General Maintenance Information for Resilient Flooring

Why is Floor Care Necessary?

Following the recommended maintenance program improves the appearance and protects the floor by reducing wear and abrasion, which ultimately increases the service life of the flooring. It also contributes to a safe and healthy environment by minimizing potential slip and fall hazards, improving indoor air quality and cleanliness in the building. Walk-off mats, sweeping, mopping, polishing and buffing protect more than just the floor – they protect the building owner’s investment as well.

How to Determine A Maintenance Program

Maintenance Recommendations For Resilient Flooring

The following are general guidelines for maintaining Armstrong commercial flooring products. They are based on general experience using established methods and cleaning materials. It is important that these guidelines are read carefully as many of the products offer the end user maintenance options. Ultimately the local site conditions will determine what specific maintenance procedures and frequencies are needed. It is the responsibility of the maintenance provider to establish the maintenance program(s) that meet the demands of the space(s) and needs of the facility.

All resilient floor coverings require maintenance. How frequently the floors must be maintained depends largely on the factors described below. Following regular and well-planned maintenance programs protects the floor by reducing wear, preserves the floor’s attractive appearance and ultimately increases its service life.

How to Determine/Tailor Your Maintenance Program

Before establishing a maintenance program, there are a number of factors which must be considered in order to determine the most appropriate, cost-effective methods to use. It is critical that the maintenance methods for each floor and area be chosen only after careful evaluation with regard to the following:

Type of Flooring
It is important to know the type of floor before cleaning. Rubber or linoleum could be confused with vinyl or luxury vinyl tile (LVT) confused with wood or laminate.

Resources/Equipment/Chemicals/Personnel/Budget
Are well-trained maintenance personnel available?
Are the appropriate pieces of equipment (scrubbers, buffers, mops, pads, etc.) available?
Are the appropriate chemicals available?
What is the budget?

End-User’s Expectations
What is the desired gloss (high or low gloss)?
What is considered an acceptable level of appearance by the owner, customers, staff or end-user?

Type of Facility & Location of Flooring
Entryways, lobbies and pivot-point areas may require more protection and more frequent cleaning than lower traffic areas in other parts or upper levels of the building.

Volume and Type of Traffic and Soil
For instance, traffic types and volumes in entryways and corridors will vary greatly from those found at nurses’ stations or in examination rooms. Dirt and grit carried in from outside can differ significantly from the soils and chemical spills found in a laboratory or emergency room.

Special Traffic/Footwear
Areas subjected to frequent rolling loads provide a different environment than a children’s play area or corridor in an elementary school.

Color/Design of Flooring
Color and pattern can have a significant impact on a floor’s appearance and when properly chosen, may help mask soiling and staining. Mid-tones are better choices than light or dark colors. Busier/high contrast patterns will hide soiling and staining better than solid/monolithic ones.

STAGES OF THE FLOOR CARE MAINTENANCE LIFE CYCLE

Initial
Initial maintenance defines those procedures that are to be performed on newly installed flooring. The extent of initial maintenance will be dependent on the level of cleanliness in which the installed floor covering was left.

Daily/Regular
As the name suggests, these are the procedures that are conducted on a frequent, daily or routine basis. They are generally less-aggressive procedures and consist primarily of dry soil and grit removal (vacuuming, dust mopping, sweeping) and damp or wet mopping. Daily/Regular maintenance is perhaps the most important aspect of a maintenance program and is designed to keep the floor at a consistent level of appearance. In high traffic environments, performing these simple procedures more frequently can extend the time between and need for more aggressive and costly periodic or restorative procedures.

Periodic
Periodic maintenance generally consists of more aggressive procedures that go beyond dry soil removal and damp or wet mopping. They incorporate machine scrubbing, (with or without the application of floor finish), buffing, spray buffing, burnishing or some combination of these procedures. Periodic maintenance will address traffic-laning and the overall appearance and gloss of the floor. In high traffic areas, these periodic procedures may be part of the Daily/Regular stage.

