For starters, Smith Paint Products’ new concrete cleaner, CT-8 Cleaner and Toughener, does what all cleaners should. Like a trisodium phosphate or citrus detergent, it wets the concrete and suspends loose particles of dirt and grease so they can be washed or swept away.
But CT-8 doesn’t just remove dirt. It chemically changes concrete to strengthen the adhesion of decorative stains and sealers. The toughener reacts with the loose calcium hydroxide in cured cement to create calcium silicate hydrate. This bonding of loose particles creates a foundation that enables decorative stains, overlays and sealers to adhere more strongly.
CT-8 is mixed one cup of powder to one gallon of water, preferably warm water that will help break down the calcium hydroxide granules more rapidly. The user pours it onto the slab and agitates with either a stiff bristle broom or a floor scrubber. If a pump-up sprayer is used, use a plastic sprayer. Let it stand for 15 minutes and rinse it off.
“The best technique is to vacuum up the water along with the suspended particles,” says Smith Paints Products chemist Mike Eshleman. “Rinse with clean water and vacuum again.
“After the surface has dried, conduct a tape test using clear packing tape. Rub the tape onto the surface and wait for approximately 5 to 15 minutes, then pull it off quickly. When you hold it up to the light and look through it, what do you see? Is it clear with tiny particles and sticky to the touch? This is acceptable, but if you see fine particles that cause cloudiness and they interfere with the adhesive on the back of the tape, this reduces the bonding strength of your next step.”
Smith ships CT-8 in powder form to reduce weight and the chance of leakage. This way, the customer is buying 100 percent active ingredient.
For a second opinion on CT-8, ask Hugh Monteith III. The owner of AmeriDream in Ventura, Calif., has made it his cleaner of choice for the last six months.
“CT-8 stays wetter longer, works better on removing stains, and rinses easily and more thoroughly,” he says. “The concrete is cleaner than I have ever seen; in fact, it even looks etched.”
In the past, when Monteith would hand-brush solvent sealers in a corner or along the edge of a wall, he would sometimes pick up a little color, he says. Using CT-8 has eliminated this aggravation. “This tells me that even the most difficult areas to clean are still bonding well with the water-borne stains.”
Because the majority of Monteith’s jobs are exteriors and he is able to power-wash with ample amounts of water, he has developed his own set of application techniques. He sprinkles the CT-8 directly on wet concrete and wets it again. Then he uses 80-grit concrete brushes with a floor machine for agitation, allows the cleaner to set for 15 minutes or more, then power-washes. How much he can clean at once depends on temperature and other job conditions. “I do as much as I can while keeping wet the previously scrubbed areas,” he says. “The CT-8 will continue to work at cleaning the substrate as long as it is kept wet. I’m careful not to let it dry before it is fully rinsed off.”