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Thursday, November 27, 2014

Question

The VCT at a middle school was stripped and refinished this summer. The stripping came out very clean, but then the boss laid 2 coats of sealer, 2 coats of one type finish, and 2 coats of another brand supposedly with a higher solids content. All 6 coats were laid in less than 24 hours and then burnished 24 hours after that against my protest. The finish now has scuffs down into it to the degree that they won’t come out with buffing or burnishing. We’ve tried twice over 3 months. Now, the tile is coming off the floor and the finish is terrible, but there is no use top scrubbing. Any suggestions or advice is appreciated.


Answer

I think you and I both suspect the reason for this mess lies with the application of 6 coats of finish with a 24 hour period, when most finish manufacturers recommend no more than 3 coats within that time frame. The reason is that, unlike the true waxes used over sixty years ago, modern finishes need time to cure to the air and form a film that can be maintained to keep appearances presentable.
In addition, we may have incompatibility issues having to do with the chemical makeup of the two different brands.
My guess is a combination of both, but that cannot be said with certainty from this distance. Deep scuffs indicate a film hardening issue. I can only offer an educated guess why the film failed to properly harden and you have it above.
Burnishing is not recommended without a long cure period, although I have successfully burnished between coats to help harden the coat. Never, however, after only 24 hours of curing with 6 coats. Too soon, even with proper waiting between coatings.
The lifting of tiles is a puzzle. It is unlikely that rapid recoating would do this, but I suppose moisture remaining in the lower levels of finish could be forced down into the tile joints due to the filming over of the upper coats. It is hard to imagine enough moisture being available to break the adhesive bond.
Possibly the stripping was prolonged, allowing the moisture seepage, and that combined with the moisture sealed in by the rapid recoating cause the lifting. I really am only guessing.
This hard-to-resolve-without-replacing-the-flooring issue demonstrates the wisdom of following manufacturer’s guidelines in application of floor finishes. You are now faced with an expensive repair/replacement job that may have been avoided by following directions and using best practices. Shame on your boss for not knowing better.

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