How to Sustainably
Do your wood, vinyl, or stone floors need to be refinished? Before you reach for harsh chemicals, there are a number of ways to make the processes of revitalizing floors more
Know Your Refurbishment Needs
How many different types of floors are in your building?
Ones that can be refinished are vinyl composition tile (VCT),
luxury vinyl tile (LVT), terrazzo, and hardwood. Those that can
be refurbished are stones like marble, limestone, travertine, and
All refinishing or refurbishing timelines are affected by traffic
and usage variables and the type of finishes used. Harder
finishes, for example, usually do not have the same gloss
capabilities but hold shine longer between service procedures
like buffing or burnishing. VCT, LVT, and terrazzo can be
refinished multiple times per year, but proactive maintenance
practices will prolong the time between.
Hardwood floors are normally finished with a catalyzed finish
like polyurethane, which gives it more durability under traffic
conditions. Excluding gymnasium floors, they are sometimes
limited in size or placement in less heavily traveled areas. The
hardness of the finish requires a sanding process to remove.
Most hardwood owners try to place as much time between
refinishing operations as possible because of the cost and
business disruption, not to mention the dusty mess it can create.
Stone flooring also has limitations when refurbishing. Harder
stone like granite takes professional service by a stone expert.
Softer stone options like marble, limestone, and travertine can
be serviced by non-professionals and are much more forgiving
during the refinishing process.
Stripping solutions can be difficult to work with and can cause
irritation if they come in contact with bare skin. Stripper slurry
should be disposed of in a drain that receives sewer treatment.
The dust and any polyurethane removed from hardwood
during sanding operations can be an inhalation hazard if it
escapes the vacuum system on the sanding equipment. Dust
collection bags can also spontaneously combust and must be
monitored for such danger.
Stone refurbishing can loosen a lot of stone slurry and disposal
can create clogs if not followed by large amounts of water to flush
drainage pipes. Working on marble or other calcium stones while
dry can also cause an inhalation hazard.
Maintenance Is the Key to Longevity
Floor maintenance is crucial for keeping refinishing operations
limited. Many facilities and contractors responsible for these
types of flooring services have begun to offer interim services.
These options are a type of deep cleaning process but not
For example, contractors are using a deep scrub and recoat
process in place of full stripping and refinishing. An abrasive
pad, though not as harsh as a stripping pad, is used to remove
the soiled top layers of floor finish. The floor is then recoated
without the use of stripping solution. This process can be
completed multiple times between stripping and refinishing,
which eliminates the use of a floor stripper and having to dump
Oscillating machines, common for hardwood sanding
operations, are being repurposed for use with water-only
stripping. This operation is similar to the deep scrub and recoat.
These machines can also be used for dry stripping, which
doesn’t require water or a stripping agent.
Facility managers should never wait until soiling becomes
visible or traffic patterns become deeply imbedded into the
flooring materials. Maintenance staff should understand the
value of tightly orchestrated routine cleaning to remove daily
soils almost as soon as they are carried onto the flooring.
The less grime there is on your floors, the more time you
can wait between deep cleaning. In the long run, you reduce
operating costs, decrease exposure for workers, use fewer
cleaning materials, and minimize chemical disposal.
Dane Gregory is a Bridgepoint Systems instructor with LGM and
Associates, a floor consulting firm.