ICS Magazine

VCT and the Different Floor Cleaning Categories

August 9, 2001
Hard Floor Maintenance

Because of this, VCT is installed more often and in more places than any other hard-surface flooring being used today. It is what you find in almost every grocery and department store. Although it is primarily used in commercial projects, it can also be found in the residential arena.

VCT is a resilient floor. Resilient floors accept impact and return to their original position after pressure is applied (e.g. being stepped on). Resilient floors, being softer than other hard-surface floors, are quite user friendly. Other examples of resilient tile floors are sheet vinyl (also known as pure vinyl), vinyl asbestos (VAT), rubber, asphalt and linoleum.

VCT is made of limestone, vinyl resins and color pigment. It comes primarily in 12-by-12-inch tiles but can also be found in a 9-by-9-inch size. The 9-by-9-inch tile is usually associated with older tiles. When dealing with older tiles, be aware that they may contain asbestos. In such instances, be sure to follow the Environmental Protection Agency's recommended guidelines for cleaning floors containing asbestos.

VCT Cleaning Cycles

When instituting a floor care program for VCT you must understand the various cycles or categories of hard-surface floor care. They are initial, routine/daily, interim/periodic and restorative/salvage.


Regardless of the age and condition of the floor, the first procedure you or your company performs is the initial cleaning. As a professional cleaner, the ideal floor to start cleaning is a new floor. However, we are not always afforded that opportunity, and many times we are asked to maintain or restore a floor with either excessive or very little finish on it, or a floor that has been abused. Regardless of whether your initial cleaning is a routine, periodic or restorative procedure, it is still the first step and should be described as the initial cleaning.

Another definition of initial cleaning is the first procedure performed on brand new VCT. Most VCT manufacturers require some type of initial cleaning, sealing and refinishing. Some require only a light scrubbing followed by several coats of floor finish, while others insist on a complete stripping of the factory finish, followed by rinsing and neutralizing the floor before applying any sealers and/or finishes. Check with the manufacturer regarding these procedures. Also, make sure the adhesive is completely dry before applying any moisture to the floor. Most companies require a waiting period of 72 hours after installation before performing any maintenance procedures.

Routine/Daily Cleaning

Routine/daily cleaning is the first line of defense when it comes to floor maintenance procedures. These procedures are designed to prevent or prolong the more expensive interim/periodic and restorative/salvage cleaning procedures. Routine/daily cleaning is the least expensive and least aggressive of all floor cleaning procedures. It usually consists of dry-soil removal (sweeping, dust mopping and/or vacuuming) followed by a wet-mopping procedure.

Interim/Periodic Cleaning

Interim/periodic cleaning is sometimes incorporated with routine/daily cleaning, but is most often a stand-alone procedure. It usually consists of a scrubbing, polishing or burnishing procedure. Interim/periodic procedures are performed to help maintain the highest level of cleanliness and appearance. These procedures are also less expensive to perform than restorative/salvage cleanings. Often, the success of any floor care program depends on the quality and frequency of the interim/periodic procedures being performed.

Restorative/Salvage Cleaning

Restorative/salvage cleaning of VCT is the most labor-intensive floor cleaning procedure. That is one reason why companies will spend considerable time and money on their interim/periodic cleaning programs. The more frequently interim/periodic procedures are performed, the less frequently will they have to employ the most expensive cleaning procedure of them all: The dreaded stripping and refinishing procedures.

Knowing the present condition of the floor you are cleaning, and deciding which procedure to start with, is the key to a successful VCT floor care program. Next month I plan to be back on track with my original concept of working through a hard-surface floor care program. We left off with dry-soil removal. These last two issues I have addressed wood floors and the different floor care categories. Next month I intend to address the different wet-mopping procedures, methods and techniques associated with hard-floor care.