How to Remove Tar From Concrete

April 29, 2024
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Tar is a viscous byproduct of oil refining and road construction. It is frequently tracked onto concrete surfaces from vehicles that have come into contact with tar-containing materials like freshly laid asphalt. Over time, exposure to elements like sun and rain breaks tar down on concrete surfaces and turns it to stubborn black stains. 

Tar residues on concrete pose several issues for commercial facilities like manufacturing plants, warehouses, parking structures, and any other property with concrete pavement or parking lots. Not only do the stains reduce aesthetic appeal, but they can also trap dirt and chemical contaminants. This accelerated wearing of the concrete substrate if left unaddressed can be very problematic.

Of all substances that end up on concrete, tar is arguably one of the most persistent and difficult to remove without causing damage. Its sticky consistency allows it to bond tenaciously to the porous concrete surface. As a result, commercial property managers need effective cleaning solutions that can dissolve and treat even the most baked on tar marks.

In this article, we provide a step-by-step guide for successfully removing stubborn tar stains from concrete surfaces using specialized solvents and tools. Following our best practices ensures tar removal is done safely and efficiently for commercial sites in need of deep surface cleaning.

If you’d like a quicker or more specific answer to your question about tar and concrete, call the experts at TMC Engineering! If you’re in Southern California, we can help educate you on your problem and perform whatever repair is necessary. We’ve got an expert solution and expert contractors that can handle any concrete or asphalt concern! 

How to Remove Tar From Concrete

How to Remove Tar From Concrete

What You Will Need

  • Tar remover solvent such as citrus-based degreaser 
  • Buffing pad or scrub brush 
  • Protective equipment (gloves, eyewear, coveralls)
  • Absorbent materials (rags, sawdust) for containment
  • Scraper or putty knife for removing asphalt patches
  • Power washing equipment (optional) 

How to Remove Tar From Concrete


Step 1: Identify the extent of the contamination.

Inspect the affected concrete area to define tar staining boundaries. Note location, depth, and size of each stain. This establishes the scope of cleaning needed. 

Step 2: Protect the surrounding areas.  

Tape off or barricade any landscaping or untargeted surfaces near the work area to prevent accidental splashing or overspray of cleaning agents.

Step 3: Select a removal method.

Heavily crusted stains may require a degreasing pre-wash with a pressure washer. For lighter stains, scrubbing the tar remover direction onto the affected area with a natural bristle brush should be sufficient. concrete parking lot repair.

Step 4: Apply the tar remover.

Liberally apply tar remover solvent to stains using a natural bristle brush or pump sprayer according to product instructions. Allow 5 -10 minutes to penetrate before agitating. Reapply as needed. 

Step 5: Agitate and scrub.

Vigorously scrub contamination areas with an abrasive bristle scrub brush or buffing pad. Work the remover deep into pores to dissolve and detach tar stains. Scrape away lifting residues with a putty knife.

Step 6: Rinse thoroughly.

Use a pressure washer or water hose set to a strong jet stream to rinse away lifted tar and cleaning residues. Inspect for any remaining marks and repeat the process as needed. 

Step 7: Allow to dry.

Tar residue-free concrete must fully dry before being subjected to traffic. If there’s any damage to the concrete after cleaning, ensure you repair the concrete with a patch using caulk or seal.

tips for successful tar removal

Tips for Successful Tar Removal 

Some additional tips for successful tar removal from concrete parking lots and driveways include:

  • Apply remover in sections for containment and thorough application
  • Use proper protective equipment like gloves/eyewear when working   
  • Reapply solvent as needed and rinse frequently
  • Agitate well with a stiff brush for encrusted marks
  • Seal cleaned concrete to prevent future staining 

With proper planning, materials, and application, tar transfer residues can be safely and effectively cleaned from concrete surfaces facilities without harming the underlying surface material. Seek professional concrete contractors like us at TMC Engineering for large commercial sites or very difficult stains. Regular preventative maintenance also helps control buildup and makes future cleaning more manageable. Ensure your maintenance plan includes regular surface sealing, crack filling, deep cleaning, drainage management, and resurfacing. You can learn more about all these processes on the TMC blog.

Our team has extensive experience with removal of stubborn contaminants like tar, grease, and oil from all types of paving systems. Whether the project requires deep cleaning a loading dock, refinery yard, parking lot, or other industrial surface, our trained crews and specialized equipment get the job done efficiently while protecting your concrete pavement. Contact us today for a free estimate on deep cleaning or seal coating services for your commercial property. Keeping paved areas clean boosts aesthetics, safety and longevity.

It is possible to remove those stubborn tar stains!

With the right cleaning agents, protective measures and careful technique, tar stains are very treatable without damaging concrete. Commercially proven solvents and scrubbing completely dissolve even heavy accumulations. Just be sure to rinse afterward and allow surfaces to fully dry. Preventing future contamination through routine sweeping also helps control ongoing maintenance demands.

Here at TMC Engineering, we have a deep commitment to delivering projects characterized by the highest standards for safety, workmanship, and client satisfaction. We aim to provide you with valuable content and insights related to the services our team of experts provides! Whether you require asphalt paving, striping, sealing, or concrete work, we offer a full suite of transportation construction solutions. Look no further–we’ve got all you need and more!