Q. In a daycare setting, is it safe to apply 5 coats of finish or will it create a safety hazard for the kids and the staff? This school used a contractor who only applied one coat of finish when the VCT tile was laid. They have been open now for 3 months and after nightly mopping and daily traffic the floors are dulling out and looking scratchy. Is it too late to offer monthly spray buffing on the floors?
A. Most VCT warranties recommend 2-3 coats of a commercial floor finish to protect new tile from abrasion and stains. One coat will not provide enough of a base to respond to buffing. By now, it is unlikely that any of the first coat is still remaining. Spray buffing will only produce a slight sheen, which will not hold up.
What you need to recommend is a deep scrub and application of 3-4 coats of finish. Four coats will provide superior traction (non-slip surface) compared to just one coat. The only exception might be on the kitchen floor when it is wet. Some kitchens place rubber mats in front of the dishwasher. It is difficult to get more than four coats of finish to cure well in one evening. Often the 5th coat bites into the previous four and leaves dull, ropy spots.
For maintenance, you could propose a monthly spray buff or better yet, burnishing with a high speed machine. Most daycares require a scrub and top coat every 6 months, and possibly a deep strip annually. This especially true if they have a sand box or dusty play area outside. Unless there are 2-3 coats of finish, the buffing will only produce an artificial shine (one that lasts a couple of weeks). On-going maintenance is required to prevent permanent damage to the finish and, eventually, the tile.
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