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Floor Care Training will help you excel

Q.  Do plastic chair leg tips prevent scratches in the floor finish? 

A. Plastic chair glides under heavy weight can leave semi-permanent scratches in the floor finish. As you can imagine, felt tabs have a short life. Two different manufacturers sell a 1.5 inch rubber slip-on floor protector with a felt bottom. Two other options are to see if your supplier has a harder floor finish or increase your burnishing schedule. 

Q.  Can you explain how the “Dot” method works to track floor finish wear? 

A.  We recommend putting down your base coat(s) and marking the top base coat with a red marking pencil. Then put down another coat and mark it with a yellow marking pencil. Put down another coat and mark it with a green marking pencil. Put down as many additional coats as necessary.

Train your employees to look for the 3 dots as they scrub the floor. If they see the green dot they scrub and go. If they don’t see the green dot but see a yellow dot they caution you that finish needs to be applied. If they just see the red dot they stop and alert you that finish needs to be applied immediately. By marking the traffic area in several areas you can tell if you only need to apply finish to key areas or over the entire area.

JenMar Systems developed and previously distributed the Stoplight kit, a marking scale to better manage floor care needs. Stripouts can be reduced by monitoring traffic-wear into the base coat. Here are their original instructions:

JenMar no longer markets the pencils. The colors 02086 171T peel off china marker green, 02083 170T peel off china marker yellow and 02059 Red Rouge peel off china marker are available from Gray Enterprise

Another option is to use a lead pencil which is readily available, but harder to view.
 You can number each coat of finish as it is applied. If you are relying upon workers to track the remaining coats, then the green, yellow and red dot stoplight system is a better choice. If a floor care manager tracks the coats and does not have the colored wax pencils then a minute lead pencil numbering system can work.  Just make a note of which tiles contain the ID. Some managers track the wear visually (without marks) in order to prevent loss of finish that requires a deep strip. Of course your goal is to top coat as needed and as many times as possible. 

Q.  How do I clean a vinyl floor which has built in dips and they are heavily soiled? 

A.  Without personally observing the floor condition, my best advice would be to use a stiff bristle brush on a rotary floor machine and heavy-duty degreaser. Apply the degreaser solution and allow 10 minutes contact time.  Run the floor machine over the area, working it slowly and covering a small area at a time. Before the soiled solution dries, wet vacuum and apply two clear rinses. If available, consult the floor covering manufacturer’s cleaning or stripping instructions. 

Q.  What is the best way to blend start and stop points when stripping a floor in sections? 

A.  If over-lapping the stripping and under-lapping the finishing does not work, your next best solution is to tape cardboard to the floor along your cutoff line. Apply 3 inch wide masking tape to cardboard that is 2 feet wide. Make sure the tape cuts an exact line along the side of the tile. Go easy on the scrub operation so as not to flood the cardboard or abrade the tape.

On the last rinse, pull up the tape and cardboard. Work the edge (line of demarcation) with a 5x9 green pad installed over the mop head to get an exact blend. Razor scrape if necessary. Use a flat mop or backpack applicator to cut in the line when applying the finish. To deliver a flawless match, normally propane or high-speed burnishing is required to blend the start and stop lines.

Q.  We can’t get up Betadine stains in surgery. Any ideas? 

A.  Some Betadine stains can be removed with a commercial coffee stain remover.
Purdue, the manufacturer of Betadine, recommends a product called B.I.P Code 8 manufactured by Ruhof. The Ruhof website shows the product is guaranteed to do the job.

Q.  What is the proper way to clean a Formica floor? Can an auto scrubber and or buffer be used? 

A.  If the floor is the Formica brand laminate, they recommend only sweeping, mopping, or damp wiping. Avoid using heavy machines. The floor may not hold up to the extra weight and excessive torque, and an aggressive pad or brush can cause scratches that cannot be removed. 

Q.  How do I maintain vinyl floor planking? 

A.  It would be best to first locate the manufacturer and study their cleaning guides. Mannington makes a commercial vinyl plank called Nature’s Path. Their online chart shows no damage to the product with an application of alcohol or mineral spirits.  If that is true for the floor you are bidding, consider squirting a slight amount of mineral spirits on each asphalt mark and lightly agitate with the center hole of a white buff pad. You could then install a thin white nylon scrub pad over the mop head and clean the floor with an all-purpose cleaner. Or, if the area is large, use an autoscrubber with a white pad.

Mannington's website shows the only required maintenance is to dust mop and wet mop. So, you could suggest a price and frequency based on the ISSA times for those cleaning functions. If the area is small, then you would likely apply a minimum trip charge.

Q.  Newly installed VCT has burned spots now from burnishing. I have to decide if the problem is the contractor’s or the person using the floor machine. Some tiles have small bumps in them from maybe something under the tile.  I am thinking that the burnisher was used too long in one spot and caused the burned spots. Can you advise me on this type of problem? How many coats of sealer/finish should be used for high traffic? And lastly, how long should the last coat sit and cure before the floor is used full force? 

A.    If the floor tech is trained, it’s unlikely burn spots would be caused by leaving the machine too long in one place. If there is a burn where the machine encountered a high spot, it is because the burnishing pad exerts increased pressure due to the irregular projection.  When you inspect the floor from six feet away and by catching light reflections, you will be able to identify high spots. If it’s a major protrusion, there is no way to avoid a pad burn. It should be the installer’s responsibility to correct them, or to avoid them by leveling the floor in the first place.

The required coats of finish can depend upon the solids content and manufacturer’s directions. Four coats of a high solids finish are normally sufficient for high traffic areas. It can be difficult to obtain proper curing overnight when applying more than four coats.
 Dry time for careful walking is normally 30 minutes unless the humidity is high. Try to wait a couple of hours before replacing furniture. However, the cure time before sliding boxes would normally be 24-48 hours and longer when attempting to burnish.  

Q.  We have a small area that has Lonseal resilient sheet flooring. What is the best procedure to clean and restore the gloss? 

A.  It appears that burnish or scrub and top coat procedures would be best. The Lonseal website has a complete maintenance section with step by step procedures under their technical heading. Finish systems for vinyl other that those sold by Lonseal under private label may be less expensive to use and just as effective.  Check details at:

Q.  Some tile flooring has a gray discoloration on some of the tile in some small rooms. Stripping did not take it out. Do you have a remedy to remove this discoloration? 

A.  Two causes are most likely. First, if any of the wasted slurry (stripper plus dissolved floor finish) dries on the floor prior to removal, it will leave a gray residue. Remaining residue is often identified by the fact that it covers over the tile pattern.  Standard mopping may not remove dried-on slurry. Instead, it requires re-dampening the floor and scrubbing with the machine or autoscrubber.

Second, it could be hardened sealer (normally permanent polyurethane or styrene based).
 Removing sealer may require up to three strip operations. Mix the stripper at the strongest use dilution, allow 15 minutes contact time, and use a build-up removal pad. Also, be prepared to razor blade scrape some of the most difficult areas.

