I remember an incident the reinforced the value of training to the task and the importance of supervision. A floating floor crew had been assigned a rather simple task of stripping floor finish from a ceramic/quarry tile floor in some hallways and rest rooms that had been neglected over a substantial period of time. We will not ask the obvious questions of why was a hard floor with grout lines “waxed” in the first place since that will have to be another article. The result of the repeated application of water based floor finish and improper stripping methods had resulted in unsightly floor tiles, dirty baseboards and a salt/pepper effect in the grout which had never been properly sealed upon installation.  

The floor crew consisted of two individuals who had years of “experience in floor work” but no one seems to have taken the time to determine if that experience was successful or not. They claimed to be “old school” (whatever that means) and were proud of the fact that they did not concern themselves with understanding pH or wasting time reading product labels and warnings.  

If memory serves me correctly, they applied a solution of stripper (13.7 pH) mixed several times stronger than the label recommended. While the floor was soaking in the stripper solution, they applied a toilet bowl acid (pH > 01) to the grout lines. Their justification for their actions was that they were in a hurry and that the two products would neutralize each other. Unfortunately, the result of their actions was a violent reaction creating intense heat that severely damaged both the tile and the grout. A by-product was a gaseous fog that corroded the stainless steel in the rest rooms.  As the solution leaked into the carpet and onto the baseboards, further damage was evident. So much for cutting corners and saving time.

In following articles, we will consider possible ways of repairing the damage and also what the crew should have done to avoid this catastrophe in the first place. 

Your comments and questions are always welcome. I hope to hear from you soon. Until then, keep it clean…..


Mickey Crowe has been involved in the industry for over 35 years. He is a trainer, speaker and consultant. You can reach Mickey at 678.314.2171 or CTCG50@comcast.net.