Painful Floors

Wish we could have done an MRI on these VCT floors, refinishing them gave us a fit!

Trueclean, a janitorial company that has a nice book of business but does not strip and wax, called us in on one of their medical offices to strip and refinish the floors in mostly their exam rooms, bathrooms, and a couple of staff areas. Seems they are building a relationship with Virtua, and have several of their buildings. as well as expanding their services as they are purchasing more practices and seeking more tenant space.

Sparkle Team Member, Jeff, was dispatched out to look at two of their locations (Pittman and Sewell). Getting immediate approval for Sewell, we added it on, on a Saturday we were already scheduled to work for a government facility, at the Navy Yard (a cool gig, this company maintains an idle fleet of ships at the Navy Yard, keeping them in a somewhat ready mode if the Navy needs them).

After a short glance at the estimate notes, Jeff confirmed this would be challenging,  as all hallways are carpet, while all exam rooms and bathrooms are VCT, and there were lots of them!

Not only that, the hallways are 3.5′ wide, so everyone and everything got in the way. Each room had to be emptied by us, so the exam table, doctor’s stool, step stool, trashcan, and sometimes small cabinets all had to be removed from the rooms. Tons of other ancillary cabinets, refrigerators, tables, and chairs. There was little room to walk.

Considering this project a “test,” Maurice had no idea who he called when he called us! And boy, was he about to see!

As I spoke with Maurice and directed him to our website where he could see before and after images of our work, he had no idea who he was calling. Not only do we combine old and new technology while executing our work, with equipment no janitorial team utilizes, our experience is bar none!

Let me explain:

  • Truck mount steam extraction rinsing simply out cleans wet vacs, or floor guys with a mop bucket and wringer!

Having what is probably north of a $100,000 truck mount, with a powerful truck engine mounted in the van to generate high pressure steam, and strong psi recover, and using this to steam rinse at as close to boiling as possible, you can imagine how that assists us in the preparation

  • With over 150, crawling to 200 years combined experience, the experience we bring is bar none!

Chris, stripping floors since the 70’s with his dad has been doing this work for over 45, almost 50 years. Combine that with Jeff, having about the same amount of experience, with Eric, north of 30 years experience, this wasn’t our first rodeo ‘floor sure!’

Case in point, about 36 years ago, I know because I was pregnant with our twins, we led a team of 8 to strip and wax floors at our local utility client’s’ facility, for Public Service Electric & Gas. Having 9 of their locations, a team from their corporate headquarters were sent from Newark down to study and walk our building in Moorestown, our ‘flagship’ facility. They were dispatched out to develop a plan to emulate our floor work there, and replicate it at all their facilities state wide!

Talk about an honor, as a kid in his 30’s, Chris, together with a rock solid floor team, and without our steam technology at that time, well you can imagine the validation, and how proud we were with the honor, and that was in the mid 80’s!

So let me just say that Maurice was about to discover and see what our experience and technology can do for the floors on his watch!

As part of this prep Jeff explained that we had to place tarps at each room entry, and tape the transition areas to protect the carpet from the wet work we were there to execute.

So when we were there we realized this was going to be a tough one, even if the floors behaved!

Thankfully Chris eventually figured out a way to run a ‘second line.’ What that meant is we were able to create a second crew, as opposed to having 1 1/2 crew capability. To be specific, each crew had a ‘swing machine (a janitor’s buffer), and a rinse wand that steam rinses the floor.

“Steam Rinsing” – an enhanced service we “bring to the floor,” a cut above what traditional floor team capability can achieve, this technology rocks the floor cleaner!

old school buffer for scrubbing vct
This buffer is old school, usually used with a mop, bucket and or a shop vac to rinse the floor.

Consider the technology. We are carpet and tile cleaners, and have a $100,000 truck mount set-up we use daily to clean all kinds of surfaces. Besides carpet and upholstery cleaning services, we use it to steam clean hard surfaces – VCT, tile & grout, showers & bathrooms, stone, LVP, decking, pavers, sidewalks, basement cement, even some hardwood.

The technology rocks!

It simply, with its high psi pressure, high temperature (as close to boiling as possible), and strong vacuum “suction” recovery (morbidly it will deflate your lungs, blow your ear drum or worse), out performs any janitor with a mop, bucket (old school), or shop vac. Think of it as assisting us in “melting” the wax and grunge off the floor.

Whose floor do you think is gonna be cleaner?

Need more convincing?

Here you can see a stripped and scrubbed floor, and partially rinsed with our turbo wand.

