Oh drat! I spilled vinegar on my polished concrete floor!
February 6, 2013 9:05 AM   Subscribe

I broke a very large bottle of apple cider vinegar on my floor -- my polished concrete floor. I managed to clean up the spill quite quickly, but it ate away at the surface. You can see the horrid results here. (You may also see some of my tears on the floor.)

I looked online and I found this which has to do with counters but seems right...so I think I understand what happened.

My question -- I guess it would take all day or many days -- but do you think I can actually attempt to sand it out with a fine-grit diamond hand pad? Or do I need to get an electric polisher? They are crazy expensive!

Should I rent one? Would some other tool work or would it just not be powerful enough?

After I am done -- assuming I can do anything -- do I put some type of wax or polish on it. The floor does not seem waxed or sealed -- just buffed up.

I guess I could buy a huge rug...but I want to sell this place in a year or two, so I'd like to fix it.
posted by Lescha to Home & Garden (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I was going to post the link you already have to the concretenetwork. I think that's the way to go. Rent the polisher. And then the floor should be sealed to prevent this sort of thing. NOT with wax. Use a concrete sealer.
posted by beagle at 9:18 AM on February 6, 2013

That sander is serious overkill. You should either rent or consider a smaller random orbital sander intended for the consumer market--you can probably buy something new for 5-10% of what that tool costs.
posted by pullayup at 9:22 AM on February 6, 2013

Well the floor needs to be sealed no matter what. Diy vs call a guy is your prerogative I guess.
posted by oceanjesse at 9:32 AM on February 6, 2013

It may just need to be refinished and not need a resanding. Could you just reapply some finish and see how it looks before getting that sander out?
posted by waving at 9:43 AM on February 6, 2013

If you can't get it out, I would cover the whole floor with apple cider vinegar to make it less noticeable. And then seal it.
posted by raisingsand at 9:50 AM on February 6, 2013 [2 favorites]

All these answers are so very helpful. Thank you!
posted by Lescha at 10:22 AM on February 6, 2013

We have polished concrete floors--which are not sealed. This spill is certainly my nightmare. But if it happens I know one thing for sure--the only way we can deal with it without giving up on the polished-concrete look is to get a professional concrete polisher in to redo that area. I've tried using small hand sanders with ever-diminishing grades of diamond sander (ones specifically designed for the job) and you just cannot replicate the look of the professional finished floor.

Polished concrete floors of this kind are not, typically, sealed. You can always choose to go for the sealed look, of course, but do realize that you may still need to get it finished before applying sealant if you want it to match; also, the concrete may have been treated during the polishing process with things that will not permit you to use certain kinds of sealant successfully and, finally; sealant over concrete poses some other risks for the future in terms of potential discoloration, cracking, lifting etc (although all of these are more easily remedied than acid stains on polished concrete).
posted by yoink at 10:38 AM on February 6, 2013

However you sand the floor, replace the bag on your vacuum cleaner and have it sucking while you sand-- vacuum every sanded surface and position it if possible to just pull in any dust you're raising into the air.
posted by Sunburnt at 10:53 AM on February 6, 2013

When did this happen? It's possible that the pale area will return to normal over time. The acid in the vinegar may neutralize. I like the idea of using vinegar in the whole floor if it doesn't.
posted by theora55 at 11:09 AM on February 6, 2013

To answer: It happened yesterday and yeah, this spill is now my new live-action nightmare, too!
I don't think it will return to normal -- it feels rough to the touch. I fear -- after reading all of this and researching -- that I am just not handy enough to sand it myself -- it won't look very good. So now I am looking for either a concrete repair company in Toronto or throwing in the towel on shiny floors and vinegaring (sp) the whole darn floor -- even though it won't look as nice. To think I dreamed of polished concrete floors, finally got them and now...lesson learned. Don't buy vinegar in glass bottles!
posted by Lescha at 11:50 AM on February 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

Get a professional to do it. Those sanders are very powerful, and can easily scuff or otherwise ruin a floor if used by novices.
posted by snickerdoodle at 12:09 PM on February 6, 2013

You might find better luck searching for terrazzo in looking for solutions. That's what that floor looks like to me.

I would also gently mention that concrete that can be that easily etched by mere vinegar might not have been installed properly.
posted by gjc at 6:07 PM on February 6, 2013

I would also gently mention that concrete that can be that easily etched by mere vinegar might not have been installed properly.

All polished concrete is vulnerable to being etched by acid. This is the entirely predictable result of that particular accident.
posted by yoink at 9:40 PM on February 6, 2013

Also, I don't think that's a terrazzo floor--it's just the aggregate in the concrete being exposed.
posted by yoink at 9:42 PM on February 6, 2013

Yoink's right -- it's not a terrazzo floor --it is indeed just the aggregate in the concrete being exposed. It's a fairly new building and I have confirmed the concrete was polished and not sealed. That said, I wish it were terrazzo ...then I might be in a better place right now.
posted by Lescha at 7:59 AM on February 7, 2013

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