Part III of IV – Repair Options – Scratches, Gouges, and Scrapes… Imagine That!?!
Repairing damaged flooring is only worthwhile if preventive measures, as outline in the previous part (Part 2) of this four part series, are put in place. This repairs section will begin with the easiest, least expensive approach for superficial damage repair providing information on frequency of use and the type of situation it fits continuing through several methods until we get to the most intensive, and most costly, approach reserved for special situations that require a floor to be far more durable than normal and hold up far beyond a floor’s normal life expectancy.
SPRAY BUFFING is a simple procedure that utilizes equipment most commercial and institutional facilities have on location. A spray-buff program removes scuffs and superficial scratches to rejuvenate a floor. Before starting a spray buff routine, check with the manufacturer of the flooring for recommended spray buff solution(s) and specifications on the machine and type of pad. Typically, spray buffing with a low rpm (175-350 rpm) swing machine fitted with a white buffing pad will do well to restore shine. For a higher shine, a high speed burnishing machine (450-1500 rpm fitted with the appropriate pad (pads vary by machine) and an experienced technician. A high-speed machine requires a user with a higher level of experience because it can permanently damage the floor, especially at high spots, if not used correctly. For best results, it is IMPERATIVE to clean, rinse and allow the floor to dry before spray buffing. Always investigate the best driver and pad options for the speed, weight and type of floor buffing machine and pad. The best resource is the flooring manufacturer. Information about care and maintenance is typically available on flooring manufacturer websites.
DIAMOND PAD CLEANING SYSTEM is an environmentally friendly approach to mechanically treat and maintain floors using a standard swing-arm or high-speed floor machine fitted with special diamond-impregnated floor pads and water. The pads are impregnated with billions of microscopic diamonds and require NO chemicals at all to clean and polish the floor. Restorative procedures are implemented using a series of diamond impregnated pads in varying grits to work out deep scratches then soften the edges and remove superficial scuffs and scrapes. This system is a viable alternative to traditional floor polishes that provides optimum results. Continued use of the family of pads will preserve a floor’s natural appearance, minimize visible scratches and create a natural luster. My experience has been with TWISTER™ Diamond Impregnated Pads that successfully remove surface scratches to boost overall gloss level on a VCT floor that had been in place for several years. The resulting sheen was the same as when the floor was new.
LOCALIZED REPAIRS are best addressed with a more precise method. Dr. Schutz ScratchFix Kit provides everything required to complete a professional looking repair when scratches cover an area no more than a few square feet. For use on LVT or Sheet Vinyl the kit contains a finishing pen for deep scratches and a spray for superficial scratches along with the few hand tools required to manually make repairs to the floor. Carefully following the enclosed instructions will provide professional results. The low luster gloss level of the repair kit will accommodate about 85% of the satin and matte finishes currently in the market.
Commercial Sheet Vinyl in a busy Imaging Center
Same floor after application of Hilway Direct Matte Acrylic Finish
Most manufacturers of commercial Sheet Vinyl and LVT promote their floors as low maintenance following installation requiring nothing more than routine cleaning. When this is done, a floor may perform for several years with nothing more than routine cleaning but eventually it will “ugly out” in heavy traffic lanes, pivot points and heavily used areas. ACRYLIC POLISH is a cost effective solution that provides a “sacrificial coating” to protect the floor’s surface against wear and tear, and extends the life of the floor. After floor polish has been applied, ongoing care is required and involves regular cleaning with a neutral cleaner and a regular strip and polish regime to maintain appearance. Frequency of cleaning and the strip/polish cycle varies greatly in different facilities. A busy hospital corridor may be cleaned daily with a neutral cleaner and the polish removed and re-applied every 2-3 months to maintain a clean, glossy appearance while a school corridor may only get cleaned twice a week with a neutral cleaner and the strip/polish regiment occurs once or twice a year depending on man power, budget and access to the space. Even after a floor has seen extensive wear, a deep cleaning followed by application of an acrylic finish will provide great benefit and improve appearance. Just look at the before and after photos of a commercial sheet vinyl floor that was deep cleaned and finished with four coats of Hilway Direct Matte Floor Finish (photos above). The floor shined like new.
