there are also differences in how the floors can be maintained.

Both floors will show scratches from sand and grit tracked into the site so the use of clean, maintained walk-off mats is an essential first step. Dust mopping, damp mopping, vacuuming, etc. are all part of the goal of reducing the grit, which can do so much damage in a brief period of time. Some people recommend just using plain water but that does not deal with oils that can be tracked in so I suggest using the right blend of neutral detergent and water.

Be very careful about allowing any acids or harsh detergents (strippers) or bleach to stay on the floor for any length of time. Clean up using an absorbent material that will capture the liquid, then follow up with damp mop and neutral detergent. In most cases, do not use floor finish, “wax” or other water based seals on the floor since it will defeat the “low maintenance” properties. If you want a shine, give serious consideration to a diamond pad system tied in with regular scrubbing with a neutral detergent and the recommended pad for the floor in question.

Finally, to quote an authority: “Don’t confuse ‘low maintenance’ with ‘no maintenance’ since preventive care can be your best investment.

Your comments and questions are important. I hope to hear from you soon. Until then, keep it clean...

Mickey Crowe has been involved in the industry for over 35 years. He is a trainer, speaker and consultant. You can reach Mickey at 678-314-2171 or CTCG50@comcast.net