Q. Should you flood the floor when you apply stripper?

A.  If the VCT is manufactured by Armstrong, they recommend waiting 4-5 days after the installation of new tile before wet cleaning. They also state, “No-scrub and/or no-rinse strippers are not recommended on tile floors less than two years old, because they may affect the adhesive bond.” With those warnings in mind, there are other considerations regarding flooding floors. The primary disadvantage of flooding a floor with stripper is the occurrence of stripper running underneath equipment or baseboards. Then, after the finish coat has been applied the stripper seeps out onto the floor, leaving a noticeable blemish that must be fixed. The second drawback of flooding the floor is extra chemical usage. However, the floor does require a heavy coating of stripper for the chemical to perform its dissolving action.One way to apply the stripper to achieve the ideal thickness or coating is the following procedure:

1.    Dip wet mop into stripper bucket and hold it above the water line for approximately 2-3 seconds, so the mop head can drain.
2.    Place mop on floor next to the baseboard and pull mop 20’ ahead to starting position.
Mop backwards to the bucket with a side-to-side figure-eight motion to evenly apply stripper.  The area just painted out should not exceed the normal path of the floor machine when fully moved from left to right (approx. 7 feet wide).
Move mop bucket back another 20’ and repeat operations.
5.  Allow stripper to set 10-15 minutes before starting floor machine on dry tile and working into the wet slurry.

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Q. What is the proper procedure when using a scrubbing machine on VCT? Also, what type of pad or brush should I use? 

A. For stripping with an autoscrubber, check the answers found in this column. Regarding a scrub operation, there are a few items to balance. First, the pad selection and the detergent selection must be matched to the soil load and durability of the floor finish. If the pad and chemical are too aggressive, excessive wear may occur and you will end up refinishing the floors at a greater frequency. If the pad is too soft, the machine may not sufficiently remove black marks. If the detergent is not strong enough, you may not sufficiently remove the soil.

Start with a thorough dust mopping to remove all debris. Otherwise, the squeegee and suction hose may plug up, or you will simply redistribute debris around the floor. Use a white, red, or green pad and make a single pass with the detergent turned on and the squeegee down. If the detergent is matched to the soil load, you should see that one pass leaves a clean surface. With high soil loads (such as auto dealer repair shops) you will normally need to make two passes. One to apply the degreaser, and a second pass to scrub, re-emulsify the cleaner, and pick up the solution

You may need to hand mop the edges, around equipment, and on turns where the squeegee misses solution. Once you observe the results you will be able to regulate the machine speed. Go as fast as possible, yet as slow as necessary. Check out our new Floor Care Training Manual, it has all the answers for you and can help you train any and all helpers.

Q. What is the best procedure to remove salt from marble floors?

A. Removing ice melt or salt residue is definitely labor intensive. Whether you use an automatic scrubber or a mop bucket, this residue normally requires repeated passes and regular changing of the water. Assuming you are cleaning with a mop bucket, you can increase the concentration of your neutral cleaner by about 20%. Mop the solution on heavier than normal. Do a careful and complete pick-up with a clean mop.

A more intensive method is to mop on the neutral cleaner, allow 5-10 minutes contact time, wet vac up the solution, and then rinse, using a wet vac again for the final pick-up. Do not use an acid-based neutralizer on marble because you will risk etching or dulling the finished surface.

Check out our new Floor Care Training Manual.

Q. What is the best way to clean laminate flooring? 

Most laminate flooring manufacturers recommend mopping with a 1:16 vinegar mixture (one cup white vinegar to one gallon of warm water) instead of oil-based hardwood floor cleaners. Normal floor cleaners, as well as oil-based cleaners, typically leave streaks and water spots.

One caution is to press out the mop as tight as possible and mop with the grain (assuming it is simulated wood). Another approach is to use vinegar-based Windex and mop with a microfiber cloth. If the commercial floor gets grease tracked in, you may need to mop with a neutral floor cleaner and then follow with the vinegar rinse. Check out our new Floor Care Training Manual.

Q. What is the general procedure for stripping and waxing a floor? 

A. First, decide if you would like to rent an automatic scrubber from a local jan/san store. If the area is large, this can save you hours of labor. Otherwise, you will need a dust mop with a second clean head, a 17”- 20” rotary floor scrubbing machine, a strip pad, doodlebug with a black or brown pad, two mop buckets with two 24 oz. mop heads and handles, a razor scrapper, a foam rubber floor squeegee, wet vac, commercial stripper, commercial floor finish, and a flat mop for applying finish.

Clear and secure the area and then dust mop the floor to remove dust and litter. You may want to wear rubber gloves and goggles when diluting the stripper (according to label). Be prepared to adjust the mix ratio because black tile can “bleed” onto the white if the concentration is too strong. From the mop bucket (containing the diluted stripper), place the mop into the press momentarily and then apply diluted stripper moderately to the floor. Start at the back and work toward front using a figure-8 motion. Apply stripper to an area approx. 8 feet wide and 20 feet long or at the most, 30 feet long. Be careful not to skip any areas.

After a 20 min. dwell time, start floor machine on dry tile and buff into wet solution. If areas have dried, re-apply stripper. While scrubbing the area, observe if ALL discoloration and finish buildup has been removed. Peer intensely through the slurry to observe cleaning conditions on the tile. Normally, you will make a slow pass side to side and work from front to back. Then, return to the front as you make a second slow (side to side) pass. Try not to splash stripper on walls, doors, carpet, or adjacent areas.

Scrub edges with a doodlebug and razor scrape any buildup, etc. Make sure the floor does not dry and then squeegee the slurry into a puddle at the front and use the wet vac to pick it up. Next, apply two rinses, the first one heavy and the second one with less water. Carefully mop baseboards and wipe any splashes from doors, etc. with a towel. Change mop water often. Rinse mop heads before returning them to the clean water mop bucket. If the floor dries with a super-clean appearance (no shiny or dirty spots), continue to the next area and repeat the procedure. For heavy build-up, it must be stripped a second time.

When the floor is dry, dust mop it with a clean, lint-free head. Apply floor finish to the floor from a gallon jug. There are several handy applicator systems available, or you can drill holes in the jug cap, or with a rubber glove, hold your thumb over the jug opening and distribute evenly to floor. Use a flat mop with a floor finish head to spread finish in a uniform manner. Avoid skips and overlapping onto areas that are starting to dry. Again, an 8 X 20 area is a good size to re-finish at a time. Then pour out and spread the next adjacent area. Allow at least 30 min. drying time between coats. Apply 4 coats. There are a lot of things that can go wrong for an inexperienced technician. You may want to consider hiring someone experienced to help you until you get the hang of things.

