I have never thought I would have so much fun sharing my knowledge about the floor care with you. Back when I was starting my first commercial cleaning company, you couldn’t find this information on the Internet – that is if you had an Internet. Even books on this subject were rare. Sometimes the only option to learn for us was the trial and error method. The biggest pro of this method was that once you have learned something you remembered it for the rest of your life and the cons of course were: time consumption and high cost.
Fortunately, floor buffing is one of the easiest and more pleasurable floor maintenance applications. Can one still mess up the floor in the process? Yes. Fortunately again it is not going to be you, because you are smarter than that and you will educate yourself by reading this blog in its entirety.
There are different types of floors that can call for buffing or polishing and buffing techniques will slightly differ from floor to floor as well. Today we are going to focus on buffing the VCT floors that contains previously applied floor finish. As the matter of fact we won’t be buffing the VCT floor at all, but the floor finish that is on the floor. The VCT tile will not shine no matter how long you buff it unless it has enough floor finish on it. No wax, no shine. Period.
There are several types of high speed buffers (burnishers) you can use for this job. Your buffer should have a speed over 1000 rpm. You can choose from electric burnishers (corded), battery operated burnishers and propane burnishers. Propane burnishers are the most powerful and fastest and are usually used for large areas, such as retail stores, supermarkets etc. Battery operated burnishers are a good alternative to propane burnishers. They are quiet, work very well in the medium to large areas, but they lock the power and speed comparing to propane buffers.
For a small to medium job most likely you will need the electric corded burnisher. The most common will be 20″ 1500 rpm or 20″ 2000 rpm. Burnishers are fairly easy to use, however if you lock experience you might want to choose 1500 rpm – they are more user friendly. 2000 rpm works faster, but there is a risk of burning the floor for inexperienced operator.
Electric buffers sit on their rear wheels and buff the floor with the front part of their pad. Make sure you are using proper pad. Generally only white pads are design for buffing, but in recent years a new generation of pads has been introduced to the market, like champagne or aqua. However, the best results I have ever achieved was using the Gorilla Natural Blend Burnishing Pad. Hog’s hair in the pad causes the wax to heat up faster resulting in high shine.
Before you start using your burnisher, make sure your pad is tightly and securely installed on the pad holder.
When you install a brand new pad on your machine it will remain it’s original thickness only for a short while. It’s a good idea to stop the buffer after few minutes of work and tighten the center lock securing the pad, so it won’t scratch the floor.
To use the burnisher, extend the handle to comfortable position – usually at your hipsheight . Make sure the cable doesn’t get in the path of your machine. With rpms ranging from 1500 to 2000 anything that gets under your machine will be ripped to pieces. It is important to exercise caution and common sense to avoid possibly severe injuries. Plug in your buffer. Push the handle down, so the pad will lift of the floor. Turn on the switch on the handle to start the buffer and gently lower the pad to the floor. Now, all you have to do is push it forward few steps and pull it back few steps. Don’t try to go left and right. It will make swivel marks on the floor. Do not pull the handle up. This will push the pad down to the floor and may cause an ugly burn in the wax. Make one pass, walking slowly and move to the next one. You will see the floor starting to shine in front of your eyes. You can spray the spray-buff lightly in front of machine. That process is called spray-buffing. It helps to some degree to achieve better gloss and remove dirt and scuff marks. You can make your own spray-buff by mixing floor finish and water in 1:1 ratio. You can also use a professional rejuvenator and restorer. It will clean, shine and remove scratches in one application and even improve floor’s slip resistant. When the entire floor is buffed, sweep it again with the dust mop and return everytnig to it’s orogonal position. If you’re buffing newly waxed floor and your goal is to make the floor finish more durable and add more shine simply follow the process outlined bellow:
- move chairs and light furniture for easy access
- remove gums with scraper
- sweep the floor thoroughly with dust mop
- mop the floor with neutral cleaner and allow to dry
- burnish the floor with high speed burnisher and white pad
- sweep the floor horoughly again
- move back furniture
For used floors with dull finish, instead of mopping the floor, you can use auto-scrubber with a red pad. If the floor is in the more challenging condition, i.e. dull and dirty finish, thin or no wax in high traffic areas, consider scrub and re-coat. I will cover that topic in my next post. Good luck with your buff;)
I remember my first strip & wax job back in the day. It took me 18 hours to complete it and the area wasn’t even that big. I thought I was well prepared and yet everything that could go wrong it actually did, but because I was prepared I was able to turn this potential failure into a successful completion. If you have never stripped and refinished a floor before I suggest to start with a small job. And this is what I want to discuss today – a very basic strip and wax job from the beginning to the end.
Ideally, I recommend learning it hands on from someone who already has an experience in stripping and waxing floors, but if that’s not an option, don’t worry – I’ll walk you through it.
Here is the list of the tools you will need to successfully strip and refinish VCT floor:
If you have never used a commercial floor buffer before – you will need to learn how to use it. This type of machine has a lot of torque and handling it at first is not easy. If you won’t take the time to learn how to use it – chances are you are going to end up with horrible looking floor and some holes in the walls as well. Here is an example of how not to strip floors.
