Once a contract starts, many diligent building owners and managers will expect the cleaning contractor to strictly adhere to the specifications even if some of them may not make a lot of sense. It may be too late to explain to a well-meaning customer that terms such as “seal,” “wax” and “strip” can have different applications based on the type floor being serviced. Applying these terms correctly can save valuable resources as well as good will with the customer and tenants.

For example, VCT (Vinyl Composite Tile – 12”) is cheaper to purchase and install but costs more over its lifetime (usually 15-20 years maximum) since it requires sealing (with a water based finish), regular buffing, scrubbing, stripping and applying sufficient coats of finish to give it a uniform luster. Each time the tile is stripped to the bare floor, the floor tech runs the risk of seepage into the mastic thereby causing tiles to come loose. Also, he/she can actually wear the floor down to the point through aggressive stripping that it will need to be replaced prematurely if it becomes too porous to even seal. 

Whenever possible, the installer or manufacturer’s directions should be followed to maintain any warranties. Today, most floor types can be researched using a search engine to get industry standards for maintenance.  

We should always identify the type floors being maintained (by description and square footage), in the specifications noting that “when there is a conflict or unclear interpretation, all floors are to be maintained as per industry or manufacturer’s standards and specifications”. 

We should eliminate the wording “strip/wax” and replace with “strip/scrub/recoat” and specify this wording for VCT, VAT, terrazzo and possibly marble floors only.  

We should ban the application of any water based finishes (waxes) to any ceramic or quarry tile floors with grout linings. We should also specify and budget in that the grout should be cleaned (usually a mild acid wash), thoroughly rinsed, dried and sealed with an appropriate solvent (preferably green) penetrating seal every 3-5 years or when the grout fails the “drip test” which indicates it has lost its waterproofing properties and needs resealing. 

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.