Even if your custodial staff has a strict cleaning schedule, you may notice the finish on your floors beginning to become yellow or darker in color. One of the most widespread issues we see in commercial flooring is discoloration in a sealer or finish on a floor. While this is most common in floors with acrylic or wax finishes, it can happen to a wide variety of floor types and can be caused a number of different things. Understanding how to prevent discoloration can go a long way to help your floors stay beautiful.

Causes of Yellowing:

  • Dirt Buildup – If your floor is not cleaned properly, dirt will build up in the coating. This can happen several different ways. Mopping with dirty water can cause dirt and sediment to settle into the floor’s coating. Improper dust mopping techniques can also cause dirt to build up on your floors. In addition to dust mopping and wet mopping incorrectly, most sealer manufacturers recommend a more thorough clean or even re-seal periodically (which could be every 6 months to 4 years, depending on the finish on the surface).
  • Cleaner Residue – More cleaner always means a cleaner floor, right? Using too much floor cleaner can actually leave residue on the surface which will attract dirt. One way to avoid this is to always use a neutral floor cleaner (pH 7). Most neutral cleaners will not leave any type of residue or film on the surface unless the employee is using dirty water. Since some cleaners or degreasers can be alkaline, they can leave a film on the surface if the surface is not rinsed properly.
  • Asphalt Tracking – If you have just had your asphalt parking lot re-sealed, this could also be a cause for discoloration in your coating or hard surface. The sealer can be tracked inside on the bottom of people’s shoes.  Make sure you have plenty of mats at your entrances if you have a fairly new asphalt parking lot.
  • Sloppy Refinishing – If your floor was not refinished properly, it can cause dirt to stick to your floors and cause yellowing/browning. If the floor stripper is not completely removed, it can cause the finish on the floor to become soft which allows dirt to become embedded. This can also happen when the coating has not cured properly prior to foot traffic or items being placed back onto the surface. We see this most often when carpet mats are put down on a sealer that has not finished curing.  The person usually notices a yellow discoloration under the mat the next time it is removed.

The only way to get rid of discoloration is to completely strip the old coating from the surface. Under extreme circumstances (where the customer has not maintained the floor well), the discoloration may have worked its way through the coating and into the hard surface.  Depending on the type of hard surface, the surface may be ruined or may need honed with abrasives to remove the discoloration.

Since yellowing and discoloration is so common in floors with acrylic or wax coatings, your staff must be especially weary of the causes. If your staff needs help removing discoloration or planning a maintenance strategy to prevent it, give the professionals at GK’s Custom Polishing, Inc. a call. We are a Cleveland-based company specializing in commercial and residential cleaning, polishing and refinishing for natural stone, concrete, terrazzo and ceramic tile. For more information on our services, give us a call at (440) 937-4457 or send us a quick email.