A reader writes: “We have struggled with a ceramic tile floor and may have found the cure. We are using a propane burnisher to bring a great shine. Your response?”

I commend you for “thinking outside the box” in your approach. I do have a few areas of concern upon closer inspection of the floor and your floor care processes. Unfortunately, there are no short cuts to getting this floor up to specifications as I understand the customer’s expectations. Note the following points and suggestions to consider:

1. The history is that this floor has not been maintained correctly for years resulting in buildup of finish that must be addressed with a comprehensive floor care program based on custodial best practices.

2. In some areas, there are still multiple coats of damaged finish on the ceramic tiles. This build-up needs to be removed to the bare so that the damaged (result of past attempts to strip) wax/finish is completely gone.

3. The customer has accepted the premise that they can live with a low luster matte type result so long as the floor is clean in appearance.

4. It appears that past buffing/burnishing was performed incorrectly resulting in the grit (think dirty wax) that has reintegrated into the floor – especially along the edges and corners.

5. It appears that more coats of finish have been applied over this grit resulting in shiny dirt.

6. Again, this must be removed before you can proceed with any buffing/burnishing program. If you do not, then the result will be unacceptable swirl marks that the customer has indicated they will not accept based on the specs.

7. I highly recommend bringing in your vendor/distributor to conduct training and oversight of your floor techs who do not seem to understand the fundamentals of floor care including, pH, application techniques, pads, machine maintenance and other key issues.

Finally, what is a reasonable application of the specifications while taking into account the type and age of the floor?

Your comments and feedback are always appreciated. 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.