Choosing the Right Floor Finish
- June 15, 2016
- Category: Commercial, Concrete, Hard Surface Maintenance, Natural Stone
With so many different types of floor finishes available on the market today, it can be difficult for a facility manager to know what type of floor finishes are best for their specific situation. Choosing the best floor finish is mostly dependent on the type of flooring material, foot/wheel traffic in the area and how much time can be spent on maintaining the flooring surfaces. Below are some of the most common floor types found in commercial facilities and the most commonly used floor finishes.
Unlike many types of natural stone flooring, terrazzo is a composite material made of chips (usually marble, quartz or glass) and a bonding material (resinous epoxy or cement-based). While terrazzo is typically a lot more wear resistant than other flooring materials, it still requires maintenance beyond the usual dust mopping and auto scrubbing. The three most common finishes used for terrazzo are a naturally polished finish, acrylic finish (topical coating) and a burnishable coating (typically a nano-coating).
A naturally polished finish is accomplished by honing the terrazzo to remove scratches in the surface and then re-polishing the surface with finer abrasives or a polishing powder. There is typically no sealer applied to the terrazzo when a naturally polished finish is created. Periodically, about every 6-12 months, the terrazzo will need honed and polished to restore the luster.
An acrylic finish is a softer topical coating (usually a solids concentration of about 18 – 30%). Most acrylic coating are NOT burnishable. When the coating builds up with too much dirt or has too many scratches, it must be stripped and re-applied. This is usually once every 3 months (approximation dependent on foot traffic and where the flooring is located).
A nano-coating is a relatively newer type of topical coating. The application of this type of coating is very specific and must be applied by a professional. This type of coating almost never needs stripped and is maintained by burnishing with diamond impregnated floor pads. The nano-coating will need re-applied about once every 2 years (approximation dependent on foot traffic and where the flooring is located).
Natural stone surfaces (outside of some very specific situations – exterior of building, inside of a fountain, etc…) should very rarely be coated with a topical floor coating. The natural stone by itself is often times naturally harder than the coating. Stripping and re-applying a sealer to a natural stone can also be very damaging because of the caustic nature of chemical strippers. In addition, the natural beauty of marble, granite and other types of natural stone is often masked when a topical coating is applied because it gives the stone a “plastic-like” appearance.
Natural stone should be maintained by a hard surface maintenance company that is knowledgeable in maintaining these surfaces. There unfortunately is not a set work scope for all types of natural stone that will produce a consistent naturally polished finish. Each type of natural stone surface (there are thousands), requires a slightly different approach when the surface is being refinished.
When it comes to public restrooms, ceramic tile & grout are by far the most popular types of flooring. Due to the high use and dirtiness that can build up in public restrooms, ceramic tile requires constant cleaning to keep the surfaces looking presentable. Today though, there are options beyond cleaning that can keep the tile and grout lines cleaner – for longer!
An epoxy color seal can be applied to grout lines. The epoxy makes the grout lines 100% uniform and non-porous. In a heavily used public restroom, the epoxy color seal lasts about 1 year. In addition, a two-part clear urethane coating can also be applied to the tile and grout. The two-part urethane locks in the epoxy color seal and make the entire surface much easier to clean. With the two-part urethane and epoxy applied, a customer can expect at least 3-5 years before maintenance needs completed again (outside of dust mopping and wet mopping).
When looking for a type of flooring that offers durability along with several finishing options, you can’t go wrong with concrete. Unfortunately, concrete is porous and must be sealed to prevent stains. The two main classifications of concrete finishes are polished and epoxy/clear coat.
To create a naturally polished finish for your concrete, the surface is first ground down and honed. A liquid densifier is then applied to the concrete to harden it. A lithium silicate finish is then applied to the concrete to protect it. This is similar to an impregnating sealer that would be used on a natural stone surface. While these types of finishes do not last quite as long as an epoxy finish, they are popular due to their natural look. This finish can be maintained using specific concrete floor cleaners and burnishing pads. Areas like entrances that see high concentrations of salt in the winter will require more aggressive maintenance (honing with diamond abrasives).
An alternative type of floor finish is an epoxy coating or urethane clear coat. This type of flooring is very resilient and can be maintained with neutral floor cleaning chemicals. The biggest factor for wear with these finishes is contact with ice melt in the winter. Keeping the surfaces dry and free of ice melt debris in the winter is the best way to prolong further maintenance. When maintenance is needed, the surface is usually scarified and a new coat of epoxy or clear is applied.
Do you need help with maintenance of natural stone, concrete or tile/grout floors for your company? GK’s Custom Polishing, Inc. in Avon, OH offers commercial and residential cleaning, sealing and refinishing for almost every type of hard surface. We are also a master distributor of DuPont Stonetech cleaners and sealers for natural stone, concrete and tile/grout. For a free estimate, give us a call at (440) 937-4457 or send us a quick email. To purchase any of our hard surface cleaning products, visit our website.