In this article, industry manufacturers answer common questions asked by building service contractors.

How do you brighten dull and stained VCT tile?

There are a variety of floor pads available for cleaning VCT, however the introduction of the melamine floor pad has taken “clean” to a whole new level. Once the floor is clean, we always recommend a burnishing pad with an ultra high-speed machine to achieve high gloss.
Juliana Mazziero, marketing coordinator, Americo Manufacturing Co., Inc., Acworth, Ga.

If vinyl composition tile (VCT) has dulled, most likely this is because it has not been maintained properly. And while not all stains can be removed, many can with proper and effective cleaning.

The first step in restoring dull VCT is to clean it using a neutral floor cleaner. A neutral floor cleaner will have a pH of about 7, while an all-purpose cleaner and many other types of floor cleaners may have a pH of 10, 11, or higher, making the product much more alkaline. This greater alkalinity can strip away the finish on VCT flooring, leaving it looking dull and unattractive.

The next step, removing stains in the tile, can be addressed by the type of floor care equipment used to clean the floor. A rotary-type system can work well at removing surface-level marks and stains. However, if the stains are more deeply embedded in the grout of the floor or the pores of the tile, a more effective option would be to use a cylindrical brush system. The reason for this is the brush. As the brush rotates it can dig deep into grout and pores, literally pulling soils out of the floor for more effective and very often relatively fast removal.

With the floor now clean, a floor finish should be applied. Not only will this help restore the shine, but it will help protect the floor from heel marks and future soiling. Use a high-quality finish; allow for adequate drying time, which could be as much as 24 hours, to let the finish adequately solidify; and apply at least three thin coats. The shine will be most noticeable after the third coat.
Jolynn Kennedy, marketing director, Tornado Industries, West Chicago, Ill.

Brightening stained tiles is usually accomplished through use of specific chemicals. For example, there are special spray buff products designed to be used with floor machines that can help bring back shine or remove stains from VCT tile. In addition to the chemical angle you can also use autoscrubbers that can remove embedded dirt and discoloration by removing the top layers of finish from your floor.

Typically the dullness and staining is embedded only in the top layers so by removing these dirty layers of finish you can apply a two to three new coats and return your floor to a much better appearance. In cases where the stain has penetrated deep in to the floor finish a chemical strip out may be required.  
Scott Keller, vertical market manager–commercial buildings, Bob Abrams, product manager, Brian Simmons, product manager, Clarke, Plymouth, Minn.