When it all goes to plan, a polished floor looks stunning. When it all goes wrong, it can look awful and be very distressing.
Knowing the classic errors to avoid is essential if you are going to invest all that time and hard work into polishing a floor.
1/ Polish sinks into the floor
This is a classic problem with old worn vinyl floors. The problem is the hard wear-layer of the floor has probably worn away. This leaves a semi porous floor and when you try to lay on emulsion floor polish, instead of drying on the surface, it sinks into the surface before it dries.
You end up applying multiple coats of polish and it looks okay when its wet, but as soon as it dries, the shiny finish disappears.
There is a way around this. Use a polish primer.
Polish primer is an acrylic seal like a concrete seal. It seals off a worn, porous floor and allows polish to dry on the surface like a new floor.
You need to know when to use this, it is too late when the polish sinks into the floor. You need to inspect the floor after you have stripped it and make the call then. If parts of the floor are very dull and worn, then use a couple of coats of Primer before you polish the floor.
A word of warning here; you cannot strip a primer, so any marks or dirt on the floor before coating with a primer, are there to stay.
2/ The Polish separates on the floor
This is quite a common problem. It is caused by some form of contamination on the prepared floor.
Either the stripper hasn't been rinsed and neutralised as it should be or someone has walked a contamination across the prepared floor before you have polished it. Also if you are polishing on top of a newly sealed wooden floor, it could be down to the wood seal not being fully cured and giving off a solvent.
If it is contamination, you have no other option, but to strip it off and start again, making sure the floor is contaminate free this time.
If it is wood seal still curing, leave until the seal is fully cured, (depending on what the seal is, this could be a long time, especially in cold/wet weather) and then strip off the separated polish and re-polish.
3/ Polish dries dull in places
Again this is normally caused by contamination, however it can be caused by over-coating polish before it has dried.
Often another thin coat or two of polish will sort this problem. Make sure you allow the polish to dry before over-coating
4/ Polish powders soon after drying
This can be caused by heavy traffic before the polish is probably cured (normally 24-48 hours), but is often caused by laying polish on a very cold or even damp floor.
If it is the latter, you will need to strip off and dry thoroughly and turn on the heating and warm the place up before re-polishing. If the former, you might get away with applying a couple more thin coats of polish.
5/ Polish floor dulls quickly after use
This is normal, all polished floors will dull after you have people walking on them. You need to have a maintenance program where you spray clean the floor. This brings the gloss back and hardens the polish, making it last longer and enhances the gloss.
6/ Polish wears off the floor really quickly
This can be caused by a number of things, might just be that you haven't put enough coats of polish on the floor, could also be that you have put the coats on too thick. Better to have multiple thin coats, this wears much better. And use a polish applicator rather than a mop, this will give a better finish.
Always use a high or ultra high solids Emulsion Floor Polish, like Windmill Relay. The higher the solids, the longer the polish will last, so don't skimp here.
Remember that one of the purposes of Emulsion Floor Polish is to protect the floor. It acts as a sacrificial layer, so that the polish wears instead of the floor. This means you will need to replace the polish as it wears off.
As long as the polish is clean, dry and neutralised, you can over-coat it with extra layers of polish at any time. Just remember not to polish right up to the edges, where no one ever walks (last 200mm or so of the floor), otherwise you will have a build-up of polish at the edges, which is really hard work to strip off when the time comes to strip and re-polish.
Buffing with a High or Ultra high speed buffing machine and a Tan or Red floor pad will harden the polish and make it last longer.