Restorative
Restorative maintenance is the most aggressive of all procedures. It typically involves stripping and refinishing of the floor and requires the largest investment of time, labor and money. It is performed when routine/periodic maintenance no longer provides the desired level of appearance.

SAFETY TIPS

Since wet floors may be slippery, post “Wet Floor” or “Caution” signs before and during wet cleaning procedures and until the floor is thoroughly dry. Tape off aisles and other areas if necessary (example: 24-Hour Stores).

  • Clean up spills and remove gum, labels, stickers, etc. immediately to minimize/eliminate slip hazards.
  • Wear appropriate personal protective equipment such as eyewear, gloves and footwear.
  • Inspect floor machines, making sure they are in good working condition according to the manufacturer’s recommendation.
  • If possible, notify facility staff and occupants before conducting maintenance.
  • Follow cautions and warnings provided by the manufacturer on the maintenance product containers.
  • Dispose of residual cleaning products and containers per your local disposal guidelines.
  • Refer to Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS).

FLOOR CARE FUNDAMENTALS

Preventative Maintenance

Grit Control
Controlling grit and soil is crucial to prolonging the attractive appearance of any floor. Grit or soil is any material – including dirt, stones, sand and clay – that is deposited onto the floor by normal commercial traffic. The best way to control grit is by using appropriate walk-off mats.

Recommended walk-off mats should:

  • Have a high-friction, open surface design to knock grit particles from the bottoms of shoes and then trap the particles.
  • Be used at every entrance, inside and outside, and should be at least as wide as the doorway and 8´ to 12´ long.
  • Have a backing that won’t stain the floor.
  • Be cleaned regularly and vacuumed, shaken and/or hosed off frequently.

While walk-off mats will retain a substantial amount of this grit and soil, some will still find its way into the building. Regular vacuuming, sweeping and dust-mopping will help control this type of grit.

Furniture Rests (feet, glides, casters, etc.)
Proper selection and care of furniture rests is important in the maintenance and appearance retention of all types of floor coverings. Following are some guidelines to consider: 

  • The contact area should be large enough to distribute the load evenly, without damaging the floor.
  • The contact area should be smooth, flat to provide full contact and free of small protrusions, irregularities, roughness, depressions, mold lines, embedded dirt, grit, etc.
  • All edges should be slightly rounded to prevent damage if briefly turned on edge.
  • Rests should be manufactured from non-staining materials.
  • Rests should be properly maintained. Worn, damaged and missing furniture rests should be replaced.
  • Furniture, appliances, equipment, etc. should be properly leveled so that all rests are fully and firmly on the floor at all times.

Heat welded seams
If not completed following the installation phase of heat welded sheet flooring, apply a thin, even application of Armstrong S-762 Weld Rod Coating Pen.  This will help reduce the porosity and seal the top surface of the weld. This is most important when using one of the No Polish maintenance options. When maintaining a product without the use of floor polish, it may be necessary to periodically recoat welded seams.

MAINTENANCE CHEMICALS

Neutral Floor Cleaner
A mild (pH of 6 to 8) detergent that does not contain any strongly alkaline material. Neutral cleaners remove soil, not floor polish, and are used for damp mopping, spot mopping, scrubbing and general floor cleaning.

General Purpose Cleaner
Stronger and more alkaline than neutral cleaners, general purpose cleaners are used in high traffic environments that might require the removal of more stubborn soils. Proper use and care should be taken as they can remove floor finish.

Disinfectants
Quaternary ammonium compounds (“quats”) are commonly used disinfectants in healthcare infection control programs. For the most part, when properly used and diluted they will have little or no effect on most floor coverings. Phenolic disinfectants tend to be caustic and are corrosive enough to attack and damage floor finishes and sensitive resilient flooring.

