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Types of Resilient Floors

Our discussion will not concern ourselves with these types of flooring; wood, concrete, steel, quarry, and ceramics. These types of floor coverings are topics all by themselves, and will be discussed in other areas.

Linoleum was the first of the resilient floor coverings we know today. Linoleum dates back to the 19th century, today it's available in tile squares, sheets, or rolls. Linoleum has several enemies. Oil and grease can stain it, excess water will cause rotting, and highly alkaline materials will produce brittleness and loss of color. Regular dry-mopping or sweeping with oil free treated mops or cloths will take care of the routine maintenance of linoleum. Damp mopping with clear water and a neutral cleaner will remove ordinary scuff marks, but be careful to avoid flooding the linoleum surface. Heavy markings require light scrubbing with the same kind of neutral cleaner. The solution is then picked up with a mop or wet vacuum and then left to dry.

Now, let's consider asphalt tile. Asphalt tile is the least durable of the resilient floor coverings when compared against today's materials. It is more resistant than linoleum to water, but the same caution against flooding should be observed. Other substances that harm asphalt tile include grease, oil, acids, various solvents, and gritty materials. Ordinary surface soil is removed from asphalt tiles by sweeping or dry mopping with oil free treated mops, cloths, or wax based sweeping compounds. Strong alkaline cleaners will cause brittleness, so again use a neutral mopping solution when damp mopping is required. When stripping old floor finish care must be observed to avoid using modern high powered strippers on asphalt tiles. Failure to avoid using these modern high powered strippers may cause bleaching of the tile coloring or loosen glue used to adhere the tiles. It is recommended that only "old fashion" strippers, such as Betco's Geraldine, be used when stripping old floor finish from asphalt tiles.

Rubber tile floor coverings are like other resilient floors in that they have certain enemies that will damage the tiles and shorten its usable life span. Again some of the enemies to rubber floor coverings are grease, oil, solvents, fatty acids, and ultraviolet light. Excessive standing water will also harm the covering. Chemical soap that contain oils and fats are to be avoided as well as harsh alkaline chemicals. Routine maintenance consists of sweeping or dry mopping with oil free treated dust cloths or mops. When damp mopping is necessary use a solution with a pH of seven plus or minus two. Use same type of cleaning solution to remove heavy marks with the assistance of a green or blue scrubbing pad. Scrub lightly then remove the solution and leave the floor to air dry.

Now let's consider the maintenance of today's most popular floor covering. There are three principal types of vinyl tile popular today. What we will refer to as vinyl plastic tile is also called homogeneous or flexible tile. The second type is commonly known as backed or laminated vinyl tile. The third is called asbestos tile. Both vinyl plastic tile and vinyl asbestos tile have, in effect, a single wearing surface that extends through their thickness. Vinyl backed tile has a variety of materials laminated to its vinyl wearing surface. These include a fiber composition, an asbestos fiber composition, jute or paper impregnated with resin or asphalt.

Vinyl plastic tile is not harmed by grease or oil, and it withstands moisture, alkaline products and acids quite well. However, containing, naphta, turpentine, and similar compounds should not be put in contact with this type of tile as they may cause the tiles to shrink.

These same advantages and disadvantages apply to backed or laminated vinyl tiles. But backed vinyl tile's resistance to indentations may or may not be as good as vinyl plastic, depending on the backing materials laminated to the vinyl wearing surface. When choosing vinyl backed tiles questions should be asked about the tiles ability to recover from indentations.

Vinyl asbestos tile possesses the same resistance characteristics as the two types of tiles we've discussed thus far with one important exception. Vinyl asbestos tile is semi-porous and therefore can be affected by water. Also it should be noted that vinyl asbestos tiles can no longer be purchased for use as a floor covering. Care in stripping a vinyl asbestos floor should be observed. Do not dry strip a floor containing asbestos fibers, during this type of process asbestos enters the air and can be breathed by people working in the area. It has been determined that asbestos containing floor coverings can be safely stripped when using liquid type strippers which prevent airborne asbestos from being breathed. No special care currently is required for the disposal of strippers used on asbestos tiles, but you should check with your local hazardous waste government agency to confirm proper disposal methods in your area.

Routine maintenance of these three types of tile is generally the same. Sweeping or dry mopping with oil free treated cloths or mops will remove dust and litter. Damp mopping with neutral cleaners will eliminate surface soils and all but severe markings provided proper amounts of floor finish are on the surface of the tile. When damp mopping doesn't do the job, light scrubbing with neutral cleaner and a green or blue floor pad used with a rotary machine will remove embedded soils and scuff marks. However you can also use red floor pads used under the rotary floor machine with spray buffing compounds in a dry process to remove deep scuff marks and generally increase the level of shine. For additional details about floor maintenance see our section on the floor cycle, which contains detailed information about caring for hard floor surfaces.


This information is presented based on our research which we believe to be correct although it may be biases. No guarantee is expressed or implied. Please provide your own evaluation prior to drawing any conclusions. This information is provided by Betco Corporation, Toledo Ohio, and is used with their persission © 1992 by Betco.