When Stripping Floors Is Like Putting Lipstick on A Pig

Wendy’s Blog

See how we make old and new floors look better with stripping and waxing!

Although clearly the refinishing makes a world of difference for both old and newer floors, they will both look their absolute possible best when we are done!

Recently we were again hired to strip and wax some floors at a Navy Yard facility, whose task is to oversee and maintain what is called the “mothball” fleet. These are retired naval ships that lie in waiting to either be scrapped, sold or reserviced. I guess part of the recommissioning fleet, their fate is indeterminable.

So this company, not military, but must work closely with their naval counterparts, has to keep the vessels shipshape, following orders as if they were commissioned, both on board and stateside. To elaborate, they must keep the vessels clean, the components up to date, and as near ready for orders as is possible. In other words, they know what “clean” and “ready for orders” means. . .

To carry it a step further, their own facilities need to pass inspection just like a naval inspection, standing in a line where the officers walk the line inspecting the enlisted. Things must be “Ship Shape” for sure.

Our contact, with a propensity to see a clean floor came upon us (online) and hailed us last fall to see if we were worth our salt. So, after a walk nearly “on the docks” (well just about, since the building sits right next to the bulkhead, where No 545 ship towers

Navy Yard Office Bldg stripped and rewaxed
See the not so “tiny” office next to Navy Ship No 545- that’s where we refinished the VCT floors

next to and wildly overhead.)

We saw the first of the projects at hand. Round 1 would be to refinish the commercial VCT floors in their local headquarters, some corporate space, and some work areas in their storage warehouse at their location at the Navy Yard.

Clearly impressed with our workmanship on line, Paul was optimistic we would bring our work to bare and get his floors up to snuff and ready to pass inspection. With a combination of old floors and newer, he was hoping to improve the floor appearance without having to shake down and watch every blasted second who’s doing the work, watching them like a hawk the entire time. And knowing our crew, we certainly were up to the challenge and knew we would and could deliver!

Liking what Paul saw online, he was even more optimistic after meeting and speaking with us.

With a chance to impart what we bring to bare for the job, we conveyed that our over 125 years combined experience, and our “kick tail and take names” assault, it would be all business and results would be delivered. And with state of the art technology unavailable to most seasoned floor teams, Chris and I were confident that having this system on board was a double offensive and would get the job done. So after that initial meeting Paul was pleased and we shook hands.

Now as we looked at the floors at hand, we saw they were a combination of old and new, which was no big deal. And we also noticed that the walls were concrete, and there is no cove base where the floor and walls meet. We explained it would be better to maintain the floors if there was cove base because it would serve as a buffer between the two. Paul concurred, but admitted with frustration that they had been hailing for that for years, and that the Navy would have no parts.

With that as a limitation, Paul went on to point out his pet peeve—”hair in the wax” irritating him so like an officer failing a military uniform inspection for the same offense. Reacting to his irritation Chris explained that the concrete, more apt to hold foreign debris is a contributing reason. Noting this was “the thing” that would get under his collar, we had to take precaution to minimize or eliminate the annoyance.

It was “D-Day,” and team Sparkle was truly “all hands on deck!”

Fast forward to Day 1- we arrived at the precise time, and our crew wasted no time getting set up. Paul watched us like we were in a Naval assault theater, and was instantly impressed. These guys wasted no time. Starting from the furthest to the closest we knocked out each of the isolated areas, both the more corporate areas including the lunch room, the bath rooms, the hallways and the warehouse offices. Beyond being impressed, Paul was blown away.

Having a couple of questions, one of them being how did we retain such a skilled and dedicated team, Paul took a keen interest at watching our execution, like a well oiled machine. Holding the retention question a secret, we explained having them on board, our equipment and our supplies gives us great confidence most others lack. Actually not full time staff, they do rally up for a floor challenge when needed, and motivated somewhat they enjoy delivering that “wow factor!” Appreciative and complimenting at what he saw, Paul quickly discussed scheduling future projects, the next one being the “trailers.” And secondarily, Paul asked about a schedule rotation for the current and future projects.

Chris concurred as he always does, the schedule frequency is dependent upon a few factors. First is the foot traffic the facility experiences, and secondly is the daily care practices of the regular staff. He surmised that an every 2-3 month rotation would be a target, and this first go-around would be a test to answer the question. If proper technique were utilized we could lengthen the re-visits for the “specialized floor” care, so it would be left as “TBD.”

Clearly thrilled with our work, Paul immediately scheduled his next project with us.

