How to Maintain Vinyl Composition Tile (VCT)

Commercial VCT Floor Maintenance

 

General Instructions

  • Maintenance Required.  Growing technology has enhanced the durability of flooring products immensely. Yet, our fast-paced world still renders a lot of wear on our floors from spills to the family pet or foot traffic. Regular maintenance and preventative measures can significantly prolong the new look of your important investment.
  • Supremacy of Manufacturer.  The following information is the accumulation of many years of experience, the guidelines of regulatory flooring agencies, and the instructions provided by the leading manufacturers of flooring products. The manufacturer of your flooring product may have unique guidelines that should be given seniority over the general advice given by Wolfe Flooring.
  • Documents and Samples.  Retain the sales receipt and any product description from the purchase of the goods. If possible, document the manufacturer’s name and the manufacturer’s full product description, including color. Furthermore, retain a sample of the sheet vinyl for comparisons. For insurance purposes, it is prudent to safely store a photograph of your new product.
  • Not Initial Care.  The following guidelines are for regular maintenance, not initial care. Most likely, the initial care that your flooring needs is different than regular maintenance. Generally, new flooring products need about 12 to 72 hours after the installation before they are ready for furniture, regular foot traffic, or cleaning, etc. while the adhesive cures. Glueless or loose-lay products are ready for immediate use.
  • Generic Intent.  These instructions are for normal sheet vinyl in common environments. Techniques, products, etc. change and some situations are very unique; thus, Wolfe Flooring assumes no liability for omissions, errors, or outcomes. These instructions may not apply to special situations. You’re welcome to call us for a specific professional address of your situation. Please exercise general caution implementing any of the following guidelines.
  • Education.  Read the manufacturer’s instructions. Print these instructions as needed.
  • Extra Supply & Storing.  Retain extra sheet vinyl for the possibility of future repairs. Keep your extra materials (a.k.a., attic stock) in a dry place that stays between 40°F and 90°F. Store your sheet vinyl laying on a flat surface so that the roll remains fully supported. Vinyl will conform over time.
  • Entrances.  Keep the outside entrance areas (e.g., sidewalk, porches, driveway) free of sand and debris. Non-staining walk-off mats (avoid rubber mats) and budget-friendly entry rugs are strongly recommended at your home’s entryways (both inside and outside) to catch most of the soiling. Use mats at the entrances to a kitchen. The mass majority of the soil and grit that will fall into the room will do so in the first six feet of the entrances. Transitional mats should be cleaned recurrently; otherwise, the mats will accelerate the soiling.
  • Rugs and Underlayments.  Area rugs are very helpful in places of high activity (e.g., in front of the kitchen sink) and at pivot-points (e.g., a hallway intersection) to avoid the apparent traffic patterns. Never allow moisture to become trapped under your rug. Use non-slip underlayments under rugs to prevent possible dye transfer and to prevent the rug from sliding or “walking.” Small rugs are especially prone to slip on smooth vinyl. The grip that is provided by a non-slip underlayment can prevent a nasty fall. Underlayment also benefits by absorbing a portion of the impact of each footstep, which means that underlayment helps the rug experience less crushing.
  • Sweep or Vacuum.  Sweep or dust-mop your residential sheet vinyl once per day or every few days. You can also use a vacuum cleaner without a beater bar. Sand and grit are among the greatest enemies against your vinyl's sheen and will act as abrasives to scratch and dull the finish.
  • Mop.  Sweep the dry particulate before mopping. Damp-mop your sheet vinyl floor with water or an appropriate cleaner to remove stubborn soiling. Replace your mop water frequently to avoid an unsightly residue. Do not saturate your sheet vinyl. Sheet vinyl is most vulnerable to water at seam lines and at the perimeters. Excess or frequent exposure to moisture can cause discoloration, adhesive failure, and (in some cases) delamination. Use water only or a vinyl floor cleaner with a neutral pH of 7. Do not use vinegar or acid cleaners, one-step cleaner/polishes, or oil soaps. If you use a cleaning product, be careful to remove any residue.
