Renovate and renew rather than replace
By ALEC STACEY TECHNICAL MANAGER BONA
FOR the past 100 years wood flooring experts, Bona, has focused exclusively on wooden flooring and is world-renowned for its range of clean and functional surface treatments, adhesives, sanding machines, and maintenance products.
With the expertise the company has accrued, along with the development of new techniques and products, the focus has expanded and resulted in the creation of a comprehensive system for the refurbishment of resilient flooring.
Resilient flooring comes in several forms: PVC, linoleum, and rubber. The construction of each of these types of flooring can also differ; they can be of uniform material (homogeneous) or comprised of different layers (heterogeneous). As the name suggests, these floors are resilient and offer excellent resistance to trafficking. However, like all flooring they’re subject to wear and require maintenance to offer additional protection to the surface and to retain important factors such as slip resistance and also to remain hygienic in hospitals and similar environments.
Currently maintenance of resilient flooring comprises treatment using polishes and similar maintainers which serve as further protection to the wearlayer of the flooring – filing in scratches and restoring the sheen of the surface. However, these are also sensitive to abrasion and wear, and if not treated at the correct frequency, wear will progress to the surface of the flooring causing significant damage. In the case of some resilient flooring, especially linoleum, the surface becomes permanently discoloured. This would be the point when the only option to rectify the condition and appearance of the floor would be to replace it.
Replacing a resilient floor is a time consuming and costly process. In addition to the cost of removal and safe disposal of the original floor, damage to the subfloor is inevitable. This will mean additional time and materials will have to be allocated on top of that for the installation of the new resilient flooring, which is in itself a time-consuming process due to the very flat and smooth surface which is required for this type of flooring.
Furthermore, resilient flooring is present within many environments which are in near constant use, such as hospitals, airports and commercial kitchens, where downtime is a major concern when undertaking any work – particularly to the floor. A system for the refurbishment of resilient flooring – as opposed to its replacement – has obvious benefits in terms of costs, environmental impact and convenience.
Refurbishing resilient flooring that has been in service for many years presents several problems. There can be physical damage to the surface, and a build-up of maintenance products (waxes etc) that have been used over the years to protect the surface. These problems must be addressed before the flooring can be refurbished. Also, the type of refurbishment that is possible will be largely determined by the exact nature of the flooring and the site itself.
Identification of resilient flooring: The recoating system that Bona has developed is intended for flooring which is comprised of rubber, linoleum or PVC. The type of flooring must be tested to determine its composition. This is done simply by applying a heat source to the surface, either by a soldering iron with a pointed tip or a heated paperclip:
Linoleum: The heated paperclip penetrates easily and the hole has charring. A smell of wood or linseed oil is produced.
PVC/Vinyl: The heated paperclip penetrates easily. Raised material occurs around the hole. A smell of chlorine is produced.
Rubber: The paperclip does not penetrate easily. The point of contact gives no raised material. A smell of burning rubber is produced.
Identification of the surface is important as this will determine whether the surface can be restored with a transparent coating or will require recolouring, either as per the original or in a new colour. Lino must always be re-coloured once it shows discolouration owing to wear.
PVC floors sometimes have a polyurethane ‘wearlayer’ that may become further damaged by the preparation process and consequently will require re-colouring. Rubber floors can almost always be simply treated with a transparent coating if the client wants to restore the floor to the original appearance.
Deep cleaning, sanding and neutralisation: Resilient flooring is usually maintained using polishes containing waxes, or polymer dispersions. To ensure correct adhesion of any applied coating and to ensure good ‘wetting’ during application, it’s essential maintenance layers are removed along with fat, grease and other contaminants.
Before deep cleaning can take place, it’s important the surface is intact, and that cleaning liquid cannot penetrate into areas of damage or open weld joints. These repairs must be carried out in advance before wet cleaning can take place.