Most commercial finish is self-polishing (dries to a gloss) and will not require buffing or burnishing until later. Once the floor begins to dull from traffic, you will need to start a buffing program. In a church setting, you may want to buff once a month, scrub and top coat twice a year, and strip and refinish every three years. Maintain by dust mopping regularly with a treated dust mop, and damp mop as needed with a mild solution of the cleaner you have. Remember: clean and shiny floors are only kept that way by following a programmed floor care routine.

Check out our new Floor Care Training Manual.  

Q. How do I remove rust from a restaurant terrazzo floor?

A. I would try a liquid rust remover that contains Hydrofluoric or Oxalic acid which is often used to remove rust from terrazzo, tile floors, carpet and other surfaces. A cautionary warning: Hydrofluoric acid is very dangerous to work with and any acid will dull/etch the absorbent marble chips and cement base of terrazzo. Use great care using these products. Strip completely the spot, apply the rust remover, and within 5 minutes rinse. You may have to re-polish the area with diamond impregnated pads or discs.

A 12 inch floor machine or a hand held angle grinder will work best for this. If the acid product does not remove the rust spot, try Comet or a similar bleach-based abrasive powder. Dampen the spot, cover it with about 1/2 inch of bleach-based scouring powder. Cover with cardboard, apply a moderate weight and let it sit overnight. The next morning, clean the area. If either one of these steps works, re-apply finish or re-polish the area to bring back the shine.

Q. How do I remove urine stains from a floor underneath a urinal?

A. Here is a normal process.
1. Strip the damaged area with a build-up removal pad and strong stripper. Squeegee and observe the results. If the urine damaged area is close to matching the undamaged area, apply a heavy mop rinse. The appearance and color match you observe will be the same as after applying four coats of finish.

2. If still stained, apply Comet with bleach, and scrub with a strip pad or carefully use a 100 mesh sanding screen (placed under the strip pad). This solution MUST remain wet at all times or the floor will be damaged. Squeegee, rinse and observe. Do not mix chemicals or combine the two steps. All chemical residues must be removed completely before going to the next step. Also, rinse strip pads between steps. If the floor is porous, such as terrazzo the stains may have penetrated deeply and may not be correctable.

A product producing phenomenal results on carpet is CTI Urine Stain Remover. It is very high in hydrogen peroxide. I haven’t tried it on hard surfaces, but on carpet it is unmatched. The directions indicate it can take 3-4 hours for the stain to “bleach out”.  You may need more frequent cleaning or to install protective mats under the urinals to prevent future problem or cover uncorrectable damage.

Q. What is the procedure and suggested pricing to buff a concrete floor with epoxy finish?  

Epoxy floors will buff out just like VCT. Dust mop, mop on buffing compound, and clean the floor thoroughly. Then, burnish with high speed buff pads such as gray or tan, and finally dust mop again. Watch out for any high spots and be careful not to linger on an area and burn the coating.

If it is only 1,000 square feet, I would charge your one-hour minimum. Many contractors would charge $45 to $85 for a one hour service call.

Q. How do I determine the proper floor care crew size and proper machines? 

A. If you are looking for the fastest production time for larger floors, a 3 person crew will outperform any other configuration. Your lowest labor cost comes from the highest production method. An autoscrubber is considerably faster than a single disc buffer with a wet vac and much easier on the back. It should save you 20%-40% in labor unless the areas are extremely small. Effective stripping normally requires a dual disk autoscrubber with heavy brush pressure.

But, here’s the rub. If one person does all the work, he or she will continuously be changing from one task to the next. The constant interruption of each function by stopping, laying aside the tool, picking up the next, and starting the next task is highly inefficient. Even 2 people are somewhat inefficient. The person laying the stripper, scrubbing and blading the edges, and then mopping will not be able to keep up with the autoscrubber. Every time you stop the machine, forward progress comes to a halt. If you use only 1 or 2 people to do all the work, your start and stop times will be excessive.

A three person crew is ideal, because the work progresses with little interruption. It works like this: #1 lays the stripper, #2 runs the autoscrubber with squeegee up around the edge first and then in the middle, #3 performs edge work and hand squeegees the edges, #2 makes a second pass with squeegee down (it is rare for one pass to strip 100% of the finish) and finally #1 and #3 handle the rinsing until it is time for #1 to paint out the next area. Productivity increases as each person keeps focused on one job. Time is lost when changing jobs. Working non-stop utilizes the power of momentum to synergize productivity.

Check out our new Floor Care Training Manual. It covers all the dos and don’ts your are asking about.  

Q. How do I remove the light-brown stains left behind after the successful removal of chewing/bubble gum from broom-finish concrete?  

A. If you used high pressure washing or a solvent cleaner and removed 95% of the gum, normally a high alkaline heavy duty cleaner will finish it off. Mix according to directions and allow 5-10 minutes dwell time. A pump-up sprayer works great for application. Scrub with a stiff broom, brush, floor machine, or autoscrubber, and then rinse or pressure wash again. Steam is another non-chemical approach.

Q. What can be the factors causing a VCT floor to be slick when it was burnished?

A. There are several things that can cause a slippery floor after burnishing. First, I would make sure the floor has been dust mopped to remove any fine powdered finish generated by the process. Next, check to make sure that dust mop treatment is not being applied over the floor, or that the dust mop itself is not heavily contaminated with buildup, including dust mop treatment residue that can be left on the floor. Also, check to see if dust wands are being sprayed with furniture polish causing overspray to drift onto the VCT.

Check for any type of silicone or solvent drifting onto floor, such as WD-40 sprayed on chair wheel bearings, etc.
 Finally, if the finish has worn off, you may still be able to burnish a shine, but not a gloss. Once the finish is worn, the floors will lose the traction supplied by the floor finish. Only a scrub and recoat can fix that problem. Rarely, but occasionally, the problem can stem from a breakdown in the floor finish, incompatibility of products, spray buff compound, or floor detergent residue. If this is the case, you may need to check with your Jan/San supplier. 

Q. How long should it take to buff 11,500 sq. ft. of VCT in a day care facility including moving the furniture? 

A. If the process includes stacking and moving furniture, dust mopping, wet mopping with finish restorer, burnishing, a final dust mopping, and replacing furniture, I would figure 4 ½ to 5 ½ hours, if performed more than once a month. I hope that you will find that over 30% of the floor is covered by cabinets, bookcases, etc. that will not be moved, so you can save that time.

The range in production time depends upon the frequency, density of furniture placement and the amount that must be moved, the size of your burnisher, soil load conditions including number of occupants, internal daytime housekeeping, and the experience of your floor techs. I would base the time on using a 20” electric and not propane, due to potential hazards.

Our new JanBid Estimating Software will accurately price this out for you.

Q. How do I solve scuffing and swirl marks in polished concrete? 

Assuming the concrete was properly sealed, the floor finish you applied may have proven too soft to resist scuffs. A scuff resistant finish from your local janitorial supply store should provide better results. If in doubt, ask for references that you can visit to observe first-hand the performance of the finish.

