I love my new commercial Armstrong tile in our kitchen. I love that it is retro looking, I love that it is durable and I love the fact that you can pull a tile up and replace it with no real effort if something horrible happens.
But what I don’t love is caring for it.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate it. And it isn’t as difficult as some might think it is. But it does take some effort. There are many other pros to commercial flooring that make up for the one con of maintenance. And it isn’t difficult maintenance, once you know what to do. This is how I care for my commercial floor, based on Armstrong literature, our installer’s advice and my own experience.
1) Do not wash or scrub your floor for 4 or 5 days after installation. The adhesive on the backs of the tiles needs to set, and any water that gets down there will screw it up. Foot traffic is ok, but try not to drag any heavy appliances across it. But if you do and a little “gap” shows up, you can just move the tile back in place. Sometimes you can just push or pull it, but sometimes you need a hammer and a prybar to “coax” it back in place.
2) After the 4 or 5 days are up, sweep and damp mop the floor. No large quanities of water, please. It is critical to get all the dust and junk off the floor, otherwise it will be imprisoned forever under a layer of wax, bugging you every time you wash the floor. Well, not forever I guess. You could strip the wax off, but who wants to to that? So be careful with dustballs and animal hair.
3) You need to add some finish to it, with a coat of wax or whatever your flooring recommends. I was able to find my commercial wax at my local Lowes, and it was about $20 for a huge bottle. Not too bad. On the wax bottle, Armstrong recommends that you strip off the manufacturers finish, but our installer said that in the last few years they have changed the finish on the tiles so that you can just wax straight over it with no stripper. This is what we did, and it worked out just fine.
4) Apply 4-5 coats of the wax with a rayon or cotton mop and apply it in circular strokes. This is actually important, even though it isn’t mentioned on the bottle. A sponge-type mop won’t work, trust me. And back and forth looks terrible when you are done. Trust me again. And keep a sharp eye out for particles while you are waxing. You can easily pick little things that aren’t supposed to be there out while the wax is still wet and avoid future headache.
5) Wait 30 minutes to apply the next coat.
There, see? Not so bad. And that is it for after the installation. Our installer told us to do a maintenence coat of wax every few months, which isn’t bad at all. I figure it will give me the push I need to keep my kitchen at its cleanest. Otherwise, I might not do a full mop every couple months.
Oh god, don’t tell my mother I said that!
Or you could just do like others do, and get local janitorial service to put the first coat on for you. Hey, no muss, no fuss.