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Tuesday, October 06, 2015


I recently took over the maintenance of a childcare center. A cleaning crew does the washing and buffing of the floors on a weekly basis and stripping and refinishing on a six-month’s rotation. I have noticed what looks like little air bubbles or minute debris all over the entire floor’s finish. Is it some sort of a reaction of the finish or could it be in the application or something else?


If the air bubbles you describe have popped and left perfect circles, the cause is a high foaming floor finish. If the floor contractor continues to use the same finish, instead of pressing out the finish mop in a mop press, they should use alternate methods of application. One method is to use a flat mop with a feed tube from a finish reservoir to apply the finish. Several manufacturers offer such systems. Another alternative is to drill 4 small holes in the floor finish cap and carefully sprinkle the finish on the floor ahead of the mop. Keep the jug about 6 inches above the floor to prevent splashing and pour out no more than a 7-foot by 15-foot area.
If there are rows of ropy bubbles, more than likely a blow drier (commercial air handler) was applied too soon to the floor and it blew permanent waves into the finish.
Debris “waxed” into the floor is normally from inadequate cleaning prior to laying finish or using a dirty mop. Best results are achieved by using a backpack vacuum, microfiber or a tack mop. A tack mop is carefully prepared by lightly spraying floor finish onto a clean dust mop head prior to use, and then at least every 10 minutes while cleaning the floor before laying finish. When this is done properly, it is just sticky enough to hold debris in the head without leaving anything on the floor. Be careful.

A thorough dust mopping prior to laying stripper, and a thorough squeegee process to remove wasted stripper and debris prior to rinsing, facilitates additional debris removal.
If imperfections are minor and few, a blade, burnish, and re-coat will work. If imperfections are widespread, the floors will require stripping.
Gary Clipperton

Bubbles are one thing and debris in the finish is yet another. One of the cardinal rules of finish application is to use a clean applicator. Another is to apply finish only to a clean floor.
Without thought, some custodians will us any mop that is handy to apply finish, and that is unwise due to the chemical and debris build-up that is inevitable in the common floor mop head. Use of a dedicated floor finish mop head should be the norm. Use of a microfiber flat mop to apply finish is a good practice. The microfibers pick up and hold debris even while leveling the finish. The flat mop head is easily washed out and returned to service without wasting a large amount of floor finish.
Lynn E. Krafft, ICAN Associate Editor for ATEX