Now since you have practiced how to use your buffer we can start stripping the floor. First we need to move all furniture. Everything you can remove from the room you’re working on should be removed. If there is a stove or some heavy fixture that will remain in the same spot, you can leave it in place and work around it.
First step is to sweep the floor, so we don’t have any debris that will get under the buffer and scratch the tiles. Make sure to scrape the gum of the floor as well.
Next, mix your stripper in the mop bucket with cold or luk-warm water in the ratio 1:4 (1 part stripper to 4 parts water) Do not use hot water as chemicals contained in the stripper may evaporate and all you will have left will be hot water. Don’t buy the cheapest stripper on the market. The quality of the stripper will determine if your job is going to be fun or if it will turn into a disaster. The Husky 704 Rinse Free Floor Stripper should be more than satisfactory for most of the jobs you will come across, however, if you need something stronger, the best stripper I have ever used was “Bare Bones” from NCL.
Apply mixed stripper generously with the mop to the floor. Don’t wring the mop while doing so. You need enough stripper on the floor to dilute the wax. Make sure the area you’re working on is manageable (usually 400 sq ft at the time). You don’t want the stripper to dry on the floor before you are able to agitate it with your machine and remove it. If the stripper starts drying, simply apply more water to the floor. The dwelling time is usually 8-15 minutes. Refer to the label – it is important to give stripper enough time to react with the floor finish for easy mechanical removal.
Install black stripping pad on your machine, adjust the handle to the comfortable position and turn on your buffer. Make slow passages in the left and right directions and work forward not backwards. This way you will always be walking on the striped floor and you won’t be sliding and slipping. Do not try to force your buffer. Make it listen to you. Push the handle gently down if you want it to turn left, lift it gently up if you want it to go to the right.
Use the doodle bug tool with black pad to strip corners and any areas not accessible with the machine. Use the floor scraper to remove the wax build up along the baseboards.
Vacuum diluted wax with wet and dry vacuum and immediately mop the floor with, preferably hot water. Use a floor squeegee to move diluted wax closer to your vacuum from hard to reach areas such as corners, under equipment etc.
Let the floor dry. If drying takes a long time use a fan or an air mover.
Examine the floor. If you see remaining of the wax on the floor, repeat the process. If not, it is time to apply new finish. Make sure the floor is stripped thoroughly. The new floor finish you are about to put will work like a magnifying glass. If you see something now, it will be even more visible after applying the finish.
Make sure to use good quality floor finish. It will make a difference in appearance. Unless you are waxing a supermarket floors you will most likely need 20% or 22% solid wax floor finish. The higher percentage of the solid wax it contains the softer it is. Softer wax will shine better but harder wax is more durable. Hard waxes (containing 17% – 18% of solid wax) always have to be burnished or they will barely have any shine at all. For most of the small to medium jobs (except for supermarkets and industrial floors) the Husky 1018 Floor Finish should work very well. However, check with your local or Internet supplier. There are other great brands available, such as “On and On” from NCL or “Vectra” by Johnson Wax.
Once you decide on wax, pour it into clean mop bucket with wringer. Install a finish mop had on a mop handle. Dip it in the wax and wring it well ,so it won’t drip and start waxing the floor. First make a one long pass along the baseboards. Next apply floor finish to the rest of the floor making a figure 8. When the mop head starts to dry, flip it to the other side and continue. When it’s dry on both sides dip it in wax and wring it again. Continue waxing. You are going to apply 4 coats of wax in the same manner. Make sure coats are relatively thin. Each coat has to dry completely before applying next one. This usually takes 15-30 minutes. When you apply the wax in the summer and it is humid outside, don’t open the windows. The wax will not dry properly and your job will be ruined. You can put the furniture back after the last coat is completely dry (usually 30 minutes) and allow light foot traffic, but try to avoid scratching.
The wax will cure in 48 hours and you will be able to return to burnish (high-speed buff) the floor if you desire that wet floor look. This will also harden the wax making it more durable. We will talk in detail about burnishing in our next article.
Hello and welcome everyone to our Blog!
As you probably realized by now, we are going to talk about floor care.
Currently, you will find hundreds if not thousands types of commercial and residential flooring on the market, so obviously there must be many of products, machines and cleaning methods allowing us to properly maintain our floors.
So the question is how do we pick the right product, right method and the right machine to do the job?
Do we use our good old polisher, an auto-scrubber or much more powerful sidewinder?
It will all depend on the square footage and overall condition of the floor. But first things first. Rule number one: Do it right the first time! Weather you’re a home owner, a business owner or a cleaning professional, it will always cost more to do it wrong and than have to fix it. In extreme cases you may even have no choice, but to replace the entire floor. How do we prevent it from happening? Easy – let’s get educated. It doesn’t take that long, the knowledge we will gain will serve us for the rest of our career and we’ll make sure that final results will be more than satisfactory.
Always ask an expert for advice. If it comes to purchasing a professional floor care equipment we highly recommend reliable and established e-commerce sites such as FloorCareMall.com, to ensure your equipment will be shipped promptly, as described and will carry all necessary warranties. You can always buy used or new equipment from E-bay and other internet sources, but make sure seller has a proper feedback ratio and your transaction is secure.
Please, visit our Blog often as we will be describing various cleaning methods and arming you with the knowledge necessary to successfully perform floor care services.