Floor Sealer
Sealers, usually acrylics, are applied between the floor and the finish/polish to help fill in the pores and smooth the surface. Sealers provide a base that promotes adhesion and increases the gloss of the finish/polish that is applied over it. Some sealers also provide stain resistance.

Floor Polish/Finish
A temporary coating that enhances the appearance and protects the flooring surface to which it is applied. Used for protection of the floor against abrasive wear and scratches from dust, dirt, grit and debris. Also helps to protect the floor from damage caused by spills.

Spray Buffing Solution
Specially formulated compound that is sprayed onto and buffed into the floor to renew the surface by filling in scratches and irregularities in the floor finish. Sometimes diluted floor finish is used.

Floor Stripper
Strippers are a highly alkaline (pH ≥10), deep penetrating chemicals which, when properly diluted with water, loosen and remove sealers and finishes. They may also be used for the removal of heavily embedded soil.

Mop-on/mop-off strippers do not require machine scrubbing. The use of mop-on/mop-off, no-scrub and/or no-rinse strippers is not recommended on tile floors that are less than two years old, because they may affect the adhesive bond. The use of these highly solvenated or highly concentrated strippers can also be detrimental to linoleum and other specialty flooring products.

CLEANING THE FLOOR 

Damp Mopping/Spot Mopping
This procedure involves the removal of fine dust, grit and spills from the floor surface with a mop dampened with a neutral detergent solution. Damp-mop isolated spots and spills. Performed daily, this procedure helps to control grit and can reduce time and money spent on more intensive maintenance.

Wet Mopping
A floor cleaning method, which utilizes a detergent solution to wet the floor, is used primarily to remove soils not evacuated by sweeping or dust mopping. While wet, a mildly abrasive tool, such as a cotton or sponge mop, is used to agitate the surface. If required, rinse the floor thoroughly after washing it.

Scrubbing
Washing a floor by wetting it with detergent solution, then using a moderately abrasive nonwoven pad or appropriate brush, either by hand or attached to a low-speed floor machine, to vigorously agitate the wet surface. This procedure is used when a floor is heavily soiled, and less-aggressive cleaning methods have been unsuccessful. Always rinse thoroughly after scrubbing.

Rinsing
The process of removing residual cleaning/stripping solutions using clean, cool water. Change rinse water frequently. When performing a stripping procedure it may take multiple rinsings.

Wet Vacuuming
Using a vacuum cleaner designed to pick up aqueous solutions. It is particularly useful when scrubbing, stripping or rinsing a floor.

STRIPPING THE FLOOR

Stripping is the process of removing existing layers of old site-applied sealers and/or finishes from the flooring surface. A standard stripping chemical is diluted and applied to the floor with a mop or solution applicator and allowed to dwell. This solution penetrates the finish and re-emulsifies it into a semi-liquid state. Abrasive agitation is needed to completely remove the finish using a floor machine.

Stripping Tips:

  • Proper dilution is critical to optimum performance.
  • Stripping solutions for linoleum should not exceed a pH of 10.
  • Stripping of newly installed Armstrong floors is not required nor recommended.
  • This process is performed in the restorative stage of the maintenance life cycle and should only be performed when routine daily/periodic procedures are no longer effective.
  • Stripping is used primarily with the Polish maintenance option.
  • When using the spray buffing maintenance option, stripping may become necessary with the long-term build-up of spray buff solution (polish).
  • Do not allow stripping solution to dry on the floor as it will become more difficult to remove. Failure to completely remove stripping solution residue may result in inadequate bonding of the floor finishes.
  • Drizzling fresh, clean rinse water onto the dirty stripping solution will assist with more thorough removal.
  • The proper use of quality maintenance products and adherence to a well-planned maintenance program will greatly reduce the need for stripping.

NOTE: The use of aggressive strippers such as mop-on/mop-off, no-scrub/no-rinse strippers is not recommended on tile floors less than two years old because they may affect the adhesive bond.

