Discoloration of vinyl & Linoleum floors..remedies

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Posted by Dave Emond on July 31, 19100 at 12:18:01:

Hello all,
This post is intended for installers and homeowners both.
I've been getting many messages concerning floor discolorations.
I've suggested a few remedies, but then realized that many may not realize the significant difference between vinyl and linoleum floors. Years ago, I myself used either term to describe my floor, not knowing there was such a major difference.
So, first thing to do when asking a question is to know which type of resilient flooring you actually have.
Linoleum is a natuaral product. It's main ingredient being linseed oil. This is combined with wood flour, pine resin binders mixed and calandered onto a natural jute backing (plant fiber). Linoleum tiles usually will have a polyester backing, instead of jute.
Linoleum has a high resitance to bacterias and even cigarette burns. ( Brown marks will be noticable at first from burns, but can usually easily be rubbed out with steel wool or a scouring pads..you know...those little green scrubby things for the kitchen). : )
Vinyl on the other hand has many different make-ups and from knowning the look and feel of the above described lino, you should be able to distinguish the two easily. (I'm trying to keep this simple) ; )
Here are the main causes of vinyl discoloration:
1. Floor covering adhesives:
Using adhesives other than the manufacturers recommended. Because the processing oils and anti-oxidants are generally the cause of a yellowing effect from beneath the material...so the manufacturers add more highly refined processing oil. And many other examples could be listed.
2. Gypsum based underlayments and patching compounds:
Easy enough..just don't use them...use cement based underlayments and patching compounds. (Ardex & Mapei are my favorites)
3. Wood fasteners:
Do not use resin coated sinkers! Use only non-coated ring-shank or spiral-shank nails. ( Okay..divergent-pointed underlayment staples designed especially for underlayments may also be used).
4. Synthetic Polyurethane patch:
Again...avoid...will cause yellowing.
5. Reconstituted Wood & Waferboard:
Don't use!

Asphalts and some rubber products, such as shoes, wheels, floor mats, may contain chemicals that when they make contact with P.V.C. floorings, can cause permanent staining and discoloration.
"slip resistant" or "safety" floors especially.
The only effective way to remove surface oil and contaminates is to scrub the floor with nylon brushes, then wet-vac up the cleaning solution.
A mop and bucket system merely dilutes the soil and spreads the resulting dirty solution evenly across the floor!
Now...as for those mats on VINYL floors:
Don't use rubber or latex backed mats, because the chemical (anti-oxidant) used to keep the backing from becoming bitter can stain the floor. Use a non-staining vinyl backed mat or a woven rug that is Colorfast. The Colorfast marking will be easily found on these products.
Linoleum problems:
Improper maintenance is usually the only way to hurt lino. You want to stay away from high pH strippers, cleaners and abrasive powders.
And remember..no flooring is impervious to every type of chemical, acid, solvent, etc...If you know your floor, you can get a stain resistant chart for that floor.
As with vinyl, those shoes, rubber wheels, etc..can still mark lino too. Just not as easily. Watch for them and that little green pad wil take them up if you get to them soon enough. Of course, spills should be mopped up as soon as possible with clean warm water.
The cig burns..as said often will come up with the same scrubbing, but if enough heat remains on the floor it may cause melting of the material and would have to be patched.
Actually, using a rotary buffing machine is the best maintenance for lino. Knowing what type of lino you have though tells you which cleaning spray to use.
(Johnson Trailblazer, Butcher Over Drive, TASKI P-44/Ultraspray or equivalents are normally the best choices.)
And still..yellowing on lino floors may just be as simple as a lack of light. If you can get some sunshine to that area, try to as often as possible and it will take less time for the natural color to return.
Linoleum and vinyl are two very different products, and solutions to problems to each can be very different.
If your flooring is loose, or you have a scrap, the backing is an easy give away.
Lino: Jute backing (looks kinda like burlap)
Vinyl: may be solid vinyl or have a backing (similar to a cardbord look).
Keep these things in mind when asking for advice, we can help you much quicker with the more we know what you're dealing with.
Still not sure? Feel free to e-mail anytime and maybe we can solve it together : )
Enjoy helping if I can,

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