LVT Factory Finish
LVT with Hilway Direct Plus
LVT with Hilway Direct Plus, used as a Cleaner/Maintainer, after 1 year without stripping.
All-in-One CLEANER-MAINTAINER may be a preferred option in a facility where routine cleaning along with floor strip and polish regiments is too cumbersome. Cleaner/maintainer products leave a protective coating on the floor when you clean thereby reducing the frequency of required stripping and refinishing. Diversey WiWax and Hilway Direct Plus (higher in solids than WiWax) are two of the many options available for cleaner/maintainer programs. Cleaner/maintainer applies full strength, 2-4 coats, to create an initial, protective flooring finish. Following the initial application, cleaner/maintainer is diluted with water and used, in either an auto scrubber or mop/bucket, to clean and mend superficial scuffs, scratches and scrapes that happen as part of normal wear and tear on a floor. This diluted solution is alternated with neutral cleaner, approximately every 2-3 cleanings to avoid excessive buildup of the floor finish. Refer to the flooring manufacturer’s instructions before selecting a product to use as there may be specific recommended products.
Commercial Sheet Vinyl, 4-months old with severe damage
Same floor restored with Dr Schutz WaxNoMor Plus permanent wearlayer
A PERMANENT FIELD-APPLIED WEARLAYER may be the only effective method for repairing scratches, gouges and scrapes on a floor that handles excessive hard use routinely. When the manufacturer of a commercial sheet vinyl, shown in the photos above, was faced with a claim on floor that was four months old, they categorizing the claim as “extreme abuse” and turned it down. After I conducted an on-site analysis for the end user, it was abundantly clear to me that this particular facility had a unique set of circumstances that far exceed realistic expectations for any commercial flooring. This commercial sheet vinyl floor was taking extreme abuse from heavy equipment and traffic on a daily basis. Replacing the floor was not an option and would not resolve the problem. In order to salvage the floor, and give it a fighting chance against the continued heavy use, the best option was to apply WaxNoMor Plus, a field-applied permanent wearlayer, manufactured by Dr. Schutz. Touted as a “High Definition and Performance Wearlayer” this finish, when fully cured, is 22x times more scratch resistant than the original factory finish and it has an ultra matte sheen (lowest reflective properties available in the market) that practically eliminates glare greatly reducing the visibility of scratches and scuffs. Dr. Schutz permanent finish must be professionally applied since it becomes a permanent part of the existing floor. Application is costly, however savings of 40-60% will be realized over the life of the floor because this type of finish eliminates caustic strip and polish routines and reduces use of electricity, water and manpower. With consistent routine cleaning, under normal circumstances, a WaxNoMor Plus finish can easily last 3-5 years before reapplication is required.
Though I prefer the low-reflective properties of WaxNoMor Plus, Standard WaxNoMore is available in Matte, Satin, Semi-Gloss and High-Gloss sheens. The “Plus” component adds more durability than the standard WaxNoMor finishes which will increase scratch resistance 6x times as compared with WaxNoMor Plus’ 22x times.
7-year old Linoleum BEFORE
Same floor AFTER Hilway Direct Primo HP Acrylic-Modified Polyurethane Finish
Same floor 2-Years LATER
But let’s get real, despite the savings over time, 90% of the commercial flooring maintenance budgets don’t allow for the initial cost of a permanent wearlayer finish. The next best option is an ACRYLIC-MODIFIED POLYURETHANE FINISH that is more durable than a traditional acrylic finish and less expensive than a Dr. Schutz permanent wearlayer. It is not required to have a professional applicator and it can be spray buffed, stripped and reapplied by maintenance staff as needed. The expected life of the acrylic-modified polyurethane finish is 3x – 6x times longer than standard acrylic polish which means fewer strip and refinish cycles. The cost of materials is a fraction of permanent coating costs. Hilway Direct Primo HP is the only acrylic-modified polyurethane floor finish that I have used. It enhances the floor’s appearance with a warm satin finish.
The next and final part of this series on Scratches, Gouges and Scrapes, Part IV, will bring together the information from the first three Parts into a concise, easy to use, reference tool.