Flooring restoration can be done in many different ways, depending on the type of floor, the type of damage the floor has sustained, the amount of damage the floor has sustained, and the condition to which the floor needs to be brought back.
In both residential and commercial situations, flooring tends to be ignored until something goes wrong. There are many reasons for restoration or repair. Floors could suffer from simple problems such as age, wear from traffic patterns, scratches, or cracks, to name a just a few, or they may suffer from more complex issues. Problems stemming from structural or water damage, for example, will require research into the underlying problems, so that those can be found and corrected before restoration is undertaken.
The type of flooring involved will determine the type of restoration required and the methods involved. Preparation done at the beginning of a floor restoration project is very important, and is the key to a successful outcome. Typically, floors will need to be thoroughly deep cleaned with all dust, ground in traffic dirt and grime, waxes and other surface contaminates removed.
Hard surface materials such as quarry tile, terracotta or ceramic tile are best dealt with by liquid scrubbing. Detergent and water may be all that is required, but chemicals are available which will effectively remove waxes, sealers and stains. This might best be left in the hands of professionals, although there are a number of products on the market for the home owner. It's always best to read labels and get advice.
Contaminates can be collected in machinery that scrubs and vacuums the surface. Depending on the condition of the floor this may take several applications. Once satisfied that the best results possible have been achieved, sufficient drying time should be allowed. At this time, damaged tile and cracked or missing grout can be removed and replaced. The newly cleaned floor will benefit from a sealer which protects the floor but also enhances its natural color. The type of sealers used will depend on important factors such as porosity of the tile, location of the floor, and area usage. The grout must not be overlooked. Sealing protects and prevents moisture from getting under the tile. Again this is an area where professionals would have knowledge of the correct product to use, but that is not to say that the home owner could not do this himself.
Marble, another tile that many would think of as a hard surface, is actually fairly soft and subject to scratching, pitting and etching. Marble flooring is subject to damage from acidic drink or food spills, traffic patterns, and even the family pet. This kind of damage cannot be cleaned away, and the floor will require professional replacement. Restoration, on the other hand, can be accomplished by having the surface "honed". Honing is surface grinding with a machine that is fitted with abrasive stones of various compounds to remove scratches, etching or pitting. The surface will be a matte finish rather than shiny and polished. This could be a favorable appearance, depending on lifestyle, as imperfections in the floor would not be as noticeable and after the surface has been sealed it would be easier to care for. This form of restoration needs careful consideration, as it does alter the appearance of the floor somewhat and should be left to a seasoned professional.
Vinyl composition tile, or VCT, the mainstay of commercial hard surface flooring, has been popular for years. Vinyl tile is probably the easiest to maintain because the floor finish system is designed to take the abuse from abrasive particles, protecting the tile surface. Simple practices of good surface cleaning, mopping and buffing generally bring the floor back to life. However, if years of neglect have left the vinyl tile in need of restoration, the process of a very thorough cleaning and stripping of existing waxes is a relatively easy task. The surface of vinyl tile is very porous and is easily stained and must be sealed. After properly drying, the surface can have coats of floor finish applied and can be buffed to bring out a "brand new" appearance.
Wood flooring offers a sense of elegance and beauty to our homes, work spaces and public areas, although caring for and maintaining wood flooring often seems to be an overwhelming task. However, with some basic know-how, simple issues can easily be handled without the help of a professional. Naturally, good housekeeping practices go without saying, but superficial blemishes or stains or even light cigarette burns can be dealt with. Light rubbing with fine steel wool, or the newer non-metallic scrubbing pads, and recommended cleaners will generally remove the problem areas. Touch-up the area with matching stain, if necessary, and apply a sealer and wax. For floors that are in generally good shape but are in need of a "face lift", a relatively simple refinishing can be accomplished. After a thorough cleaning and drying, the area is scrubbed with steel wool or scouring pads using cleaning solutions or denatured alcohol to remove built-up wax. As with all cleaning products, the non professional needs to get advice about the product and read the labels. When the wax buildup is removed, the area will require another cleaning with clean water and drying with clean soft rags. Once the area is completely dried, coatings of a recommended wax are applied and buffed for a refreshed wood floor appearance.
When floor problems are too widespread, or complex issues such as missing boards, water damage, or structural problems exist, complete restoration is required. This is an operation that can be carried out by the property owner. With that said, everyone has seen the results of poor workmanship on the part of an enthusiastic do-it-yourselfer. Selecting the right type of sanding equipment and the various grades of sand paper appropriate for the type of wood, determining the amount of surface material that needs to be removed, and repairing existing boards are all areas for the professional. Once prepared, sanded, re-stained, and completed with a suitable floor finish system, the hardwood floor again adds elegance, beauty and value to the property.
Regardless of the type of material, a restoration can bring back a dirty, damaged or abused floor and make it a pleasing element of the property. Fortunately, most issues can be addressed with relatively minor fixes. However, consider consulting a professional when the scope of the project or machinery is beyond your abilities. The floor is too important an interior element to be ignored.