How Does Floor Finish Shine? In another post, I talked about floor finish solids and what they really are. In this one, I will cover why floor finish shines. Floor finish shine is a result of nothing more than the reflection of light on a smooth surface. Getting a floor to have a glossy, wet look is a challenge for many in the floor care industry. This may shed some light (pun intended) on the reasons your floors look dull.
Before we can prescribe a fix for your dull floor, we must establish an understanding of how floor finish shine happens and why floors need finish in the first place.
Types of Finished Floors
There is really only one type of modern floor that use standard floor finishes, which is vinyl composite tile or VCT. There are other types of floors that many use acrylic finishes on, terrazzo, stone and concrete, but these take special products and procedures and also are not as prevalent at VCT. For this post, we are going to focus on VCT.
The predecessor to VCT was asphalt or asbestos tile. This type of tile has been all but completely phased out due to its toxic make up. Although it is has not been used regularly for new flooring installation for years, there is still plenty of it out there. The same factors apply to making floor finish shine when applied to asbestos tile but it can be a little more difficult due to its extremely porous surface.
Why VCT needs Finish
When manufactured, vinyl tile is very porous, meaning it is not smooth. There are microscopic indentation in the surface of the floor that can and will trap dirt and soils. (See the depiction to the right.)
The floor finish serves a protective, repairable layer to prevent long-term damage to the floor, sealing up the pores. Since it is softer than the tile it can be repaired with polishing equipment and removal and replacement is less expensive than replacing the tile itself. By sealing up the pores, the smooth floor finish is also much easier to keep clean. Soils sit on top of the floor finish rather than down in the tile. Cleaning efforts don’t have to be as aggressive, thus extending the life of the floor.
What Makes Floor Finish Shine?
Now that we have a basic understanding of how floor finish works and why we use it, let’s get to the seemingly important part. The floor finish shine.
The shine or gloss is a result of light reflecting directly back to your eye. The same reason anything shines. The reason the tile alone will not shine is due to light waves bouncing around in the pores of the floor. (see image to the right) Because the tile surface isn’t smooth, there is no reflection of light, so no shine.
The type of finish, VCT make up and even the type of lighting can effect the shine of the floor. Other factors are scratches in the finish, film or residue on the floor and mistakes in the finish application. In most cases, outside factors is what prevents floor finish from shining. I have found that there are usually one or more issues that cause the problems. The most common being chemical residue caused by mixing chemicals at a higher than needed dilution. If you are having issues getting good floor finish shine, try reducing the dilution of the cleaning chemical or using plain water for a few days. In many cases the floor will show signs of improvement very quickly. You can also check the pH of the floor to determine if the cleaning solutions will have any effect on the residue.
Always remember, shine should be viewed as an indicator of clean floor but not the focus of a floor care program. Keeping the floor clean should be the main priority. If the floor finish shines, it just means cleaning will be that much easier.