Why does my floor finish yellow?
Most modern day floor finishes don’t yellow on their own. They no longer have "wax" components in them that traditionally yellowed in the past. Some floor finishes may still be made with unsaturated fatty acids such as oleic acid or tall oil, which could eventually oxidize, producing a yellow discoloration throughout the whole film.

But the main reason that floor finishes appear to yellow is that soil is ground into them under heavy traffic or with the use of soiled cleaning and burnishing pads. We call this "dirt/soil embedment." Improper cleaning before recoating the floor traps the dirt in the film and the result is a shiny/dirty floor. Many times, mopping with a dirty mop directly results in dirt embedment, leading to discoloration. Be sure to change your mop water frequently.

Why does my floor discolor more in the winter than in the summer?
During the winter, in colder climates, the combination of rain or snow, sand and de-icing salts may soften the floor finish, making it susceptible to dirt that is tracked in. The dirt easily fills in the cracks and scratches caused by traffic, and sand and de-icing salts lead to discoloration. A more stringent cleaning program is needed at these times.

Why do I get a trail of yellow and brown discoloration leading from the front door of my facility into the building in the summer time?
If a proper cleaning program is in place and this type of discoloration appears, it is most likely "asphalt tracking." This is a result of the asphalt sealer on the parking lot attaching itself to the shoes of the patrons, who then track it into the building.

Once again, a more aggressive maintenance program should be in place. It is important to keep this area as clean as possible. If the area is allowed to become more discolored, there is a possibility that the asphalt sealer will work its way through the floor finish and into the tile, permanently discoloring it. These areas may need more frequent deep-scrubbing and recoating to keep the discoloration at manageable levels.

Why do I get discoloration under my mats?
Floor finish needs to properly cure after it has been applied to the floor. Generally, what will happen is someone will place a walk-off mat back in place as soon as the floor finish is dry to the touch. Floor finishes have a variety of chemicals that need to evaporate in the curing process. If a mat is placed on the floor finish immediately after drying, these chemicals will not evaporate at the expected rate, causing this type of discoloration.

One way to help reduce this problem is to leave the mats off as long as possible and to let the floor finish cure. If this is not possible, periodically remove the walk-off mats for a couple hours at a time, possibly when the facility closes at night. The most crucial time to do this would be in the first 12 hours after applying the floor finish.

Why do I get burnishing marks or swirls in my floor finish?
In these cases, generally the burnishing pad is too aggressive for that particular floor finish. Also, moving the burnisher too slowly may leave behind swirl marks.

Different pad types also require different machines. If too slow of a machine is used with a given burnishing pad, the film may scratch, rather than be smoothed out.

Why do I get "powdering" when I burnish?
Once again, using a pad that is too aggressive for the floor finish will contribute to this problem. If coats are applied too thinly or fans are used directly on the wet floor finish, powdering may occur. Some other reasons for powdering include poor adhesion, using a previously "frozen" floor finish and using dirty buffing pads.

But look closely — in some instances, it may not be the powdering of the floor finish that is seen, but nearby dust unsettled by the air movement a burnisher creates.

My floor finish doesn’t last very long.
Adhesion failure is generally the culprit here. Floor finishes are designed for a specific appearance maintenance program, and formulated to adhere to a specific type of flooring. For instance, if a floor finish is formulated for use on vinyl composition tile, it may not properly adhere to marble, granite, terrazzo or ceramic tile. Make sure to read the label and application instructions to ensure the right finish goes on the right type of floor.

Why do I get streaks in my floor finish after it has dried?
The most likely cause would be that the floor finish was not thoroughly dry before additional coats were applied. Many times, in an effort to get the job done quickly, this situation occurs. Other causes could include applying too many coats of floor finish in one day or applying the floor finish too heavily. The less common reasons that contribute to "streaking" include the use of contaminated mops or improperly preparing the floor before coating.

Chris Warner, is a Tech Team troubleshooter for Johnson Wax Professional, Racine, Wis.