Efflorescence is a common problem with older concrete surfaces. It is the process in which salt rises to the surface of the concrete, brick, or other surface and crystallizes there, causing decay and crumbling. Concrete and masonry materials are porous and contain water soluble salts. Therefore, water travels into and up through the concrete, taking the salt with it. Once there, the water evaporates and leaves a whitish powder behind which, after repeated rain showers and drying, eventually forms crystals. These crystals become bonded to the surface and create staining. You will no doubt have seen efflorescence in action on old brick walls that now have a white powdery look to them.
If the efflorescence is of a powder consistency, you may be able to get away with an "Efflorescence Treatment." It is not a cleaner that must be rinsed off and does not erase the salts. In fact, the treatment carries the salt below the surface of the concrete or brick and subsequently enhances the original color.
Crystalline efflorescence, however, is not that easy to eliminate because the crystals have bonded to the surface. If you use a treatment on the surface it may appear that it is working for a few hours but a short time later the salty, white deposits will reappear. You then know you have crystalline efflorescence. In this case you will need to first use a Grout Residue Remover to remove the crystalline deposits. You should hear a fizzing sound that signifies the chemical reaction. Then you can use the efflorescence treatment for any remaining powder.
After successfully removing the efflorescent residue from the surface, apply a quality, penetrating sealer to prevent further efflorescence and renew you concrete surface. Stains are made to penetrate and react with the chemicals in the concrete to form a tight, sealed, and vibrant surface.
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