photo by Black Diamond Window Works, LTD
If one of your add-on services as a window cleaner is stain removal, and you’ve met stains that have put you to the test, you’ve come to the right place. But stain removal chemicals are not “one size fits all” in every scenario. There are soaps, surfactants, abrasives, oxidizers, bases (alkaline/caustic), acids, and more. This list can become quite confusing, so in this week’s Window Cleaner University article, we’ll discuss the best stain removers for concrete that work for stone, masonry, brick, and more to clear some of the “haze” surrounding stain-removing chemicals.
What are the Most Common Stains on Concrete?
There are many culprits that stain concrete over time. You can thank these offenders for giving you work to do, but sometimes, they can be real time-suckers if you don’t know what kind of stain it is or what type of chemical will remedy the surface. Learning what chemical is best for getting rid of them and figuring out the most efficient way to do so will help you tackle more jobs in a day to bring in higher profits.
First, let’s talk about rust. Rust is easy enough to identify as a reddish-orange spot, ranging from light to dark. Sometimes, rust could come from a metal object erected in the concrete, such as a sign pole, a railing, a metal trash can, or even a lamppost. However, more times than not, rust comes from the concrete itself. How can this be? Well, concrete suppliers are allowed to add iron and coal granules to their batches because they can absorb more water than other types of stone. However, this water absorption can cause the iron and coal to enlarge, causing concrete “popouts,” which means after numerous rainfalls, the concrete has been brought up above the rock, leaving unsightly rust stains.
Another kind of rust stain, surprisingly, comes from certain types of fertilizers and plant foods. Although flowers and plants may beautify the homes and businesses of your customers, the fertilizers or plant foods used to help them grow often contain metals and minerals, such as magnesium, iron, copper, and zinc, that cause spotted-pattern rust stains on the concrete.
These stains can be more challenging to remove, but using a concentrate such as F9 BARC Concrete Rust Remover can remove them and the rust, as mentioned earlier, from metal objects up to 80-100%. F9 BARC has been specially formulated to remove rust stains and even stains from battery acid if you come across those. It works well on concrete, brick, stone, stucco, pool decks, asphalt, rubber, epoxies, painted surfaces, shingles, and more. Simply spray an even coating of a diluted mixture of it onto the surface you’re treating. Depending on the level of porosity of the surface you are applying it to, F9 needs to be diluted down at least one part water, two parts F9 for concrete, and may be diluted with up to three parts water for roof shingles, vinyl, and sealed surfaces. Often, one application with a dwell time of approximately 5 minutes will do the trick, but sometimes, you’ll need to apply two light applications. Again, the defining factors will be whether the surface is porous, semi-porous, or non-porous. Since concrete is a porous material, more applications will help remove the stains, as they will be deeper-set than a material like vinyl. This formula is biodegradable, non-abrasive, non-flammable, and safer to use than hydrochloric acid.
The most common type of stain and often the most difficult to remove found on concrete, driveways, and garage floors is an oil stain. Most likely, oil stains come from vehicle leaks or spills. Oil is a challenge to remove because it penetrates deep into the pores of the concrete, leaving a multi-layered stain. A high-pH alkaline chemical, such as EaCo Chem Hot Stain Remover, must dissolve the oil all the way to the bottom layer.
Hot Stain Remover from EaCo Chem is specifically designed to remove oil from all kinds of masonry. It easily removes petroleum-based oils, food-based oils, and even heavy carbon deposits from metal, wood, stone, bricks, and more. It works well on grout and tile floors, too, all without altering the surfaces. When servicing customers with drive-thrus, dumpster pads, or any type of stained concrete, their stains can be taken care of with this effective, highly-acidic chemical.
When stains are stubborn, you can use Hot Stain undiluted. But for less saturated messes, it is advisable to dilute with ten parts water to one part chemical. Before applying, pre-wet the surface. Scrubbing with a nylon brush is also recommended. One thing about Hot Stain is that you cannot let it dry on a surface. After you’ve let it dwell for a few minutes to fully treat the stain, rinse it away with low pressure and cold water.
Efflorescence and Calcium Buildup
Although efflorescence and calcium look very similar, they are chemically composed of different components. Efflorescence is composed of crystalline deposits of salts and minerals that form on top layers of brick, concrete, stone, or stucco when water evaporates from them. Similarly to calcium, it is white or light gray and appears powdery. Calcium, also referred to as lime buildup, on the other hand, accumulates right below a material’s surface layer, and also forms when water evaporates, pushing the minerals deeper through the surface. Both of these mineral-based stains can be removed with F9 Efflorescence Calcium Remover.
This 31.45% full-strength muriatic acid replacement quickly removes efflorescence, calcium, calcium carbonate, and hard water stains on all of the above mentioned stone, plus shingles, glass, synthetic stone, anodized aluminum, unpolished marble, and more. At stronger ratios, it can even be used to etch concrete in order to roughen the surface if your customer wants to paint it. One gallon of F9 Efflorescence Calcium Remover covers 200-400’ of porous masonry and up to 1,200’ of non-porous masonry. Application rates will vary depending on the amount of staining, the porosity of the substrate, and if the surface is sealed, but this is an effective, user-friendly chemical you’ll want to keep in your vehicle.
Another efficient chemical for these mineral-based deposits is EaCo Chem NMD 80. EaCo Chem NMD 80 is a buffered, acid-based new masonry cleaner designed for rejuvenating masonry structures without the need for scrubbing. It is safe on almost all surfaces, including glass and anodized aluminum. Easily spray on and spray off, with no respirator needed when using outdoors. This detergent-based solution removes efflorescence and mortar smears from masonry substrates, including brick, stone, colored blocks, and more.
For removing the buildup of hard water, alkaline materials, and reducing the effects of concrete pitting, Winsol Crystal Clear 550 is an excellent chemical to use. Concrete pitting is when the surface of the concrete begins to deteriorate and develop clusters of little holes, usually caused by a problem with how the concrete was produced. Winsol Crystal Clear 550 can prevent this from occurring further by eliminating alkaline residues, exhaust particles, chemical and mineral deposits, water spots, and runoff from brick, concrete, and mortar that further deteriorate the concrete’s surface.
So Many Stains, So Little Time?
When rust, oil, efflorescence, and other tough stains bog down the efficiency of your work, Window Cleaning Resource offers a wide variety of stain removers for the job. If you’re unsure about which one is best for you, never hesitate to give our product specialists a shout.
Still Have Questions?
Don’t sweat it! If there is anything you’re unsure about, want to learn more about, or need advice for, do not hesitate to reach out to us. Window Cleaning Resource is here for you 24/7, with the help of our super-friendly window cleaning experts.
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