  • Soiling, Stains, Spills, and More.  See our VCT Spot Cleaning Guidelines.
  • Keep Dry.  Keep your sheet vinyl dry. Wet sheet vinyl presents the risk for (1) slipping, (2) mold or mildew, (3) discoloration, (4) delamination, and (5) adhesive failure (depending upon how your vinyl was installed). Be especially mindful of walk-off moisture or drips when weather conditions outside are wet or snowy. For safety, immediately dry-mop or use towels to wipe the floor dry. Fans will accelerate drying. Warm air is more effective than cold air to dry up moisture.
  • Scuff Marks.  Remove scuff marks and black heel marks using water and a towel. If water does not work, try a nonabrasive, diluted, alkaline cleaner (7 pH to 10 pH). If the marks are widespread, use a scrubbing pad, such as a 3M™ TopLine Speed Burnish Pad 3200, 3M™ Tan Burnish Pad 3400, 3M™ Natural Blend Tan Pad 3500, 3M™ Eraser Burnish Pad 3600, 3M™ White Super Polish Pad 4100, 3M™ Red Buffer Pad 5100, or pad with equal or less abrasiveness. Combine the pad with a low-speed rotary machine (spinning at 300 RPM or less). Rinse away the a residue of cleaner with clean water, and dry the floor as quickly as possible. If the cleaning agent is insufficient, use mineral spirits, rubbing or isopropyl alcohol, lighter fluid, or acetone if necessary. ( CAUTION:  These solvents are flammable liquids and can cause adhesive failure. Do not allow a solvent to get into the joints of the sheet vinyl. Solvents are not for widespread application.) Apply the solvent to a white cloth. Then, use the cloth to remove the marks. You may need to reapply sealer, if your floor previously had a sealer. Be careful when using over-the-counter cleaner on vinyl. Some over-the-counter cleaners will distort the finish leaving it dull or too slippery. Follow the instructions on the cleaner carefully.
  • Sealer.  Remove any residue build-up occasionally with a cleaner/stripper product. Apply a polish or a “mop and shine” product to increase the shine. (This could also make the vinyl more slippery.) Some vinyl floors recommend against this. Check the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Scuff Marks.  Remove scuff marks and black heel marks using water and a towel. If water does not work, try a nonabrasive, diluted, alkaline cleaner (7 pH to 10 pH). If the marks are widespread, see Mechanical Cleaning. Rinse away the a residue of cleaner with clean water, and dry the floor as quickly as possible. If the cleaning agent is insufficient, use mineral spirits, rubbing or isopropyl alcohol, lighter fluid, or acetone if necessary. ( CAUTION:  These solvents are flammable liquids and can cause adhesive failure. Do not allow a solvent to get into the joints of the sheet vinyl. Solvents are not for widespread application.) Apply the solvent to a white cloth. Then, use the cloth to remove the marks. You may need to reapply sealer, if your floor previously had a sealer.
  • Repairs.  Tend to repairs immediately to limit exposure and to keep repair expenses as low as possible. Place a caution sign on or near a damaged area if a tripping hazard develops. Place painters’ blue tape or a mat over a transition or flooring that is loose. Sheet vinyl with moisture damage, a burn, a gouge, a cut, or unappealing scratches needs to be repaired by section replacement using a method that matches the original installation.
  • Spiked Heels.  Walking on residential vinyl with stiletto or spiked heels, especially those with worn spiked heal caps, will cause excessive wear which is often not covered under warranties.  According to Mohawk, a "high heel can concentrate as much as 2,000 pounds per square inch on the floor" when the heel's diameter is about 3/8" at the point of contact.
  • Furniture Placement.  Relocate furniture occasionally to distribute traffic patterns.