POLISHING/FINISHING THE FLOOR 

There are three primary reasons for polishing a floor:

Protection
Polish will protect the flooring from the damaging effects of abrasive wear, the embedment of soils, many stains and the leaching effect of frequent cleaning.

Appearance
The use of floor polish (finish) will impart an enhanced appearance and provide a uniform gloss.

Ease of Maintenance
The use of polish may allow for the floor to be more easily cleaned.

High-quality, water-based acrylic polishes are the most commonly used type of field-applied finishes for protecting and enhancing commercial resilient floors. Armstrong S-480 Commercial Floor Polish, designed for durability and resistance to detergent solutions (except stripping solutions), offers a broad-spectrum response to a variety of maintenance procedures and equipment. There are numerous types of floor polishes available, so it is important that they are properly selected to match the maintenance program.

NOTE: Static Dissipative Tile requires the use of Armstrong S-392 SDT Polish.

Maintaining an acceptable gloss level is achieved by buffing, spray-buffing or burnishing.

Supplemental coats of polish should be applied as appearance and gloss level dictate. To maintain optimal appearance and protection in high traffic and high soil areas (such as lobbies, chair-slide areas in classrooms and cafeterias, elevators, supermarket checkout lanes, etc.), polish may need to be applied more frequently to maintain the minimum protective layer.

NOTES:

  1. Prior to the application of floor polish all dust, dirt, grit and debris must be removed.
  2. Always allow adequate drying time between coats. Normally, drying takes 30-45 minutes depending on the polish and site temperature, humidity and air circulation conditions.
  3. Generally, no more than four coats of finish should be applied in twenty-four hours.
  4. If a sealer is recommended or required, it must be applied before the polish. (See Sealing The Floor.)

SEALING THE FLOOR Generally, sealing a floor is optional. Sealers are usually used on older floors to improve maintenance characteristics and on floors where additional stain resistance is desired. Sealers may also promote adhesion. However, if the polish manufacturer recommends the use of a sealer, that recommendation should be followed.

Generally two coats of a sealer are sufficient to provide the desired protection. Sealers by themselves are generally not recommended as a walking surface. They must be top coated with a floor polish. Resilient flooring sealers are generally applied by the same techniques used when applying floor polishes.

Armstrong S-495 Commercial Floor Sealer is designed to provide a proper base for S-480 Commercial Floor Polish, as well as offer the added benefit of increased stain resistance.

BUFFING TECHNIQUES Buffing is the process of making the flooring surface smooth and glossy by friction. Care must be taken to combine the proper pads or brushes with the proper machine speed and the recommended polish or finish to produce the desired result. The rpm of buffing machines and the selection of pads or brushes should be as recommended by the polish/finish/pad or brush manufacturer. Different types of buffing techniques include:

Spray-Buffing
Spray buffing is the process of applying and buffing the floor with a specially formulated spray buffing solution. This procedure is especially useful in high traffic areas. The solution is sprayed on the floor and then immediately buffed with a machine until dry. This process levels and fills scratches and reduces the need for stripping while enhancing the floor’s gloss level. Depending on the finish and the floor, spray buffing is performed at machine speeds of 175 to 1000 rpm.

Dry-Buffing/Burnishing
The process of buffing a clean, dry flooring surface with a machine. Dry-buffing will restore or increase gloss; however, care must be taken to avoid damaging the surface. Conventional dry-buffing is typically done at 175-1500 rpm. Ultra High Speed (UHS) burnishing is a similar process with typical machine speeds of 2000 rpm or higher.