Shown here, although not the same floor, here is an example of the technology being used on tile and grout. As a side bar, grout is a filthy “sink.” When presprayed with cleaning solution the dirt and germs in the grout release and turn the floor dark. Then the hard surface “turbo wand,” emitting water as close to boiling as possible.

Discovering issues with the floors, stripping these floors was slow going!

Besides dirty floors, we found issues that gave us fits. Eventually we concluded we could clean them up, but much of the exam rooms and bathroom floors would have to be replaced. At best, we were putting lipstick on a pig!

  1. Some of the VCT wear layer was completely worn off, so there is a compromise in the appearance. Yes we can strip it and lay wax down, but it will still look worn, which can’t be corrected. We are advising that the rooms in this condition need to be replace
  2. Some of the rooms had an obvious and over application of wax. Looking like partially peeled sunburn, these floors had to be scraped free of the wax buildup. Other areas appeared like dark patches, especially in the corners and edges. In addition to tedious hand scraping, these areas had to be flooded with a stronger solution of stripper and left to soak.
  3. Several of the exam rooms had damaged areas of the floors. So while we can strip and re-wax them, there were visible cuts in the floor, pits and pieces where the vinyl is torn. These floors are added to the “replace list.”
  4. A couple of the bathrooms had severe urine stains near the toilets. Again these floors were cleaned with all the chemistry, temperature, and strong psi pressure, but once the urine penetrates in to the wear layer, the only way to remove it is by removing those damaged tiles.
  5. Despite successive stripping, it became apparent that a urethane was applied at one time on the floor. This was confirmed with our client, True Clean, the contractor who hired us. They had been informed about the urethane coating by the medical practice contact person. And being informed there was a wax buildup, this was a game changer, as it would not be corrected with our stripping and re-waxing.  In fact, more obvious at the entry to the rooms, it looks like how water leaves a wave impression on the beach,  This too necessitates that the floor be replaced.

Team Sparkle kicks it into gear, with all fours are goin’ on, all over the floors!

With two teams and two lines, and a couple of us to spare, we are all over these floors. One guy on the swing machine, with another on the steam rinse wand, and a third bouncing around hand scraping, pulling hoses, changing mop water, this place was a buzz!

When steam rinsed, the lead techs were evaluating the results. Some floors were scraped and stripped twice, a few even three times. Between excessive wax build up, the wear, the damage, the urine stain and the urethane, this was not an easy job to say the least.

With the stripping complete, we switched gears, our lead guys began to lay wax coats while the others started to clean up.

With about everything out of our truck mount van, and a pickup full or yards of hoses and equipment, there was stuff everywhere! There was literally hundreds of feet of hoses, both the high pressure hose, and extraction hose, times two for the “two teams.” Most truck mounts are only powerful enough to run one line (for carpet cleaning, let alone for tile, which needs to run at higher speeds). But running dual wands requires a stronger, more powerful engine engineered to handle the pressure and suction capable of supporting what is needed to effectively clean.

So breaking down took some time.

While the wax was going down, and the clean up began I started taking pictures, sent them to our client, the facility maintenance manager, and communicated about the different issues with the floors. I got an immediate response about how clean and brilliant they look. Meanwhile his site supervisor popped in, and Jeff took her around to see the floors. Clearly pleased, Crystal further conferred how nice the floors were looking. (Need a professional cleaning service, look Crystal and Maurice up at True Clean Service (

With all the wet work done, and the trucks loaded, most all the crew left, while Jeff stayed behind to finish the 3 coats of wax.

After going out for coffee and a snack, Jeff came back and applied the coats of wax. Clearly showing demise in the condition of the floors in several of the exam rooms and 2 of the bathrooms, at least now they are clean and brilliant. Moving forward, there will be suggestion to replace some of the rooms, but at least they look good for now.

All that was left was to come back the following day to reset things, and buttoned up the job.

Jeff and Richard returned Sunday to reset the furniture, vacuum and tidy up. While there Jeff took pictures of the floors, and chronicled the list of floors needing updating.

With his list complete, we are preparing a report as to which ones should be replaced, and which ones aren’t.

When I communicated to our client, he indicated the practice was sold to Virtua, and that they are open to updating their facilities. Some had already been updated with the PT department being added. But others are really in need, and will be done so in the near future.

Moving on now, our client is satisfied with our work and support.

Guess we could sum up this project was a bit of a test, and we clearly passed! Building a nice relationship with Virtua, and probably other larger facilities, which I think includes Pet Smart as well, he has concluded we are his ‘Go To Team’ for floor work!

If you need “Kick Tail and Take Names” Floor Stripping and Waxing, we are your team!