Paul jumped to discuss and schedule the “trailer project,” on the spot. And next we rallied to the call. This time Paul noted the work was done with precision. I believe he commented he has never seen them so clean, and done so fast as with military execution ( I can’t help but incorporate the military spin’ because it is so apropos)! And just as this came to a rap he piped up that the carpets at Bldg 545 (named after the ship stored along side) would be up next. It was, and it did—the job got knocked out in Jan.

Not wasting time, the first re-visit was scheduled, but a tad behind the discussed frequency schedule.

Setting sights on the first re-visit at Bldg 545, a date was loosely set. Returning to those floors, we repeated the efforts with the team. First, we tackled all the hard, “wet-work” stripping, scrubbing and rinsing. And once that was completed, it was again on to the wax phase, being left to Jeff, our experienced “floor finisher.” A floor finisher is a guy skilled at wax application, one with experience and an eye for detail. It also is best done with a slow, methodical and consistent hand. Not to be rushed, it truly is done with patience. Best explained, it involves applying the wax, then carefully waiting, as like watching paint, or in this case watching wax dry.

As the job was winding down, here’s where putting “Lipstick On A Pig” re-grounds expectations so everyone is on the same page!

Now here’s where the lipstick on a pig concept comes in. During the wax application phase Paul hung around talking with Jeff, literally as Jeff waited for the wax to dry. So, there was some idle time involved. The others were cut loose because the heavy lifting was done, and there was no need to keep everyone burning up hours on the clock watching the wax dry.

With some common ground (and other discovered shared experiences), Jeff and Paul had plenty to talk about. But with this repeat visit, and Paul watching Jeff “build the end product,” Paul had a couple questions. First was, why was he seeing hair or mop yarns in the finish. Jeff quickly piped up to Paul, well some matter in the debris cannot be controlled 100% (reminding him about the concrete walls, and inherent particulate, aka hair in the air,) but to sit tight.

Jeff said confidently at that point his efforts were a work in progress and not the finished product, and that Paul will see a different outcome shortly. Jeff explained that by the time the wax coats were built up any minute particulate (hairs and miniscule debris) would get absorbed, or as we say it would get “lost in the finish.” In lay terms that means by the time the wax coats are applied the minor blemishes, in the form of debris, would all but disappear. And to Paul’s amazement that is exactly what happened, for which Paul was very pleased. (I think he agreed and again validated that our team apparently knows our craft!)

But then question No. 2 comes up. Paul compliments all the floor results, but especially compliments on the appearance of the lunchroom floors, citing that he wished that they could all clean up and look as good as it did. Well Jeff, well experienced at having to “educate” and temper a concern with a professional explanation, Jeff wasted no time.

Excited we dressed up older dated floors, kind of like putting lipstick on a pig and giving her some “attitude”!

Laughingly Jeff explained

not only did we put “Lipstick on a Pig” we gave it (the floor) a wardrobe, hair-do and make up!

He outwardly explained and compared what we did with the floors was very similar at what was ever possible with detailing cars, and in this case, a 20 to 30 year old street car (not a prize possession, just an older car), to a fancy new one. With a careful and gentle demeanor (and experience at having detailed all kinds of cars since college days,) he compared to the results he would get detailing the new car, versus what he could ever hope to get detailing the older, seasoned battled car that has been down the road a block or two. He said to Paul, no matter what he did, or what we have just done, the old, seasoned floors would never, ever, ever clean up as well and look as pristine and shiny as the newer lunchroom floor.

Having explained it in a way that way Paul understood, but Jeff expanded on the reasoning. With respect to Paul’s question and wanting to define it in terms so Paul would be satisfied he further concurred as follows: he said with a subtleness that it was not only like putting lipstick on a pig (in refreshing the older tiled floors,) it was like putting lipstick on a pig, giving it a new wardrobe and a hairdo on steroids. With a chuckle Jeff explained it in a manner that Paul “got it”. Now with that analogy Paul was settled in and satisfied that our efforts had achieved the best possible outcome for all his floors. Calling this project, a rap, Paul said to Jeff— “I’ll see you in a couple of weeks!”

PS- as a result of the “gentle conversation,” Jeff, Chris and I have decided to “ramp up our game,” and tweak a few things to enhance our next execution and make it with less hair under the collar! A secret, and shared responsibility we “thinks” it might well help the cause. TBC- as in “to be continued!”

Does your facility have old or new floors in need of specialized stripping and waxing? Let our amazingly experienced team bring them back to life for you. For a free estimate Call us at 609.953.0472 or CONTACT US on line.