Hard floors include a wide variety of different types of surfaces from both man-made and natural origins. Concrete is probably the most commonly used hard floor surface. Terrazzo, marble, natural stone, clay, ceramic tile, and brick flooring are valuable members of the hard floor surface family, as well. Although this article is not exhaustive, it is our intent to provide helpful information on the major hard floor surfaces.
Preliminary Rinse — A Saving Technique
When cleaning tile, terrazzo, or marble, employ a preliminary rinse before using any cleaning solution. This simple operation consists merely of dampening the surface with soft water using a mop, a sprayer, or a sprinkling can before applying the scrubbing solution. The clean water is absorbed by the pores of the floor and consequently prevents the deep absorption of the cleaning compound. By using the preliminary rinse, the yellowing of hard floors due to residues may easily be avoided.
It should be pointed out that the preliminary rinse does not add any cost, as it enables faster scrubbing. It permits the cleaning to be done easily and more completely. It cuts down on the amount of cleaner needed and saves the floor surface. Performing a preliminary rinse is strongly recommended as a regular practice on hard floors.
Plain concrete flooring is generally unattractive in appearance and very drab if left untreated. If the floor has not been sealed, dirt, oil, and grease can easily penetrate and discolor the surface. Before applying any seal it is extremely important that the floor is cleaned, etched if needed, and dry. Aquathane HP is the best option for interior concrete floors.
Terrazzo floors have been in existence for a very long time, with several floors in the Mediterranean area that are more than 3,000 years old. Terrazzo floors are not resistant to acids due to the high content of marble. Some harsh alkaline solutions will also do considerable damage to an unsealed terrazzo floor. It is generally agreed that the best seal for terrazzo will be waterbased and light in color. X-Cel Plus and Flex are water-based coatings that leave a tough, traffic-resistant surface, when multiple coats are applied. When it is necessary to remove the product, it will not require the harsh, strong alkaline strippers that could lead to damage of the surface. Pour N Peel Stripper is very adequate and safe for this type of floor.
Clay and Ceramic Tile Floors
Clay tiles include all types of floor tile having a basic clay composition, which ranges from cheap quarry to the more expensive vitreous or semi-vitreous tiles. They are either glazed, having a glossy surface fused upon their face, or they are unglazed with a duller appearance.
Quarry and other types of clay tile require little in the way of routine maintenance and are comparatively easy to keep clean. Many floors are maintained with a neutral detergent such as Blue Lightning.
Perhaps one of the most common cleaning problems is the removal of hard water deposits and soap scum from washroom and shower floors. Both the deposits left by hard water and soap scum are alkaline; due to the lime content, they cannot be removed with normal types of detergents. This soil can, however, be removed with a mild acid solution such as LAV GLO. The solution should be allowed to act for a few minutes and the floor scrubbed, if necessary, with a nylon or polyester floor pad (brushes work best for grouted floors). After treatment, the acid solution should then be thoroughly rinsed from the floor with clean water.
Brick flooring usually consists of clay, either vitreous or semi- vitreous. Sand, lime, and concrete bricks can also be used for flooring. Normal maintenance should be carried out by sweeping, followed by washing with a solution of neutral detergent, such as Blue Lightning. Sealing is not generally recommended for brick floors. However, if a sealer is desired to protect grout, two coats of a water-based acrylic seal, such as Aquathane HP, would work well.
Natural Stone Floors
Marble, granite and limestone are the most common floor and tile types that you will encounter. In most situations it should not be necessary to seal natural stone floors. However, it is recognized that in some circumstances a seal may be desired to protect the cement or grout and occasionally to add gloss to the surface. If the floor is subject to heavy traffic it may require resurfacing on a stringent maintenance schedule. For these occasions, a water-based, acrylic type seal that is water-white in color while possessing non-yellowing characteristics should be selected.
Slate can be found both indoors and out. Slate can be a problem since it contains high clay content and will often flake, spall, and easily develop efflorescence. This is especially true in wet areas. Slate is best treated with a high quality finish such as Granite.
Quartzite is also a rare flooring material but is gaining in popularity. It is classified as sandstone. For this reason, it exhibits all the properties discussed under the sandstone category.
Shellstone or Coquina
Shell stone or Coquina is limestone composed of broken fragments of shells and corals. It is a sedimentary material and is very porous. Its shell or cord fragments easily identify it. It is a very abrasive stone and should not be resurfaced.
Flagstone / Bluestone
Flagstone is a term given to almost all stone material cut into thin, irregular shapes. It is found extensively on sidewalks, foyer entrances, and Pool decks. Flagstone should be cleaned and sealed with a penetrating sealer; such as Granite.
Soapstone is one of the softest materials, which is composed of the mineral talc. For this reason it makes an excellent carving material and can be found on fireplace surrounds and hearths. For maintenance purposes, it is treated like marble.
Sandstone is a sedimentary material that consists of sand crystals cemented together with natural clays. Sandstone is very porous and should be sealed with a penetrating seal such as Granite.