The swirl marks were caused by scoring from either using a burnishing pad that was too aggressive for the finish, or one that had a slight build-up in the pad and was held in one spot too long. Your floor tech should be able to correct the problem by a scrub-and-top-coat, and then doing maintenance by using a burnish pad matched to the finish.

Q. How do I use wax pencils to mark a floor and track the coats of floor finish still apparent? 

We recommend putting down your base coat(s) and marking the top base coat with a red marking pencil. Then put down another coat and mark it with a yellow marking pencil. Put down another coat and mark it with a green marking pencil. Put down as many additional coats as necessary.

Train your employees to look for the 3 dots as they scrub the floor. If they see the green dot they scrub and go. If they don’t see the green dot but see a yellow dot they caution you that finish needs to be applied. If they just see the red dot they stop and alert you that finish needs to be applied immediately. By marking the traffic area in several areas you can tell if you only need to apply finish to key areas or over the entire area.

The colors 02086 171T peel off china marker green, 02083 170T peel off china marker yellow and 02059 Red Rouge peel off china marker are available from Gray Enterprise

Another option is to use a lead pencil which is readily available, but harder to view. You can number each coat of finish as it is applied. If you are relying upon workers to track the remaining coats, then the green, yellow and red dot stoplight system is a better choice. If a floor care manager tracks the coats and does not have the colored wax pencils then a minute lead pencil numbering system can work. Just make a note of which tiles contain the ID. Some managers track the wear visually (without marks) in order to prevent loss of finish that requires a deep strip. Of course your goal is to top coat as needed and as many times as possible.  

Check out our new Floor Care Training Manual. 

Q. Is it safe to sand off heavy buildup from a VCT floor? 

A. Sanding a VCT floor would normally void any warranty. There are some powerful strippers on the market that should remove the finish while using a nylon grit brush, or a black or dark brown strip pad. Your local Jan/san supplier should have the several products available that can do the job. Applying the stripper at maximum strength (per manufacturer’s instructions) and allowing adequate dwell time is critical to success.

We do not sand VCT or VAT flooring, although we may abrade some semi-permanent seals or polyurethane coatings prior to recoating.
 Sanding would void any warranty on flooring and may damage the surface and create a health and disposal hazard. Should sanding be done on VCT as a last resort salvage procedure, a 100 grit mesh screen disk under a strip pad will accomplish the task, however the surface must be kept wet to avoid damage and airborne contamination. Test a small area (six inches square) by hand prior to widespread use to avoid any surprises and liability for damage. You may also want to involve the customer in the decision making process to avoid problems once the work is complete. Check out our new Floor Care Training Manual. 

Q. How do you strip VCT tile with an autoscrubber?

Here is a general process that becomes efficient with 2-3 workers:
- Move furniture
- Dust mop floor and scrape stickers, gum, etc. Place wet floor signs and secure area.
- Apply suggested stripper (mixed according to label) with wet mop, flat mop or special applicator and allow sufficient contact time. Pre-plan a pattern that starts away from the water source and   only apply to an area that will not dry before scrubbing and picking up solution. This would normally cover 400 square feet or 20 min. ahead of the autoscrub operation. To avoid falls, do not initially walk on the wet stripper.
- With strip pads under autoscrubber, and starting on dry floor, make a slow pass along the edges with squeegee up. Next, scrub the remainder of the area.
- Hand scrape and/or doodlebug edges and doorways
- Squeegee edges and doorways with 24” or 36” foam squeegee.
- Lower autoscrubber squeegee and make pick up pass, applying water solution thru dispensing system to any dry areas.
- Thoroughly rinse with wet mop (1-2 times).
- Make certain the auto scrubber is thoroughly cleaned after using it for stripping or pickup tanks, hoses, and squeegees will be come encrusted with dried slurry. This includes the undercarriage of the machine as most stripping solutions will over time damage the metal parts. Some people prefer not to use an autoscrubber for stripping for this reason; others may set aside one machine specifically for this use.
 Check out our new Floor Care Training Manual.

Q. What would cause swirls in the floor after finishing? A clean mop head was used, and the floor was rinsed, neutralized, and buffed before applying floor finish.  

Since a thorough cleaning process should have eliminated residue, check out these possible causes:
Swirl marks that display a buff-pad pattern from pre-burnishing are caused by using too aggressive a pad or a pad embedded with finish and debris.

Swirl marks that display the pattern of the application mop can occur from the following:

Lap marks from applying finish before the previous coat has completely dried. This happens when high humidity along with unnoticed puddling hinders drying. When the finish mop contacts these low spots, the carrier or ammonia in the finish softens the prior coat and causes the mop to grip and pull off previous finish. The finish must be dry to the back of the hand before applying another coat. The technician should walk the area first, picking up light reflections to detect high gloss areas that represent low spots of accumulated finish.

Skip marks appear if the finish is applied too thin. Skip marks are less noticeable than lap marks. Skips occur when the mop separates or “ropes” because there is not enough finish to create lubrication and produce uniform dispersion. The new style flat mops tend to reduce skips.

Leveling problems or applicator drag can occur with some high solid floor finishes. If the air flow or A/C is excessive during application, the finish may start to dry before it has leveled. You want to reduce air flow until the finish has started to skim over, then apply air flow and reduce the humidity. Contact your supplier to discuss leveling or drag problems.

Some application problems are solved by engineering the work-flow pattern. If you can apply finish continuously, without working back into previous finish, you will reduce lap marks. Burnishing may remove the current swirls. If not, try pulling a razor blade angled toward you over the swirls until the surface is even. Then burnish and apply one more coat. Let’s hope that the floor will not require re-stripping. Check out our new Floor Care Training Manual.

Q. How do I prevent floor finish overlap in a hall that is used 24/7 and must be stripped ½ at a time?  

What you are seeing is a higher reflection level from applying duplicate finish in the overlap area. In other words, if you overlap 4 coats of finish approximately 2-3 inches in the middle of a hall, then you could have up to 8 coats of finish reflecting light from that line of demarcation.

To reduce overlap, use a flat mop and cut the finish exactly along the edge of a particular tile in the middle. Later, to make a more perfect blend, burnish slowly down the middle of the hall. When a deep strip is required, be sure you strip 1-2 feet past where you will apply finish so splashing does not occur. You can also tape plastic to the floor, but that can leave adhesive residue.

Check out our new Floor Care Training Manual.

Q. What would be different when you strip and refinish floors with wood subflooring instead of concrete?  

A. You can minimize moisture penetration by applying a lighter coat of stripper and picking it up quicker. Overall drying times are reduced by enhanced air flow and reduced humidity. If you have cause to believe there could be problems, include a non-liable damage clause in your contract. State that you will perform the work to avoid moisture penetration, but can not be held liable should the floor warp.

