Ask the Building Maintenance Experts
Solutions for Your Toughest Problems

ICAN  Q & A  Home

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Question

We are stripping and refinishing 3500 sq. ft. of VCT in a doctor’s office. We have been charging .25 cents per square feet. We put down four coats of Phazer™ Multi 25 floor finish. We use the Phazer™ system which applies heavier coats of finish at the rate of 2 gallons for 1300 ft. or 35% heavier than conventional finish applied with a mop and bucket. Four coats of finish applied in this manner leaves 135% of the polymers on the floor. At 25 cents per sq. ft. we barely break even. What would you suggest for a square footage price?


Answer

For those readers who don’t know, Phazer™ is a back pack finish application system from Ecolab® and the finish you describe is the one recommended for the application device.
Moving on from there, Unisource® sells Multi 25 on its website for $70 per gallon.
Here are some facts about the product from Ecolab’s MSDS. It has a coverage of 1000 to 1600 sq. ft. per gallon, with one coat equaling two coats of conventional finish due to the high solids (25%) and the product’s ability to be placed in heavier coats than would normally be considered good practice. The finish is designed to be burnished up to three times a week.
Some of your remarks sound like echoes of marketing hype. I saw one website that said the finish was made for burnishing 4 to 7 times a week. Wrong, Ecolab® says differently.
Another sales source says the finish will provide the coverage of 3 coats of 20-22% solids finish. Not what Ecolab® tells us. Let’s go with the manufacturer’s recommendations.
So, what can we do to do better than break even? Several things can be tried.
One obviously simple change is to charge more. Move to $.30 per sq. ft. and add $175 to your charge. ($1050-875=175).
Stop frequent stripping. Stripping takes time and costs big money, not to mention the ecological impact of dissolving and dumping gallons of floor finish needlessly down the drain. The wear on a properly maintained floor in a doctor’s office is minimal and you should be able to extend the times between strip jobs for years. Are you burnishing to restore the finish?
Add less finish. Four coats of Multi 25 equal eight coats of a lesser solids finish. You don’t need that much buildup. Heavy scrub (which doesn’t remove all the finish) and recoat once. That will add to the base coats and allow for maintenance.
Adjust your applicator to the correct flow. Placing 2 gallons every 1300 sq. ft. amounts to 650 sq. ft. per gallon. Ecolab® says 1000 to 1600 sq. ft..per gallon, depending on surface porosity. At your high flow application rate, you are using over 5 gallons of finish each coat and are placing 4 coats. That is 20 gallons of finish at $70 per gallon or $1400 per job just for finish. You are charging $875 so, if those numbers are correct (and I suspect they are not), there is no break even here; you are being bled to death on this job.
Here is why I suspect your numbers are off. You write, “Four coats of finish applied in this manner leaves 135% of the polymers on the floor.” Look at that closely, because it is impossible to leave more than 100% of the polymers on the floor. When the finish coat is cured, with the water and VOCs gone, 100% of the solids are left on the floor. Those solids made up 25% of the initial chemical solution, so 75% of what you placed has evaporated leaving 100% of the 25% solution on the floor. That happens on every coat, but you can’t leave any more than 100% of whatever is intended to stay in the film state. Ten coats of 25% solids finish leave 100% of those solids on the floor. They don’t add up to a higher percentage of solids.
Dismiss the confusing sales hype about percentages and whatever and abide by the manufacturer’s recommendations.
If you are satisfied with the performance of the finish, apply the above suggestions before considering a change to a less expensive product. They are out there and spending $12 on a gallon of finish is another way of saving money on this job. However, properly used, the Phazer™ system must have time and cost saving benefits. Find them.

Lynn E. Krafft. ICAN/ATEX Editor
lekrafft@juno.com