Most bare floor surfaces look very smooth and hard.  But if you look at the surface of a floor material through a microscope, you will see very small ridges, cracks, and pores in its surface.  The magnified surface of a resilient floor will show pits, cracks and unevenness which does not reflect light well resulting is a dull look.   It has many pits and holes.  To make floors easier to sweep and dust mop, and to remove places where germs can hide and grow, you must fill in these defects so that dirt and germs are not trapped in them.

Before applying floor finish to certain floors, you must first fill or seal the cracks and small pores in their surfaces with a sealer.  A sealer helps the finish stick to the floor.  All resilient floors, with the exception of solid vinyl, need a sealer.  Note that many users are migrating to a seal/finish combination product that does the job of sealing and finishing.  These are often billed as “one-step” finishes.

Sealers are semi-permanent floor coatings that look and wear more like paints than like floor finishes.  When compared to finishes, they are usually harder to apply correctly and much harder to remove.  Also, the chemical makeup of most sealers is more complex than that of finishes. 

Sealers have either water-based or a solvent-based.  Water-based sealers are preferred for resilient flooring and are usually considered more green compliant.  They contain wax-like solids called polymers.  The solids fill and seal the pores in a floor surface as the sealer hardens.  The coating makes the floor surface look smoother and shinier and makes the finish stick better.  They can be buffed/burnished when the correct pad and machine is used.

Sealers can also be classified as either surface sealers or penetrating sealers.  The main difference between them is their viscosity, or thickness.  Surface sealers have a higher viscosity than penetrating sealers.  The thick sealer covers the pits, cracks, pores, and other defects in the floor’s surface, and forms a clear, smooth, tough film on top of it.  Surface sealers are not absorbed into the floor.  The film protects the surface from wear, soil, water, and some chemicals.  Surface sealers are designed especially to fill the tiny holes in the surfaces of concrete, terrazzo, and worn resilient flooring.

Involve an experienced distributor or chemical rep whenever possible.  If you do not, you might make a mistake that is hard to correct resulting in reduced margins as well as loss of face with your customer who expect you to be the professional. 

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