One other approach for small areas with only a couple of coats of finish is to dry strip. Spray on diluted stripper and buff with a strip pad. Clean thoroughly before applying finish.

Q. Are there drawbacks to stripping with a high speed propane stripper versus a low speed?  

A. You can confirm suitability by evaluating the machine’s impact on IAQ, noise level, and the potential of setting off smoke alarms. Probably the most important concern is maneuverability. Will the machine allow adequate access to most of the areas without damage? Too large of a machine in a small area is counterproductive. Check out our new Floor Care Training Manual.  

Q. Can you tell me how to strip an impossible floor buildup? I am not having good luck with the job.  

Assuming that you are convinced your stripper is superior, your next attempt should include increasing the aggression, stripper-solution concentration, water temperature and dwell time. Did you allow the stripping solution to dwell for 10 to 15 minutes before you began the stripping process? This is a critical step and many people fail to allow adequate dwell time.

1) You can increase the aggression by using a build-up removal pad.
2) Use the stripper as strong as the label allows.
3) Apply a heavier coat of stripper for maximum dwell time. Don’t let it dry!
Most importantly, be prepared to repeat the strip operation up to three times. I trust you priced the job high enough to cover the aggravation, wasted finish, and extra strip operation.

Check out our new Floor Care Training Manual.  

Q. I cannot seem to remove the finish I used on Armstrong vinyl composition tile. Any ideas?  

A. Multi-layers of finish or an underlayment of sealer can be difficult to remove. Assuming the stripper you chose is a highly active and a powerful commercial product, you may need to repeat the operation three times. Here are some tips: mix the stripper at the lowest recommended concentration ratio, apply the stripper extra heavy, allow longer dwell times, and use a build-up removal or high production strip pad.

You may need to hand scrape some areas, but you have one other option. If repeated attempts are unsuccessful, there could be permanent sealer on the floor. When you apply your first heavy rinse to the floor, closely inspect it for any color variations or uneven ridges. If the freshly rinsed floor appears immaculate (zero ridges and zero discoloration), it will look the same after applying about four coats of finish.

Of course you want to reduce the amount of stripping required by regular maintenance including scrubbing floor and top coating. You may also want to test other stripping products available from local Jan/San suppliers. Check out our new Floor Care Training Manual. 

Q. How do I remove dried on stripping slurry? 

A. Slurry that has totally dried will normally require re-stripping. During the actual stripping process you can add water to the slurry to re-emulsify it. If you use a swing buffer (floor machine) you can install a shampoo tank to feed the water. If using an autoscrubber, always have water in the solution tank for your second pass. Then you can apply more liquid to the floor wherever it has dried. If there is only a small spot, you can often razor scrape it out and re-apply finish. Check out our new Floor Care Training Manual. 

Q. How do we use an auto scrubber when the floor has sand and snow on it that has been tracked in from the outside?

First of all, I would recommend a thorough dust mopping of the dry floor with a treated head. You want to remove all the grit you possibly can from the floor so the autoscrubber pad does not grind it into the finish. A properly treated head provides mild agitation and an almost magnetic attraction to soils without leaving oily residues. If the sand is still wet from melted snow, use a wet vac to remove it and get the floor dry.

Next, I would place a clean door mat in front of the maintenance room door so the
autoscrubber wheels are cleaned on their way to do the job. I would also increase the inspection and cleaning frequency of the floor pads. Pads with grit in them will quickly damage the finish and make more work for you.

Finally, I would increase the cleaning detergency and frequency by at least 20% to confront a heavier soil load that is encountered during inclement weather.
You should also make certain that adequate length walk-off matting is in place and that it is cleaned or changed often enough to prevent major sand migration onto the finished floors.

Q. Should I just dry buff VCT floor that are finished or use a spray buff compound/restorer?

A. Spray buff solutions or restorers are typically formulated to pre-condition the floor for removal of black marks and scuffs and to assist in buffing out scratches. A white pad run by itself over the floor will normally fail to produce a high shine. However, most spray buff formulations or restorers, when used with a high-speed burnishing pad, harden the finish, remove scratches and produce a much higher gloss. They are worth the investment in maintaining high appearance floors.

Q. What do I do when drain opener bleached out the floor?

A. Most drain opener products contain sodium hydroxide and register a pH of over 13. This caustic action can remove color from VCT or VAT tile.  You may need to strip and refinish the area or apply a light coat of a terrazzo seal that is formulated to restore color in hard surface floors.  It’s possible the damage is permanent.

Q. It appears if different rooms respond differently to buffing and stripping.  What could be causing this?

A. If you had two rooms side by side that had been stripped thoroughly and you applied 4-5 coats of finish they would be identical in appearance, cleaning and stripability unless you:
1.    Used a different floor finish or sealer in one of the rooms
2.    Incurred a high humidity in one room or lack of full drying time between coats 
3.    Applied more coats of finish to one of the rooms, allowing a buildup of finish
4.    Burnished one room regularly and not the other
5.    Used a different stripper next time to strip out the floor.


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Restoring a cork floor

Q.  I have a 10 year old cork floor in a kitchen. It is made of tiles pretreated with water based urethane that have been given several layers of a topcoat of water based urethane. The floor was cleaned with a substance recommended by the manufacturers that contains d-limonene, a surfactant, and 5% ethanol and it is diluted in water. The owner complains that the floors have never looked clean; they always look as if there is grease build-up on them. This year, in the heat of summer, the floor became sticky. Every footstep is audible; socks stick to the floor. Re-cleaning the floor doesn't change this in any way. The manufacturer recommended using TSP diluted well in water and rinsed many times to get all residues off, and then dried. I’ve done this, but it remains sticky. It feels as if the urethane is melted, or something like that. It felt that way before the TSP was used. In a small area, I’ve redone the TSP on the off chance that there remains some grease residue, and I even dared to scrub, and the urethane coat (not all of it) came off, and then the floor seemed less sticky in that area. There is still a coat of urethane covering the cork, so the TSP didn't get down to cork. It's less sticky but it's still sticky. What is going on? The manufacturer says they’ve never seen/heard of this happening. They’re not keen on re-sealing it until the problem of what is going on is clear - I suppose they fear that resealing won’t solve it. Any help is much appreciated. 

A. It would be unusual for polyurethane to melt or become sticky unless a paint remover type chemical has partially dissolved it. Your removal process for sticky substances using TSP and d-limonene should be OK. However, without a thorough rinsing, the surfactant added to the d-limonene could leave a sticky residue.
For difficult build-up removal using TSP, add it to HOT water and then scrub with a green nylon pad or heavy floor machine to get better penetration. Then, wet vac and rinse. It is always good to pretest small areas with different cleaning techniques to compare different results. Your previous attempts probably did not obtain 100% soil removal.
If the polyurethane is worn off, then the cork could be absorbing cooking oil, which will resist removal. If there is water damage or warping, replacement might be necessary. If the polyurethane is still in good shape, there should be a noticeable sheen. So, if there is still a protectant coat in place, then refinishing is an option.
Your local janitorial supply store should have a refinishing process, chemicals, and instructions. There are newer water-based products that do not emit uncomfortable fumes.