EQUIPMENT

Floor Machines

Automatic Floor Machines

  • Self-contained machine that dispenses, scrubs and takes up cleaning solution in a single-pass operation
  • Typically electric or battery powered
  • Single or multiple disks
  • Riding, robotic or walk-behind
  • 175-300 rpm range
  • Typically used for cleaning and scrubbing

Single-disc Floor Machine

  • Manually operated swing machine
  • Used for scrubbing, buffing and stripping
  • Comes in various sizes (13˝ to 23˝ disc)
  • Typically 175 rpm
  • Usually electric

High-Speed Buffers

  • Typically used for buffing and spray-buffing.
  • Typical speeds 300 to 1100 rpm.
  • Range in size from 13˝ to 23˝

Ultra High Speed Buffer/Burnisher

  • Used for quick buffing and burnishing, thereby reducing labor costs
  • Usually a single-disc
  • Operate in the 1100- to 2000-plus rpm range
  • Propane, battery or electric
  • Various sizes

Wet-vac

  • A vacuum cleaner that picks up maintenance solutions.
  • Typically used when scrubbing or stripping a floor with a single disc swing machine.
  • Unlike an automatic machine, this would be done in a separate operation.

Machine Pads

  • A nonwoven nylon, polyester, or natural fiber disc up to 1˝ thick. Each disc has various types and sizes of intertwined fibers, some of which may have grit particles bound to fiber on the surface.
  • For scrubbing, stripping, buffing.
  • Coarseness of the pad determines its use: least coarse for buffing, with increasing coarseness for scrubbing and stripping. Pads are color-coded to designate their coarseness and use. Lighter-color pads tend to be less abrasive, with darker color pads being the most abrasive. Pad manufacturers generally follow these guidelines:– Natural fiber – burnishing
    – White – polishing
    – Beige – buffing
    – Red – spray-buffing and light scrubbing
    – Blue/Green (medium abrasive) scrubbing and stripping
    – Brown (extremely abrasive – not recommended for Armstrong resilient flooring)
    – Black (extremely abrasive – not recommended for Armstrong resilient flooring)

Machine Brushes

  • Used as an alternative to pads.
  • A circular brush with bristles of varying stiffness and abrasiveness, depending on whether it’s to be used for scrubbing, buffing or stripping. Bristles are made of natural or synthetic fibers or grit-impregnated nylon.
  • Always follow brush manufacturer’s guidelines for choosing the floor machine brush with the appropriate stiffness and abrasiveness.
  • Advantageous on embossed surfaces and slip resistant flooring.

Mops

Dust Mops

  • Used under dry conditions for the removal of loose surface soil, grit and dirt.
  • Available in widths from 12˝ to 72˝.
  • Alternatives include vacuums, brushes and brooms.

Wet Mops

  • Available in various sizes (16oz, 20oz, 24oz, 32oz, etc.).
  • Usually cotton, rayon or blends of cotton, rayon or other synthetics.
  • Looped end or cut end.
  • Used in wet methods for the application and removal of maintenance solutions and rinse water.

Specialty Mops

  • T-shirt, chamois for use on slip-retardant products.

Finish Mops

  • Designed to absorb, release and spread floor finishes (polish).
  • May be cotton, rayon, blends or microfiber.

Microfiber Mops

  • Composed of tiny (micro) fibers which provide more surface area.
  • Used for cleaning and/or finish application.
  • Use less maintenance solution than traditional mops.
  • Longer product life compared to traditional mops.

Petroleum and Antioxidant Staining
Antioxidants used in the manufacture of rubber, as well as petroleum from exterior asphalt sealants and/or spills tracked in on shoes and casters may cause permanent discoloration to any resilient floor. The stain gradually appears over time. The use of a polish/finish will help minimize these types of stains.

Spills
Clean up spills as soon as they occur to minimize slip and fall potential, impact on health, environment and the floor. Use the proper cleaning solutions; use only what is necessary and dispose of solution properly. Ensure occupants know whom to contact if a spill occurs.

Stain Removal
Stains should always be removed as soon as possible in order to prevent or minimize permanent discoloration. Use the least aggressive cleaner possible (water, neutral cleaner, etc.). More stubborn stains may require the use of a general purpose cleaner or a floor stripper. (For Linoleum, any maintenance solutions must be 10 pH or less.)

Updated on October 26, 2022