Why Steam Rinsing is Better For VCT Refinishing

Wendy’s Blog

Our stripping, steam rinsing and waxing is "leap years" ahead of what our competition does!

Yep indeed, a little leap year love this year for your floors!

We refer to our "enhanced rinsing" process as a cut-above or a superior and thorough process of rinsing that gets floors cleaner than traditional means. Our truck Mount steam extraction is powered by a independent car engine, mounted in a van. It rinses uses highly pressurized hot water as high as 3000 psi. The water is as close as we can get to boiling.

Then it is retrieved with an insanely powerful vacuum recovery system. (In fact, the vacuum is so powerful it will deflate your lungs, blow your ear drum, or even (gross), suck your eyeball out of your head. Why do I know this-? Because the instructors warn you to be careful with the hoses when you work with them because the vacuum is that dangerous!)

Pressurized Hot Water (almost steam) with powerful vacuum recovery is what we are talking about!

Truck mount steam extractor ready at the Philadelphia Navy Yard
Just arriving, we are about to strip, steam and rewax a facility at the Philadelphia Navy Yard
Virtua VCT floor stripping & refinishing
By day's end the 2nd strip job was far more complex, and would have taken probably 2 weeks to finish if not for our truck mount rinsing

Although the truck had just arrived, and quiet at the moment, looking inside you can see the blue machine, an independent car engine that powers the steam wand or other wands for specialized cleaning. 

All told we have over $25k in wands and specialized machines on board to handle the work we do. In fact, this particular set up can power two independent cleaning teams simultaneously (which in and of itself is impressive, most can only power 1 line.) So when we have a complex job there are wands and lines, like spaghetti, all over the place. On top of that are a variety of heavy buffers, scrubbers, mops, buckets, scrapers, edge scrubbers, and usually a team of 3-8 people buzzing around operating the equipment. And of course, my hubby Chris at the helm, as if he were directing an orchestra!

This rinsing far exceeds what almost any janitorial team can replicate, and here's why:

Because they don’t have access to this sophisticated hot water extraction technology. It’s not cost effective for them because it’s not utilized daily or enough to warrant the $100K investment in the equipment. (I bet about a 99% chance or more they don’t have this set up!) 

The janitorial industry is a labor industry. They maintain facilities on a daily or periodic basis, with human labor. Of course they usually have small tools and equipment. For example, they utilize mop buckets, wringers, vacuums, buffers and small extractors. Their chief commodity is human labor. 

So when there is a mop and a bucket, or a wet vac, or even most extractors utilized for rinsing, it will never in a million years rinse the floors so thoroughly!  End of story.

To explain their technology here are the options they provide: 


  1. Janitor’s mop & bucket, one or two bucket method- you get little or no rinsing, and no rinsing with pressurized boiling water. At best you get one bucket to rinse with clean water, or two buckets, one to collect the dirty mop slurry, and the other for a second rinse with somewhat clean water. But never at boiling temps. 
  2. Shop Vac- a portable shop vac just sucks up the mop slurry. It does not rinse it. Again the process lacks hot, boiling and pressurized water. (But even giving them, if they add a fresh water rinse you are still using a small bucket of water that quickly becomes contaminated, so the fresh water isn’t so fresh!)
  3. Portable Extractor- usually moderate temperatures, but rarely using near live steam pressurized water. And with a small tank and waste tank, there is no way you could manage the dumping and getting the heat for consistent cleaning that doesn’t all but slow the process down.

Another way said, Jeff one our seasoned partners explains it well in regards to the hot water benefit:

He tells prospective clients that when we strip and refinish VCT, or even clean dirty tile and grout in a commercial application we might use 300-600 gallons of boiling water to rinse in between procedures. And at boiling you can appreciate that helps prepare the floor greatly! 

So compare that to a janitorial team using a wet vac or portable extractor, that is chump change! A wet vac just sucks the slurry up with no rinsing. A portable extractor holds maybe 5 gallons, not much more. And rarely would it be hot water, let alone boiling water at high pressure. 

It simply is unmanageable to fill an extractor and rinse to the tune of hundreds of gallons. And never at near pressurized live steam like we do!



But why would this matter?

Again, why would it matter? Because floors are dirty. Often if they are improperly maintained they get a wax build up that can be hard to remove. If wax is too frequently applied it may necessitate multiple stripper and scrubber passes. So if the steam, pressure and heat technology are on board it will melt and cut the wax and it will blast the floor clean. And with copious amounts of near boiling water at a high PSI pressure, it will do so faster and more thoroughly, even sanitizing the floor as it rinses!

A floor's a floor, it has wax, dirt and grease on it- so what, it's just a floor, right?

Here's a picture that shows the stripping and scrubbing process (with a hint of our steam rinsing:

Here  the stripper has been applied and has been scrubbed in. That dirty brown slurry is called ‘stripper slurry’. It is a mix of the stripper, the wax along with dirt, grease, dust, germs and about anything else the floor is subjected to. 