Difficult Strip Job 

Q. The senior custodians were trained to burnish between each applied coat of finish on vinyl tile. Time has been over the established five (5) year strip cycle and now the current crew is trying to remove the old finish with great difficulty. They have, 10 times, applied stripper, allowed 5 to 8 minutes of dwell time, agitated, scrapped, and wet vacuumed,and the finish remains. Time is running out to complete this task, for the students return in a few weeks and reservations wants this room back on line before the 17th of August. What suggestions do you have to speed up this process?

A. If there is a heavy build-up of floor finish and it has been burnished repeatedly, you may need to apply the stripper much heavier (fullest concentration applied with a heavy coat), and allow 15-20 minutes for the contact or dwell time. It takes longer than 5-8 minutes for complete penetration. A heavier coat is required to prevent premature drying of the stripper. Then, use a buildup removal pad not only on the machine, but for your edge scrubbing pads. Use a machine or autoscrubber that can apply close to 100 pounds pad pressure. A light-weight machine will be ineffective.

If this is not successful, you could try a 100 mesh screen used to sand wood floors. You place it under a worn-out strip pad and only run the machine where the floor is wet with stripper. If you run it dry, you will destroy the floor and it will have to be replaced. (Yes, that is my disclaimer; and you have already voided the warranty, if there is one).

Here is one last option, since you are running out of time. After all that you have achieved, perhaps the floor is smooth and even enough for recoating. Determining this is a fine art. Once you have it stripped, but some discoloration remains, apply a heavy rinse coat of clear water. Now, perform an intense inspection. Look at the floor’s appearance all over.

Does the rinse coat mask the discoloration (a 100% blend)? Is there any build-up that protrudes above the water line? If not, this means that the floor is 100% level when looking at it wet. The finish coats will provide the same appearance, blending light discoloration in and providing an even look.

Never apply floor finish over a discolored floor or a floor with uneven splotches. Sometimes you can apply finish to a bare floor that does not appear fully stripped, but still passes the first rinse test explained above. I hope that the build-up removal pad, heavier machine, and extra stripper dwell time will solve your problem.


  My company cleans a lot of new buildings. A lot of our clients are using "fake hardwood" (vinyl plank) in their offices. Those floors are usually very easy to maintain on a daily basis, but we been noticing a lot of clear scuff marks that don’t seem to come off. What is the proper way to maintain those floors? Should we seal them? Should we buff, scrub?

More than likely the floor you are trying to clean is laminate. Laminate flooring has several layers: a wear layer which is a protective, transparent coating, a design layer, which shows the decorative choice such as hardwood or marble, an inner core layer of high-density fiberboard, a resin layer, and finally a backing or underlayment to reduce noise and soften impact from heavy use.
Always use low moisture cleaning procedures, preferably with a neutral cleaner or mild acidic rinse (vinegar diluted 1 cup per 2 gal. mop bucket). Mops should be firmly pressed out to avoid noticeable residues of water. Abrasive cleaners and pads should never be used. Laminate should never be sealed or finished with a polymer floor finish. It can be buffed with a white or low aggression pad to remove marks and scuffs, and to restore the natural sheen. 

Propane Burns

One of the colleges that I clean has a lot of high spots on the VCT floor. After burnishing the floor with a 28" propane machine using a blue burnishing pad from Pioneer Eclipse, I see a lot of burned spots on the floor. Is there any way to prevent this from happening?

Yes, remove the protruding tile with a hot air dryer, grind down the floor and replace the tile. You can reduce the occurrence slightly by visualizing in advance each high spot and firmly pressing down on the burnisher handle to alleviate burns. Or, consider a slightly less aggressive pad. To repair a burn, use a razor blade scrapper and pull it toward you, over the burn. Then as required, scrub with a green pad and carefully paint on the floor finish with a microfiber towel, 2-3 coats, applying it only to the bare spots.

Burnishing Frequency

We have tile floors throughout the building where I work and the floors are looking awful in the halls, where much traffic occurs, as well as under lunch tables where the tile is mopped numerous times daily. We have it on our weekly/monthly nightly cleaning that the floors are to be buffed once a month, but I have been informed that this should occur weekly (yes/no?). I have questions about the difference between burnishing and buffing; I honestly know nothing about either. We have approximately 80 families that enter our building and 80 children in the building 5 days a week. What should our monthly floor cleaning be like? Buffing or burnishing and how often?

A.  Based on your description and estimated traffic, it would be unlikely that a reasonable shine and uniform appearance would last longer than two weeks. Weekly burnishing would be ideal; but if the budget prohibits, then twice a month would be a major improvement.
There are a few things that will prolong floor appearances such as: adequate entry matting (a minimum of 5 feet, or 12-15 feet if possible) that is vacuumed daily, thorough dust mopping once a day or more often, and using a mild detergent or disinfectant accurately diluted that does not soften the floor finish.
You mentioned challenges under the tables. Have you considered protective nylon or felt chair and table leg tips?
Buffing is generally achieved by using a standard speed 175-300 rpm floor machine and a white or red pad. The normal gloss level that is achievable is perhaps an 80%. Burnishing requires a high speed machine (normally 1200 rpm +) and a burnishing pad such as beige, gray, or hair impregnated. The shine or gloss level should result in an ultra high shine with the proper floor finish, assuming sufficient coats of finish remain on the floor (normally 4-5).

Burnishing produces a slight temperature rise which is believed to harden the floor finish, making it more durable and able to hold the shine longer.
However, burnishing is not an end-all. Once the gloss begins to degrade, a thorough scrub and re-coat will be necessary. It would be common for a building of your description for this to be required 2-4 times a year. Normally two coats of floor finish must be applied after the deep scrub. The cleaner used should be a typical floor cleaner and not a floor finish stripper. The goal is apply finish away from the edges where no traffic has occurred, so a resulting edge buildup is curtailed.

Stripping a vinyl floor

How do we remove finish build-up in the low spots and the molded grout lines of a sculptured pattern vinyl linoleum flooring?

Actually, vinyl and linoleum are two vastly different products, so the first thing you must establish is which one you are dealing with. The World Floor Covering Association (WFCA) states that “Vinyl will melt if a lighted match or cigarette lands on it, linoleum can’t.” They should know the facts, so try a test on a piece somewhere out of the way.
Vinyl sheeting will withstand heavy stripping with a high alkaline stripper better than linoleum, so you do need to test. Avoid the abrasive pad, hot water, high alkaline approach on linoleum.

