VCT covered the concrete floor in the above photo for years. During those years, spent cleaner and dissolved contaminants from countless moppings, along with dirty water tracked in by foot traffic, seeped into the hairline joints between the tiles. It soaked into the concrete sub-floor, over and over again.
Just last year, Tague Lumber Company, Philadelphia, bought the old building to be a home-fittings showroom. It had been a big-box pet store. The owners wanted polished concrete floors, and tapped Jamison Masonry Restoration to do the job, based on the fact that the contractor is a restoration specialist, with formal training in finished concrete floors — and these floors definitely needed restoration!
The VCT was already off the floor when Jamison started. The floors were covered with grit and grime. Jamison cleaned them, ground them, hardened/densified them (with PROSOCO’s Consolideck LS (lithium-silicate) hardener/densifier, natch) and polished them to a high, hard gloss.
But when daylight from the front windows, and the new, bright showroom lighting hit the concrete, you could see the grid pattern where the VCT had been — caused by years of dirty liquid soaking into the hairline joints between the tiles.
Some customers like it, says my friend and co-worker Joe Reardon, a PROSOCO Concrete Products Group specialist and 10-years-plus veteran of the concrete flooring industry. Officials for a certain nationwide chain of big-box stores who are changing all their store floors over to finished concrete say that the grid pattern gives the floor character.
Joe says he’s had some people see the grid pattern and apparently think it was specially created for the floor — they requested it for other floors, he said.
That’s a good thing, says Joe, because like it or not, the industry hasn’t yet come up with a way to get rid of the grid pattern. You could hide it with an overlay of self-leveling concrete, he says. As for actually removing it, that’s not going to happen.
If you get a job where the floor has had VCT or other tiles that let fluid seep into hairline joints, you need to tell the client right away about the possibility of a grid pattern, Joe says. Managing expectations is an important part of the finished concrete flooring business, and the “grid pattern” is at the top of the list.
The good news is that the grid pattern has zero effect on the functionality of the finished concrete floor. The floor has the same high durability, low-maintenance requirements and lengthy service life whether it has a grid pattern or not.
But the owners of Tague Lumber Company decided they didn’t care for the grid pattern, and asked Jamison Masonry Restoration to do what they could. The contractor, drawing on decades of restoration experience, hit the floor with PROSOCO’s powerful Sure Klean Restoration Cleaner, hoping to etch the stained concrete and lift out the ancient embedded contaminants.
They had partial success, managing to fade the grid to levels acceptable to their client. Of course, they had to re-polish the etched floor, but it turned out just as good as before, though with a less-apparent grid. As a matter of fact, at the showroom’s grand opening, the polished concrete floor got as much or more attention than the showroom displays, Jim Jamison told me.
As far as using Restoration Cleaner to mitigate the grid pattern, Joe, and our Lab Manager Tom Stalnaker, also an experienced concrete vet, said to their knowledge it has never been tried before, and so, can’t recommend it.
At this point, if the concrete floor has been covered by VCT or something similar, you can pretty well count on a grid pattern. Managing client expectation to begin with is generally the best bet.
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