The Lazy Man’s Guide To Polished Concrete Floor

Ugh, your masonry trowel is caked with dried up mortar. What do you do?

The first two options are not satisfactory. If you austin concrete contractor toss your mucky tool, you have to go buy a new one. If you continue working with an unclean implement, your workmanship suffers.

It makes sense to protect your tools and keep them in good working order ready for the next day’s work.

Historical Context

Taking care of tools and cleaning up residual mortar and concrete has been a necessity for ages.

“Old Stone Age” humans surely cleaned their implements especially of blood after a day’s kill. (Sorry to mention gore but these were hunting times.) Large pebbles found along a river’s edge were nicked to create early tools and in these waters is likely where they were washed. We can assume even 40,000 years ago people chose to maintain rather than throw away tools they’d made.

Furthermore, mortar–a pliable substance used to join parts together– has been a building improvement since 6500 BCE. This mud and clay tactic was replaced around 500 BCE when Greeks discovered that pozzolana (volcanic ash around Pozzuoli, Italy) created a better bond when mixed with lime and water.

Before the 1st century CE the Romans strengthened the formula by varying aggregate (fine to coarse) with lime and water. Their results were Roman mortar (with sand) and Roman concrete (with broken stone) that streamlined the building process.

Construction of the Colosseum is a prime example, even though it took 10 years (70-80 CE) to finish. It was restored in the 1800s and more recently in 2016. Repairing such a massive structure meant a lot of masonry tools and equipment were lined up for clean up detail.

Portland cement (PC or cement), named for the English Isle of Portland, gained popularity in the 1800s. This powdered limestone additive bonded quicker and harder and soon became the norm. Proportions of PC and varied aggregate make up the concrete, grout, mortar, plaster, and stucco we use today.

Cleaning Tools

It is important to clean concrete and mortar off of extraneous areas and tools after working with these materials. Extraneous areas can mean smears or splatters of concrete where they should not be. While the best way to cleanse excess from tools is to wipe it off while it is still wet, this is not always possible. However, there are ways to get rid of thick concrete and mortar.

Safety First

Take precautions if you are using any of these methods. Remember your Personal Protective Equipment or PPE. Make sure to put on safety goggles, and if you are handling acids or dissolving agents, wear gloves. Nitrile ones are strong and flexible.

Mechanical Methods

First, the physical route. Knocking off clumps of congealed cement works very well for tools. But what about large equipment and vehicles?

While care can be taken to avoid damaging surfaces with a wire brush, it is best to avoid this method if excess concrete is being scrubbed from a scratch-prone material. Glass or paint, for instance.

Pressure washing might be unnecessary overkill.

I’d read on a forum once how a mason rubbed off his dirty trowels in sand throughout the day. One replier agreed until seeing that feral cats were treating his pile as one big litter box. In other words, stay sanitary.


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