Most likely the low spots contain a double buildup of floor finish. Whenever heavy coats are applied, the finish tends to settle into the low spots and embossed grout lines. So, instead of planning to strip 4 coats, you may need to gear your process to strip out 8 coats. This would include mixing the stripper at maximum strength (unless the flooring is linoleum), applying it extra heavy, allowing the full dwell-time (usually 15-20 minutes) and then using a high-productivity build up removal pad.

In addition, be prepared for several stripping operations and extra razor blade scraping. You can also “heel” the machine over the low spots (at the 3 o’clock position) as long as the floor is extra wet, but be careful on seams and use a mild pad if you are on linoleum. Consider using a scrub brush that will reach down into the depressions.
Avoid any wet sanding with a mesh sanding disk, which voids any warranty and may not be able to get down into the grooves. If, after the rinse, no discoloration shows, you may be able to apply the finish without a complete strip-out. Let us hope that two or three attempts will do the job.

Finish Applicators

We currently use Frescomax and Vectra floor finish using a mop and bucket system. We're thinking of moving to the Prospeed system with the same chemicals. Has anyone changed methods and seen actual savings in terms of chemical cost, or is the savings all "theoretical" labor savings and increased productivity?

You should experience reduced finish usage from decreased discard levels, not from thinner coats of product applied. Let me explain.

Prior to cleaning the finish mop, there normally remains 6-16 oz.
of floor finish that is rinsed down the drain. Ok, I have never actually measured the exact amount. And, it does vary by mop size and amount of downward pressure exerted by the mop press on the bucket. I have calculated the inverse absorption level. It is not uncommon for a 24 oz. rayon mop to require a quart of finish before it is ready go.

In addition, it’s not uncommon to dump out 1-2 quarts of contaminated finish from the mop bucket during clean-up. A daily routine with this level of waste is certainly costly. With the flat mop application system; there is possibly 2-3 oz. of product in the pad. And, with the absence of a bucket, zero finish to discard.

It is unlikely there would be any product savings from the application technique. If three heavy coats are applied by a standard mop to produce the desired gloss level, then a flat mop application would normally require four to five coats to obtain the same gloss level. This example would vary depending upon the solids level and actual thickness applied per coat.

Here is the problem; heavy coats can double the drying time, and they may result in streaking from inadequate leveling and possibly incur reduced scratch resistance. Wet mops normally require a heavier application in order to reduce skips.

The design of a microfiber flat mop lends toward a uniform application of thinner coats. As mentioned, thinner coats speed up the drying time, improve the appearance, and can increase durability.

Diversey/Johnson, the manufacturer of the finish you use, suggests an “average” coat of finish might leave 3 microns of finish per coat. Of course, this varies with the percent of solids and the thickness of the application. With a recommended application of five coats, this would produce 15 microns or 3/5 of a mil.

No matter how you apply the finish, and using the above guidelines, you would still shoot for 15 microns to obtain optimum appearance and durability. You could do that with three coats, but five thin coats are better.

From an appearance standpoint and for ease of application, you will find a flat mop superior to the outdated mop and bucket. You should experience labor savings, as the flat mop width can be twice that of a wet mop. You could always try one out and calculate the savings for your own operations. Normally, the workers love the reduced drag and diminution of back muscle strain.

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Wet Look 

Q.  What is the exact procedure for obtaining the “wet look” on VCT? A client wants 6 coats of high solids finish and the floor burnished. At what point do I burnish and how?

Maintaining a “wet look” is a combination of using a premium high-solids floor finish, applying thin coats, and then using a high-speed burnisher to maintain the shine. Your local Jan/San supplier should be able to help you with the correct selection of a high-speed buffable floor finish. Some finishes only allow an application of 4 coats within a 24 hour period. If more than that is applied, the finish will dry, but not cure.
One rule to follow when applying floor finish is to use a 100% plus 1 coat rule. For example, if you used a 25% solids finish you would apply 4 coats which would equal 100% (25% x 4). Then, to add extra endurance and gloss, apply one more coat. If you use a finish with 20% solids, apply 6 coats (20% solids x 5 coats = 100% solids, plus 1 coat for good measure).Thin coats applied with a microfiber pad are best. Always ensure there is adequate drying time between coats (normally 30-40 minutes).
Most manufacturers recommend a curing period of 72 hours before burnishing. At that time, you could mop on a restorer and then burnish the floor with a high-speed burnish pad. Your supplier should be able to recommend the proper color.
Your burnishing procedure would include a thorough dust-mopping, followed by mopping on the restorer product, diluted according to label. Once dry, slowly burnish the VCT making sure the machine does not pause and cause burn spots. Rotate or replace the pad before it becomes soiled. Dust mop again when finished. Repeat the process on a regular schedule before the scuffs and wear degrade the finished appearance.
When the floor starts to dull and not respond well to buffing, deep scrub the floor using a green pad under an autoscrubber or low speed swing machine. (This will remove the top layer of finish where all the dirt has been ground into the floor). Rinse the floor to remove any residue, and apply two coats of your high-gloss finish (mainly to the worn traffic lanes). Continue with your buffing program. You would normally scrub and re-coat twice a year depending upon the use and traffic. This will prevent premature wear and loss of gloss.
Don’t forget that daily dust-mopping and spot wet-mopping are critical parts of a professional maintenance program.

How many coats of finish?

In a daycare setting, is it safe to apply 5 coats of finish or will it create a safety hazard for the kids and the staff? This school used a contractor who only applied one coat of finish when the VCT tile was laid. They have been open now for 3 months and after nightly mopping and daily traffic the floors are dulling out and looking scratchy. Is it too late to offer monthly spray buffing on the floors?

Most VCT warranties recommend 2-3 coats of a commercial floor finish to protect new tile from abrasion and stains. One coat will not provide enough of a base to respond to buffing. By now, it is unlikely that any of the first coat is still remaining. Spray buffing will only produce a slight sheen, which will not hold up.
What you need to recommend is a deep scrub and application of 3-4 coats of finish. Four coats will provide superior traction (non-slip surface) compared to just one coat. The only exception might be on the kitchen floor when it is wet. Some kitchens place rubber mats in front of the dishwasher. It is difficult to get more than four coats of finish to cure well in one evening. Often the 5th coat bites into the previous four and leaves dull, ropy spots.
For maintenance, you could propose a monthly spray buff or better yet, burnishing with a high speed machine. Most daycares require a scrub and top coat every 6 months, and possibly a deep strip annually. This especially true if they have a sand box or dusty play area outside. Unless there are 2-3 coats of finish, the buffing will only produce an artificial shine (one that lasts a couple of weeks). On-going maintenance is required to prevent permanent damage to the finish and, eventually, the tile.

How to price floor care

Q. How much should I charge for stripping and refinishing a 4,000 sq. ft. empty (no furniture to move) building? How many people do I need? How much should I pay each person? 

