Freshly laid and poured concrete takes time to set and cure. During this process, the concrete can be susceptible to leaf stains and other residues that may get stuck on its surface. Additionally, it’s most likely to easily have crack marks or leaf marks, all of which may be affected by the cold, rain, or the rise and fall in temperatures.
While we cannot control the weather, we can do some preventive measures to keep leaves from staining the concrete, and this is one of the best ways to prevent leaf stains. Prevention of leaf stains is possible with concrete sealers, plastic sheets, and blankets available on the market.
The worst part about leaves falling on wet concrete is they cause stains. Leaves release a dye called tannins – a kind of pigment – when they decompose. Tannins react with components in the concrete, resulting in an ugly brown stain that’s often hard to remove.
Freshly poured concrete needs about four to seven days to harden or cure properly. At this stage, moisture and ambient temperature play an important role in curing.
However, external factors which we don’t have control over, such as weather changes and leaves falling from trees may occur. Some leaves may fall on freshly laid concrete and leave stains. Because the weather can be unpredictable, it’s best to take precautionary measures beforehand to prevent leaf stains.
Different Steps to Prevent Leaf Stains on Your Concrete
Leaf stains from the tannins released by decaying leaves can be prevented with the help of some very simple methods.
While it’s true that leaf stains get clear on their own, but if you are looking for additional protection and to prevent leaves from falling on your concrete driveway, paver, walkway, etc., here are some options you could explore.
Penetrating Concrete Sealers
Penetrating concrete sealers are natural finishing products that contain Fluro polymers. These sealers resist stains from oils, greases, moisture, and other contaminants.
Concrete sealers penetrate into the surface of the concrete and form a protective layer that blocks out water and chemicals from coming in contact with the concrete, thus preventing leaf stains.
Additionally, it also makes sure the spill remains pooled on the concrete surface to make it easy to clean. However, bear in mind that concrete sealers are limited in protecting stains because spills require regular cleaning, and in time, the surface may still be prone to staining.
Durable Concrete Coatings
Concrete coatings are more durable than sealers and provide better protection from leaf stains. They form a waterproof layer on the surface that prevents moisture and chemicals from penetrating into the concrete, thus protecting it from any kind of staining.
Additionally, it also makes cleaning up spills much easier since all you need to do is just wipe them away with a damp cloth.
Avoid Pouring Concrete During Fall, If Possible
Generally speaking, it’s not recommended to pour concrete in the fall, especially if you live in an area where leaves are abundant. Because during this season, decomposing leaves release pigment-rich tannins that can penetrate into the surface of new concrete and cause stains.
For best results, try to pour concrete during the summer months when leaves are less abundant. This will help you avoid leaf stains and other staining issues.
Invest In Concrete Sealers
Investing in a quality concrete sealer will help you to prevent concrete surfaces from any leaf stains. However, if they do get stained, the cleanup becomes a lot easier along with the surfaces not being protected beforehand.
Go For Insulated Concrete Blanket / Plastic Sheeting
Buying insulated concrete blankets from most DIY stores is an effective and affordable option. Choose polyethylene plastic of 4 mm thickness to create a protective layer over the surface of the concrete.
Besides leaf stains, temperature also affects a lot during the curing process. You should choose dark plastic sheets if the temperature is 60 degrees Fahrenheit or below. It will absorb heat and keep your surface of concrete warm while curing. In addition, it will work for all stains and spills as well.
If you see temperatures above 85 degrees Fahrenheit, go for using the metallic sheet or white sheet that reflects light from the sun to keep the concrete surface cool. Go for a transparent plastic sheet for temperatures in between.
The plastic sheet is highly effective in helping concrete cure and protects from various situations without cracks; but, it also has a downside. Concrete will be discolored if plastic touches it anywhere.
If you plan to use an opaque stain on the concrete after curing, you can also go for the plastic sheet. As much as possible, try to tent the plastic so that it does not come in direct contact with the concrete surface. Go for building the framework around a concrete slab with PVC pipes, lumber, or rebars to hold the plastic sheet.
You can also place dry straw directly on the concrete to prevent discoloration from the plastic sheet method. Next, put the plastic on top of it.
Another good trick is to wet the concrete and place the plastic sheets over it. Then use boulders, bricks, or stakes to hold the plastic in place and keep small animals out. Remove the plastic sheet after curing, wet the concrete again, and then replace the cover. Please do it for a week to get the best results.
Use Concrete Curing Compounds To Prevent Leaf Stains
Curing compounds are applied to the concrete right after it’s been poured and then left on until it is cured. They form a protective layer that limits moisture movement in the hydration process, which prevents water from reaching the surface of the concrete while curing.
Curing compounds also reduce the possibility of any leaf stains and other marks since they create a barrier that prevents moisture and chemicals from penetrating into the concrete.
In short, if you are looking to protect your concrete surfaces from leaf stains, then investing in quality sealers and curing compounds is absolutely essential. They will not only help you to
Sweep All The Waste Along With Leaves
If there is a stress of leaf stain on the cured or fresh concrete, sweep the leaves immediately if you see any waste on the surface. Sweeping and picking all those decayed leaves will help you prevent the stains effortlessly.
What to Do if Concrete Already Has Stains?
Despite using all the means of prevention, if you come across concrete surfaces with leaf stains, here’s how to get rid of them:
- Wash leaf debris with a power washer. Apply some dishwasher detergent if the concrete is still damp. Let it sit for a few minutes.
- Mix one cup of bleach with two gallons of water in a bucket to remove stubborn leaf stains. Apply the mixture to the concrete and let it sit without drying for a few minutes.
- Clean old and stubborn stains with a stain remover for treating organic stains. You can apply cleaner to the damp stain and let it sit for at least 24 to 48 hours.
- Go for bleaching if none of the above-mentioned ideas works well.
Leaf stains can be a real nightmare if you don’t take preventive measures. Therefore, make sure to keep the concrete surfaces clean and tidy, use curing compounds or sealers for additional protection, and sweep all the debris along with leaves from time to time.
In case of any existing leaf stains, rinse with a power washer and apply the mixture of bleach and water. If nothing works, bleaching is the last option.