Floor Care Training Tips

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 dont 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 www.grayenterprise.com .

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 manufacturers 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 5×9 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 cant 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 Natures 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 contractors 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, its 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 its a major protrusion, there is no way to avoid a pad burn. It should be the installers 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 manufacturers 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.

3. 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).

4. Move mop bucket back another 20 and repeat operations.

5. A llow stripper to set 10-15 minutes before starting floor machine on dry tile and working into the wet slurry.

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