Strip and sealing a stone floor

Bringing a stone floor back to life
This school was opened in 2011 and has a beautiful stone floor in the centre of the school with classrooms encasing it.
Issues
Stone floor before we started the cleaning process

The floor before we started the process. Stu giving it a good sweep and vacuum.

The floor didn’t get off to the best start in its life with just one coat of polish applied that wasn’t burnished at all.
Furthermore, no floor maintainer has been used and for general cleaning or buffing, Premiere Products MP10 has been used on a daily basis. This dulls any natural or polish shine that is on there.
Because it wasn’t sealed and maintained properly, it picked up a lot of scuffs from the super high traffic that it has to deal with, as you can see from the picture above.
Plan – Stripping
What the floor required was a stripping back to get the marks off the floor and pick up the small amount of polish and MP10 residue.
  • Before we started this process, we ensured the surface was totally free from any debris by sweeping and a vacuuming
  • Dividing the area into sections, we applied Selate stripper with a Kentucky mop. Working in sections ensures it doesn’t dry out
  • Using a squeegee, we then drew the stripper into areas, ready to be picked up (wet vac is great, if not, a mop works fine but not the same one you applied the stripper with!)
Squeegee for collecting floor stripper

A squeegee is a great way to control liquid on a floor.

Preparing for the polish

Getting ready for the polish is not the same as applying the polish! Good prep ensures a great finish. Cutting corners is a false economy as it will lead to a poor wearing floor that will need greater attention sooner than it should.

  • If all the polish is up from the floor (or an even layer has been taken off) then you can proceed with these steps, not repeat stripping process;
  • Cleaning the stripper off thoroughly is really important, as eluded to above
  • Using clean water and a clean mop (flat mop works best), methodically clean the floor (walk backwards, figure of 8 with the mop)
  • Adding a dash of white vinegar to the water helps to neutralise the floor, ready for the polish (great tip)
  • Either allow the floor to air dry or pick up with an SYR drying sleeve if you’re on the clock
Floor polish application

Slowly and evenly apply the polish.

Polish Application

This is an important stage, obviously, for many reasons.

Please put as many wet floor signs up as you can to discourage people from walking across it. It will be like walking in cement and the footprint will be very hard to remove!

  • Floor polish needs to be used neat. Never dilute it
  • In this example, we used a stone specific product called Stoneglo but we’d recommend Diamond Brite if the floor isn’t stone
  • Once the floor is bone dry, steadily apply the product. Work in sections to ensure consistent coverage but don’t box yourself in!
  • It is key to mop on an even layer of polish, take your time
  • Next is the waiting game. 30 minutes between applications is a minimum but always read the label
  • In warmer environments it may dry quicker but it’s best not to rush the process by a few minutes, only to jeopardise the quality
  • Note; this task is not advisable in the winter. Polishes don’t work very well under 4 degrees Celsius

We applied 3 coats to this floor. For the sake of an extra 45 minutes work/waiting, the benefits are huge for adding another layer. 3 is a good number to aim for, no less.

Buffing

Stoneglo buffing with Numatic Huricane

Buffing Stoneglo into the floor with a 1500 RPM buffer for a hard wearing, glossy finish.

Buffing

This is the money shot of the process. Where all your patience and diligence pays off. Also known as burnishing, this process applies heat and friction which hardens and shines to polish.

To quicken this process and get a great finish, it’s best to use high speed buffer (1500 rpm). Whilst you can use a scrubber/buffer (RPM 200-400), it will be a slower job as there simply aren’t the revolutions in the disc speed to generate the heat and friction required, compared to a high speed. But, it can be done.

  • With high speed buffers, you need more control so they come with a stabilising wheel at the front. It’s as easy as pushing a janitors trolley
  • Walk at a slow speed, the slower the better
  • Work methodically in lines or areas
  • Ensure your buffer is at least a 15″ drive board otherwise this will take ages. Unless it’s a tiny patch of floor, of course. This machine is 20″
  • We used a red pad but a white one will also suffice. They are both at the soft end of the floor pads scale – don’t get confused!
  • Double check our blog; Which Floor Pads?
  • Once you’re happy that you have burnished the entire floor, stand back and admire your work
  • The true test is to tell someone not to walk on the floor as it’s still wet. If they buy it then you’ve done a good job!
Floor strip and polished

Can you tell the difference between the squares? Please don’t walk on the floor, it’s still wet…

Maintenancethis is really important

This floor will now be better protected from scuff marks and spillages. They will wipe off more easily not as they are sitting on the hard polish, not in the material of the floor.

However, the floor is a labour of love and you can improve it’s shine and durability with a consistent cleaning programme.

  • Ensure you ask us for the best cleaning product to use on your floor. Why? Because you can easily dull the shine quickly just by using the wrong product (due to PH levels). Plus, like this stone floor, a specific cleaner is advised; Stonebrite
  • This floor needs buffing on a weekly basis. When buffing it, a floor maintainer will need to be either mopped on or applied with a trigger spray for a technique called ‘spray buffing’)
  • Ensure you follow the dilution rates when decanting floor maintainer into a bucket or trigger spray. It goes a long way
  • This floor maintainer (Fast Lane) contains polymers which feed the polish and together with the buffing action, further hardens the floor and restores the shine
Stoneglo on stone floor

The beauty of this job was how we could clearly isolate the untreated floor with the treated one.

Stone floor polished compared

This angle dramatically captures the contrast in the two areas of the floor

 

Contrast two areas of stone floor

Again, a birdseye view provides the contrasting conditions of the floor. The finish on the right can be kept up with good maintenance that need not be expensive or timely.

Haven’t got the tools for the job? No worries. We rent out a wide range of machines so you don’t have to fork out big costs.

Why not check out a blog from our archives;

Does your floor really need another layer of polish?

 

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