Association News

Proper Floor Polish Application

February 9, 2006
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Understanding how to apply floor polishes (seals, finishes and seal/finishes) is essential for the contemporary floor maintenance technician. Although many floor-covering categories require polish, it is the vinyl composite tile (VCT) classification in the resilient flooring category that the technician will be most exposed to. From the time this floor is installed until it is removed, floor polishes will be required to maintain it.

Generally speaking the same methodology can be applied on other floor covering categories, however, it is best to follow the maintenance instructions of the flooring and chemical manufacturers to achieve best results.

Polishes protect the flooring from the damaging effects of erosion, they are easier to clean, present an enhanced appearance and provide a safe surface to walk on. Floor polish is required throughout the maintenance life cycle of VCT; it is applied directly after installation in the initial maintenance period, replenished from time to time in the periodic maintenance period and removed and replaced in the restorative maintenance period. There are many methods for applying polish to the flooring, and it is up to the technician to decide which method is most suitable and yields the best results.

System Selection

There are a few things to consider before applying a floor finish: the receptacle for holding the polish, a device for removing excess polish, the tool used for delivery and the material that spreads the finish.

Traditionally, floor polishes have been applied using the bucket (receptacle), wringer (devise), mop (tool) and mop head (material), but there are other options available. Many technicians choose flat mop or applicator systems to accomplish the objective. For large areas there are systems that automate the application by combining the entire operation into one machine. Regardless of method, the objective is still getting the polish onto the floor.

The mop head or applicator material selection is the choice of the technician of which the fibers may be made of cotton, synthetic, blends or micro-fiber. The applicator selected should be dedicated to floor finish or seal application only, and not for anything else.

Applying the Coating

Unless you are doing large areas, it is not advisable to pour too much polish into your bucket or receptacle. Floor polish can be expensive; it should not be wasted. Always try to judge the right amount required to complete the job and do not pour out too much. If you are doing a large job that requires several gallons of floor polish, try to rinse the bucket before adding more. Even though there are buckets and receptacles that have catching bays, a quick rinse will help to remove the debris that will be picked up in the process of application. And remember, never pour contaminated finish back into the container; it will impact the remaining finish in the container.

Leaving the right amount of polish in the applicator or mop head to cover an area with even consistent coats is the objective. If the polish is applied too heavy, it takes much longer to dry and puddles in the low spots. Also, too much polish in the mop or applicator head will undoubtedly drip as you walk to the starting point. These drips, when allowed to dry, turn into unsightly fish eyes. Conversely, if there is not enough polish in the mop or applicator, the floor will take on a streaky appearance. For the best results, light to moderate, even, consistent coats are suitable for most floor coverings.

When performing polish application for initial maintenance or restorative maintenance, multiple coats will be required. The first coat is the most important, and all subsequent coats will build on it. It is important that you apply an even, consistent coat. This is accomplished by boxing out an area and filling in the middle. The boxed area should be no wider than you can comfortably swing the applicator or mop. For even coverage without missing areas, swing the mop or applicator in a slight figure eight pattern to overlap and cover more area. Always maintain a wet edge to avoid allowing a portion of the polish to get tacky and pull.

The number of coats or applications will be predicated by the results desired. For initial or restorative maintenance, three to five coats will be sufficient for most polishes, but more may be required. The important thing to remember is that you do not want your hard work to be left unprotected or insufficiently protected. It also helps to have each coat completely dry before applying the next coat. This process can be helped along with the use of floor fans, however do not set the fan to close or turn it on to high as it will cause rippling in the finish. Periodic scrub and recoats usually require one to two coats.

Once the polish has been applied and completely dry it may be necessary to buff or burnish the floor. This will be determined by the chemical system selected; some are no-buff systems and some are high-speed or ultra high-speed systems requiring burnishing to set them.

Many floor coverings require polish; understanding when and how to properly apply floor polish can make all the difference in the world. There are many different methods available for application, but it is up to the individual hard floor maintenance technician to determine which is most suitable for the task at hand.

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