  • Furniture Legs.  Vinyl can tolerate a limited amount of pressure per square inch (PSI). Prevent indentations due to heavy weight concentrated upon the legs of furniture by using casters with a flat undersurface made of glass, wood, or hard plastic. A caster should be no less than 3 inches in diameter, depending upon the weight of the object. A wide caster will disperse the weight of the furniture better than a narrow caster. Avoid heavy furniture with ball-type casters which concentrate the PSI. Use felt protectors on the bottom of furniture that is moved frequently. Change your furniture pads periodically. Hard plastic or metal tabs on the bottom of furniture can scratch vinyl.
  • Chair Mats.  Chair pads are required under desk chairs (including those with roller casters) to preserve appearance, prevent accelerated wear, and act as a deterrent toward delamination. Vinyl with a smooth surface needs a mat of 110 mils (0.11″) thickness. Vinyl with an irregular surface needs a mat of 170 mil (0.17″) thickness. Purchase a mat with a felt or smooth bottom (i.e., no cleats). Add a thin underlayment under the chair mat if the mat will not remain stationary, if the mat is too noisy, or the vinyl has an irregular texture. Do not permit sand to remain under a mat.
  • Moving Furniture and Heavy Equipment.  Sliding or dragging furniture or equipment over your vinyl may scratch or cut the surface. This advice is especially important if your vinyl has a high-gloss finish. Rolling a heavy load (i.e., a load that exceeds the PSI weight limit) over your sheet vinyl may leave indentations. Appliances and pianos present risks. At a minimum, use 1/4-inch hardboard runways.  See our expanded guide, How to Protect Flooring, to learn more.  The Plywood and Masonite section and the Moving Tools section are most applicable.
  • General Renovations, Painting, or Major Events.  If you will be renovating, painting, moving in or out, etc., then read our guide, How to Protect Flooring.
  • Pets.  As with humans, pets can track in dirt, mud, etc., so attempt to keep your pet's paws clean. Keep your pet's nails trimmed so that its nails do not scratch the surface of your vinyl flooring. Finally, address urine and other accidents as quickly as possible. Greater vulnerability is between pieces of sheet vinyl (i.e., the seams). First, clean with a dry towel, mop, or sponge. If your vinyl does not have polish or wax added, then mist the sheet vinyl with a disinfectant or wipe with a towel dampened by a disinfectant. (Try to prevent a disinfectant from seeping into the joints because some disinfectants can create problems for adhesive and delamination. If you elect to use a disinfectant, it may alter your polish or wax finish.) Remove the cleaning agent's residue using cold water. Wipe your floor dry once more.
  • Plants.  Do not set a potted plant directly on your sheet vinyl flooring. Excess moisture migrating from the plant may ruin the floor. Place a waterproof tray underneath. Over time, your floor may oxidize from light at a different rate than exposed flooring, as would be caused by a rug covering your floor.
  • Temperature.  A steady temperature is best for all flooring products. Maintain temperatures between 65°F and 85°F to avoid substantial contraction or expansion. Sheet vinyl possesses broad tolerance for temperature fluctuations without permanent damage, but vinyl's flexible nature creates susceptibility to temperature changes. Cold temperatures make vinyl contract; hot temperatures make vinyl expand. Extreme fluctuations can make vinyl flooring press upward or create gaps between pieces.
  • Heat.  Avoid placing an appliance directly on your flooring that produces high levels of heat. Refrigerators and ovens are known to produce heat that can permanently damage your flooring. Avoid direct exposure to heat from radiators, hot-air registers, and other heating devices. If you have a radiant floor heating system, be cautious to not exceed the limit (which is commonly at 85°F to 90°F) established by your manufacturer. Excessive heat can cause vinyl to discolor or expand.
  • Sunlight.  Deflect direct sunlight away from vinyl to prevent fading, discoloration, or expansion.
  • HVAC.  Change the filters in your air conditioning system regularly to minimize pollen and other airborne particulate.