It seems to me that there is no one, perfect hard floor maintenance program, as every floor receives different usage, and for the most part we are talking here about Vinyl Composition Tile, or as it’s better know VCT. Procedures should be kept flexible enough for varying conditions.  The most important thing is that the procedures be performed correctly and achieve the desired results.


Stripping and Refinishing

The question that most often comes up is whether it’s really necessary to strip and refinish floors, or weather a good scrubbing and recoating will be sufficient.  In that the complete stripping, and refinishing of a floor costs in the area of nearly double a scrub and recoat, it’s important to understand the difference, and when each is needed.

When you completely strip a floor, a special striping chemical is used in conjunction with a low-speed floor machine using a course scrubbing pad, in order to completely remove all of the old surface finish.  Once the floor has been completely stripped, rinsed, and the Ph is neutralized, new floor finish is applied, allowing it to dry between coats.  Usually at least four coats of new finish are applied, sometimes more, to the freshly stripped and cleaned floor.  When finished, the floor will have a lustrous sheen, and will have new durability.

The alternative to doing a strip and recoat is to do a scrub and recoat, but that is only a viable alternative if, (1) the existing floor finish is not warn through to the underlying floor, or (2) if the existing floor finish is not so old that it has either started to yellow or (3) if prior scrub and recoat applications hasn’t left the existing finish with too many layers to be able to restore it to its original luster.  With the scrub and recoat process the floor is scrubbed using a low-speed floor machine with a medium to fine scrubbing pad, (no stripping chemical is used in this process).  This process removes the top layer of existing floor finish, which is the layer that is now contains small scratches caused by wear, as well as small and embedded dirt particles.  Once the existing floor finish has been prepared in this fashion, new floor finish is now applied, usually about two coats.  The scrub and recoat process is less expensive than the strip and recoat process because it takes less time, no stripping chemicals and less floor finish.

Unfortunately, in the commercial cleaning, or janitorial, industry some unscrupulous companies try to sell customers on doing a strip and recoat, when all that is really needed is the less expensive scrub and recoat.  And, even more unscrupulously, some companies will sell a strip and recoat, and actually only perform the less expensive scrub and recoat; this, of course, is why it’s so important to know your janitorial contractor, their performance record and their business ethics.


High Speed Burnish/Scrubbing and Recoating

The short-term, or interim, alternative to the floor refinishing methods previously mentioned is to buff, or burnish, the existing floor finish.  This is an excellent method to maintain good looking lustrous floors, but it’s only an interim floor maintenance step, not a replacement for the aforementioned floor refinishing methods. When an existing hard surfaced floor (VCT or other similar floors) is buffed, or burnished, first the floor is thoroughly mopped clean.  Then with high-speed floor machine, and a fine buffing pad, the floor is buffed to a new high sheen.  The fine high-speed pad not only removes a micro-layer of finish, the heat created from the high-speed process also remolds the very top of the floor finish to an ultra smooth surface.  Unfortunately, this process has it limits, as after regular buffing, or burnishing, the floor must again receive new finish, via one of the above two application processes.

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