On the bottom you see how clean the floor is, and that orange hose? That is the truck mount hose. We have partially rinsed the floor with our steam wand. See how clean it is?

better rinsing wax off a VCT floor

Again referring to the picture, the top left corner is before the stripper is scrubbed.  Then  you see the mop slurry, and on the right corner looking down you see the steam rinsed floor. This is how the “field” or main part of the floor is stripped.. There are other differences when it comes to how edges and corners are dealt with. And honestly these areas are harder to get clean, and often differentiate between the men and the boys. (In fact, I will review that a little later in this post.)

Here is an example of a freshly stripped & steam rinsed floor that is ready for wax

Haddonfield VCT preschool hallway before waxing

Of course this floor looks clean, but it took a lot of experience to get it fully stripped out and clean. Sometimes stripping 1 x isn’t enough. But the steam rinsing makes the prep easier- plain and simple! Sometimes even with the steam rinsing we have to strip successive times, and even scrape the floors to prep them. It can be a tedious process, but the steam wand on hand in between strip and prep efforts can help a lot (and hence why they want to use it every time we strip, whenever possible! )

Here are 2 of the halls on the same project afher the wax coats (3) were applies

VCT hall refinished
Haddonfield church preschool hallway VCT waxed

And here's one we did for a store owner year's ago that really drive the point home:

VCT floor stripped & refinished cherry hill
This floor we did in Cherry Hill, looked so shiny you could skate on it! (Actually no, and the wax used had the proper coefficient of friction in that was not a trip and fall hazard.)

Now let's talk edges & corners, what separates the men from the boys there too!

Typically our floors notoriously look this way when we are done. In addition to the complexity of stripping, attention to the edge detailing, and cove base, the steam rinsing, all before the wax coats, there is a lot going on. Then, as experienced floor people know, there are also proper procedures to lay the wax. (Can’t tell you know many times we see an amateur job that has to be straightened out. 

Although not such a simple job, when you entrust your VCT floor stripping and waxing to us you are getting over 200+ years combined experience to do them. There’s not much we haven’t seen or encountered. 


Edgework and corners- what separates the men from the boys

Typically edge work is where you can vet out the good from the poor workmanship. It’s a lot of hand work, bending over and working around things. To drive the point home, consider edge work in a public bathroom. You might be on your hands and knees, working under sinks and toilets. The bane of work at its worst. Or, your working along walls, under tables and around obstacles like furniture. 

At best, a typical floor guy has a hand scraper, some stripper, a scrub pad, and rags. 

Here’s how we roll: Most of these are pressurized smaller profile tools hooked up to the same truck mount. So yes it works at near live steam and is highly pressurized as well. Combine that with other scrubbers, not just a hand scrub pad, some stripper and rags. The difference is beyond comparison!


roto scrub
auto scrub commercial bathrooms
cleaning edges, baseboards & toilets with machinery not by hand

Our friendly janitorial comrades will never be able to hold a candle or a toilet paper roll to our live steam cleaning! 

But now that it's done we will work with you to help you keep it looking great too!

Often we review what the regular on going floor care is at your facility. Things discussed are the following:

  1.  What is the normal floor cleaner (mopping) solution that you use? A pH neutral floor cleaner is best, at recommended dilution. Please refrain from products laden with additives, such as Fab_____, Oil soaps or heavy disinfectants. Residues will begin to build up and cause problems
  2. How is you mop and bucket stored in between uses? The mop should not sit in the bottom of the bucket. It should be removed and allowed to dry.  Also- depending on frequency of use, plan on washing the mop and allow it to hang dry. Or replace it every so often. If daily mopping, replace monthly. If less frequently replace it less so.
  3. Make sure you have proper track-off mats placed inside from exterior entrances. And, they should be vacuumed frequently, or cleaned. Don’t let them get overloaded with dirt, soil and debris. They will be useless.
  4. Plan on having us evaluate how the floor is doing moving forward. We may recommend a touch up some time down the road. As in clean the floor, apply wax and buff. Or, if better we may scrub the floor, steam rinse it and apply another coat (say 6 mos down the road). A combination or one or the other will be discussed
  5. We will likely recommend another complete strip yearly, after it has been down and taken a beating. Then we start over again.

A little bottom line talk. . .

In your cost comparison we will never be apples to apples with our competitors, it’s not possible. We are more like apples to oranges! Hopefully you will appreciate we incur more expense because we utilize high performance machinery and tools. And we use quality wax coating for superior performance. So in partnering with us you get a knowledgeable, experienced team dedicated to deliver the superior results most want for a fair price for what is being done. And or course, our ultimate goal is to deliver a service experience you will delight in and appreciate.

We do give free estimates and stand behind our work. We find our clients are a good fit when then desire the cleanest and shiniest results for their floors, and want to partner with someone who will make that happen for them! Like a fine wine you indulge in it is a choice to prefer and enjoy something better!

Have dirty grout and tile in corners, nooks and crannies you just can’t get clean. Let us help, we’ll steam them clean.  Free estimates.  Call 609.953.0472. Or Contact Us online and we’ll reach out!