A.  More than likely, competitive pricing in your area would be in the neighborhood of 35 cents a square foot for a job this size (plus or minus 20%) depending upon travel time, edge buildup, coats of finish to remove, coats of finish to apply, and whether it is one room or ten rooms. A three person crew is the most efficient. In Lake Charles, a typical wage for a general helper would be around $10 an hour, and over $15 for an experienced floor tech.

How many coats of finish to apply 

Q.  I maintain the VCT floors in a 10,000 sq. ft. medical building. The floors were given one coat of finish by a post construction cleaning company. I then added 4 coats of Syntec Duraguard 25. I autoscrub with a red pad twice weekly, dust mop every night. Burnish after autoscrub. I have been scrubbing and recoating the heavy traffic areas occasionally. Recently, in preparation for winter grit and salt, I added 3 coats. That makes for 8 to 10 coats in the main hallways. Is this too much finish? Can this make the flooring even more slippery when wet? Was I correct in thinking that additional layers of finish would give me more to work with when I need to autoscrub every night come winter?

A.  Undoubtedly, 8-10 coats of finish are producing an outstanding gloss. And, this heavy application should wear for an extended period of time. However, two negatives include, extra labor and chemical required during your stripping cycle, and reduced traction when the floor is wet. The heavy thickness of finish levels out imperfections and produces an ultra-smooth surface.
I would recommend only adding additional coats to the traffic lanes when there is noticeable wear. Make sure you have extra matting for inclement weather and continue with a red pad on the scrub operation so that the floor is microscopically “roughed up”, which could improve traction.

Sticky Floors

Q.  How do sticky floors occur, and how do we prevent them? We use Johnson Diversey floor finish (3-5 coats) with a quat disinfectant floor cleaner from Hillyard.

A.  Of course, the obvious contributor would be heavily soiled dust mops and wet mops. Or possibly, using wet mops with a heavy concentration of detergent each time and allowing them to dry unrinsed.

From there, I would confirm that the exact mix ratio of your disinfectant is followed. Too heavy of a dilution could leave residue. And make certain it is, indeed, a quat and not a phenolic, commonly used in health care facilities such as yours and prone to damaging floor finishes. Finally, check overuse of a spray buffing solution or restorer.

Normally, a clear water rinse followed by burnishing will remove sticky residues. Just make sure the burnish pads are rotated, cleaned, and replaced as necessary. The old adage that if a little bit does a good job then a lot more will do even better is certainly counterproductive when it comes to floor maintenance. More than likely, overuse of products is the cause of your sticky problem.

Setting up a floor care maintenance routine

Q.  We have a 3,000 sq. ft. banquet hall floor of VCT, used pretty much daily for dart leagues, parties, receptions, banquets and meetings from September through May. The 10 or 12 banquet tables and 100 chairs with plastic glide feet are dragged and this scratches and damages the floor beyond belief. To make matters worse, the schedule does not allow for an appropriate maintenance schedule.
The building houses an additional 7,000 sq. ft. of hard floor. The facility has no auto scrubber, no burnishing machine, and no time to institute a proper maintenance program. We have a 2 speed swing machine and a wet vac to do all the work.
There appears to have been pigment leeching from the stripper and pad leaving the blue tile faded looking, scratched, and blotchy. This floor needs to be stripped, refinished, cured, and burnished at least once, if not twice annually, and, at the very least, a burnisher should be purchased. It is dry and damp mopped daily, but the workload leaves little time for burnishing, or deep scrubs and recoats, especially September thru May when heavy use prohibits the removal of obstructions.
Still, the gold standard is demanded. I have done this work for 30 years and I can’t get through to them; bookings and lost revenues are far more important. Either I am out of my league or they are. Any words of advice would be appreciated. I’ve been there almost 8 years and I know what I should do, but the economy in this area isn’t exactly bursting.

A.  Unless the facility is willing to place value on floor appearance by opening their pocket book, you are just banging your head against the wall. You could demonstrate proper floor maintenance by borrowing, renting, or asking your Jan/San supplier to lend you a demo unit to burnish 1/3 of the room.

Then, suggest that an investment in proper equipment will greatly enhance the floor appearance. This, in turn, should improve customer satisfaction levels. Next quarter, work on an autoscrubber. Remember; you can only do what you can do, with what you have to work with. But never stop trying to bring excellence to your job assignment.

Top Scrub and Recoat Process

Q.  Can you give me a detailed procedure for top scrubbing a tile floor? Chemical usage, color of pad, proper equipment, etc. 

A.  There are several ways to accomplish this. In a small restroom or around toilets, you could use a scrub pad on a pole. Normally, you use a floor machine or an autoscrubber depending upon the size of the area.

Here is a short answer to your question. Dilute a floor cleaner (neutral or slightly alkaline) according to the label’s directions and mop the solution moderately heavy onto the floor (approx. 200 sq. ft at a time). Or, shower feed from a handle mounted tank on your floor machine. Scrub with a blue or green pad (1-2 passes).

Work small areas so the solution does not dry on the floor. Hand scrape any difficult spots. A 5" blade pulled toward you works best for blending. Wet vac and rinse 1-2 times. Inspect carefully while rinsing to re-blade any visible soil, bumps, burns, etc. Areas of discoloration will show thru the rinse water and indicate a need to rework the area. Do not apply floor finish over a marked, soiled, or discolored floor.

If you use an autoscrubber, shower feed the floor cleaner thru the machine. Make the first pass with the squeegee up and the second pass with it down. Apply one rinse. Finally, dust mop the dried floor with a clean pad to remove any debris, and then apply finish. If heavy traffic has worn off the finish, apply the first coat in the center of the traffic lane only. Then, apply the second coat, still keeping away from edges as much as possible. Avoid heavy recoats along the edges or you will experience an eventual buildup.

There are actually a lot of details to master concerning blending areas, knowing when to use 1 coat vs. 2 coats of floor finish, keeping the finish application light at the cut-off lines, reusing burnishing pads for top scrub, and a host of other variables.

New VCT Care

What is the best method and products for cleaning new VCT floors in a day care center? What price per sq.ft.?

Armstrong, for example, recommends cleaning the floor with a floor cleaner and then applying 3-5 coats of a finish containing 16%-22% solids such as Armstrong S-480 Commercial Floor Polish. Others are likely similar.

My experience has shown that a floor machine with a floor cleaner and green pad will remove additional scratches, black marks, and embedded soil much better than just mopping the floor. Always prep for finish by scrubbing.

On the East Coast, we usually see a range of 20 to 40 cents a square foot on new unoccupied VCT. The point spread is based on area, number of rooms, coats of finish, etc. 2K is considered small and 10K is considered large. We use an eight point scoring system in JanBid to zero in on the winning price.

Wood Floor Care 

Q.  Can you use a buffing machine on a wood gym floor to get up scuff marks? 

A.  A slow speed (175 rpm) floor machine works well to buff out a gym floor.  Usually a red pad with a wood floor polish does the best job. Before buffing, dust mop, then use a slightly damp flat mop to remove any spills.

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