Deep cleaning is made using a specialist detergent, Bona PowerRemove R, which requires dilution according to the task carried out. Typically, a 1:5 dilution is used which is applied to the surface and allowed about 20 minutes to take effect.
This is long enough to dissolve contaminants and maintenance products but will not be perfect. Polymer maintainers will also require mechanical removal and the surface layer below requires a physical ‘key’ to ensure good adhesion. This mechanical removal is made using a rotary buffing machine (such as our Bona FlexiSand) fitted with four-headed drive plate and using Bona Diamond Abrasives.
The floor should be sanded while wet. This is important as it prevents material from clogging the abrasives and reduces the incidence of scratches. The entire surface requires this treatment including edges and where the flooring extends up the wall – as in medical environments. During the sanding it’s important the surface is always kept wet.
The resultant slurry from the sanding must not be allowed to dry on the surface. If it does, the surface will require re-sanding.
A neutralisation of the detergent solution is obligatory and the final step before any application of coating. This is carried out as soon as the wet sanding is completed, using a wet vacuum to remove the slurry then a scrubber-drier to wash the surface with clean water.
This is repeated until washing the surface no longer produces any foam, indicating that all detergent has been removed. The surface is then allowed to dry. Large fans should be used to accelerate this process. Linoleum floors will need longer to dry (about 24 hours) owing to the absorbent nature of their construction.
Once the floor has been prepared successfully, the resilient treatment can be applied. For linoleum, Bona LinoPrime should be used to seal the absorbent surface. Other resilient surfaces require no priming and are treated directly with either coloured or transparent coatings. Both the Bona coatings are two-component, water-based coatings.
Bona Pure Colour: The recolouring of a resilient floor provides a great opportunity to give the floor a totally new look. Furthermore, it’s the only way to refurbish the floor when the surface is permanently discoloured which excludes the possibility of using a transparent coating. In addition to a range of standard colours, the Bona coloured coating can be supplied in any RAL colour. Two coats of our Bona Pure Colour should be applied, then allowed to dry before a single transparent coat.
Bona Pure: This forms the new slip resistant permanent protective layer, directly onto the flooring – in the case of rubber floors, or the final application onto colour coats.
There’s also the possibility of adding decorative flakes on to the refurbished surface and these are added onto the second Pure Colour coat while still wet. The flakes are then sealed into the surface by overcoating with the transparent Pure coat.
Bona has also developed a range of maintenance products for resilient floors to improve ongoing maintenance but also to simplify future renovation using the Bona Resilient System.
A maintenance regime for resilient flooring should consist of the following:
Daily, dry cleaning and routine cleaning: Pieces of grit and dirt, trafficked underfoot, represent the source of all wear on varnished wood and resilient flooring. Their removal, along with the installation of effective barrier matting is highly beneficial. For routine (wet) cleaning, Bona Clean R50, used with a microfibre mop or a scrubber-drier, can safely remove intensive soiling owing to its slightly alkaline formulation.
In high-use environments, where additional protection is necessary, our Bona Clean R60 can be used as an alternative. This leaves a protective film on the surface as it cleans, which also restores the sheen of the floor.
Deep cleaning: Developed for stripping polish, dirt and old cleaning residues from resilient flooring, Bona Remover R is a non-hazardous cleaning agent, which should be used periodically as part of an ongoing maintenance regime. Degraded polish layers are stripped back prior to the application of fresh maintainer.
Protection: Once a resilient floor has been renovated, additional protection should be introduced periodically. Bona Shield R is a polyurethane-based alternative to wax-based polishes. This can also be used to refresh existing resilient floors when a complete renovation is not possible.
This unique system for refurbishing and maintaining resilient flooring has been designed to add years to the life of the surface when previously the only option was to remove and replace with a completely new floor. The machines, abrasives, detergents and coatings, along with the maintenance treatments, all form part of a system of compatible products which has been proved to work effectively, with no health and safety implications for the contractors or the users and owners of the building.