Concrete is a porous material that absorbs liquids. Citrus juices, vinegar, oils, red wine and berry juice can stain or damage the surface.
Most problems are caused by concrete coming in contact with a damaging substance. It is important to keep a barrier between the two.
Sealers have been used to protect the concrete from culprits like acids and oils.
- The first sealer penetrates the concrete pores and seals them.
- The second sealer is a wax coating which is applied creating a physical barrier between the concrete and the contaminants.
The penetrating sealer protects the concrete while the wax coating protects the sealer.
There are two basic types of care for concrete tops - general cleaning and periodic application of protective sealer.
Coating sealers should be applied by the homeowner on a regular basis. Monthly or just every few months depending on the level of protection wanted. They come in a variety of types and finishes - liquid, paste wax or spray on, semi-gloss, natural and wet-look.
Sealers make the concrete stain-resistant, but not stain proof. Clean spills as soon as possible as a sealer will only buy you more time. They provide protection, but don't make the table top indestructible. Use a neutral pH cleaner such as mild soap in warm water with a dishrag or sponge.
Cleaners containing abrasives should not be used as they can damage the sealers.
Concrete tops commonly develop hairline cracks. They don't signal structural damage nor create a void, but they are more susceptible to absorbing liquid and should be sealed more often.
Knives can cut through the sealer creating weak spots. Concrete tops should not be used as cutting boards, and avoid setting hot pans and dishes directly onto the concrete without a barrier of heatproof protection.
Buying these products means accepting the premise that the concrete can and will develop "character" and "patina" over time, with the appropriate care ensures it will stay beautiful for years.